Sally Anne Cooney (left) with her mother Marie who are taking on the spirit world with Silks Gin – named after the jockeys’ silks worn at the famous Bellewstown racecourse - pictured with some of their beehives.
Sally-Anne Cooney of Drogheda's Boann Distillery and her mother Marie are buzzing with excitement as they prepare to launch their new gin - a vital ingredient of which is honey from their own swarm of bees.
The Mother and daughter team are banking on their new venture being the bee’s knees – after a swarm captured from a farm gate in Meath inspired their new gin enterprise are taking on the spirit world with ‘Silks Gin’ – named after the jockeys’ silks worn at the famous Bellewstown racecourse.
They are one of the few mum-and-daughter beekeepers in Ireland who have their winged friends to thank for producing honey and pollinating the family’s apple trees – two of the key ingredients used in the spirit.
“Sally-Anne and I took a beekeeping course in 2011 with the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations. But it wasn’t until 2016 that we decided to start beekeeping properly in order to pollinate our apple trees,” said Marie.
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The idea for the new gin, which hits the shelves later this month, was born when the Cooneys captured thousands of bees which landed on a neighbour’s farm gate.
Marie had put the word out to local beekeepers that she needed to source a swarm to pollinate the 6,500 apple trees in their fields.
“A neighbour rang to say there was one hanging on his gate!” said Marie. “We caught them and transported them home in the back of my car to establish Sunshine Apiary outside Kilmessan, at the foot of the Hill of Tara.
“The original swarm is long gone but the hives remain, providing the honey, while the other botanicals for Silks come from apple blossom hand-picked directly from the apple trees and elderflower from the hedgerows at the back of the beehives.”
Mother and daughter are now aiming for the spirit to replicate the international success enjoyed in March, when the family-run Boann Distillery on Drogheda's Platin Road, won World’s Best New Make in the World Whiskies Awards.
“We knew that we needed a good name to stand out in a very competitive market,” said Sally Anne.
“Silks is inspired by the colourful silks worn by jockeys at the historic Bellewstown racecourse, beside our distillery.”
The Cooneys also plan to convert a horsebox into a gin bar - the Ginbox - which they intend using when crowds can return to sporting events, including Bellewstown race meetings, this summer.
Silks Gin contains 14 botanicals which are macerated (soaked in liquid) for 24 hours before slow distilling in a 500-litre copper pot still.
It is available to buy online at boanndistillery.ie and will be available at all good off-licences across Ireland over the summer. It is priced at €39.95 for a 70cl bottle.
For further information, see www.boanndistillery.ie or @silksgin on social media
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