I can’t help feeling single grain whiskey is still trying to escape the slur Messers Jameson x2, Roe & Power attached to it back in 1879 labelling the category as ‘Silent Whisky’ in their anti-Coffey-Still publication ‘Truths About Whisky’.
Presented in an elegantly elongate bottle bearing the striking Lough Ree Distillery logo, Barley Harbour is offered at 46%, non chill filtered & natural colour – as are all The Bridge series.
Sourced from a certain Northern distillery which usually presents it’s whiskey at 40%, chill filtered & added caramel – Lough Ree – as independent bottlers – provide a marvelous opportunity to taste the full potential of this ex-bourbon matured six & a half year old.
Lovely clarity of flavour.
Rich & engaging mouthfeel.
A gorgeously long lasting finish.
Chatting to one of the founders – inbetween a few tasty beers! – it appears there will be some very exciting developments from Lough Ree Distillery shortly.
As it is, Barley Harbour is an excellent single malt Irish whiskey to savour & enjoy.
When they first appeared in North London back in the 1980’s – I was there.
One of their earliest bars – The Rochester Castle – became a frequent haunt of mine – & I’ve been in many since.
The Wetherspoon model – which is still in use today – was relatively radical at the time.
No piped music.
No TV screens.
No slot machines.
No smoking areas.
Food served all day.
Free refills of tea & coffee.
Varying taps of ‘real ale’ offered at decent prices.
Little did I know nearly 40 years later I’d be looking forward to a weekend away with herself staying in the newly opened €33 million Keavin’s Port Hotel & Bar to enjoy that very same model!
Most of those monies were spent on the careful & detailed restoration of the 8 Georgian Town Houses – plus 1 Chapel – the premises now occupy.
Pictures, memorabilia & artifacts recalling the former uses of the buildings now adorn the space. From specially commissioned stained glass work of church providers Early & Company to the marvelous inclusion of the former Chapel into a dining area.
The modern hotel is discretely added on at the back & boasts sleekly designed contemporary rooms with all the expected mod cons – plus the lovely touch of artwork from local schools commissioned by Wetherspoons.
The bar areas include a stunning 12 metre high glass atrium, 2 beer gardens & cosy snugs within the old Georgian building.
Prices are very keen – Top Brands – Sensible Prices is the tag line – although I was a tad disappointed at the lack of an Irish flavour.
Opting for a Kenyan Tusker Lager – whose malty body provided a pleasing flavour profile – herself enjoyed a Gunpowder G’n’T from Drumshanbo.
Wetherspoon stalwarts of Hobgoblin, Ringwood & Abbot were on tap – no Irish representation here yet – although Beamish & Franciscan Well are available in pint & cans.
Despite being open for less than a week – with a few minor teething problems – the hotel & bar were packed. At one point the very friendly, helpful & courteous staff informed us they had to turn folks away to keep the numbers manageable!
A convivial & jovial atmosphere ensured a mighty evening – whether it was because of the All Ireland Final the following day or folks out for the first time post easing of COVID restrictions remains unknowable.
The controversial & outspoken head of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, may continue to outrage – though the model of affordable drinking & dining in a bright, architecturally attractive, friendly & comfortably atmospheric space continues to pull in the punters.
The diversity & quality of rums within the Saison Rum range impressed me very much.
Part of the excellent Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder tasting series. As usual I missed the actual live Zoom event – but tuned in later on YouTube for more information about Saison Rum.
My brief tasting notes – in italics – were gathered catching the last of the summer sun in my back garden before watching the video.
Saison Pale Rum, 40%
Pale straw, lovely fresh pungency, reminiscent of sugar cane rum, grassy. Soft, mellow & mouth coating. Gorgeously warm spiciness on the finish.
Saison Rum, 42%
Golden brown, inviting hint of funk in a rich demerara cake. Sweet, smooth & warming. Dries out on the finish in a lip smacking finalé.
Saison Sherry Cask Rum, 42%
Golden brown, soft, sweet juicy fruity wine gums. Mild & mellow. Quite light on the finish with a lovely dry tingling.
Saison Reserve Rum, 43.5%
Golden brown, soft sweet funk. Richness & depth. Mellow funky finish. A luxurious rum – well balanced & civil.
Saison Barbados 5yo, 46%
Pale brown, sweet fruit cake. Mild. Combination of sweetness & spice with a tingling finish.
One for the sweet tooth!
Saison Trinidad, 7yo, 48%
Pale brown, mild & sweet. Soft palate. Sugar & spice & all things nice.
A very enjoyable tasting indeed!
From a funky start to a dessert finish with extremely well balanced & complex rums inbetween – Saison Rum have a bottle to suit every taste.
Using rum sourced from Barbados, Jamaica & Trinidad, French Cognac House Tessendier have recently branched out into rum blending with this gorgeous Saison Rum range.
The rums are shipped to France in bulk at cask strength for careful blending & further maturation in cognac casks. Presented non chill filtered with no added sugar – the results are full of flavour & joie de vivre that my palate enjoys.
Personally my preference veers towards the younger – more brasher – funkiness of the non age statement offerings.
I found the sweetness of the Sherry Cask & Single Origin bottles a touch too much.
In a close contest Saison Rum won the day with it’s solid dollop of Jamaican dunder.
Kinahan’s 10yo Single Malt was a pleasing fruity offering in a bourbon country that reminded me of home.
My next meeting was more pioneering.
The Kasc Project advertising caught my eye & the unconventional hybrid barrels intrigued.
Using casks made up of staves from various woods – Portuguese Oak, American Oak, Hungarian Oak, French Oak & Chestnut – gave the youthful Kasc B – for blend – a complexity & depth of flavour normally found in older aged whiskeys.
A further encounter resulted in Kasc M – the latest single malt incarnation.
Sweet honeyed nose with hints of nuttiness & deeper depth.
Very smooth & mouth coating initially – before a mélange of complex flavours danced merrily on the palate.
Builds to a prickly tingling sensation leaving a lasting dryness gently fading away.
I really enjoyed this one!
It may be a riot of wood – but it’s more a harmony of flavour.
The interaction of diverse woods within the hybrid cask has brought about a fabulous melting pot of notes complimenting each other in a balanced performance.
The 45% strength & non chill filtration also help to showcase the whiskey.