Category Archives: Galway Whiskey Trail

E150- Caramel

We were gently awoken from our slumbers by the gurgling waters of the River Corrib that once powered the machinery of Persse Distillery on Nun’s Island. This long closed Galway distillery inspired the members of The Galway Whiskey Trail to successfully launch The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey at last evenings extravaganza.

persse distillery galwaywhiskeytrail
Persse Distillery c/oGalway Whiskey Trail

If our hotel room had been around about 100 years ago we could have inhaled the rich malt aromas hovering in the air as the distillery was only a stones throw across the river.

As it happened it was the enticing smell of a freshly cooked breakfast that eventually got us out of the bed to face the day ahead.

Apart from a few drunkenly made arrangements to meet up with some of the launch party crew – which always seem a bit ambitious in the cold light of day – our time was free. Herself however had plans to purchase a new rig out for an upcoming wedding so out shopping it was. Luckily after a few boutiques I made my excuses and headed to another kind of shop more suitable for my tastes – McCambridges.

Being a member of The Galway Whiskey Trail – which I’d previously visited in January – I knew they had an extensive range of whiskeys in their off-licence department. Also knowing The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey hailed from West Cork Distillers – I was curious to find out what their own label West Cork 10 Year Old Single Malt tasted like in comparison.

SONY DSC
West Cork Single Malt c/omalt-review

McCambridges had plenty of Galway Bay in stock but had sold out of West Cork. Luckily there was still some spirit left in the sample bottle so a small taster soon appeared before me.

Oh dear!

Now a 10 year old aged in ex-bourbon casks is going to be a bit vanilla sweet – but this was way too sweet.

A look at the small print on the back confirmed my suspicions – E150 – or added caramel to you and me.

I’ve read that added caramel is a tried and tested practice mainly used to darken light coloured blends to give a uniform colour across many barrels and vats.

I’ve read that in small quantities you can’t taste it.

I’m afraid to say – as Heather Greene implies in her highly informative book “Whisk(e)y Distilled” – that as you’re palate develops you can.

DSCF6868 email
Whisk(e)y Distilled c/othewhiskeynut

There’s just too much added caramel in this single malt for my liking which gives it an unbalanced taste experience. It may have been a perfectly fine whiskey without E150 so why add it?

West Cork Distillers seem to quite like using caramel. They are not alone.

DSCF7201 email
Glen Orchy c/othewhiskeynut

Just the other day I bought a bottle of budget price Scotch by the name of Glen Orchy from a German Supermarket. On tasting some I immediately thought it had the flavour profile of a Richard ‘The Nose‘ Paterson blend all over it. Soft, mellow and caramel sweetness. On doing some research into it’s origins I found it shared the common Glasgow postcode with many other whisky brands – G2 5RG. Suffice to say the headquarters of Whyte & Mackay are based here too – along with Dalmore, Jura and 30 others.

I’m sure there is caramel in Galway Bay – but the port finish gives it a much more balanced result.

1 nil to Galway Bay.

Satisfaction piqued – I met up with Mrs Whiskey. A tentative suggestion of drinks and a snack in the warm sunshine outside one of the Galway Whiskey Trail venues was accepted so Tigh Neachtain‘s won out in this instance.

A white wine for the lady was duly ordered along with the appealingly named Bogman Irish Craft Ale I hadn’t encountered before.

DSCF6769 email
Bogman Ale c/othewhiskeynut

Bogman turned out to be very enjoyable indeed. Not too strong at 4.9% ABV with a satisfying malty flavour. Good work from those at Spiddal River Brewery. Herself enjoyed her wine too!

We wondered if anyone else would bother to turn up from the night before – and then one appeared – followed shortly by another!

There were warm greetings all round with banter about the Galway Bay launch where we had all met followed by yet more drinks – and a tasty lunchtime meal.

DSCF5627 email
Te Bheag blend from Gaelic Whisky c/o whiskeynut

I had another whiskey this time. Te Bheag is an entry level peated Scottish blend from Skye which I’d previously encountered at Whiskey Live Dublin. My palate has obviously developed as unlike my previous tasting – I got a dose of added caramel sweetness this time round.

Inishowen 1 – others nil.

