A few weeks ago I attended the BBC Good Food Show at the Waterfront Hall where I got talking to one of my absolute favourite gin companies, Shortcross Gin, distilled right here in Northern Ireland.
Shortcross Gin is distilled at Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar and in fact, the name Shortcross comes from the Irish for Crossgar, “An Chrois Ghearr”!
Thanks to Fiona-Boyd Armstrong, MD of Shortcross, who took ten minutes of her time (in what was an extremely busy afternoon, might I add) to talk to me for my NI Food and Drink Interview Series.
Thanks for your time today Fiona. So can you tell me about how Shortcross started?
When my husband David and I got married in 2011, we wanted to open up our own business, and I had always dreamt about opening a distillery. I was a quantity surveyor and David was an engineer but for two years we travelled around the world, to Europe, America and Asia, and that’s when we visited numerous distilleries. We also did distilling courses, both hands on and theoretical, and so the idea was set.
And when did the company begin?
We ordered our equipment in January 2013, which arrived that summer, and we did recipe development for six months before the first gin was released in early 2014.
You say it was a dream of yours to open a distillery – why gin in particular?
Well, we love gin! When we started there was really only one other Irish gin on the market so for us it was an opportunity to create something very special. The support locally that we have had in just two/three years has been unbelievable.
How would you describe Shortcross?
We forage our botanicals, elderflowers, elderberries and apples, and we also use our own water from the estate. We wanted to take our inspiration from the gardens and forests, so our gin is reminiscent of those surroundings.
You’re very well known here locally, but I saw recently that you’re just launching in airports across the U K – are you surprised at the success further afield?
We are now exporting across Europe – to Spain, France, Holland, Germany – and also to Dubai, so it’s an exciting time for us! We’re also delighted to have been awarded many global and local awards including Spirits Business Global Gin Masters Awards 2016, International Wine & Spirits Competition 2016 and Great Taste Awards 2016.
Can you tell me a bit more about your plans for further product development?
Back in February of this year we released a Cask-Aged Gin which was resting in a Bordeaux wine barrel for three to four months. That was a small release of just 600 bottles and that sold out in ten days! We hope for another release of our Cask-Aged Gin before Christmas and also another Wild Clover edition. Wild Clover is an important botanical used in Shortcross Gin so we wanted to bring it to the forefront. In addition to that, we have started to distil our own whiskey and we have filled our first barrel. Whiskey needs to be laid to rest for a minimum of three years and one day… so it’s sleeping now!
Finally, is there a perfect way to serve gin? Is it lemon, is it lime, is it lots of ice – what’s your opinion?
I think the garnish should accentuate the gin. For us, we think orange zest works very well as does orange frozen in ice cubes. Pink grapefruit and basil are also very complimentary, but at the end of the day, it’s down to personal taste! Whatever works best for you!
Thanks again to Fiona! As there’s just 10 weeks until the wee one makes an appearance I can’t wait to have my first Shortcross Gin in 9 months come January!
For more information on Shortcross Gin, please visit www.shortcrossgin.com