DUBLIN CITY GIN… A Premium Irish Dry Gin
Kevin met up with his dear friends Jim O’Connor and Sheila Cooney on his latest trip to Ireland and came home with a new favorite taste: Dublin City Gin! Marketed as the “Irish Gin with a Dublin Accent” this dynamic husband and wife team created their “fifth child” as a solution to ease the pain of their “semi” empty nest syndrome; their actual four children are all in various art colleges in Dublin, but still living at home…a good reason to drive anyone to drink!
Launched in 2016, they have entered the gin market with a bang; producing a fabulous product that has already won 12 gold medals including Best in Dublin, Best of Ireland, and last year Best European Craft Gin. And most recently winning the prestigious “Best Irish London Dry” award at the World Gin Awards in 2020.
Their secret? Passion. They love what they do and strive to produce the best product with the best ingredients available. Here’s our recent conversation:
IRISH BARS USA: Jim, why gin?
Pamela, the growth in craft brewing around the world has always intrigued Sheila and I, and during our travels our LA friends often asked us to bring them a good bottle of Dublin Irish gin…and being as there really wasn’t one, it sparked the idea. Our careers have revolved around product design and creativity, so it just felt like a good match. Sheila has a background in visual merchandising, and I worked as VP Brand and Creative for DCP Walt Disney. When we returned to Ireland after 25 years abroad, we knew we wanted to produce our own homebased product and obtaining the Dublin trademark enforced the idea of gin being a perfect fit.
IRISH BARS USA: Did everything immediately click after that decision?
Actually, it did! We set lofty goals, we needed to learn how to make spirits but making true quality was the challenge. We worked on perfecting our recipe with the highest quality ingredients and set up the administrative end with our trademark design, business concept, branding, packaging, and website. Oh! And there was tasting…lots of tasting!
We set high goals for ourselves, aiming to produce a Dublin hometown brand that would become the best gin in Ireland.
IRISH BARS USA: It sounds like you are well on your way. What’s your next goal?
Why, international acclaim and distribution, of course!” It’s a big learning curve, first the craft, then OMG the process of making sales and getting some traction. We aimed at challenging ourselves at international competitions to gain credibility. We struck gold, at least in the medal department!
We’re now listed in many of the great Dublin bars, premium off license stores, Airport Duty Free, and on the Irish Ferries.
International is where the business needs to be successful and we’ve just started to reach out looking abroad.Seeking and finding distribution partners in the US would be great, and a huge challenge for us, as the market is a top pick for any Irish product company.Finding a real partner for the brand is the most important piece of the puzzle.If you have anyone in mind, please drop me a note!
IRISH BARS USA: What has been the best part of this journey so far?
I’d have to say the recognition from international judges and folks that have simply found us and tried us. Hearing “simply delicious” rocked my world. It has validated our process of remaining true to our dream of handcrafting everything from scratch.
We produce in a London Dry style, deliberately hands on for a premium distillation process of small batches of finished spirit (600 bottles at a time). We use seven core botanicals, and feature Rhubarb that is grown in Dublin; we pick the crop as required, distill, bottle and box…real sleeves up stuff. As you can imagine each and every batch feels like a personal achievement to both Sheila and me.
Even our bottles receive the utmost attention: they are printed with a silk screen process where colors are applied individually, and every bottle has lots of clues to Dublin and even carries a handwritten confirmation number on it.
To have our efforts recognized with so many awards has been an amazing feat for such a young company. Our “Dublin Cut” alone has received over 25 awards and accolades, including “Best in Dublin” “Best in Ireland” “Best European” and as mentioned above, the “Best Irish London Dry” at the WGA in 2020. With 12 gold medals to its credit, it is Ireland’s most impressive award winner.
IRISH BARS USA: Sounds fabulous. Until you’re available here in the US, are you able to share the recipe with me?
Oh, Pamela, nice try. The answer is of course but you need to visit us and roll up your sleeves. I can certainly give you a glimpse into our quality process and ingredients. After much trial and slow refinement our recipe was conceived with seven core botanicals. By design, less was indeed more!
It features ripe Dublin Rhubarb, an old family favorite, as our hometown botanical. This is extra special as it includes natural grown rhubarb from a garden allotment along the Grand Canal in the city itself.
To make it extra Irish we wanted an Irish base and discovered whey alcohol. This milk spirit base compliments the process and gives us the extra silky finish you'll love.
The recipe starts at home in Dublin with harvest and prep, then we travel outside the pale to our still of choice in Waterford where we distill, bottle, and pack on site.We’ll do this until we have the bank balance for our own boutique craft distillery in Dublin City.
The ever beautiful Sheila, collecting a stash of homegrown rhubarb.
IRISH BARS USA: We’ve been fortunate to enjoy a few in Dublin; how would you describe it for folks at home?
Our gin has wonderful character, and personality galore! We describe it as a subtle spirit, with broad palate appeal, robust in body, smooth and silky with zest of citrus, tart of Rhubarb and a wonderful warm, spicy finish.
Much of the time I say it simply tastes like more, that it makes a great G&T with a nice tonic and sweet citrus, and that pink grapefruit is an easy garnish as it’s in the recipe. The gin is a nice Irish twist to many favorite cocktails and makes a very fine martini.
All in all, respectably unusual and simply delicious!
IRISH BARS USA: Before we finish, tell me…do you have another gin in mind? What’s next?
Yes, we have another gin in mind, which will feature another Dublin ingredient and will be aged to enhance the flavor and for a little hint of color. But our biggest and most surprising is maturing as we speak. We have Whiskey coming of age this year, it’s wonderfully golden and follows our usual standard, simply delicious!
IRISH BARS USA: Thanks so much for such an informative chat, Jim! I am now in the mood for a gin & tonic, with lime of course, so Cheers until we meet again!
You are quite welcome, Pamela, come back anytime! Until then, our message is
“PLEASE ENJOY YOUR GIN RESPONSIBLY...WE'LL TRY TOO!”