Having the craic and shooting the breeze couldn’t have been more enjoyable. During the course of our stay on this busy pedestrian intersection many people came and went. An immaculately groomed – both male and female – wedding party stopped by for a pint and some photos. I had a chance to chat with the barman after walking out without paying on my last visit!  We met one of The Galway Hooker skippers from the whiskey launch lastnight and to crown it all – a stunningly blue eyed musician serenaded one of our party after a throw away comment.

DSCF6773 email
Thomas Wesley Stern in Galway c/othewhiskeynut

Turns out Thomas Wesley Stern are a travelling band from the Pine Barrens region of New Jeresy who had only arrived in town from Sligo and were heading to Lisdoonvarna later.

They soon had a small crowd of admirers outside Tigh Neachtain’s and garnished much applause – along with a pint for their troubles. Here they are singing a whiskey related song.

Alas a short downpour interrupted the proceedings and broke the spell.

Thoughts of returning to the real world with it’s attended chores clouded the mind and goodbyes with promises to stay in touch were exchanged.

The Galway Whiskey Trail certainly lives up to it’s description in providing an experience you cannot buy.

Together with the fabulous launch of The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey it had been an absolutely stunningly entertaining weekend.

The combination of festivities, friendliness and fun are what it’s all about.

When will you visit the trail to capture the craic for yourself?

Slainte.

Good Logo

 

Advertisements

Peated Irish Whiskey

After disembarking at Galway Docks from successfully launching The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey the entertainment continued into the wee small hours. We were whisked away to one of the founding members of The Galway Whiskey Trail‘s bars – Sonny Molloy’s.

Cocktails
Whiskey sours c/o@yummymummy

Drinks soon flowed – wines for the non-whiskey drinking brigade – cocktails for the more youthful contingent – and yet more whiskey for myself.

Being in Sonny’s surrounded by a stunning display of whiskeys allowed me to further explore the wonderful world of peated Irish whiskey.

That’s right.

Peated Irish whiskey.

It’s not a category everyone seems to be aware of – let alone be familiar with.

DSCF5949 email
Connemara Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Connemara is the most well known example of this style. A Beam/Suntory brand from the Cooley Distillery in County Louth. It’s a fairly light tasting peated whiskey in its original non-age statement (NAS) single malt bottling but is also available as a 12 year old, a stunning 22 year old, a cask strength and if you look for it – a Turf Mor expression too.

A few years ago I tasted the 22 year old at it’s launch during the 2014 Irish Whiskey Awards held in Kilbeggan Distillery. I’m afraid to say peat wasn’t my strong point at that time so it was lost on me – but I have since developed a palate for peat and should go back to re-taste it again.

DSCF6866 email
Raw Spirit c/othewhiskeynut

Contrary to Iain Banks eminently enjoyable whisky book ‘Raw Spirit’ who likens peated whisky to Marmite in that you either love it – or hate it – I think the charms of peat have slowly grown on me.

Sonny’s also stock some lovely discontinued peated Irish whiskey.

MichaelCollins-SingleMalt-IrishWhiskey
Michael Collins Single Malt c/otheinternet

Michael Collins 10 Year Old Single Malt is a lighty peated expression also from Cooley before the Beam takeover in 2011. Originally destined for the American market by Sidney Frank Importing Company lawsuits ensued after the loss of supply but luckily this brand may re-surface as part of the Sazerac portfolio. I certainly await it’s return – although I can still enjoy the odd dram now and then of the original in decent whiskey bars around Ireland.

Inishowen
Inishowen Whiskey c/opinterest

The peated Irish whiskey that really tantalises my tastebuds however is Inishowen. It’s your standard entry level blend of young grain spirit mixed with peaty malt bottled at 40%. Cooley are responsible again for this delightfully smooth youthful yet fully peated whiskey.

I’d go so far to say this whiskey out performs the big Scottish guns of Johnnie Walker, Famous Grouse, Haig and Teachers et al – no sharp edges here with Inishowen. Just a wonderful aroma and taste of peat together with a lovely sweet refreshing grain finish. Pity it’s discontinued – as I love it’s simple charms – much like the youthful exuberance of my musical interlude.

In my merry state – I laid down 2 challenges.

1 – If any standard Scottish blend can match Inishowen I’d love to try it – I haven’t come across one yet.

2 – When will an Irish distillery release a blend to match Inishowen?

Peated barley
Heavily peated barley c/o@JackTeeling

Now I know Teeling are already laying down peated distillate and Nephin Whiskey are planning a peated single malt – so I may not have to wait too long – but a plain ordinary everyday peated blend is what I’m looking for – not a premium product.

