Work is at an advanced stage on producing what’s hoped will be the world’s finest gin, through a collaboration between a new distillery in West Cork, a number of Michelin-starred chefs and a French company which harvests rare citrus fruits.
Scientists and chemists are working away at Castlefreke Distillery, at Rathbarry, near Owenahincha, to produce the premier gin.
They’re perfecting a product designed specifically for Martini drinkers. It will be primarily for the export market and the company hopes to have it on shelves in outlets in London, Paris, New York, and Milan by next summer.
The still, which is the only one of its kind in Ireland and was imported from Germany, has been given the name, ;ALGY’ as a tribute to the 9th Baron Carbery, Algernon Evans-Freke (1868-1898).
He was a relative of Stephen Evans-Freke, a retired Wall Street investment banker, who is funding the project.
“Castlefreke Gin is not a competitor to Irish gin distilleries focused on the broad gin and tonic market. Castlefreke gin is aimed at the connoisseur of the dry martini and seeks to emulate in Irish gin what Midleton (Irish Distillers) has achieved for connoisseurs of fine Irish whiskey,” Stephen said.
“Our final tasting panel will include a number of Michelin-starred chefs. We plan to be at a level of producing 10,000 bottles a year within the next four to five years,” he added.
Castlefreke Distillery is collaborating with Agrumes Baches of France, a company which supplies it with rare citrus fruits harvested in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Project manager Sam Kingston, who is a chemist, said two years of research had already gone into producing the gin.
He said some of the other ingredients used, such as organic coriander seeds and juniper berries, are sourced from the local Castle Freke estate and from the wild.
Distillation will take place in a hand-wrought, custom copper pot still made by Kothe of Eislingen, Germany. The still has been specially customised to produce an exceptionally smooth and complex spirit.
“We’re looking for the smoothest ever gin, with a complexity of flavours and we have already been awarded a full manufacturing licence,” Sam said.
Currently there are eight staff directly employed on the project, but it’s expected this will more than double in the next two years as production ratchets up.