An Dúlamán Irish Maritime gin is the brain child of James and Moira Doherty who moved to Donegal to reinvigorate the distilling history of the West Coast of Ireland. Rather than make the illicit moonshine of the past, they settled on distilling gin and have created one of the most intriguing spirits I have come across.
Donegal is on the far West Coast of Ireland and is a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged landscape is shaped by the sea, the inspiration for this gin.
I had a quick chat with Moira to learn about how she came to make An Dúlamán.
Did you always want to work in distilling?
No, I am a midwife who wanted to be a kindergarten teacher! Having had the idea for using seaweed as a gin botanical, I needed to learn how to make it myself.
I experimented with different botanicals using a baby test still in the garage. Jim admitted that I was better at it than he was, so it has become a role I enjoy.
How did you choose which botanicals to use?
We wanted to capture a moment of taste, that fresh salty taste on your lips from sea spray that you get when the waves break on the rocks. We distilled 22 different seaweeds individually then worked on different combinations until we were happy.
What is the most challenging thing about making An Dúlamán gin?
Keeping the batches all as similar as possible! The seaweeds can vary depending on when they are harvested, and this makes subtle differences to the end product. My need for the perfection makes this very challenging and keeps me awake at night. We pick one of the seaweeds, Pepper Dulse, when the tide is at its lowest around the full moon and it is so “shy” that it takes ages!
Tasting An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin
In addition to the seaweed Moira uses the traditional botanicals; juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange, lemon and cassia.
On the nose I picked up citrus and white pepper alongside the ‘seaside’ aroma.
Moira wanted to evoke sea spray and not create a seaweed flavoured gin and she’s achieved this brilliantly, particularly when you consider that this gin is made in the traditional London Dry style (except for one of the seaweeds which is vapour-infused. No mean feat given the complexity of the botanicals.
To taste, An Dúlamán is at the herbceous/savoury end of the gin spectrum, with the umami flavours of the seaweed balancing well with soft, piney juniper notes. Cassia gives warmth on the lingering finish with subtle hints of white pepper and there is a perceptible creaminess to the mouthfeel.
Drinking An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin
As usual, I like to try the gin in the three main gin drinks – G&T, martini and a negroni. (not pictured)
Moira likes to use Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic water as her mixer in a G&T and while I was a little sceptical, it definitely works. The sweetness cuts through the salinity and elevates some of the floral characteristics of the seaweed.
Unsurprisingly, An Dúlamán shines in a martini. I used Noilly Prat vermouth (ratio 7:1). If you want a softer experience make the martini wetter (up the quantity of vermouth) or try with an apératif like Lillet Blanc.
This is a cleverly executed gin that reveals itself further with every sip. Highly recommended.
43.3% ABV 500ml $84.90
An Dùlamàn Irish Maritime gin is available at The Ginporium.