With my challenge set – I cheerily left what was developing into an Irish bloggers lovefest – rejoined Mrs Whiskey who had bonded with the wine drinking fraternity  – and bid our farewells for the evening before things got messy.

I raise a glass of The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey as a toast of appreciation for the wonderful launch party

And a toast to it’s success.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey

It’s not very often you get an invitation to the launch of a new whiskey.

So I wasted no time in replying to the RSVP of a ‘Sail With Us On Galway Bay’ for the official launch of The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey.

Sail with us
The invite to sail.

Mrs Whiskey – whilst not an imbiber of the uisce beatha herself has a very finely tuned nose  in these matters – even asked if she could come along too!

So it came to pass that both of us high-tailed it West down the M6 motorway on a gloriously sunny Friday evening in the whiskey mobile to be at Galway Docks by the appointed time.

Now The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey is the brainchild of The Galway Whiskey Trail collective of 10 whiskey bars and 1 off-licence. They have forged an alliance to promote not only themselves – but the history and experience of Irish Whiskey within Galway City.

During the course of the evening it became apparent in talking to various members of The Galway Whiskey Trail that the passion and enthusiasm this collective has is driving the whiskey experience in Galway to a higher level.

DSCF6692 email
Galway Hookers at play c/othewhiskeynut

We boarded the Aran Islands Ferry ‘Glor na Farraige’ – ‘Voice of the Sea’ – to begin our voyage escorted out of the docks by the iconic sails of several Galway Hookers. A glorious sight in the evening sunshine.

Padraig Breathnach was our engaging raconteur for the evening to introduce us to the hospitality, great festivals and poetry of Galway – all aided by the addition of a good whiskey!

DSCF6719 email
The Burren and our raconteurs c/othewhiskeynut

Talented musicians in the shape of Sean Keane and Mairtin O’Connor also accompanied us. Together with some sean nos dancers which further added to the festival feel aboard ship.

Sailing out into Galway Bay itself flanked by Connemara on one side and the majestic limestone hills of The Burren on the other, we marvelled in the splendid scenery and even more splendid sunshine that embraced us.

DSCF6723 email
The launch c/othewhiskeynut

Moored off Black Head Lighthouse the main event of the evening – the official launch of The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey – commenced with an introduction by Cyril Briscoe.

The whiskey itself is a 10 year old single malt from West Cork Distillers matured in port casks for a period of time and bottled at 43%. Cyril explained a nosing of grapes, apricots and bananas. A taste of toasted orange, toffee and cinnamon with a lingering finish of butterscotch sweetness.

DSCF6726 email
The pour c/othewhiskeynut

Invited to raise a glass for ourselves – I got a rich nosing. A satisfying mouthfeel with only a hint of the port finish together with a pleasantly warming finish. Not bad at all!

Available only at The Galway Whiskey Trail outlets this expression is the proud achievement of the hard work and dedication all the venues have put into the project. It’s a worthy whiskey to take that passion into a shared experience by those who go on the trail and sample it’s delights.

DSCF6709 email
The trail and it’s whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Whilst many of us went on board the ferry as strangers. We were warmly greeted by the hosts and encouraged by a shared enjoyment of the stunning landscapes, warm sunshine, convivial company, entertaining music, fine food and excellent whiskey into a family of friends by the time we disembarked.

DSCF6764 email
Galway Bay and it’s whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

To me it encapsulates what whiskey drinking is all about – and what I felt on The Galway Whiskey Trail back on a cold dreary January day earlier this year.

It’s not just about the whiskey.

It’s about the people you share that whiskey with.

The craic and divilment that flows from drinking the whiskey.

The places and characters you meet along the way.

Whiskey is a journey.

I’m glad I made that journey on Galway Bay.

And I’m glad the people behind The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey made it all possible for me to share that journey with them.

 

My thanks to all the wonderful people who made the whole event a beautiful evening.

Sláinte

Good Logo

O’Connell’s

O’Connell’s on Eyre Square is handily situated a stones throw from the railway station and my train home.

The outside of the premises looks like an old shop with the large open window at the front allowing a view into the bar inside.

Indeed O’Connell’s used to be a grocers – operating alongside the pub – which is still a feature of many a more traditional Irish bar. The grocery is long gone now – but a lovely patterned tiled floor remains to remind you of former times.

