Category Archives: Tullamore

Egan’s Vintage Grain, Single Grain, 46%

There is an outpouring of new Irish Whiskey releases marking the growing interest in the category both by consumers – as well as companies trying to enter the market.

Egan’s  are slightly unusual in that they are a company re-entering the market after a long absence.

Back in the mid 1800’s – when Irish Whiskey would have been the world’s most popular – P & H Egan built up a sizeable business in their home town of Tullamore importing wines, maturing & bottling whiskey, malting & general groceries – which you can read about here.

Former generations of the present day Egan family – who have released this bottle in question – were a well respected & prosperous company in the Midlands of Ireland. They added to the architecture of the town by building the fine Bridge House Hotel as their head office. The building now proudly adorns their latest offerings.

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Egan’s Vintage Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Whilst many of Tullamore’s bars proudly display Egan’s products of the past.

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Egan’s advertising in The Brewery Tap c/othewhiskeynut

Following on in the family tradition, the 21st Century Egans also do not distill their own whiskey – they source it from third parties – but they do wrap it in a visually attractive label that proudly displays their heritage & connections to Tullamore.

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The Bridge House Hotel c/othewhiskeynut

This Vintage Grain offering is a single grain presented at a powerful 46% with no chill filtering.  Always a bonus in my book.

Now single grain may need a bit of an explanation. ‘Single’ implies it comes from one distillery. Not as many assume made from one type of grain. Different types of grain may be used – usually barley, corn, wheat or rye – but they all must be distilled in a continuous, or commonly called, Coffey Still.

The resultant distillate is usually of a higher strength with less taste & flavour of the batch distilled malt whiskey and consequently spends more time in wooden barrels to impart those lovely aromas that are released upon nosing & tasting the whiskey.

Vintage Grain is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for between 6 to 8 years to impart those lovely vanilla & soft caramel notes associated with this type of ageing.

Both the nose and initial tasting is fresh, clean & clear, which suggests no added caramel to my palate – another bonus for me.

The smooth vanilla notes slowly morph into a soft peppery spice which gently fades to a wonderfully warm finish.

This is a worthy addition to the growing Irish single grain category which definitely benefits from it’s higher strength and more natural presentation.

Couple that taste with the wonderfully  rich historical back story of the Egan family and you have a winning combination.

I certainly raise a glass to the present day Egan family and wish them future success in re-establishing their name in the proud annuls of Irish Whiskey’s ongoing story.

Sláinte.

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I’d like to thank Killian & Jonathan Egan for the generous sample provided for the purposes of this review.

Tanyard Lane, Tullamore

I got a little tip-off there was a new kid in town.

The town is Tullamore.

The new kid is the Tanyard Lane bar on William Street.

Housed in the old Wolftrap building, Carrig Brewing Company have moved into running licensed premises in addition to craft beer brewing from their Leitrim base.

Mrs Whiskey and myself had an opportunity to call in on a Sunday evening for a night-cap.

The premises are large and roomy & spread out over 3 main areas.

A smallish snug area on the front left, a large lounge bar with dining area on the right with an attractive walled bar at the rear.

There is an extensive food menu, a large outside smoking area behind the snug, all equipped with a modern sound system & large sports screens which were thankfully turned down low when we visited.

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Tanyard whiskey shelf c/othewhiskeynut

Carrig craft beers were obviously to the fore. but a decent array of other beer brands featured too, along with an impressive display of gins, wines and over 40 whiskeys to choose from.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to walk into a bar & find a whiskey I’ve not tasted before. Tanyard Lane had a couple of Knappogue Castles to tempt me – but I settled on an Ardbeg 10 year old for a base-line Islay peat hit.

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Ardbeg 10 c/othewhiskeynut

At 46% & non chill filtered – as most Ardbeg releases are these days – I found the familiar satisfying peat hit to be the only show in town. Maybe I was expecting more from this award winning dram? In contrast, my earlier experience of the non age statement Uigeadail release sang to me on many levels & had a longer finish. It left the 10 year old rather one dimensional in my book.

The bar staff were very friendly & helpful and I got chatting with the bar manager Con who was keen to expand on his whiskey selection – which was music to my ears.

The walls were well adorned with pictures of old Tullamore, whiskey mirrors and old drinks adverts.

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Kinahan’s ad c/othewhiskeynut

Kinahan’s made an appearance, along with a Three Swallow ad for Powers and a blatantly sexist ad from Old Dublin Whiskey which you’ll have to visit to see as I refuse to reprint it here.

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Three Swallow c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey drinking is for both men and women.

Thankfully both were well representing drinking & eating at Tanyard Lane.

A welcome addition to the Tullamore pub scene.

I wish Con & all the crew future success.

Sláinte.

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UPDATE

As of November 2018 Tanyard Lane is under new management & has rebranded itself as William St.

My blog was written in April 2017. I cannot vouch for any changes that have taken place after that date.

Irish Whiskey Awards 2016

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Tullamore Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

An added bonus at the Irish Whiskey Awards 2016 was being shown round the new Tullamore Distillery.

