Is there anything more popular than gin right now?

It feels like we’re seeing new gins pop up nearly every day, all promising new flavors and ideas. However, Jackford Irish Potato Gin seems to be the real deal.

The Stafford family has been growing potatoes in the South-East for over 300 years. Now run by John Stafford, Slaney Farms delivers quality potatoes, strawberries and more to retailers around the country. The Stafford family branched out earlier this year and started Jackford Irish Potato Gin, which created another use for their beloved potatoes.

We spoke to Orla Stafford, brand manager for Jackford Gin earlier this week to find out more about their gin. Read on the full interview…

Who had the brainwave to start making gin? 

"Dad always wanted to do something different with the potato; he wanted to diversify the business. He decided to start making alcohol from the potatoes, specifically to make gin, which we think was the right idea because of the way that the gin market is right now.”

When was it that you decided to start making the gin?

“We’ve been in the process of it for about three years now. We were thinking about different ideas for the brand, doing market research and we spent a lot of time on the design and the bottle. Of course, the recipe is so important and we wanted to make sure we put enough time into that too. We had a lot of tasting sessions to see what recipe we would go with and to compare ours with other gins to try to try to find what taste we really wanted. We believe that we now have a really good product and we’re so glad that we put that time into getting the perfect recipe.

We launched the gin this summer [2018], so it’s very new to the market. We focused mainly on distributing in the south-east in the beginning and now we’re making our way around the rest of Ireland. The people in Wexford were extremely supportive and very helpful during the launch.”

Why did you pick the name Jackford?

“My brother’s name is Jack and we have quite a lot of Jacks in our family, then Stafford is our surname, which is where the ‘ford’ part comes from. We’re based in Wexford so the ‘ford’ represents that as well. Then on the label of the bottle, we have a rooster, which is representative of the type of potato we use – the classic rooster potato.”

Tell us about the botanicals and flavours you have in the gin?

“Firstly, a potato gin is very different to a regular grain gin, it’s a lot smoother and creamier on the palate. It definitely tastes different and I think it’s really lovely. We think it’s great served neat as it’s smooth enough to get all the different botanicals and flavours that run through it.

We work with our distiller to source the botanicals as locally as possible. The botanicals make the gin really versatile, so it can be used in lots of different ways, not just the regular gin and tonic. We want it to be the bartender’s choice, to use in various exciting cocktails.

There are so many flavours in the gin that really come through: there’s sweetness in it from cherry, earthiness from the angelica root, which goes so well with the potato. The gin also has citrus notes from bitter orange and kaffir lime leaves, herbaceous notes as well, like basil and rosemary, and fruity flavours from the Wexford strawberry. The strawberry works beautifully in the summer and it’s nice to have that little bit of Wexford in there. We did a Wexford 'perfect serve' during the summer, served with Poacher’s Well Elderflower Tonic, and Wexford strawberries, so it was a really great way to represent our local area.”

Where do you see the business in the future?

“We hope to have our distillery up and running within the next year. In the next couple of years, we’d like to start exporting and just see the business grow more. We won a gold medal two weeks ago at the Irish Whiskey Awards, where the gin was blind tasted against 20 others, so we know we have a very good product and we really believe it can go far. We’re also going to look into whiskey in the future, it takes a lot longer to produce than gin, but it’s definitely something we’d be open to. We’d love to have some more products in our portfolio.”

What is your favourite way to drink the gin?

“My favourite way is very simple... in a gin and tonic with a slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary. They work really well with it because they are botanicals that are already in the gin and they really bring out those flavours.”

Keep up to date with Jackford Gin on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Let us know in the comments below if you've tried this new Irish gin.