DSCF5915 email
O’Connell’s tiled floor from bygone days c/othewhiskeynut

I’m surprised I could still hold the camera steady enough to capture a snap after all the great whiskey I’d had during my day on the Galway Whiskey Trail – and seeing as this was my last venue – I threw caution to the wind and went for 2 expressions from the fine array of bottles perched on wooden shelves behind the bar.

DSCF5919 email
O’Connell’s bar & whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

A Titanic was very quickly spotted with the friendly and informative staff giving me a brief lowdown on the heritage of this Cooley made discontinued brand.

As I’d previously met Peter Lavery – the brands owner – at the 2014 Irish Whiskey Awards – and turned down the Titanic in favour of Baileys Whiskey in Tigh Neachtain’s earlier – I loved the opportunity to plug the gap in my whiskey tasting experience.

Glass duly in hand I sat down below the front window on a long bench beside the growing number of customers to enjoy the lovely mellow and sweet – smooth tasting tipple from the Belfast Distillery Company. Such a delight. Pity it’s no longer around.

At times like this I do ponder if the mood and general wellbeing of the taster- as well as the ambience of the premises and conviviality of fellow drinkers – influences the resulting ratings given to any particular dram.

It wasn’t just the whiskey warming me to this lovely pub. The conversation was flowing too – and the heat was definitely on with warm air being pumped into the large bar area from under the bench.

You’ll have to excuse the musical interlude to commerorate the passing of yet another musical icon – Glen Frey.

O’Connell’s also boasts a more traditional lounge area at the back – along with a beer garden to compliment the rather unique setting of the front bar. I certainly enjoyed it. So much so that when I chatted to the staff and spotted a bottle of Crown Royal – I couldn’t pass it by.

Crown Royal Deluxe is the entry level blend from the now famous Canadian distiller whose Northern Rye expression is the Best Whisky In The World  2016 – according to Jim Murray. I was curious to see what the fuss was all about.

From the initial sweet aroma of the rye – the smooth creamy mouthfeel and complex taste together with the lovely warm finish – this is certainly a different flavour profile to the Irish whiskeys sampled before. I can see why Jim rates this brand and I’m sure I’ll seek out other opportunities to try it. I wasn’t disappointed!

DSCF5920 email
Some of the whiskeys for sale c/othewhiskeynut

A glance at the time roused me from my revelry. With less than 5 minutes before the last train home I hurriedly made my way to the station.

The ticket collector was already shouting out the imminent departure as I – and a few other stragglers – ran along the platform. I’d only got round to taking my jacket off before the train started rolling. Talk about cutting it fine!

At only half seven in the evening – I’d be having an early night – but considering my first whiskey was at half ten that morning – it would be welcome.

My Galway Whiskey Trail adventure was a wonderful experience.

So many pubs.

So many new expressions sampled and plenty more yet to taste.

So much help and advice from the friendly staff and so much craic from the customers.

I’d do it all again!

When will you do the Galway Whiskey Trail?

Maybe I’ll tag along?

Sainte,

Good Logo

 

McCambridge’s

I’d already walked passed the next venue of my Galway Whiskey Trail adventure earlier on in the day as I wasn’t exactly sure what it had to offer.

McCamdridge’s isn’t even a pub!

I know it more as a fine deli – cafe and classy restaurant where occasionally I’d meet herself – who is far more of a foodie than myself. She rates it very highly.

But my curiosity was pumped by my whiskey intake – or should I make that ‘Voodoo In My Blood’  – to enjoy a little musical interlude from the lovely Edinburgh based boys – Young Fathers – together with trip-hop heroes Massive Attack – currently on tour.

What greeted me inside was a very unexpected and impressive display of whiskeys for sale.

Turns out McCambridge’s is a rather fine off-license too!

A few of the expressions were unfamiliar to me. An interestingly old fashioned styled label proclaiming to be Egan’s from Tullamore took my eye – quickly followed by a bottle of Canadian Crown Royal bedecked in it’s trademark velvet bag – but I wasn’t here to buy.

DSCF5912 email
Egan’s in the hand c/othewhiskeynut

“We do tastings as well.” the helpful staff member offered when he saw me looking.

Indeed they do.

