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Introducing Jawbox Gin

From craft beers, to gin, whiskey and beyond, it’s the month to celebrate all the brilliant things we’re brewing and distilling in Belfast!

Jawbox Gin is the perfect example of a locally inspired spirit that has taken the bar world by storm. It is a classic London Dry Gin, produced in Northern Ireland by Gerry White, manager of the John Hewitt pub. A long time love of gin and of his hometown Belfast led to the creation of Ireland’s first and only single estate gin, using grain grown on Echlinville Estate in Newtownards in a distilling process that uses their own estate water.

We took some time with Gerry White, creator of Jawbox Gin, to learn more about it.

What inspired you to create Jawbox Gin?

I have always remembered stories my grandmother told me about people gathering round a big Belfast Sink, washing everything from their husbands, the children, clothes, the dishes, even a bicycle. All the stories and gossip of the day were told around it, it was the focal and social point for many people, so hence became known as the 'Jawbox'.

I have worked in the bar trade for over 30 years and have always believed that people come into a pub, not to get drunk, but to socialize, tell their stories, hear the gossip, tell their tales with their family and friends, just as they did back in the day over the sink, now they can do it again over a 'Jawbox' Gin. Also, as I am sure you will agree, if you ever have a house party, where does everyone end up? In the kitchen!

What elements inspired your creative process? 

I have a great passion for our city, Belfast, as I was born here and have lived here all my life. I honestly believe we have some the best people in the world, some of the most amazing true characters. I also believe we have one of the best hospitality industries in the world, this was very important to me when developing the gin, it had to have the Belfast Character, "The Belfast Cut". The Belfast City Coat of Arms is even represented on the label.

When developing the brand for the gin every single thing was extremely important, from the shape of the bottle, which had to represent an old Victorian medicine bottle, the colour and lettering on the label had to reflect the quality of the liquid inside the bottle. All the photography used for promoting the brand was achieved by using the old 'Wet Plate' tin type photography method, this is a long and very precise process, again reflecting the quality of the gin, and the time and passion put into making it.

How important were local elements in creating this gin?

Jawbox Gin is Distilled at Shane Braniff's, Echlinville Distillery, along the beautiful Ards Peninsula in Kircubbin. Everything is handcrafted on the estate with the same passion and enthusiasm that I have had from the very beginning. I make regular visits to the distillery, delivering the heather from the Belfast Black Mountain and helping in the whole process and production of this amazing product. Graeme Millar, the Master Distiller, is extremely talented and knew exactly what I needed and what my vision was for the end product. It took time, and a lot of development, but we got there.

How do you recommend drinking Jawbox Gin?

As you may already know, ginger ale was invented in Belfast, so for me it was the perfect accompaniment for the gin, but it also mixes equally well with tonic water and bitter lemon. For something really special try with Jawbox Gin with ginger ale, mint leaves and a wedge of fresh lime.

Where can we buy this product?

Jawbox Gin was launched in February 2016 in Belfast's Linen Hall Library by The Lord Mayor of Belfast. It was the perfect venue for the launch, as myself and Richard Ryan from Drinksology did a lot of research there for the gin and the branding.

The response and support for Jawbox Gin from the trade has been overwhelming. It is now available from all good bars and restaurants throughout Ireland, and all good independent retailers, including The Vineyard, Gap Wines, Lighthouse Wines and lots more. 

Find Jawbox Gin in Belfast bars The John Hewitt, Dirty Onion, The Sunflower, Kelly's Cellars, and many more.