Distiller of Dingle Gin ups production to meet demand

It is part of a cocktail named after royalty and a favourite tipple of Graham Norton but Dingle Gin has also become a phenomenon in Irish bars, with a quarter of a million bottles sold in the country in the last year.

Dingle Distillery's Master Distiller, Michael Walsh pictured at work. Pic: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

The distillery behind the award-winning spirit, which has become one of the country’s most fashionable drinks, is producing between 800 and 1,000 bottles a day but it still falling far short of demand.

But with a new copper still just installed in its Kerry distillery, orders for more than two million bottles from all over the world can be filled next year.

Dingle Distillery’s Master Distiller, Michael Walsh, originally envisaged whiskey as their main product but they have been blown away by the runaway success of their gin.

“When Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall came to Galway the welcoming cocktail was a Dingle Gin and Prosecco cocktail”, said the distiller.

“Graham Norton is a fan and it has been sold in Harrods.

"We can produce between 800 and 1,000 bottles of gin per day and this year we’ve have sold over 250,000 bottles of gin in Ireland alone.”

The distillery is sending orders as far away as Shanghai and New Zealand.

Last year Irish drinkers spent €82.9m on gin compared with €67.4m in 2015 — an increase of 23%.

“Five years ago, when we started of making gin, there was only one other gin in the country,” said Michael Walsh.

“Although we had faith in the quality of the product we didn’t really envisage any real massive demand and we got that very wrong.

"The gin craze that has spread all over Ireland and England has spread all over Europe as well and we send to Australia and New Zealand.

“Shanghai would probably be the most unusual. How did anyone in Shanghai decide they wanted to get Dingle gin?”

It has become the millennial’s drink of choice but the distiller believes the taste for gin won’t fade any time soon.

“A lot of people were saying no one was drinking gin five years ago and they won’t be drinking it in five years’ time.

"I don’t be disrespectful but the quality of gin was nowhere near what it is today.

“It’s not just a fad. The quality of gins being produced in Ireland and Europe is very good and the quality of tonics and the garnishes from behind the bar means it is a very nice drink to have. I don’t see it just fading.”

“The biggest problem we had was getting people to try the product first day so we gave free bottles of gin to every bar.

"You still nearly had to persuade people to take a free bottle of gin.”

He said demand has far outstripped supply this year but a new still will bring the capacity to more than two million bottles a year.

“In the last two years, the demand domestically in Ireland has far outpaced our capacity to produce. For our Christmas orders, we don’t have half enough gin for the orders.”


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