Cards on the desk here: I have Try Updates been led astray with the aid of a strong drink.
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Some weeks back, ready to be served on the Woodworkers Tap Room on Belfast’s Bradbury Location, I heard a person order a Jawbox, a call as soon as related to Belfast sinks, but seemingly now shared with a craft gin, conceived in Belfast however distilled, the bartender informed me, in County Down, at Echlinville Property, outside Kircubbin at the west coast of Strangford Lough.
Next day I asked a pal whose in-legal guidelines lived out that way whether he knew the distillery. “Never heard of it,” he said, then added, “that Street, mind you, is complete of surprises.” Which changed into all the invitation I needed, that and the vague perception that Northern Ireland’s best different gin – Short cross – became being distilled in County Down, too, on the alternative aspect of Strangford Lough. Occasionally the much less you move seeking out the more you locate.
Locating Strangford Lough
Traveler numbers preserve to upward thrust in Northern Eire, but for plenty traffic “seeing the attractions” way the Antrim coast – Large’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – Huge Belfast, with a twist nowadays of Recreation of Thrones, and maybe a Problems taxi tour. And no damage in that, but even so.
Strangford Lough separates the Ards peninsula – that leg dangling into the Irish Sea – from the west of County Down, and ends, in which maximum Belfast people might probably let you know it starts of evolved, simply south of Newtownards. The street from Belfast takes you quite a good deal the direction that travellers have accompanied because the stone age: down from the Antrim hills, crossing the river Lagan at its maximum easily forded factor (the foot of Belfast’s gift-day Excessive Road) and on out east, past the Parliament Buildings at Stormont and the suburb of Dundonald, which long in the past ate the picturesque village of the equal call. Up a hill it goes, then down to Newtownards wherein there are roundabouts to barter, the inevitable Tesco superstore, earlier than, simply beyond the Ulster Flying Membership, you capture your first glimpse of water.
Immediately The street narrows to 2 lanes – sea wall hard through the one at the right – and remains that manner for the 20 miles to Portaferry, where the mouth of the lough comes inside a whisper of closing on Strangford village.
A sign a bit manner out of Newtownards reNewtownards’ds, “Strangford and Amazing Herbal Splendor.” It’s miles perhaps the handiest unpleasant element on the entire stretch and really the most pointless, even though if I advised you the substances you might nicely shrug: low-upward push countryside on one facet of The road, that wall and the laugh immediately beyond it on the alternative, the ways shore continually visible with, to the south, the definition of the Mourne mountains.
The effect is extra beguiling than breathtaking, however, it builds and – via Greyabbey, then Kircubbin – builds. The flip-off for Echlinville Distillery is about half a mile out of doors Kircubbin: left on the bus shelter is the fine course I will provide, there is, as but, no signpost. In case you find yourself on the Saltwater Brig bar, turn approximately, however no longer always without delay. pass in, revel in the seafood – all regionally stuck, regionally as in Portavogie, at the outside leg of the peninsula, but considering that that’s only a few miles away, no one might argue – or perhaps reserve a table for tomorrow, when in step with the blackboard outside there might be loose beer.
Echlinville is a B1-listed house via Charles Lanyon, Belfast’s main Victorian architect. Lynn and Shane Braniff offered it at some point in the recession and started the distillery by reviving the historical Danville Whcall. They have because they crafted their personal whiskey, or what is going to be their own whiskey once the 3 years and a day stipulated through the whiskey gods have passed. Greater currently, they created an Echlinville Gin, flavored with a win (gorse) and seaweed, which They have offered into Fortnum & Mason. Greater currently, they created an Echlinville Gin, flavored with a win (gorse) and seaweed, which They have offered into Fortnum & Mason. They’ve been on the gin for the reason that 2015, growing and malting their own barley, making Jawbox Ireland’s only single-Estate gin. There has been a box at the ground the day I was there. “That’s the Echlinville,” stated Suzanne, one of the workforce of six, who changed into displaying me round. “proper,” I stated. “No,” she said, “I suggest that’s all of it.”
Even the Echlinville excursions (£15pp) are craft: one organization of 12, the first Saturday of each month. Mine changed into met through Lynn herself (inside the library) as well as Suzanne and Graeme the distiller, who brought us to the Echlinville nonetheless, a contraption of such copper and glass wonder – helmets, swan necks, line hands and two massive rectifying columns – which you half of anticipate Gene Wilder to come out Willy Wonka-like from at the back of it. There are plans for a dedicated visitors’ center within the courtyard, even in a single day lodging. For now, If you supposed to make a night time of it your first-rate guess could be to carry on to Portaferry.