A quick scan of the website reveals the whiskey tasting evenings are held upstairs in the restaurant. Sounds very inviting. Especially when those tastings are paired with the lovely food McCambridge’s is famous for.

They also plan to install a copper pot still style display where potential customers can try before they buy the excellent range stocked.

Now that’s my kinda shop!

DSCF5913 email
Helpful staff and bewildering array of whiskey for sale c/othewhiskeynut

A first class venue to purchase a bottle of that fine dram you tasted earlier in one of the Galway Whiskey Trail pubs.

I couldn’t count the number of expressions available – but there were plenty about.

After Jim Murray controversially gave a Crown Royal expression his top spot in 2016 – I don’t think the bottle I saw earlier will be on the shelf for long. Despite my whiskey soaked brain screaming BUY IT – somehow or other the voices in my head said NO – you’ll only drop it before you get home!

Conscious there was yet one more premises to attend – temptation was resisted.

Did I mention Heaven 17 played a blinding set at the Big Top in  Galway a few years ago?

Obligatory photos were captured and the staff thanked for giving me the time for a little chat inbetween serving customers – even though I bought nothing myself!

I bid my farewell and headed off to Eyre Square for the final pub.

Slainte,

Good Logo

Sonny Molloy’s

Unaware I’d just committed a crime against whiskey at Tigh Neachtain’s – I ambled up the High Street a short while to the lovely inviting entrance of Sonny Molloy’s.

The wooden snugs – lit up whiskey cabinets that encircled the bar and immediate seating area – friendly staff – together with my increasing mellowness brought on by the previous drams – endeared me to yet another special bar on the Galway Whiskey Trail.

An estimated 100 plus expressions on display made it a little difficult for me in my increasing alcoholic fuzz to pick out something I’d not tried before – but eventually a bottle of Tyrconnell Sherry was spotted.

Kilbeggan Distillery
Kilbeggan Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut

Hailing from my local distillery in Westmeath – Kilbeggan – Tyrconnell is one of the old brands John Teeling revived back in the late 1980’s to build up his whiskey empire.

At 46% – as opposed to the mainly 40% drams I’d enjoyed earlier in the day – there is a much more noticeable spirity kick on the nose. This follows through to the taste before a warm sweet experience from the sherry influence is experienced which mellows the kick into a smooth and satisfying finish. The Sherry Finish is one of 4 Tyrconnell Single Malt releases available. There is the standard Single Malt itself bottled at 40% – and the 3 finishes of Port – Madeira and Sherry  all bottled at 46%.

I’m currently working my way through them all and have to say the Port Finish sampled in Kilkenny is currently my favourite – but a blind tasting of all 4 back to back would certainly be an interesting experience if only to be able to discern the different barrel finishes have on the resulting whiskey. Mmm – must work on that one.

Sonny Molloy’s is another one of those establishments – like it’s sister pubs The Dail and Blake’s – that serves a comprehensive food menu and the early evening diners were beginning to come in after finishing their shopping. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and I began to relax knowing that I had enough time to complete my tour of the Galway Whiskey Trail – as well as feeling I wouldn’t keel over anytime soon!

The Saturday papers were scattered on the wooden shelves near the bar where I perched myself to enjoy the Tyrconnell so I fell in to reading them. An article on the reformation of LCD Soundsystem caught my eye. At one time I thought I was abreast of the music scene. Clearly I was now out of the loop as despite enjoying some of their tracks – I was unaware they had even split up in the first place! C’est la vie!

Thankfully I’m of an age the only drunk girls I need to worry about now are my rapidly maturing teenage grand daughters!

Sonny’s also had a fun and informative whiskey leaflet which could be stamped to say you’d raised a glass to Sonny Molloy. How could I resist?

DSCF6081 email
Raise yer own glass! c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely little souvenir of my time on the trail!

I got chatting to the bar staff and it turns out the whiskey trail has brought a lot of tourists in – especially during summer. A further expansion of the whiskey display cabinets is envisaged to enhance this increased interest. They felt the trail has been a success in raising awareness of the fine whiskey bars present in Galway.

I would certainly concur with this sentiment.

A final sip of Tyrconnell was savoured before I thanked the staff for their time and hospitality – then I headed out for the remaining stops on the trail.

Slainte,

Good Logo

Tigh Neachtain

On leaving The Dail Bar in my Galway Whiskey Trail adventure – I’d popped across the road from the pub and into another famous Galway institution – Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop.

