A couple of Saturday’s ago I spent my afternoon tasting local gin and touring the distillery with my best friend, what better way to spend a Saturday?! We are both gin fans and had never been to a gin distillery before. I have to say we had an absolute ball, one of the best tours we have done. We would most definitely go back and really recommend it, hence why I’m sharing this post with you.
Where is it?
Echlinville Distillery is located in the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland and close to Kirkiston race course (we could hear the bikes racing in the distance). Thirty minutes from Bangor, we got a lift so we could both enjoy the gin tasting; there is parking for visitors if you do decide to drive and plenty of spaces to be left off. The first thing you are greeted with as you drive up the sweeping driveway is the beautiful Echlinville House, through to the back and you find the rest of the estate, the parking and entrance to the bar and start of the tour.
Not really knowing what to expect we assumed it would be like many other tours we’d done before (Bushmills whiskey, Heineken beer, etc), go in, do the tour and get a small taster. Well there were elements of that, but it also included a bite to eat before hand and two drinks from the range of drinks they produce at the distillery.
The afternoon tea style start to the tour was a welcomed surprise. There were a range of teas to chose from, water, and coffee in the most beautiful china tea sets. The mix of scones, shortbread, biscuits and tray bakes were fantastic, lots to choose from and delicious, a perfect way to line your stomach.
Next up we were greeted by our tour guide, she was absolutely fantastic,; knowledgeable, local and works as part of the bottling team at the distillery. I liked the way she was actually part of the process, rather than just a tour guide. At this point we weren’t able to take photos and we were asked to turn off our phones; this is due to the high levels of alcohol around the distillery and the vapours are highly flammable.
The tour is mostly outdoors, so wear sensible shoes and dress weather appropriate, we brought an umbrella with us, but thankfully didn’t need to use it. We went through the whole gin making processes from start to end and were also shown the process for the poitin and Dunville’s Old Irish Whiskey (they bought over the Dunville’s name so they can now make the whiskey). Our tour guide was really informative, but also full of personality so it wasn’t boring. You were also able to ask questions as you went along and our group was only about 12 people so it was a perfect size. We also learnt about the history of the estate and the main house, which is just beautiful!
On the way up and down we also passed the small apple orchard, they don’t use these apples for anything as they don’t make cider at the distillery so we were told we could pick some to take home if we wished.
Next up, and what we were all really looking forward to was the tasting! So we had 2 drink vouchers and could choose from any of the drinks Echlinville make.
I just had to try the Jawbox Pineapple & Ginger, they recommend you have it with ginger ale, or if you are at home and have it, they recommend it poured over vanilla ice cream as a dessert. I know sounds weird and I’ve yet to try it myself, but everyone was saying about having it that way at the distillery! I have to say I absolutely fell in love with this drink and slightly dangerously, you can’t taste the alcohol in it, it tastes more like pineapple cubes or you’re drinking a Polly pineapple lolly!
Next up I chose Echlinville’s signature gin, they recommend to compliment the elderflower hits in the gin that you team it with Elderflower tonic, a slice of lime and some mint. I really enjoyed this, and I will be honest with you I am not a tonic fan, 99% of the time I have my gin with lemonade, so for me to like it with the elderflower tonic is saying something.
Sarah decided she too would try the Jawbox Pinapple & Ginger, but she also wanted to try the Poitin. Straight away when she drank it, she knew I wouldn’t like it (I have a sweet tooth when it comes to alcoholic drinks). She was right, for me I really didn’t like this, it was too strong an alcohol taste for me and definitely not sweet enough.
Bring it home
There’s also a shop at the distillery where you can buy all the drinks they make and different gift sets.
Booking & Cost
We pre-booked our tickets to Echlinville Distillery through their website where we were able to pick the date that suited us best and were available. We choose the Tour which was £15 per person, you can also chose the Afternoon Tea, which there are two dates to choose from; Afternoon Tea on Saturday 29th Sept 2018 – £35 per person or the Festive Afternoon Tea on Saturday 15th December 2018 – £40 per person.
I definitely recommend that if you book you make sure to take note of the date, stick it in your diary, put a reminder in your phone as you don’t receive a reminder from Echlinville.