O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
+353 1 2931040 online@obrienswine.ie Monday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm Sunday 12:30am-10pm


  • A Decidedly Mediterranean Gin

    Over the last couple of weeks I have picked out a number of new and interesting gins from our line-up. However, for this week’s blog I have focused on just one to fully understand the care and attention that goes into distillation of some of these great spirits. I could have picked from an array of great gins that showcase attention to detail with ingredients or distillation technique but for me one that comes to the fore concerning a sense of place and the intricacies of distillation is Gin Mare.

    Launched in 2008, Gin Mare was at the forefront of the renaissance in gin production from a new wave of gin distillers who challenged preconceptions of what gin ought to taste like. Made in Vilanova a small costal town just outside of Barcelona, the desire of the distillers was to move away from the classic juniper dominated London Dry style and create contemporary gin that reflected the character and heritage of the area.

    Olives are the star botanical

    This is very much a ‘Mediterranean’ gin, drawing its botanical ingredients from around the sea, uniting local arbequina olives with basil from Italy, thyme from Greece, rosemary from Turkey and citrus from Spain. Added to this are the classic spicy botanicals: juniper berries, coriander and cardamom which are grown on the family’s own land.

    Once these botanicals are gathered together; the citrus elements, of sweet orange, bitter orange peel and lemon, are macerated together for a whole year in neutral spirit. Most of the other botanicals are macerated separately from each other for thirty-six hours. They are then distilled separately with six different distillations before blending together. This is to create a consistent tasting gin, allowing for the variation in harvest of these natural products. All of this takes place on a beautiful pot still housed in what must be one of the prettiest distillery buildings in the world, a picturesque old chapel complete with fresco.

    The beautiful Gin Mare distillery

    But how does it taste? Gin Mare has an unusual savoury flavour and does have a ‘Mediterranean’ accent. The most unusual botanical, the arbequina olive, gives the gin a smoothness of texture alongside an unmissable flavour, blending with the other savoury elements of thyme and rosemary. However, the more traditional notes of juniper and zesty citrus still shine through to balance out the profile. Due to this smoothness and flavour profile, Gin Mare can be drunk straight and can often be seen in bars around Barcelona served from the freezer (or in frozen glasses), simply served over ice with a sprig of rosemary or an olive. Of course, it also works great in G&Ts garnished with a little orange peel, orange bitters & rosemary, or even fresh red pepper slices with thyme.

  • Unusual Gin

    There is a vast array of different gins on the market, generally they fall into a few different categories depending on the botanicals used, distillation method or where in the world it is produced. One such category that is rarely seen in quality gin nowadays is cold compound gin.

    Cold compounding simply means infusing the base spirit with botanicals rather than adding the botanicals through distillation. Here the botanicals are allowed to rest in a neutral spirit at ambient temperature, before filtering, dilution and bottling. The technique was long seen as a poorer method of producing gin and rarely used anymore. In fact, it is easier and faster to produce a consistent product through traditional distillation. However, with skill and attention to detail, it is possible to create a high-quality gin using this method and that’s just what Ampleforth’s have done with their Bathtub Gin.

    The name dates back to bootleggers of the prohibition era in the United States, when cold compound gin made a brief clandestine resurgence. The bootleggers used flavourings to mask the taste of the cheap alcohol and the name bathtub gin denoted one of these poorly made, harsh spirits. The exact etymology is unclear, perhaps referring to bathtubs used as tanks to infuse the alcohol with botanicals or that the bottles were diluted with tap water from the bathtub, as the bottles were too tall to fit under the sink tap.

    Whether compound or distilled it's all about the botanicals used

     Ampleforth’s Bathtub gin plays on this name to brush off the stigma and create a unique gin using the cold compound technique. However, the quality of botanicals and care given in the creation of the gin are what sets this apart. They begin with a high-quality copper pot distilled spirit, infusing it with botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The time given to the cold compounding is entirely governed by periodic sampling to determine when the spirit has achieved the qualities required. Due to this method of production it pours a natural colour, lightly tinted by the botanicals. The compounding method also adds a fuller creamy mouthfeel, and displays earthy pine with spicy cardamom, juniper and clove backed up with fresh delicate citrus tones.

