Where the Curious Journey Began ...

Gunpowder Gin family trio - Gunpowder Gin

They say curiosity is the mother of invention. And never was an inventor more curious than PJ Rigney, the inquisitive spirit behind The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. 

PJ, who has been in the spirits world since the early 1980s, founded The Shed with his wife, Denise, in 2014 in the village of Drumshanbo in western Ireland’s County Leitrim. An explorer at heart, he was drawn to the wild, untamed beauty of this spot (“It is very much the road less traveled,” he says), where he was the first to open a distillery in more than 100 years. 

PJ has spent many years crisscrossing the globe — including the far-flung corners of rural China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, and beyond. Using his fascination for unique and delicious flavors as a compass, he amassed a collection of 12 botanicals that ultimately became the recipe for a slow-distilled gin unlike any other. Building off the eastern traditions he’d picked up along his travels including the distilling of fruit, herbs, and botanicals, PJ envisioned a new spirit: a botanical gin that also incorporated Chinese gunpowder green tea and the local Irish herb meadowsweet (growing right in Drumshanbo), thus bringing his curious journey full circle.

There was one final piece of the puzzle: such a special gin needed a special mascot. Something that embodied the marriage of two disparate cultures and traditions, brought together in a singular flash of inspiration. Enter the jackalope: mythological progeny of a jackrabbit (not a real rabbit) and an American antelope (not a real antelope). Local legend holds that the creature was conceived during a massive lightning storm. He still appears today, along knolls of Drumshanbo, but is always gone in a flurry of feet and antlers before anyone can catch him.

PJ’s extraordinary fusion of botanicals signaled the beginning of a spirits revolution in this sleepy corner of Ireland. The future is looking very bright for The Shed Distillery — and there’s nothing curious about that.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Highlights

The Shed Distillery, home of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, was the first distillery to open in west Ireland in over 100 years.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is slow distilled in custom-built, medieval copper pots.

Huge industry acclaim includes the “Best Gin in the World” title (Flaviar 2019) and the Spirit Brand of the Year title (Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards 2022).

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

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Gunpowder Irish Gin
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Gunpowder Irish Gin

  • Leitrim
  • Ireland
Idyllic Drumshanbo

Home to an Extraordinary Irish Gin Brand

You’ll find The Shed Distillery in deepest, rural Ireland, on the edge of a lake in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim. This bucolic locale was a crucial element of PJ’s vision for his distillery — it had to be wild, un-manicured, and in the beating heart of Ireland’s pristine countryside. This is a place of curiosity and inspiration, surrounded by nature and immersed in a rich history. From the shores of Lough Allen to the nearby foothills of Sliabh an Iarainn (The Iron Mountain), PJ knew he had found the location for his distillery. A launching pad where his curious journeys could take him to the world and back, in pursuit of his next, deliciously innovative spirit.

The Shed - Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

The 12 Botanicals of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

The genesis of PJ’s truly unique gin happened the moment he first encountered gunpowder green tea while traveling in China. Made from tea leaves that are tightly rolled into tiny pellets resembling gunpowder grains, its distinctively earthy, smoky flavor was immediately intriguing. Had there ever been a gin distilled with tea before? It was the beginning of PJ’s so-called botanical trail — he trekked across three continents and dozens of countries to gather an eclectic cauldron of the perfect ingredients. Also from China, star anise and lemon. From Cambodia and Indonesia came lime and red grapefruit. While he visited India, PJ collected cardamom and caraway seed. From Morocco came orris root. Juniper berries from Macedonia, angelica root from Germany, coriander seed from Romania, and finally meadowsweet growing right in Drumshanbo, Ireland completed the picture.

Botanicals with bottle - Gunpowder Gin

Globally Sourced, Sustainably Conscious Irish Gin

The Shed Distillery is committed to minimizing its environmental impact and actively promoting sustainability throughout its production processes. They prioritize organic and fair-trade practices, ensuring that all botanicals used in their gins are grown without harmful chemicals and that the communities involved in their harvest and processing are treated fairly. The distillery has implemented efficient water management systems, recycling, and reusing water wherever feasible to reduce water consumption and minimize their environmental impact. The Shed has also invested in renewable energy solutions in an effort to further the transition to clean energy sources. They currently use solar power and other renewable resources to power their distillery in an effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

By prioritizing the planet and engaging in sustainable production, they’re demonstrating that it is possible to create exceptional, artisanal products while remaining conscious of the health of our planet.

Cali orange with oranges - Gunpowder Gin Ceramic bottle with botanicals on bar - Gunpowder Gin Image_4_OfFFUhZ.original

Slow Distilled by Hand in Medieval Copper Pots

Like all artisanal products, the making of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is a slow and meticulous process, a marriage of old methods and new ideas. With all 12 botanicals and The Shed’s medieval copper pot stills at the ready, the distillation begins. The first six botanicals — angelica root, orris root, meadowsweet, caraway seed, star anise, and juniper berries — are carefully measured and added to pure Irish grain spirit. The remaining botanicals — the citrus, gunpowder tea, coriander, and cardamom — are later added to the vapor basket, preserving their flavor intensity. As the still heats up, the mixture gently distills down, infusing the spirit with complex characters from all the botanicals.

Post-distillation, the gin rests for 10 days, crucial to the development of smooth, complex flavors, before being blended with pristine Irish spring water (famous for its purity and quality). The gin is bottled, labeled, and packed by hand on premise.

Copper Pot Stills - Gunpowder Gin
Pj Rigney

A Modern Marco Polo

PJ Rigney has been called the “modern Marco Polo” of the spirits world. He’s a self-described serial entrepreneur who has been dreaming up incredible spirit journeys since the early 1980s when he helped put Irish Creme on the map in America. He is also famous for his wanderlust and the influence of his travels trickles down to every element of The Shed’s delightful spirits — including the distinctive bottles for Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. “The apothecary-style bottle brings to life the history of gin and its medicinal origins while reinforcing the sense of experimentation … which is what modern gin is all about,” he says.