Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
We’re eternally grateful to Glendalough, the craft Irish whiskey maker, for giving us a whole new appreciation for what an Irish whiskey could be. I think craft Irish whiskey, with it smooth and companionable style, has been our default whiskey for cocktail mixing ever since we ran into Glendalough. They’ve been expanding their repertoire, and were kind enough to send us a bottle of their latest, a gin. Before even getting to its taste, this gin is impressive in its production values. It’s produced in very small batches, which accentuates the uniqueness of each batch. The botanicals in it are fresh, never dried. And they’re wild grown, hand-foraged in the mountains near the distillery.
That attention to freshness and naturalness comes through in a gin that’s simultaneously flavorful and gentle. There’s a subtle maltiness to the gin, not so strong as from a Dutch genever but stronger than a typical London dry gin. That maltiness provides a smoothness to the full flavor of the botanicals. Those botanicals do indeed taste fresh-picked, with the sharpness and vegetal flavor that you expect from fresh herbs in comparison to dried.
Glendalough recommends you drink their gin in a gin & tonic garnished with grapefruit and fresh basil, instead of the usual lime. We can see why. The more gentle flavors of a grapefruit would go well with this gin, and the fresh basil would accentuate the grassy, herbal nature of it. We didn’t have the grapefruit, but did pick a few leaves of basil from the garden. It was indeed delicious.
This is a gin worthy of giving pride of place in its cocktail.
That reminded us of the fact that the Savoy Cocktail Book, that great source of classic recipes, has a whole family of cocktails that, with our modern lens, we might call slightly modified martinis, gin and vermouth with a dash or a splash of something else: different kinds of bitters, maraschino, absinthe, curacao, even creme de menthe. It seems like a fertile field for bringing just a smidge of variety to an otherwise familiar drink. The Turf Club is a complex version of the type, containing small doses of absinthe, maraschino, and bitters. The Depth Charge, with its dash of absinthe, is a more typical example of the basic type.
We thought that a mildly enhanced martini like these would be a perfect way to enjoy this unique and pleasant gin. And we couldn’t imagine a more fitting selection than the Fairbanks, one of the signature drinks of the husband of Mary Pickford, the star of another of this week’s posts. A Fairbanks #2 and a Mary Pickford are the perfect his and hers companion cocktails, both of them classic and classy, one sweet and the other dry, both of them strong.
Fairbanks no 2 Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz dry vermouth
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 2 dashes amaretto
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
- Fill with ice to the level of the liquid.
- Stir until the ice is noticeably melted.
- Strain into a cocktail glass.