    You can pick up the multi-award winning Ampleforth’s Bathtub gin reduced from €53 to €48 in our Gin Sale this month. Enjoy it neat or try it in a G&T with a cinnamon stick and a little orange peel.


  • The Great Gin Hunt

    Here at O’Briens we have been searching out some of the very best and most interesting gins from around the world. Each week we taste, nose and examine gins from around the world looking for unique and interesting flavours and aromas. We are looking for gins that have a story to tell or an interesting approach be that through unusual botanicals or distillation methods. Above all of course they have to taste great. Yes, sometimes it’s a tough job!

    Here are just a few picks of world gins from our current gin sale line-up.

    Nordes, Citadelle, Monkey 47

    Citadelle Gin is produced in the heart of France’s Grande Champagne Cognac region. The French AOC laws governing cognac allow it only to be distilled up to the 31st of March following the grape harvest. This means the stills are quiet six months of the year so the distillers on the Logis d’Angeac estate decided to produce gin in the months they were not producing cognac. Citadelle is the only gin in distilled in a traditional Cognac pot still with a naked flame. Distilling over an open flame requires a particular set of skills and also means the gin is made in smaller batches compared to that which could be produced using a column still or steam distillation. The result of this unique distillation method the is an elegant flavour and a very smooth palate. This is a juniper lead gin supported with eighteen other botanicals for a complex floral and spicy flavour profile.

    Nordes gin comes from Galicia region in northern Spain. Nordes is not your usual gin. One of the things that is unique about the gin is its base spirit. The gin is distilled from the pomace of Albarino grapes which gives the finished spirit a superb rounded mouthfeel and texture. It also features twelve, locally sourced, botanicals including lemon peels, hibiscus, liquorice and eucalyptus. This is a fruity and floral gin with a light touch of mint and juniper tucked in the background.

    The beautiful Monkey 47 still

    We can’t talk of great gins from around the world without mentioning the venerable Monkey 47. The bold uncompromising style of this gin has lead it to pick up numerous awards and set a benchmark to which many others are compared. What’s unusual about this gin is the sear number of botanicals used, the clue is in the name, with 47 different botanicals in the distillation. The complexity on display from its long list of botanicals has to be tasted to be fully appreciated.

    You can pick these up on offer, along with a host of other Irish and international gins, in our Gin Sale.

  • Getting into the Spirit of Mothers Day

    Just in case you forgot, Mother’s Day is this Sunday the 26th of March. Yes, this Sunday! But don’t worry, there is plenty on offer in your local O’Briens to mark the occasion.

    We have something to suit everyone’s taste. So, forget about the bath set or novelty mug and get them something they will really enjoy. A bottle of fine spirits, and the time to relax and enjoy the gift, could be a great choice. It presents well and can be sipped and enjoyed for a long time after the day. And, of course, we have free gift wrapping in all our stores.

    So here are just a few picks from our offers this month across a range of spirits.

    Glendalough Distillery have taken the expertise, botanical knowledge and flavour design gained with their great seasonal range of gins and produced a new year-round release that captures the essence of the four seasons. The delicate balance of floral, fruit and spice notes in their Wild Botanical Gin (€33.00 down from €38.00) will keep any gin lover happy.

    New Irish gin from Glendalough Distillery

    For those whose taste run to vodka you can’t go wrong with the instantly recognisable Grey Goose (€50.00 down from €57.50). This superior French vodka is crisp, clean, and exceptionally smooth, making it a great base for a range of cocktails and long drinks.

    West Cork 10 year old (€32.00 down from €40.00) is perfect for those who prefer whiskey to clear spirits. Presenting caramel and spice notes while remaining fresh and approachable with crisp fruit and a soft body. This is a real a real crowd pleaser of an Irish whiskey.