Charlie’s is a cornacopia of culture and literature. Over the years I’ve picked up a few titles related to my poison of choice. One of them being the famous – or infamous depending on your point of view – Jim Murray’s ‘A Taste Of Irish Whiskey’ which has given me lots of source information regarding distilleries and brands – particularly the old Cooley brands I’ve been enjoying today.

Going into a book shop half cut probably has it’s risks – but on seeing ‘How To Cure A Hangover’ by Andrew Irving in the drinks section I couldn’t resist buying it considering I could be experiencing one next morning!

DSCF6005 email
Too much of one and you might need the other! c/othewhiskeynut

Back to the trail.

Tigh Neachtain’s occupies a prominent corner spot made all the more striking by the deep blue colour scheme and attractive murals outside. Inside it’s a warren of wooden nooks and crannies where you can loose yourself in conversation and craic. Most of the snugs were busily occupied  by cheery customers when I visited so once more I happily found a spot by the bar.

DSCF5910 email
Some of the whiskeys in Tigh Neachtain’s c/othewhiskeynut

Suitably situated to spy on the whiskey shelves I quickly spotted the Titanic. NOT the doomed ocean liner now – NOR the DiCaprio-Winslet love story either – but another discontinued Cooley expression for the Belfast Distilling Company.

But wait a minute – what’s that?

A rather tatty & worn whiskey bottle was retrieved from the shelves and placed on the counter for me to inspect. Bailey’s The Whiskey – I didn’t even realise they’d done a whiskey!

‘Don’t know much about it.’ proffered the bar tender,

‘Bailey’s did make a whiskey but pulled it at the last moment before the launch for some reason. There’s not much of it about now, but we have a bottle or two.’

Despite the higher price incurred by the rarity – and visions of a sickly sweet and creamy whiskey like a Bailey’s Original liqueur – I just had to give it a go.

DSCF5907 email
Bailey’s The Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm!

Well yes it is sweet – but not overpoweringly so – and well within the taste experience of other whiskeys I’ve had. It’s also very smooth with a very satisfying whiskey rush.

Very nice!

Why Bailey’s binned this lovely tipple is beyond me. I did an internet search when I got home and found very little. The best I could find from the Irish Whiskey Society chat site is the following;

‘In 1997, the innovation team at Grand Metropolitan’s spirits division International Distillers and Vintners were about to extend the franchise of the “Baileys” Irish cream liqueur brand. The idea was to turn Baileys – a cream base containing among other things Irish whiskey – into an Irish whiskey base containing cream, chocolate, vanilla etc. The concept was revealed “exclusively” in the “Irish Independent” newspaper on 12th November 1977. A follow-up piece on 12th March 1988 confirmed that the product – now named as “Baileys. The Whiskey” was to be tested in the Dublin market prior to a wider rollout in Ireland and the UK. Before it could go much further however, “Baileys. The Whiskey” ran into a major obstacle in the shape of the Scotch Whisky Association and the European regulations on spirits drinks. The production method used to create “Baileys. The Whiskey” involved finishing the spirit in casks that had been infused with the key flavouring elements from the “Baileys Cream Liqueur” product. This technique was marginal in terms of its adherence to the EU regulations and while in normal times, the management of IDV would have fought its case these were not normal times. IDV’s parent Grand Met had just merged with Guinness PLC to create Diageo in December 1997 and IDV Managing Director John McGrath was in the Chairman’s seat at the SWA. When it became apparent to the wider business that Baileys were engaged in a whisky project that would push the legal boundaries of the EU whisky definition, there were some rapid and terse discussions. The industry was still absorbing the formation of a formidable new lead player in the shape of Diageo and any row with the SWA over what the Association would regard as a non-compliant product would embarrass John McGrath and potentially tarnish his SWA Chairmanship. The decision was taken quickly and effectively. “Baileys. The Whiskey” would be withdrawn with immediate effect. News of the brand’s demise does not appear to have entered the public domain and in the continuing turmoil that marked the integration of the Guinness and Grand Met businesses within Diageo, the project was quickly consigned to history. It is not certain how many bottles ever made it into the Irish licensed trade but it is likely that this is one of only a handful of bottles still in existence. The distinctive bottle departed from the “Baileys Liqueur” pack although the front label retained a family look with a bronzed landscape. In gold beneath this label is a specially composed ode to the spirit.’