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Tullamore Warehouse c/othewhiskeynut

Barrels aplenty quietly maturing in the warehouses.

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Tullamore Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The spotless condition of the production floor.

And a glass of Phoenix Whiskey straight from cask.

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Tullamore Phoenix c/othewhiskeynut

Phoenix – a mythical bird that rose from the flames of;

a) The early 20th Century crash of Irish Whiskey Distilling and it’s subsequent rebirth today.

b) The closure of the original Tullamore Distillery in 1954 and it’s glorious new awakening in 2014.

or

c) The 1785 hot air balloon disaster that burnt half of Tullamore down after the balloon allegedly hit a distillery chimney.

You could say that for option c) – it was a bit of a Hot Ride!

Slainte

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PS  – A bonus prize for naming all the whiskey celebs under the Phoenix!

Hugh Lynch’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

Hugh Lynch’s Limited Edition Specially Blended Irish Whiskey was officially launched last night (7th Oct) at a well attended celebration in Hugh Lynch’s bar in Tullamore.

A large gathering of friends and well wishers assembled to toast to the success of both the whiskey and the continuation of the bar under the able stewardship of Hugh’s son Emmet.

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The bar at Hugh Lynch’s c/othewhiskeynut

Music, food agus craic were in great supply  – along with plenty of the aforementioned whiskey!

The blended whiskey – bottled at 40% – is a product of West Cork Distillers in Skibbereen. Aged in bourbon casks it has a smooth taste with a hint of sherry and a slight spice on the lovely finish. A very approachable & pleasant blend that oiled the conversations throughout the enjoyable evening.

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Hugh Lynch’s Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Hugh himself was a well respected publican in the area and was well known for sharing a story or two.

Raise a glass of Hugh Lynch’s Whiskey named in his memory and share a tale or two of your own.

The whiskey is a limited release of 1,000 bottles from 3 casks. It is available from Hugh Lynch’s pub Tullamore or via their online shop here.

Sláinte

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Irish Whiskey Awards 2016 Picking The Winners

It’s that time of year when the great and good of the Irish whiskey world gather together in a celebration of distillation. This years event takes place in Tullamore with a visit to the new Tullamore Distillery and an awards evening in the Old Bonded Warehouse on October 20th.

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The new Tullamore Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

As part of the process to pick the winners – members of the Celtic Whiskey Club and the Irish Whiskey Society were invited to a blind tasting of the competing expressions.

I made my way up to Dublin for the day to add my scores to the collective pot and found myself in a basement hotel room carefully laid out with 38 identical whiskey bottles – along with a half dozen barrel aged beers – to rate.

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Let the judging commence! c/othewhiskeynut

The bottles were arranged in their respective categories;

Irish Blends up to 60.

Irish Blends over 60.

Irish Single Pot Stills.

Irish Single Casks

Irish Barrel Aged Beer

The only way of differentiating them was the bottle code for scoring, the colour and the very subjective taste preferences of the judges.

All entrants have to be commercially available in Ireland in October. Other than providing the required sample bottles to The Celtic Whiskey Shop by the allocated date there is no entry fee and ticket sales for the evening are forwarded to charity.

I started with the entry level blends.

What struck me straight away was the uniformity of colour on display.This saddened me. The variety and differences in blended whiskey are what excite me – both visually and taste wise – yet presented here to all intensive purposes were 15 bottles of identical dark golden brown liquid.

My fears of added caramel were confirmed as in one expression after another the dominant – and at times overwhelming – note encountered was sweet. My poor scores reflected this disappointment. A few did have some pleasant fruit notes coming through together with  a welcome spice. Some were rough – most were smooth – but there wasn’t much that excited me.

I expected a noticeable increase in flavour and quality in the blends above 60 category as experienced last year. Despite the average scores being slightly higher at 66 as to the former’s 63, that all important “more bang for your bucks” wasn’t forthcoming. At least the colour variation was more pronounced.

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Colour variation c/othewhiskeynut

Oh dear! Perhaps my 3 weeks in Australia tasting some knockout single malts, ryes, bourbons and wheat whiskies had jaded my palate.

I moved onto the barrel aged beers.

Now I must admit to a benchmark brew in this style which all others are judged on. Trouble is – it’s not Irish! There was one dark beer that came out close however. It had a noticeable whiskey nose together with less carbonation giving it a more heavy feel – much to my liking.

I should point out my method here. Out of an average 3ml sample I possibly tasted and swallowed half. The other half ended up in the spittoon after having been swirled round the mouth for further evaluation. In between each sample a full measure of water was consumed to cleanse the palate and rinse the glass. I must have drank about 2 litres of uisce during the process. A hearty lunch and some hot tea also split the session in two and aided to my relative sobriety at the end of the day.

It was after that lunch I attempted la creme de la creme of Irish whiskey – the Single Pot Stills.

Using a combination of malted barley and unmalted barley in the mash, I was looking for – and happily found – the signature soft spice together with some rich fruity notes. The variety was much more pronounced in terms of colour, flavour profile as well as strength. I distinctly thought one entrant was simply a watered down version of another! The average scores rose to 73 for the packed field of 13 entrants.

