Tag Archives: Shanky’s Whip

Feckin Irish Gin

Travel may broaden the mind but, as that is problematic these days, try drinking some gin. Feckin, I had always thought, is one of those expletives along with frickin that are deemed by some to be less offensive than the more guttural Anglo-Saxon fucking. It is and its use in connection with a type of gin makes it stand out from the crowd and create a bit of a talking point.

Feckin, though, is also the participle derived from the Irish verb, feck, which means to steal, to throw or to leave in a hurry. More intriguingly, it is a version of the name of an Irish saint, St Fechin, who founded several monasteries on the island, including the one at Fore in County Westmeath. He was also said to have possessed supernatural powers and the ability to cure others. In an act of self-sacrifice which marked him out for canonisation, he refused to use his remarkable abilities on himself and succumbed to the yellow plague in 664 CE. His feast day is on January 20th.

There is a discernible trend amongst Irish distillers of taking a slightly wry, if not comic, approach to presenting and marketing their wares. A classic example of this trend is Shanky’s Whip, which I reviewed a little while ago. Feckin Irish Gin, produced at the Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin in Northern Ireland’s County Down, on the shores of Strangford Lough, is another.

It comes in a tall angular bottle made of clear glass, not unlike those used by Martin Miller, with a longish neck and deploys a distinctive yellow for its labelling with black print. Looking more closely at the labelling I see that it is designed to look like a newspaper, the Echlinville Times, a marketing ploy used by Jethro Tull in 1972 when they wrapped their album, Thick as a Brick, second only to Aqualung in my view, in a copy of The St Cleve Chronicle and the Linwell Advertiser.

The newspaper idea affords them opportunities for a spot of whimsy, including an advert for a cat flap that is now surplus to requirements as Tiddles was lost out in the lough and a headline informing us that a man wearing a camouflage coat disappears in the forest. Visible from the back of the bottle is the inside of the label which screams “Out of this Feckin World” and that Feckin Irish Gin was found on the Moon. Don’t you just love the Irish sense of humour?

The Feckin brand first emerged in 2005 with the launch of its whiskey and then in 2014 Echlinville Distillery was granted the first licence to distil spirits in Northern Ireland for over 130 years. Yhey also produce a vodka and are expanding to include a museum and visitor centre.

The colour scheme, as well as giving the spirit a distinctive look which stands out from the crowds spawned by the ginaissance, also gives a heavy hint as to the predominant flavour the drinker can expect. There are just five botanicals used in the distillation process: juniper, lemons, angelica root, cassia bark, and coriander. As one who fervently believes that less is more and that each botanical must be made to work, this approach wins my seal of approval.

Yellow equates to lemon and Feckin Irish Gin is a lemon lover’s heaven. As soon as you release the artificial stopper your senses are hit by a waft of juniper and lemon and in the glass the clear spirit launches a bold assault on your tastebuds. Juniper is ever present, but the bitterness of the lemon soon comes to the fore before dancing a duet with the sweeter flavours of the coriander. The aftertaste is long and lemony with almost a sherbet feel to it. There is nothing subtle here but it makes for a feckin distinctive and refreshing drink which, with an ABV of 40%, makes the thought of a second glass irresistible.

Until the next time, cheers!

Shanky’s Whip

Veering somewhat off course, this week I am featuring an impressive Irish whiskey liqueur, Shanky’s Whip, from Shanky and Shireman’s and imported into this country by Biggar and Leith. Just from looking at the bottle you can tell that it is the result of the application of care, skill, and innovation.

The bottle is dumpy in shape and made from clear glass, with the word “Ireland” embossed on its shoulder. The artwork is terrific and designed to make it stand out from the field. It looks like the front of a vintage matchbox with banners in a bold red with white lettering and an illustration on a yellowy gold background. Look more carefully and the illustration is of the fantastical Irish jockey, Shanky, the wild boy of racing. Having been thrown from his horse, he picks himself up, attaches an ostrich to a cart and, whip in hand, completes the course.   

You could call it a whiskey liqueur for those who are not too keen on whiskey, blended and distilled to eliminate the burn that you associate with a drop of the hard stuff. A combination of Irish spirits and aged pot still whiskey, blended with the natural flavour of vanilla and infused with caramel and with an ABV of 33%, it is distilled in County Cavan and bottled by Shanky and Shireman under bond in Ireland. It is designed to stand out from the field.

In the glass it is black in colour rather like a stout. It is remarkably smooth in the mouth, rather like a cream liqueur but without the texture you associate with cream, and rich, mixing wonderful notes of caramel and vanilla with the spiciness of but not the astringency of Irish whiskey. If you could put the best bits of Irish stout, Irish cream, and Irish whiskey into one glass, the result would be Shanky’s Whip.    

The presentation bottle had a very distinctive racing theme, another clever piece of marketing. The suggested servings came in the form of a race card, giving the odds and run down of the runners and riders. I always think that you should taste a drink for the first time neat and so I went for On The Rocks, running in plain yellow colours with a starting price of 2-1. A big measure of the spirit and a couple of ice cubes provided for an enticing introduction to the subtlety and deliciousness of the spirit.

Next up was The Long and Short of It, red with a yellow sash and with odds of 5-2. The serving was one part Shanky’s Whip, four parts Coca Cola Spicy Notes, featuring lime, ginger, rosemary, jasmine, and jalapeno, served over ice in a long glass. This made for a refreshing and moreish drink, the liqueur showing that it was more than capable of working in conjunction with other flavours without losing its distinctive edge.

For those of you who like to take your spirits in the form of shots, Short and Stout, yellow with spots with a starting price of 6-1, encourages you to drop a shot of Shanky’s into an ice-cold pint of stout. It worked well, but for the purist there is nothing better than The Whip, yellow with red band, 100-1 outsider, a chilled shot of Shanky’s Whip. Perfection.

This is a very versatile drink which shows its colours either on its own or as part of a cocktail. It quickly made its way into my winners’ enclosure.

Until the next time, cheers!