After 10 months of tasting sessions and product development, The Boatyard Distillery and Blakes of the Hollow have come together to launch a new gin.

Developed by flavour experts, Jamie Trotter at the Boatyard and Bernie and Pat Blake of Blakes of the Hollow it is now the fifth spirit that is exclusive to Blakes of the Hollow and joins four Irish whiskies which are also exclusive to the well-known Victorian bar, situated in the heart of Enniskillen.

Bernie and Pat speak passionately about the creation of the new gin and their delight to work with The Boatyard in its creation.

“We are delighted to be associated with The Boatyard, a local distillery which is absolutely thriving,” said Pat.

“To have a gin that’s been formulated between Bernie and Jamie Trotter in The Boatyard, and Joe McGirr himself overseeing everything is unique and our gin is quite different to the original Boatyard.

“The Boatyard, when you are talking about distilleries, The Boatyard has been an outstanding success in regards to the number of distilleries that have popped up all around the island of Ireland, producing both whiskey and gin here.

“Certainly The Boatyard stands out as one that has been producing quality products.”

Boatyard Distillery founder, Joe McGirr agreed on the merits of the partnership: “This is a fantastic partnership with an Irish Victorian pub immersed in character and charm that holds a very special place in pub culture across the island of Ireland. We’re very proud to have had the opportunity to create some stunning liquid which we think pays homage to this beautiful pub.”

Blakes Gin has been distilled with a variety of botanicals including fresh orange and grapefruit peel, apricots, pink peppercorns and of course, juniper. The distilled liquid has bold notes of orange creme, cocoa, juniper and a subtle hint of spice.

Bernie explained the intricacies of how the gin and its flavour were created: “We did with this one very zesty, very fruity forward.

“So, initially you get really good zesty aroma. We had the pink peppercorn to add a little bit of aromatic heat and warmth so that you could mix it with ginger ale, rather than with tonic and create a completely different [taste].

‘Premium spirit’

“It’s buying into the whole idea of cocktail drinking. The Boatyard is such a premium spirit.”

And advising on how it could be served Bernie added: “Ginger ale and garnish with your zesty limes and all that kind of stuff.

“And then it has a back note of cocoa. So I think gin and tonic and the square of dark chocolate is a match made in heaven.”

Tasting was a big part of the process of coming to the final product and Bernie admitted that “a number of samples” were consumed by her and Jamie over the 10 months.

That is what is needed when you create an exclusive product just to your liking.

“When added, the zestiness and the freshness give a natural sweetness that ties in with the whole idea of trying to nearly alter people’s palates, from sweet, sugar-driven laden things to something a bit more naturally sweet but not saccharine sweet,” Bernie explained.

And then comes the packaging. Which is just as important as the product itself at times.

“The packaging, which is Joe’s, it’s a full eco-friendly box.

“Everything is made out of cardboard paper. It’s all completely recyclable. But it looks so structural.

“And because we’re honouring a building that is 137 years old.”

The finished product, which is sold exclusively in Blakes and the Crushed Grape, now sits among the Blake’s family of spirits, made up of the gin and four whiskies.

These whiskies date back as far as 1964 and are from well-known Irish whiskey distillers such as Powers, Redbreast and Midleton and each has a special connection to the Blakes of the Hollow.

Speaking about the Powers white label whiskey from 1964, Bernie said: “We have one very, very historic bottle of whiskey that was laid down in 1964 and bottled in 1980. And that originates back to John’s Lane in Dublin, which was closed down in 1980.

“Back then, whiskey was dispatched around the country in bulk. And it was bottled at source because you didn’t have the same infrastructure in place.

“We have all the recordings of how it came out in one consignment, it’s all from the same destination and same batch. And we have the last remaining stock on the island of Ireland.

“So it’s a very unique product.

“Then we have Midleton, which is a 26-year-old single cask. We did a 19-year-old Powers. These are all very unique products and there is only one cask of each.

“And then with the Redbreast, which we launched last year. It’s a 21-year-old in the bottle.”

With all these whiskies, the connection to Blakes is more than just a bottle on a shelf.

For Bernie, the Redbreast has a special connection with a former student she used to teach.

“I had a young boy in school who has since had an accident and is paralysed from the waist down,” Bernie said she was inspired by seeing the former student, Phillip Drumm, in the shop one day.

“The icon for the Redbreast whiskey is a Robin.

“So we started to make nesting houses for robins. Each little box has to bear some resemblance or be inspired by the architectural decorative merits and features of the bar.”

Phillip’s creation sits proudly in the Crushed Grape in Derrylin a slate roof building with the red and black of Blake’s covering the wooden structure below.

Other boxes depict the inside of the bar, beside the fire or one of the snugs.

It all adds to the stories behind each whiskey.

Investment in whiskeys is a popular venture for some and Irish whiskey is holding its own against its Scottish counterpart.

“Irish whiskey from a global point of view has rocketed in interest and value and is sought after around the world. It’s now at a level of competing with Scottish whiskey whereas previously, it was always the poor relation,” explained Pat.

And while there may not be the same investment returns for gin, Pat added that because this is batch one, there is interest in it from that point.

“There is regular interest in it over and above The Boatyard and Blakes of the Hollow in that it is batch one of the production of this particular gin.

“And people are specifically interested in the investment area also, which we’re not suggesting is going to be enormous in regards to gin.

“Whiskey is the investment vehicle but the fact that it is batch one also brings particular interest to a wider audience, a wider group of people.”