    Kerry Gold may be a household name when it comes to the dairy section of the supermarket but taking all that knowledge in dairy they have produced an excellent new premium Cream Liqueur (€19.00 down from €24.00). It is made with real chocolate and genuine Irish whiskey for a smooth, rich, and silky texture with rich chocolate flavour and subtle whiskey notes.

    Something for all tastes

  • Reviving a Spirit

    There is perhaps no other drink that brings with it such a great degree of infamy in the public mind as absinthe. But what is absinthe and is its reputation truly warranted?

    Absinthe is distilled in a similar method to gin, where the botanicals are macerated in base alcohol and redistilled. A wide range of herbs can be used in the production of absinthe with the primary three being wormwood, anise, and fennel. The green colour of traditional absinth comes from the seeping with more botanicals after distillation.

    As with many flavoured spirits it was originally produced for its believed medicinal benefits in the late 18th century, as a remedy for all ailments. It was actually given to French soldiers as a preventive to malaria during the colonial wars in north Africa. The returning troops had grown a taste for absinthe and this together with the reduction in production and the resulting increase in cost of wine following the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century lead to absinthes increasing popularity.

    The Absinthe Drinker by Viktor Oliva

    It also became the drink of choice for bohemian Parisians, who espoused its supposed hallucinogenic effects brought on by a compound in the spirit called Thujone. In reality, there is only a minuscule trace level of this in absinthe that has no effect. The effects were rather due to their large consumption of such a high alcohol spirit.

    This idea of hallucinations, supposed addiction and connections to crimes lead in part to its eventual banning in several countries in the early 20th century. Other factors were also at play however as with the Great War looming and the reduction in healthy recruits perceived to be the result of absinthe consumption. Lobbying by resurgent wine producers, who were facing loss of sales due to absinthe’s popularity was also a factor. The widespread consumption and increased demand also lead to poor quality and sometimes dangerous replicas being produced.

    The louche effect seen in a Blanche absinthe.

    Modern, quality made, absinthe is no more dangerous to your health than any other alcohol product, albeit it should be drunk in moderation due to its very high alcohol content. It should not be drunk neat but rather diluted with cold water. The usual ratio is one part absinthe to five parts water. The addition of water causes essential oils to emulsify, creating a cloudy effect known as the ‘louche’. You could also add a little theatre to the serving by following a traditional method of slowly dripping chilled water on to sugar cube, dissolving it through an absinthe spoon to dilute the spirit.

    So, here’s two options you can try, in moderation, to celebrate Absinthe Day on the 5th of March.

    La Fee Absinthe Parisienne is distilled with 9 herbs and spices, all of which have their roots in traditional absinthe production. Smooth texture with fresh anise aroma and flavour.

    Pernod Absinthe is from the company that opened the first absinthe distillery and based on a recipe from 1890.  Balanced wormwood and anise with a silky-smooth body.

    Advertisement poster for Beucler absinthe


  • The Scottish Gin Revival


    Gin production in Britain has had a chequered history with social commentators of the mid 18th century declaiming it the ruination of society. At the time over 6,000 houses in London where selling cheap, poor quality gin. Many saw this “gin craze” as the root of the crime and poverty of the era. Something needed to be done, and so a series of laws were introduced to restrict both the sale and manufacture of spirits.

    This is when the established Scottish distillers, like the Haig and Stein families, saw an opportunity and in 1777 began transporting their quality neutral grain spirit to London for rectification into gin. This was the start of an enterprise that grew substantially over the intervening centuries and today Scotland produces approximately 70% of the gin in the UK including big brands like Tanqueray, Gordon’s and Hendrick’s.

