Category Archives: Whiskey Bars

Mackmyra tasting at Olrepubliken, Gothenburg.

Pubs are currently closed in Ireland for the COVID pandemic – yet they remained open in Sweden.

On a previous visit to Gothenburg I had the pleasure of enjoying one of them.

There’s a different feel to the bars in Sweden. Licencing laws require food to be served & consequently tables & chairs are common place – rather than nooks & crannies.

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Whisky central! c/othewhiskeynut

At Ölrepubliken I sat myself down by the bar counter to admire the whisky selection & chat with the friendly staff.

Ardbeg was in abundance – Ölrepukliken are ambassadors for the brand – but it was Swedish Whisky that interested me.

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Swedish & Scotch in Gothenburg c/othewhiskeynut

By way of a starter – a glass from the small cask in the corner was offered.

Mackmyra staff regularly top up this barrel with cask strength products in a solera style system.

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Mackmyra Reserve Cask c/othewhiskeynut

How cool is that!

A unique taste experience every time you visit!

Luckily for me the current contents consisted of a smoky – or rök in Swedish – element augmented by bourbon & sherry casks too.

It certainly warmed me up!

Rich notes of vanilla & dark fruits. No chill filtering or added caramel here. A dry savouriness – almost chewy.

Gorgeous!

A whisky menu was proffered &  a private bottling for the bar featuring more rök malt finished in oloroso was next.

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Mackmyra Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

The contrast between the dry smokiness & the sweet luxurious fruits really worked well.

Wonderful!

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Which one? c/othewhiskeynut

To finish off a clutch of silver labelled, black banded Mackmyras caught my eye.

Part of the Moment Range I’d never encountered before.

I chose Jakt – named after the Swedish wine casks it’s finished in.

Who knew Sweden even did wine?

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Jakt Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

At 48.1% Jakt didn’t quite have the punch of the cask strength beauties I’d just engaged with.

Nonetheless rich fruity notes blossomed in a softly complex display of sumptuousness.

Picking a favourite? – it would have to be the Ölrepubliken Cask.

The full strength rök offering in a unique combination of finishes just blew me away.

If your looking for a taste of Swedish Whiskey – Ölrepubliken is the place to go!

Skål!

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Redbreast 27 Launch Night at Sonny Molloy’s, Galway.

In what felt like the ‘last hurrah’ before impending restrictions increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Sonny Molloy’s Bar in Galway held an impressive evening celebrating the launch of the highly esteemed Redbreast Whiskey range’s latest addition – the 27 Year Old.

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Redbreast 27 c/othewhiskeynut

The numbers attending were slightly reduced from previous events – and a certain awkwardness regards hand shaking & social distancing were always in the background – yet the company, the whiskey and the gorgeous food won out!

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Whiskey & food pairing. c/othewhiskeynut

There were 3 whiskeys on offer. All introduced by the Irish Distillers Brand Ambassador – Ger Garland.

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Tasty trio c/oSonnyMolloy’s

The first one was a bit of a mystery.

Very sweet on the nose – almost liqueur territory here – quite light on the palate – someone suggested cream soda – before the cask strength made it’s presence felt – leaving the pleasant softer flavours dancing away on the finish.

I was very pleased to hear it was an oat whiskey!

Oats were formerly a common ingredient in Irish Whiskey and it’s marvelous to see it’s return into offerings such as Kilbeggan SPS, Drumshanbo Inaugural – as well as experimentation at Killowen Distillery – and quite clearly at Midleton too!

Just how the results of this experimentation will end up in an actual final product are yet to be decided – but clearly exciting times indeed!

The second offering – also at cask strength – was a much more contemporary affair.

Midleton Dair Ghaelach, Knockrath Wood, Tree 3, 56.6%.

The use of virgin Irish Oak casks – as well as ex-bourbon casks – had accentuated the dry tannic spiciness over and above the initial rich warming vanilla notes to the front capped off by a prickly tingling from the high ABV.

I really enjoyed this one.

The grand finalé?

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It’s in the glass! c/othewhiskeynut

Redbreast 27 Year Old, 54.6%.

Unlike other Redbreasts – the 27 has seen maturation in ruby port casks.

This has given it a darker, even richer fruitiness. I’m thinking plums, figs & raisins here. The high ABV kicked in at this point & I’d need the addition of water to calm things down a touch.

To be honest – I wasn’t bowled over.

I didn’t find it an easy whiskey to appreciate – and I’m not just talking about it’s €495 price tag. I found it a bit of a challenge.

Redbreast 27 – not for me.

Sláinte

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I’d like to thank all at Sonny Molloy’s for the warm hospitality on the evening.

My views – as always – are my own.

Brand Ambassador Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder, The Afters.

