Product Review: Glendalough Rose Gin


Glendalough’s rose gin defies expectations, appearance.

It’s natural to jump to conclusions about a rose gin.

At best, it might seem like an attempt at a “gateway” gin – a softer expression of the pine-y spirit, finished with rose petals, a la Hendrick’s. At worst, it might appear to be little more than a marketing gimmick, prioritizing color over flavor in hopes of standing out on a crowded shelf.

Glendalough Distillery’s rose gin is neither of those things. The Irish company’s second U.S. gin release is vibrant and unusual, with a flavor profile as striking as its pinkish hue.

Looks Aren’t Everything

That gorgeous color is eye-catching, to be sure. It’s achieved in part through a post-distillation infusion of rose petals. But the gin’s botanical blend is what truly sets it apart.

Glendalough’s new gin includes a trio of rose types, each chosen for its aromatic properties – wild roses found in the Wicklow Mountains, where the distillery resides; heritage roses, which look like your typical rose; and Damask roses, which date back to ancient times. In concert, they give the gin a wildflower-type flavor as opposed to the softer, more perfumed essence you might encounter in a rose-infused product.

On the Nose

I was expecting the fragrance of a bouquet as soon as I opened the bottle. Not so. The aroma definitely has distinct floral notes, but it’s spicier than I anticipated, with hints of peppercorn.

On the Palate:

Fresh and vibrant. Rose notes blend with traditional gin botanicals such as juniper and coriander, along with a bit of citrus.

The Finish

Big, spicy notes of pink peppercorn, lemon, and wild rose. It’s an unusual finish – dry, almost sharp, with a lingering mouthfeel.

In Cocktails

I’ve found that effectively deploying Glendalough’s rose gin in cocktails involves a bit of trial and error. It can bring a new dimension to any classic gin cocktail, both in terms of appearance and flavor. But its flavor profile might require some recipe tweaks.

I immediately thought of an Aviation. I figured the pink gin combined with purple crème de violette would yield a visually stunning cocktail – and it does.


But with my usual recipe, which calls for a quarter ounce of crème de violette, the drink tasted soapy – a common drawback of using too much of the purple stuff. I don’t know whether the rose gin exposed something artificial in the crème de violette, but I tried it again with even less of the violet liqueur, and things got back on track. (I suppose I can’t discount the possibility that my crème de violette is past its prime.)


  • 2 ounces Glendalough rose gin

  • ½ ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

  • ¾ ounce lemon juice

  • A little less than ¼ ounce crème de violette

Shake all ingredients with ice. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

I was also eager to try the rose gin in a Bees Knees. I mean, come on – roses, bees, honey…is there a more obvious choice? Ordinarily, I add a dash or two of lavender bitters to a Bees Knees. But here, it didn’t taste right. Lavender and rose might get along well in the garden, but apparently not so much in the glass. My cocktail tasted jagged and harsh. I tried it again without the bitters and was delighted with the result.


Bee’s Knees

  • 2 ounces Glendalough rose gin

  • ¾ ounce lemon juice

  • ¾ ounce honey syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or a maraschino cherry (or both if you’re feeling industrious). Do not add lavender bitters.

Of course, with a gin like this, there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple. A rose gin and tonic is an excellent means of appreciating the gin’s flavor while enjoying its lovely hue.


The Verdict

Despite its appearance, this isn’t “gin lite” or “gin for the Instagram crowd.” Glendalough’s rose gin is for gin lovers, and it stands on its own merits.

The rose gin’s pink hue brings a touch of elegance to any cocktail, but the complexion won’t be the only thing to change. This is a complex gin with a unique flavor profile, and while it will shine in some drinks, it may require some patience and experimentation in others.

But those experiments are half the fun, and an adventurous bartender will surely enjoy the challenge of crafting drinks that showcase the gin’s floral, spicy notes as well as its beautiful color.

Note: I received a complimentary bottle of Glendalough Distiillery Rose Gin for the purpose of writing a product review. No one from or associated with Glendalough influenced this content.

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