    The_Gin_shop_-_Cruikshank_Scraps_and_sketches_(1829)_f The Gin Shop 1829 by George Cruikshank

    Perhaps no surprise then that Scotland is at the forefront of the new wave of gin distillation and today produces some of the best gins in the world. The explosion of quality gin produced in the country over the last few years is fuelled by the passion and drive of small scale craft distilleries and also the entry of the established whisky producers looking for new avenues of distillation to explore. Having the knowledge and experience of centuries of producing some of the best whisky in the world certainly helps but it is also the access to intriguing and unique, locally foraged, botanicals that is setting Scottish gin apart.

    Gin in shop 3 fantastic new wave Scottish gins

    Experience the Scottish revival for yourself with these three wonderful gins. All three are in our gin sale this month.

    Made in the Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay, The Botanist is the work of Scotch whisky legend Jim McEwan. Distilled using an incredible 31 different botanicals, 22 of which are foraged on the island of Islay itself. Unsurprisingly this is a complex gin with big citrus notes and a myriad of floral aromas and flavours.

    Caorunn gin, hailing from the Balmenach distillery in Speyside, is another gin produced by one of the big whisky distillers. This is a crisp, full-bodied gin with beautifully balanced citrus, spice and floral notes.

    Daffy’s, a small batch craft gin, is the result of four years of experimentation. The result is an exceptionally smooth full-bodied gin where citrus and spice abound along with a delicate earthy edge from the star botanical, Lebanese mint.

  • Our inside track on Rum


    Rum is one of the most versatile spirits, whether as the base in a cocktail or sipped straight. There is also a wide variety in how it is produced with countries or regions having their own traditions for the production. Some use column stills and some use pot stills along with a wide variety of wild and cultured yeasts. However the common factors is the sugar cane plant.

    sugar cane

    The high demand for sugar in the 17th century on lead to the establishment of hundreds of sugar cane plantations across the Caribbean providing refined sugar to Europe. To extract the sugar the plant is crushed and the juice collected. This is boiled which caused lumps of crystalline sugar to coalesce. Molasses is the the syrupy residue is left over after the sugar has been extracted and was initially thought of as waste and often just dumped at sea.

    However sugar mill workers soon realised that when the molasses was mixed with water and left in the sun it would ferment. Molasses still contains a high amount of sugar which together with the wild yeast in the air and the hot humid weather provided perfect conditions for natural fermentation. From here it was only a short leap to distil it down into a spirit. What kind of yeast used and the distillation method use all effect the style of the final spirit and when aged in oak rum can take on a myriad of complex flavours and aromas.


    I have picked out two rums from our Spirits of the Americas sale for you to try.

    The first, Havana Club 3 Year Old, is the perfect base for any rum cocktail with clean, rounded flavours of citrus, vanilla and some spicier elements.

    For a sipping rum I have chosen Zacapa. Unlike most rums this is made from the concentrated first press of sugar cane, known as virgin sugar cane honey. Blended from rums aged between 6 and 23 years. Rich and smooth with complex notes of sweet fruit, dark chocolate, raisins, vanilla, nutmeg and oak.


  • Sipping Tequila


    Forget about shots, slammers and Margaritas, premium Tequilas offer up a unique combination of fruit and spice flavours to enjoy when sipped straight or over ice.

    The blue Agave plant is the key to the distinctive flavour of Tequila. This spiky plant grows wild across Mexico but only spirits distilled from agave grown in the volcanic soil of Jalisco state and some surrounding areas can be called Tequila. Spirits made from agave outside of this area is called Mezcal.

    4513443271_4ebd35db26_b A pina can weight up to 240 pounds

    It takes between eight and twelve years for an agave plant to reach maturity before it can be harvested by cutting away the leaves leaving the pina, or heart. The fructose sugar rich pina is slowly oven cooked to release the sugars needed for fermentation before being crushed and the juice collected to be fermented and then distilled twice. The result is Blanco tequila, a spicy spirit with bold agave taste and aroma.

