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Gin… A brief history, Are we going through another Gin Craze?

Gin has made a comeback, Are we going through another Gin Craze and why?

Written & Published by Lorna O’Driscoll

In the 17th Century Gin was sold in chemist shops to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones

Gin has been around since the middle ages.  The first gin has been traced back to Holland in the early 17th century. It was used as medicine and sold in Chemists to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones.  To make it more palatable the Dutch flavoured it with juniper berries, which also had medicinal properties of its own.

Gin Street, A central London street, drawn in 1751, Hogarth condemns the craze for gin by depicting the poor drinking themselves to death

In the first half of the 18th Century, A Gin Craze spread across England. The English government, allowed for unlicensed gin production. While allowing this, they imposed a heavy duty tax on all other spirits. As a result of this tax, grain production was of poor quality and was not fit for beer brewing. This opened up a market for Gin, and thousands of Gin stores opened across England. Gin was very popular amongst the poor, which in turn led to a little drunken epidemic, that some would compare to a drug war.

Gin Vs Vodka

Like Vodka, Gin is distilled. Unlike Vodka though Gin is redistilled with a blend of various botanicals and ingredients, resulting in a spirit that has intentional flavour, whereas vodka has no flavour.

Gin’s main flavour is juniper berries. Typically a fine gin contains up to 10 botanicals. Botanicals used are coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and nutmeg.

So going back to the Main question….. Why is Gin making a comeback, and are we going through a 21st century Gin Graze?

Why Gin?

Gin seems to be more popular now with the younger generation. Certainly the Variety of Gins readily available is growing…. We see through the brief history above that Gin is intentionally flavoured, which makes each gin so unique. So like craft beer, Gin with so many varieties, is the new craze, but how long will it last?

I read an article recently, that Gin can help you loose weight. Now whether this is true or not we would always recommend moderation is key, and to never over consume. But researchers from the University of Sigulda in Latvia have revealed that gin can cause an ‘after burn’ effect, which boosts your body’s calorie-burning potential. So if we are to believe these researchers, let’s not feel guilty, now your favourite drink, can help you loose weight.


From the traditional London Dry Gin, to the distilled/re-distilled Gins, for example Monkey 47 or Drumshambo Gunpowder, to name just a few….. Which is your favourite? & how do you like yours?

The Irish Whiskey Academy, Midleton

Our Experience at Midleton Distillery

Written by Conor Murray (Manager of our Ballincollig Store) 

Published by Lorna O’Driscoll

Upon arriving at the Midleton Distillery, as a guest, you are immediately hit by the vastness of the project. Buses shuttling tourists flow continuously in and out the gates, while large stone brick buildings stretch into the distance.

This is no small scale affair, this is the home of iconic Irish whiskies and in particular, Irish Pot Still Whiskey.

A group of twelve whiskey enthusiasts from the off trade, including Pawel Janus from our Oliver Plunkett street store and myself, eagerly assembled at the main doors to the distillery, having been invited to participate in and experience the Jameson Whiskey Academy, a purpose built academy to train members of the drinks industry and the public on all things whiskey.


Conor Murray & Pawel Janus

Our Guide and tutor, Dave McCabe, took us through every aspect of the production line.

We touched and smelled the barley ingredient used from the start, we peered into the giant Pot stills used to distill the spirit and we sampled straight from the American Oak Barrels (25 year old) and Sherry Butt Casks (18 year old) used to age the whiskies in the distillery warehouses!


Dave has an incredible wealth of knowledge in regards to whiskey production and tasting and I thoroughly recommend hearing him speak on the topic if you ever get the chance.

The highlight of the experience for me was sampling each of the three new products from the distillery, “The Distillers safe”, “The Blenders Dog” and “The Coopers Croze”.

Now available to buy online:

Also available in any of our 9 stores, Cork City & County.


Each has been uniquely tailored by Head Distiller Brien Nation, Head Blender Billy Leighton and Head Cooper Ger Buckley respectively, according to what they themselves would like to see in a whiskey.

Each product leans towards their profession, so expect the “Coopers Croze” to be heavily influenced by oak etc.

The standout of the three, in my opinion, was the “Distillers Safe”, as it highlights the Distillate process, placing emphasis on the spirit rather than the oak ageing, the whiskey was smooth, with hints of apricot and cinnamon.

Having had an Unforgettable two days at the Distillery, I would like to extend the thanks of both Pawel and myself, on behalf of the O’Donovans Off Licence Group, for inviting us to the Academy. It was plain to see the passion and effort that has been put into the academy and tour and it is a credit to the whiskey industry in Ireland.


I would highly recommend to anyone reading this to take a trip to the Distillery and experience it for yourselves!

We should support The Public Health Alcohol Bill

General Election 2016 – The Public Health Alcohol Bill


O’Donovan’s Off Licence group is a family owned business, based in Cork City and County. We employ over 120 people across our 16 stores, and we are always trying to expand but……

Over the last number of years, it has been a tough struggle to compete with the larger supermarkets, and their irresponsible pricing.

