Shortcross Gin is distilled by husband and wife team Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong on the grounds of the 500 acre Rademon Estate, located near Downpatrick in County Down. Founded in 2012, Rademon Estate Distillery was Northern Ireland’s first craft distillery and its flagship spirit, Shortcross Gin, has won a loyal fanbase and international industry recognition having been awarded over 20 international medals including Gold at the San Francisco World Spirts Competition in 2017.
Fiona and David, formerly a quantity surveyor and engineer, decided in 2012 to embark on a project to create an artisan distillery in Northern Ireland which would capture the rich scents of the gardens and forests surrounding her family’s home, Rademon House. With a shared love of gin and the desire to create a new standard in Irish gin distilling, the couple studied at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London and set about visiting distilleries across Europe, North America and Asia to learn the art of distilling. They were particularly inspired by the craft distilling movement in the United States, with its thriving community of micro-distilleries.
In 2013 David and Fiona commissioned a custom made 450 litre copper pot still from renowned German still makers Carl. This unusual still incorporates two enrichment columns into its design, each of which houses seven bubble plates which allows the level of reflux in the distillation process to be controlled with precision. With their still installed in a purpose built distillery located in the grounds of the Rademon Estate, they set about developing the recipe for their first spirit that would become Shortcross Gin.
The recipe development took six months with Fiona and David experimenting with a variety of different botanicals and flavour combinations. The final recipe for Shortcross Gin combines a selection of classic botanicals with homegrown flowers and fruits from the gardens and meadows around Rademon House. Foraged wild clover, elderflowers, elderberries and green apples are added to the more traditional botanicals of coriander, lemon and orange peel, cassia and juniper berries. These locally grown botanicals give Shortcross Gin its unique flavour profile and rich aromas which truly capture the lush verdant gardens, meadows and forests of the Rademon Estate.
These botanicals are added to their copper pot still with wheat spirit. The unique design of the still allows David and Fiona to control every aspect of the distillation process with precision and balance the wide range of botanical flavours, ensuring that the freshness of the delicate wild clover, elderflowers and elderberries are captured in the spirit. Each batch yields 200-300 bottles. After distillation, the spirit is cut to a bottling strength of 46% ABV with pure spring water drawn from a well on the grounds of the Rademon Estate itself. The quality of the spirit and the precision and care during distillation ensures that Shortcross Gin has a soft, smooth and velvet like texture.
After distillation the bottles are hand labelled and waxed on site at the distillery, with each bottles signed by hand. Shortcross Gin is named after the local village, Crossgar, which in Gaelic means ‘the short cross’. The thick parchment paper label incorporates into its design the short cross penny, a tenth century English coin. High resolution scans of an original coin were taken and incorporated into the Shortcross Gin logo.
Since its launch in 2014, Shortcross Gin has won a host of internationally recognised awards and legions of devotees. Fiona and David are working on a visitor’s centre at the distillery and have been busily experimenting with different expressions of their gin. 2016 saw the launch of a highly sought after limited edition Cask-Aged gin matured in French oak casks from Chateau de La Ligne in Bordeaux. They have also laid down casks of Irish malt whiskey which they expect will be ready for a first release in 2018. Fiona and David have certainly succeeded in creating a unique artisan distillery and a truly wonderful craft gin!