    Tequila-barrel Tequila barrels

    This Blanco tequila can then be aged in barrels where it takes on increasingly complex flavours with good reposado or anejo tequilas displaying those wood characteristics. Resposado means rested and these have been aged in oak for between 2 and 12 months and should strike a balance between agave and wood character. Anejo translates as ‘aged’ and these spend a minimum of one year in barrel and display smoother richer flavours.

    When buying look out for the term ‘100% agave’, this means the tequila has been made only from the blue agave plant, without the addition of any other juices like cane sugar,  and these will show the most smoothness and agave character.

    Patron Silver is a great showcase for clean agave flavours, think dried pineapple, citrus and white pepper.

    Gran Centenario Anejo is a delicious aged tequila with superbly balanced flavours of complex fruit and spice on a silky smooth body.

    Both of these, plus many more, are on offer in our Spirits of the Americas sale.


  • Gin Resurgence

    There has been a resurgence in gin production and appreciation across the world in the last few years. The Irish have not been found wanting in this area with a surge of micro distilleries producing world class small batch gins.  A new breed of distillers are experimenting and innovating to offer more choice than ever before with a fantastic diversity in the taste of different gins.

    By definition gin must taste “predominantly” of juniper but after that distillers are free to add any other botanical they can imagine. And herein lies the beauty of modern gin with distillers using different recipes and innovative botanicals to create truly unique tastes. Whether it is home grown fruits or exotic spices, gin offers a multiplicity of different flavours like Dublin City Gin with its traditional juniper profile yet the addition of local Dublin-grown rhubarb and grapefruit gives it a fruity, zesty twist.

    Blackwater Distillery are looking to the history of Waterford for inspiration with their Blackwater No.5. Whites of Waterford were one of the largest importers of spices into the British Isles in the 19th century, bringing in exotic ingredients form around the world. Blackwater have created their gin using only botanicals that would have landed in Waterford during the 19th century for a delicate floral and gently spiced aroma and flavour.

    Discover new tastes for yourself in our gin sale. With over 25 gins on offer from around the world there is something for everyone. You can check out all the gins on offer here. 

  • Warming Winter Cocktails

    There is definitely a cold snap out there. So light the fire and stay warm with some delicious warm winter cocktails. I’ve put together three, simple to make cocktails you can try at home. So for chocolate and spice and all things nice read on.

    Chamomile Hot Toddy

    This is comforting and soothing if you have picked up a cold although it tastes just as good even if you haven’t! Chamomile is delicate and floral and will have you thinking of spring while the brandy warms you heart and spirits. For this you can’t go wrong with Hennessy VS. Cognac

    • 35ml Brandy
    • Chamomile tea
    • Lemon wedge
    • Honey (to taste)
    • Cinnamon sticks (optional)

    Add the lemon wedge, honey, cinnamon stick and brandy to a mug and top with chamomile tea.


    Hot Buttered Rum

    This is a warming and luxurious classic winter cocktail. Don’t get put off by the butter, this is smooth creamy and very easy to drink. A dark rum like Old Sea Dog works well here for that deep rich molasses flavour but if you prefer something lighter a golden rum like Havana Club 3 Year Old will give you more lifted delicate flavours.

    • 35ml Rum
    • 1 Teaspoon sugar
    • 1 Table Spoon of Unsalted Butter
    • Pinch of Ground Cinnamon 
    • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg 
    • Hot water

    Mash butter, sugar and spices into a paste in a mug. Add rum and top with hot water. Stir vigorously then sit back and enjoy.


    Tequila Hot Chocolate

    For something a touch sweeter but still keeping those warming spices try this Tequila Hot Chocolate recipe. Delicious chocolate and tequila, warming and cosy, what’s not to love! Try it with some Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila.

    • 35ml Tequila
    • Hot Chocolate of Choice
    • Pinch of Salt
    • Pinch of Cayenne Powder
    • Marshmallow (Optional)
    • Whipped Cream (Optional)

    Prepare hot chocolate in a mug according to package directions. Add Tequila, Salt and Cayenne. Stir and top with a marshmallow or whipped cream.



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