Only in the big reveal on awards night will all my hunches be either confirmed – or more likely dashed. The new Redbreast Lustau release was rumoured to be in the mix somewhere. Was it one of my winners?

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Redbreast Lustau c/omaltymates.com

For me however – the best was yet to come.

The Single Casks had only 5 entrants. All scored highly with a 77 average and one stood out.

Fuller of flavour and richer in style, I dispensed with the spittoon to immerse myself in their beauty. My winning dram on the day happened to be the smokiest entrant and I fear I’m turning into a peathead!

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Peat c/othewhiskeynut

A further sample of this expression went down equally delightfully as the first – well – I did have to re-check my initial scores!

The craic agus ceol was mighty during the session. Judges came and went but all added their penny’s worth to the growing banter and collective scores.

If you haven’t already joined either the Celtic Whiskey Club or Irish Whiskey Society – isn’t it about time you did?

Slainte

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National Heritage Week and Whiskey

National Heritage Week in Ireland for 2016 runs from the 20th to 28th August.

It’s a celebration of the rich cultural, natural, creative, architectural and industrial heritage of the island of Ireland which takes the form of a range of events organised locally throughout the country.

My contribution to Heritage Week was to lead a Tullamore Town Whiskey Walk.

But what’s whiskey got to do with heritage?  you may ask.

Well – in The Annuls of Clonmacnoise from 1405 there is a reference to a certain chieftain who imbibed a bit too much “aqua vitae” and subsequently died.

Quite clearly Ireland’s relationship to aqua vitae or uisce beatha or whiskey as we now know it has – for better or worse – a long cultural heritage.

Tullamore’s connection with whiskey dates back to at least the 1700’s.

An unfortunate collision with a chimney – believed to be a distillery chimney – led to the world’s first air disaster when a hot air balloon set fire to the town in 1785!

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The Phoenix c/othewhiskeynut

There are still Phoenix emblems on lamp posts on Colmcille St to remember the rebirth of the town after this catastrophe – along with a Tullamore DEW expression of the same name which can either be taken to note the fire – or the beginning of whiskey distilling in Tullamore after a 50 year hiatus when William Grant & Sons opened the new Tullamore Distillery on the outskirts of the town in 2014.

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The new Tullamore Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

St Patrick St in the centre of town was largely destroyed in the fire. There were a few buildings that survived. One of these buildings is the Tullamore DEW managers office which still proudly displays the name of it’s most famous manager – Daniel E Williams who coined the  “Give Everyman His DEW”  advertising tag.

Directly opposite are the original distillery entrance gates which bear the name B Daly Company Ltd Tullamore Distillery – Bernard Daly being a previous manager to Daniel Williams.

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Bob Smyths & Tullamore Distillery Gates c/othewhiskeynut

The gates abut a public house by the name of Bob Smyths. This was formerly a mill house owned by Michael Molloy who happened to be the founder of Tullamore Distillery in 1829. It should come as no surprise the mill was incorporated into the distillery whose main works were just behind. We decided to raise a glass to Tullamore Distillery at this juncture of the walk.

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A toast to Tullamore Whiskey Heritage c/othewhiskeynut

Much of Tullamore’s wealth was generated on the back of the drinks industry. In the early 1800’s there happened to be 2 distilleries, 2 breweries and extensive malting houses in the town. The 3 biggest employers during this period were Tullamore DEW itself, P&H Egans general merchants wine & spirit bonders and Tarleton maltsters.

The heritage of the past shapes the present.

Tullamore DEW is still a world recognised whiskey brand and the original 1897 Old Bonded Warehouse attracts many visitors now it’s a very enjoyable whiskey tourist attraction.

P&H Egans – who originally built the fine Bridge House which still stands today – have a recently released 10 year old single malt bearing the Bridge House on the front of the label. Descendants of the original family are behind the new revived brand and artwork from their forefathers can be seen in The Brewery Tap pub – which happens to be the site of one of the former breweries.

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Egan’s Whiskey from the heart of Ireland c/othewhiskeynut

Tarleton seem to be gone but the fertile soils of the Midlands still produce barley for the malting industry to this day. Many of the shops and apartments at the bottom of Harbour St are housed in the old warehouses and malting floors of that former malting industry giant.

Whiskey is still a presence in Tullamore today. It may not employ as many people as in the past but the legacy lives on.

One of several whiskey bars in town – as arbitrarily defined by a previous blog here – has it’s own bottling! We enjoyed a glass of the yet to be launched Hugh Lynch’s Irish Whiskey in the pub that commissioned it. What better way to end the walk.

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Hugh Lynch’s Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

So why don’t you give Tullamore a visit?

The combination of the old original buildings with their rich history – the new whiskey expressions with their exciting flavours – an exciting re-birth of whiskey distilling quietly maturing in oak barrels at the modern Tullamore Distillery – neatly encapsulates the past – present and yet to be written whiskey heritage of Tullamore.

I’ll drink to that!

Slainte.

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