Who knew gin is super popular in Ireland? Not me! When I think of Ireland, I certainly think of alcohol, but that of the whiskey, Irish Cream liqueur, and beer variety. Well, gin has become very popular in the last several years and a number of distillers have popped up all over Ireland. In fact, I even tasted a gin flavored ice cream at Murphy’s in Dublin. Yes, gin flavored ice cream – that is how popular gin is in Ireland!
In any case, when I plan our trips, I always search for fun eating and drinking experiences. Pearse Lyons gin distillery showed up for our Dublin, Ireland trip. Pearse Lyon seemed interesting, and Dan loves gin. I booked the only tour available on our visit – the Gin School! I had no idea what this is when I book, but book I did. Pearse Lyons sent a confirming emails a few days in advance. We showed up on a Saturday night in the pouring rain, no idea what were for. Interestingly, the distillery, or at least part of it, is in an old church. Our Gin School was in an adjacent modern building, we unfortunately could not visit the distillery during our tour as the distillery was closed.
The staff at Pearse Lyons was expecting us and opened the locked gates to bring us in from the rain. If you didn’t catch on, the Gin School takes place after hours. We waited a few minutes in the lobby and promptly at 6, were lead to the second floor of another building on the property. We donned Pearse Lyons aprons and were given a freshly made Gin & Tonic before moving into the next room, which is where the Gin magic happens.
The next room, where most of “schooling” takes place holds several work spaces, each with its own copper alcohol still. Yes, copper mini stills! I was not expecting this; how fun! The master distiller next introduced himself and began describing the gin school. In short, every party creates its own gin based on many, many botanicals available in the school. From dried botanicals to fresh plants with leaves to cut off, there are a lot of options! Dan took the lead on our bottle, as he really loves gin. For our bottle, Dan went conservative, adding only Rosemary, peppercorn, and mint to our base botanicals (juniper, etc.). We mixed them all together in a little sack before dropping the sack into our still.
The gin would sit in the stills for a bit while the botanicals cooked. As the gins were crafted, Pearse Lyon brought another gin cocktail, this one made with Pearse Lyons’ pink rhubarb gin. And yes, its made with real rhubarb (that’s where the color comes from!). The master distiller also started walking around at this point, ensuring everything was going well.
With the stills going, Pearse Lyons brought out a gorgeous spread of meats, cheeses, and bread for each still. Since we split a still, we split a platter, which was almost enough for dinner. Very delicious! Everyone in the class was raving about the food. The distillery also brought out another round of gin cocktails, these with grape fruit.
At this point our gin was really cooking and started to stream out of the still. The distiller encouraged guests to taste a small bit of the gin, which tastes strong and HORRIBLE at this point. I actually couldn’t even taste it – the smell was too much for me. That being said, we sampled the gin again about 20 minutes later and it was much, much smoother!
Eventually, the master distiller finished each gin off by measuring the alcohol content and, if necessary, mixing in water to ensure the alcohol is legal to take out of the distillery, ha! Our gin started at 47% ABV and the distiller lowered it to a respectable 42% ABV. We eventually bottled the gin and created our own name and labels – Danny’s Delicious Djinn!
We left the Gin School with our own bottle of Danny’s Delicious Djinn to take home. How fun!! We also purchased two bottles, as Pearse Lyons’ gin is quite tasty. There is no requirement to purchase, and everyone gets to take their bottle home. Side note – there is only 1 bottle per still. So if you share a still with a friend, you will only get 1 bottle between the two of you to take home.
Having made it home and tried our gin, its really good! I recommend this experience for a fun activity for friends or couples. The entire experience on lasted 2 hours and at least for the Gin School, there is no option to tour the distillery or purchase extra drinks or food. Be sure to book in advance, as space is certainly limited.
STEAL OUR GIN SCHOOL
Pearse Lyon Distillery Gin School: As you probably guessed, this is an activity for the 18 plus crowd. Gin is available for purchase after the school ends. Our tour was the shared still Gin School Experience. Check the calendar for whats available on your trip.
ON A BUDGET
If you are on a budget, you can visit Pearse Lyons and not attend the Gin School at a much lower price. Pearse Lyons’ gin is also pretty easy to find in Dublin and at the airport in Duty Free.