This blog comes to you with the musical accompaniment of LCD Soundsystem.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Usually on encountering a wall of whiskey I’d be choosing bottles I’ve not tasted before but in this instance – an old favourite was proffered up by the Hi-Spirits rep.

Michael Collins Blend, 40%

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Michael Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

An easy going well balanced & honeyed blend from a few years ago.

Sadly discontinued during the Beam takeover of Cooley/Kilbeggan – there are rumors new brand owners Sazerac are going to revitalize it.

I’d be pleased to welcome it’s return.

My last encounter was with the distinctive ‘baseball bat’ bottle – redesigned into the beautifully labeled one above.

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My empty Micheal Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

I’m Losing My Edge.

UnTamed 63.8%

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The Wild Geese UnTamed c/othewhiskeynut

Ever since giving UnTamed category winner in the Cask Strength offerings of my blind Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 judging session  – I’d yet to meet it in the wild.

It didn’t give much away on the nose.

Initially the flavours were soft, sweet & gentle before an explosion of alcohol hit the palate. Yet those gloriously tasty remnants faded slowly away on the long finish.

I’d vote for it again.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Last orders – FEW Bourbon 46.5%

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FEW Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Searching the wall of whiskey for something suitable – FEW Bourbon caught my eye.

I’d enjoyed their FEW Rye – polished off previously.

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FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

I liked their ‘remembering’ of Francis Elizabeth Willard– a key campaigner in the temperance movement of America – as well as votes for women and anti-lynching.

And I liked the young & fresh combination of flavours within this bourbon.

Only when I checked my tasting list did I discover I’ve had it before!

I’m Losing My Edge – But I Was There!

And I need to get back there to the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder and enjoy a tasty trio of whiskey I’ve yet to meet!

Slàinte

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Dream To Dram, Single Malt, 46% at Dreel Tavern, Anstruther.

The Dreel Tavern is an attractive stone built gastropub sitting above the Dreel Burn that flows into the Firth Of Forth at the endearing ‘stepping stones’ area of Anstruther.

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Only suitable to cross at low tide! c/othewhiskeynut

Popping in for a drink I spotted the local Fife based Kingsbarns Distillery‘s first release – Dream To Dram – and was keen to taste this Lowland Malt.

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Kingsbarns Dream To Dram c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was rather muted. Fresh soft subtle vanilla going on.

The palate started off gently too – before an exuberant spirity kick punched in.

Definitely youthful – perhaps too much so!

I’d have preferred a few more years in the cask.

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Dream To Dram label c/othewhiskeynut

There is pressure on new distilleries to show off their wares – and I commend Kingsbarns for releasing this fresh malt.

At the very least it allows fans the opportunity to try out the new spirit & see how it compares with future more aged releases.

I’m putting it in my ‘Work in Progress’ file.

Sláinte

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Art Of The Blend #4, 51%, The Bank, Anstruther

There’s always a frisson of excitement entering a bar for the first time.

You never know what you will encounter.

The best bars you enter as strangers – and depart as friends.

But in The Bank in Anstruther – I encountered an old friend.

Art Of The Blend #4.

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The gorgeously bottled #4 c/othewhiskeynut

Eden Mill are the next generation of Scottish brewers & distillers. Prior to their own whisky being released they experimented with sourced distillate under the Art Of The Blend label to hone their skills.

I enjoyed the results.

Presented at a stonking 51% this Port Cask finished blend packed a lively punch of sweet stone fruits.

The high ABV led to an explosion of flavour on the palate – yet it didn’t overpower.

A pleasing prickly heat faded gently with warming cherry notes dancing merrily into the distance.

Limited to 1100 bottles – I was glad to encounter my old friend again.

Sláinte

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1770 Whisky, Single Malt, 46% at MacSorley’s, Glasgow

Straight off the Belfast to Cairnryan Ferry my first stop on the Scottish side was to MacSorley’s Bar on Jamaica Street in Glasgow.

Chosen mainly for ease of access to & from the M8 motorway – it was a handy spot to pick up fellow travellers – and some tasty refreshments too!

MacSorley’s do a fine & fun range of Tartan Tapas which suited my needs perfectly.

On the whisky front it didn’t disappoint either.

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1770 Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Spotting a bottle of 1770 Whisky – the 2019 edition from the recently opened Glasgow Distillery Co – I had to give it a try.

A nice clean & fresh dram with an inviting nose greeted me.

Quite light on the palate, some dark fruity notes gave a certain gravitas & body to this young malt.

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The back label c/othewhiskeynut

A gently drying soft pepper spice rounded up this delightful whisky.

A wonderful introduction to the next generation of Scottish Whisky Distilleries.

Sláinte

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The Joy Of Pubs, Teacher’s vs Highland Earl, Blends, 40%

There was an article in the Irish Times the other day about rural development & Gort happened to feature.

Picking up the paper in the town itself after an enjoyable evening topped off the experience.