Compass Box may not be the only whisky company to arouse the SWA rule book!

Unless anyone has any other theories as to the disappearance of Bailey’s The Whiskey – the above premise is all I can go on. Another site did suggest the team that put the whiskey together went on to form Castle Brands Clontarf brand.

Whatever the truth – this is a great dram.

I enjoyed it so much I ended up walking out of the pub without paying!

What else can I say? All apologies.

‘Down with this sort of thing!’ as Father Ted used to say.

Even in my inebriated state there is no excuse for such bad behaviour!

I’m glad to say Tigh Neachtain were very understanding when they contacted me.

After settling my debt I’ll even be allowed back in again!

Which is nice.

As this is a gem of a bar!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

The Dail Bar

Luckily for me The Dail Bar served food too as by now the effects of the whiskeys I’d previously enjoyed in the Galway Whiskey Trail pubs already visited was beginning to kick in.

A busy spot – especially now being early afternoon.

The combination of loud sports fans in one corner cheering on their teams – possibly the Spurs v Sunderland match that started when visiting Blake’s – and family groups sitting down for lunch in the lounge area in the other corner – left me perched on a stool at the bar from where I happily gazed at the 100 plus whiskeys on show pondering which one to go for.

DSCF5905 email
A selection of whiskey in The Dail Bar c/othewhiskeynut

This time I stuck lucky. Not only was my first choice available – it turned out to be a lovely little number too!

Now it may surprise some readers – but Scottish whisky does not have exclusivity to peated malts – far from it. Ireland has a few peated expressions – Connemara Single Malt is one of them. It has won many awards and is gaining in popularity over many of the more famous Scottish brands for it’s lovely peaty taste.

My choice today however was it’s lesser well known – and now discontinued – peated blended sister – Inishowen.

Inishowen
Inishowen c/ogoogle

It had a delightful subtle yet sweet lightly smoked nose – perhaps a little grain influence here. A light floral character on the taste with  a well balanced peated bite gave way to a satisfyingly long finish. A very impressive blend indeed. I’d be happy to put this up against some of the more popular Scottish blends – Inishowen would give them a run for their money. Pity it’s so hard to come by these days.

My toasted ham & cheese sandwich also went down a treat as I dallied in the Dail. More customers came in to watch the rugby this time and I fell into discussion with a gentleman who originally hailed from the North but had to leave as he,

‘Knew too much’

whatever that means.

The conversation flowed on from that unusual statement and soon developed into the theory that all the recent terrorist attacks have been orchestrated a combination of the CIA and Mossad.

Ahhh! The old Jewish Conspiracy theory raising it’s ugly head again.

I asked how Jim was getting along with the new Corr’s album – but I don’t think he got the drift. Jim had been the butt of many a joke a few years ago when he started spouting his political views – thankfully he has now rejoined his gorgeous looking sisters in launching a new album. For my money – the old stuff was better.

A bit of banter ensued but despite me trying to refute his wild allegations it proved futile. So I tried a different tack.

Seeing that his team was narrowly losing in the Ulster v Saracens game early in the match – I suggested his boys were going to take a hell of a beating today.

‘Why are you so sure?’ came the reply.

”cos I’ve just rang my agents up North to sort it.’

‘What do you mean?’

At this I tapped my finger to my nose,

‘Ah well, as Devo once sang – I’m a secret agent man. It’s not just bombs we plant, we can fix matches too!’

The gentleman was not impressed and left me to my toast and tea – much to the amusement of the staff who informed me.

‘Once he gets started he normally doesn’t stop.’

I’m pleased to say that my agents followed out their instructions to the full. When I checked the scores a few days later – Saracens had demolished Ulster 37 to 11.

I wonder if there’s a conspiracy in that?

Get yourself down to The Dail – the craic is mighty!

Slainte,

Good Logo

 

 

Freeney’s

Freeney’s is another one of those lovely old bars that genuinely look like the modern world outside just passed them by. It didn’t pass The Jam by however.

The gently worn wooden panels along the bar have the imprint of many happy customers – the shelves gently sag with the weight of a wealth of whiskey – the open fire gently warms the lounge area – what is there not to like about the inside of this establishment?

DSCF5894 email
Freeney’s whiskey bar c/othewhiskeynut

As by now is a habit of mine – my original choice of whiskey was not available – well not in a glass anyway.

