Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's first gin and spirit school opens in Co Down

By Sarah Tulloch

Co Down based Hughes Craft Distillery has become Northern Ireland’s first gin and spirit school.

With the popularity of gin ever-growing in recent years, the distillery in Moira is offering the chance to learn from their in-house expert, choosing your own botanicals, distilling, labelling and taking home your very own 700ml bottle at the end of the class.

This spirit school is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and hopes to offer something unique to the marketplace.

Barbara Hughes, owner of Hughes Craft Distillery, said: “With Northern Ireland’s first spirit school at Hughes Craft Distillery we give people the opportunity to learn the craft first-hand. From creating the recipe, choosing the ingredients, distilling their gin or vodka, choosing a name for the label before blending and bottling their creation to take home.

"Home distilling is illegal in many countries including the UK and Ireland but we’ve taken care of all the licensing, legalities, duties and taxes within the cost of the experience. It really is wonderful to see peoples delight at being back at school for a few hours, although I have to say cocktails and canapes were never on our dinner hall menu.”

Classes last approximately 150 minutes, during the class the master distiller will take you through a range spirits and botanicals to help you decide which ingredients to use in your own copper still.

Depending on the season ingredients can be foraged from the distillery's walled garden. You are also permitted to bring herbs or berries from your own gardens or hedgerows.

Hughes Craft Distillery was established in 2010 by husband and wife team Stuart and Barbara Hughes. They were the first small-batch spirits producer in Northern Ireland.

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