With the General Election fast approaching, we have 1 Key message to all candidates….

The Public Health Alcohol Bill, needs to be passed sooner rather than later.

The bill was side tracked till after the general election, and our concern as a small independent off licence, is that this will soon be forgotten about, especially if a new government is voted in.

Supermarkets are continuingly pricing alcohol as cheap in some cases as a bottle of water, is this the right message to give to the young adults of this generation. We no longer want to expose our children to a binge drinking craze.

The bill, if passed will also allow for affordable structural separation. This means that alcohol products will no longer be positioned with non-alcohol products, in turn ensuring our children will no longer be exposed to alcohol, when they shop in a supermarket.

If the bill is passed, it will allow us as trained responsible retailers, compete with the larger retailers, in turn providing local jobs and supporting local businesses.

So if any candidates knock on our doors, we will be highlighting the need for this legislation, it is vital for us to grow and uplift our business.

As a small local off licence, we can offer something that the larger retailers cannot…. We pride ourselves on our customer service, offering face to face interaction between our trained staff and the consumer.

Drinking Wine At Bedtime Can Help You Lose Weight

The best wine study yet

If you’re trying to lose weight and always like a sweet snack at bedtime maybe have a glass of wine instead. So a recent study tells us and we appreciate the advice greatly. Researchers at Harvard University studied 20,000 women over a 13-year period and found that those who drank half a bottle of wine (about two glasses) daily reduced their risk of obesity. In addition, studies have revealed that drinking red wine can help burn fat.

So tell us how can this good news wine story be so? Sounds crazy but good.

The reason is not rocket science but can be a useful tip. A glass of wine can curb your appetite for sweet stuff and contains less calories than many of your sweety friends. Of course, the trick here is to replace your typical after-dinner sweets with wine, rather than combine the two thinking your wine now negates your chocolate cake.

The Caveat

Of course you have to be sensible to the amount of wine you drink. Wine has much less calories than a lot of snack foods but the amount you drink must be monitored.

See the facts
Glass red wine
Calories: 135
Fat: 0g
Glass white wine
Calories: 120
Fat: 0g
Slice of cake
Calories: 235
Fat: 10.5g
Ice cream
Calories: 300
Fat: 16g
Cool Ranch Doritos (1 oz., about 10-15 chips)
Calories: 150
Fat: 8g

Just remember moderation is the key, no point drinking a glass of wine bigger than your head!

The key is to enjoy the quality of your wine with a good quality bottle.

off licence association

Gary o’ Donovan takes over as Chairperson of the National Off Licence Association

O’Donovan believes that product knowledge is essential to success in the independent off-trade. “Unless you know the product, you can’t sell it,” he says. He became a member of the Champagne Academy in 1994 and was awarded the WSET Diploma in 1995. He is responsible for the very successful Annual Cork Wine Fair and opened the Cork Wine School in 2010, after 15 years lecturing for the Wine Development Board of Ireland. Gary has also travelled widely across all the major wine regions.

As the youngest of Joe O’Donovan’s four children, he hadn’t intended joining the family business. O’Donovan graduated with a BA in Economics and Sociology in 1991 and planned to take a year off to travel the world. However, his father had other ideas and invited Gary to join him in the business by setting up their second off-licence in Summerhill. O’Donovan has never looked back and has spent much of the time since then cultivating the company’s branch network throughout Cork city and county with personal responsibility for the wine end of the business.

Gary is committed to the National Off-Licence Association and has rowed in behind NOffLA from day one. He has been a member of the association’s council and executive for several years and became vice-chairman in 2010. He feels that the association “gives a unified voice on behalf of the trade” and believes that this is also important for suppliers as they recognise that “there is a professional trade to be catered for”. The Cork businessman sees the Off-Licence of the Year as a major industry tool: “This allows us to keep up with the rest. You need to pitch yourself against the best and see where you’re at. The awards raise the bar and we aspire to go with the rising standards. The Off-Licence of the Year is the vehicle that allows us to check our progress.”

O’Donovan has been very active in the drinks industry’s Support Your Local campaign and is in no doubt about the importance of the industry within local economies across the country. He has spoken about the “huge contribution” the alcohol industry makes in Cork, and the “worrying trend” of employment figures in every sector declining in recent years: “Over 3,000 jobs have been lost in the independent off-licence sector since 2008, while in the last year alone, 18 independent off-licences have shut down.”

In his new role as NOffLA chairman, he is particularly keen to outlaw below-cost selling and to see the enactment of sections 9 and 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. He also looks forward to developing closer ties between NOffLA members and their suppliers, identifying the common purposes of both parties. O’Donovan looks forward to growing the membership base, including the recruitment of some of the bigger independent retailers.