Michael Collins Single Malt is another one of those discontinued Cooley expressions that are out there. I previously polished off a bottle of the enjoyable Michael Collins Blend and was intrigued to find out if the single was equally as good.

DSCF5459 email
My empty Micheal Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Alas – they only sold it by the bottle.

Freeney’s doubles as an off-licence too – and despite being tempted – this expression is increasingly difficult to get hold of – I reminded myself there were another 4 pubs to visit on my Galway Whiskey Trail adventure and perhaps lugging around a full and fragile bottle of whiskey perhaps wasn’t the wisest thing to do considering my increasingly intoxicated state.

Again I scanned the shelves – trying to figure out which expressions were sold by the bottle and those by the glass – and spotted yet another Cooley brand – Irish Fiddler.

Irish Fiddler twitter
Irish Fiddler Whiskey c/otwitter

As the bottle looked half empty I was confident that a dram would soon be procured for my pleasure. Indeed it was – and in a Glencairn glass too – something which the more discerning whiskey bars provide and pleases me as well.

Irish Fiddler Whiskey turned out to be a fairly decent example of a soft – sweet Irish blended whiskey. The grain element wasn’t overpowering but then neither was the overall taste or finish. Another standard blend produced by Cooley for a third party – something the distillery excelled in under the tenure of John Teeling – just who is satisfying this market now?

DSCF5890 email
Whiskey display and regulars in Freeney’s c/othewhiskeynut

The photos I fired off at this pub were a little off focus when I viewed them a few days later – obviously mirroring my deteriorating senses due to the lovely whiskeys I’d enjoyed.

Despite all that – Freeney’s is a bar I’ve visited before in my pre-whiskey love affair days – and is a bar I’ll certainly be going back to in the future.

Sláinte,

Good Logo

 

The King’s Head

The King’s Head is only a short walk down the busy pedestrianised High Street from Garavan’s – but the contrast between the two pubs is marked.

Whilst Garavan’s doesn’t  look much from the outside – on the inside it’s a quiet haven for the whiskey aficianado.

Meanwhile The King’s Head has a marvelous and prominent red medieval window facing out into the thoroughfare which draws in the tourists – sightseers – hungry shoppers and thirsty drinkers. It’s as busy inside the bar as it is on a sales day outside!

I maybe didn’t choose the best spot to sit by the bar as all the traffic passed by – queue a Jimi track – but at least I was close to the whiskey.

Nonetheless – there is a warm feel to the large premises – helped by the open fire burning brightly just inside the door.

Spread over 3 floors there is the bar area itself – a large dining area behind in which many shoppers were already tucking in to a meal – as well as upstairs. I didn’t venture any further than the downstairs today – but I’ve attended a private party held on the top floor where there is a comfortable lounge area complete with it’s own bar.

DSCF5882 email
The King’s Head Whiskey Bar c/othewhiskeynut

At around 50 whiskeys on offer the lack of rarities I’d experienced elsewhere was evident – but still a good selection of current bottlings from the big 3 distilleries – MidletonBushmills and Kilbeggan/Cooley as well as some from the new generation distillers in TeelingIrishman and Knappogue Castle.

I was also pleased to see the inclusion of some craft beer too with Galway Hooker and my buddy Richard’s Sheep Stealer on tap. Whilst all the previous premises had plenty of  whiskey expressions – their beer selection could be limited. Like the new whiskey distilleries – the rise of craft breweries in Ireland has brought about a taste and flavour explosion for the discerning drinker. Long may it last.

DSCF5874 email
Sheep Stealer in The King’s Head c/othewhiskeynut

On this occasion my tipple of choice was from the Midleton distillery in the form of Paddy Centenary. Unlike the standard Paddy blended offering – Centenary is a single pot still bottling at 43%. The tasting notes accompanying the glass mentioned apples – spice and oily mouthfeel.

My palate isn’t the best – but I did get a hint of green apples – certainly the spices – and a long smooth finish. Gone is that grainy bite associated with the blend. A far superior whiskey indeed and worth the extra expense.

DSCF5924 email
The last of a Paddy blend bottle c/othewhiskeynut

Pleased I’d reached my halfway point and was still relatively functioning well – despite a warm pleasant wooziness beginning to kick in – I finished my dram and moved on – and I couldn’t resist this – to the next whiskey bar – thanks to The Doors.

 

Slainte

Good Logo