Giants Basalt Rock Gin, born from the pure water of Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, is infused with a unique sense of place
The giant’s causeway is a spectacular natural wonder found on the coastline of Northern Ireland. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is visited by almost a million tourists every year, who can now take home a special memento – Basalt Distillery’s premium Giants Basalt Rock Gin. Made with water filtered through ancient basalt, infused with sea buckthorn and local seaweed, the gin is presented in a unique hexagonal bottle that echoes the shape and grandeur of the stones.
“Since we launched in July 2022, we have had an excellent response and are getting interest from gin-lovers all around the world,” says James Richardson, who co-founded the distillery with Martha Garbe. “We have created a unique gin with powerful flavours – a bold, strong gin full of heat and spice to represent a ‘giant’s’ spirit. We selected a precise recipe of botanicals, designed to capture the spirit of our volcanic coastal geology.”
Within months of its launch, Giants Basalt Rock Gin was available in more than 80 venues in Northern Ireland, as well as bars, restaurants and retailers in the Republic of Ireland, mainland UK, France and Sweden. This is a testament to the vision and drive of the founders, who spent months honing the recipe to perfection while also working with manufacturers to produce a bottle that experts said would be impossible to construct.
James and Martha met at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh where they both studied chemical engineering. They decided to combine their love of gin with their academic knowledge, creating a distillery that represents a departure from traditional craft distilling, with an emphasis on the latest sustainable processes, cutting-edge distilling technology and an unrivalled focus on precision. “Our engineering backgrounds have had a significant impact on the brand as we apply the same meticulous scientific approach to distilling,” says Martha. “This is a step away from the handmade, craft approach. It’s something new, built on precision and accuracy as a way of creating the most incredible flavours and high-quality spirits.”
The pair developed a strong brand identity to tie the distillery to the causeway, with the distinctive hexagonal G logo appearing on a range of weighty, high-quality glassware and hexagonal basalt coasters. Working with the local tourist board, they have also designed gin-making experiences on the Giant’s Causeway using a portable still. Guests spend up to three hours learning about the art of gin, experimenting with botanicals, before taking home a bottle of their own creation.
The distillery has access to a 600ft borehole from which the mineral-rich basalt-filtered water is procured. A stainless-steel square still, called iStill, was selected for its sustainability credentials – it is 90 per cent more efficient than traditional copper stills. In addition, the company uses recycled glass and cardboard in all of their packaging.
“We pick our partners wisely, based on their sustainability,” says James. Indeed, the company is planning a ‘sustainable luxury’ campaign, looking at creating a closed-loop cycle with bars, restaurants and consumers. “We are also working with bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland and Scotland to help them produce their own high-quality spirits and have plans to bring out further innovative releases of our own, using chemistry methods we learnt at university.”