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Gort in the news. c/othewhiskeynut

The revelry started with a meal at The Gallery Cafe in the Square. A popular spot offering great food & some tasty  beers to boot.

Kinnegar’s Rustbucket Rye Ale washed down my burger delightfully as we chatted outside on the terrace taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

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Kinnegar Rye Ale c/oOBriensWine

A bar was selected afterwards & Cummins on Main Street suited us.

Garishly coloured on the outside & embazoned with GAA murals we entered into a trad session being played in the corner by a group of local musicians with a small gathering of drinkers happily tapping along.

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Teacher’s c/oMasterOfMalt

The usual whiskey suspects lined the shelves, Powers, Paddys & Jameson being the standards – a Teacher’s was there too and I fancied a peat hit so went with it.

Teacher’s is a well established blend of Scotch Whisky. A bit on the rough & ready side, sweet peat & a little spirity, but you know what you’re getting.

Chatting away I scanned the shelves for something I’d not had before & spotted a couple of bottles half hidden behind others.

Highland Earl Special Reserve was duly ordered on the next round.

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Highland Earl c/othewhiskeynut

Now Highland Earl is an Aldi brand. An entry level one at that too – and I’d hesitated buying one after having a tad too many caramel laden blends in the past – but being in a bar is a fabulous way to sample it.

My first nosing raised a smile.

A decent waft of balanced peat greeted me.

Wasn’t expecting that!

The palate was more mellow & soothing than the Teacher’s. Yes there is added caramel & yes there is probably chill filtering – but then so has Teacher’s.

If anything Highland Earl lived up to it’s – admittedly low level – titled status by being a step up in enjoyment from the recognisable big brand.

Now the bar’s bottle seems to be an old offering. There is no age statement as with the current 3 Year Old release – and a tagline on the label proclaims it to be a 2010 IWSC Winner!

So I can’t vouch if what is on sale now matches the bottle I tried – but what I can say is the Earl entertained me for the rest of the evening!

Oh the joy of pubs & the simple pleasures of a decent peated blend!

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The Blackbird Bar, Ballycotton

What excites me about entering a bar for the first time is discovering the whiskey selection on their shelves.

What excites me even more is discovering a few new whiskeys to try out!

The Blackbird Bar in Ballycotton happened to be that bar – and 100 Pipers was the first new discovery.

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100 Pipers piping! c/othewhiskeynut

This big volume Scottish blend has been around since the late 60’s. Now part of the Pernod Ricard empire – the bottle still displays Seagram’s on it from the original brand owners.

A rather dark blend – added caramel is expected for this category – there is that sweet vanilla & caramel going on. Towards the end a pleasing touch of peat smoke gives 100 Pipers a bit of character. An easy going softly smoked blend.

Next up was a Japanese Single Malt – Hakushu Distillers Reserve.

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This one charmed me. c/othewhiskeynut

My drinking buddy ordered the Dingle Single Malt Batch 2 at the same time to compare & contrast.

I found the Hakushu clean & fresh. A lovely deep vanilla from bourbon cask maturation which then slowly morphed into a gorgeously drying soft ashy peaty spice which danced off the palate.

Really enjoyed this one.

The Dingle Single Malt Batch 2 was more rich with dark fruitiness from the added Oloroso & PX cask maturation – and made for an interesting taste comparison.

The bar recommended the final offering – Auchentoshan 12.

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Auchentoshan 12 c/othewhiskeynut

Now Auchentoshan are an anomaly in Scottish Whisky – they triple distill!

This bourbon & Oloroso cask matured Single Malt was a fine example of that style.

Smooth delivery, good depth of flavours with a touch of oakiness too – and an enjoyably long finish.

The Blackbird Bar also stock an extensive array of Midleton Distillery output – as befits a bar less than half an hour away from the distillery itself.

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Whiskey at the Blackbird, Ballycotton. c/othewhiskeynut

Having had them all before – I chose to go for a delightful trio of new acquaintances.

Out of the 3 – Hakushu would come out on top.

The combination of a clean, almost herbal yet fruity start growing into a drying soft spicy peat hit definitely had me hooked.

Just like the warm hospitality & great whiskey selection of the Blackbird Bar reeled me in.

Big shout out to Mossie & all the crew – a fabulous spot.

Sláinte

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Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve, 46%, Single Malt

I always get a frisson of excitement entering a bar & finding some rare or discontinued whiskey on the shelves.

It’s a chance to sample & taste a fleeting timepiece of the larger whiskeysphere with ever changing bottles on offer.

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Keenan’s c/othewhiskeynut

Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry – a popular dining spot on the banks of the mighty River Shannon just inside the County Roscommon border – happened to be the bar.

Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve happened to be the whiskey.

The nose was suitably rich, filled with dark fruitiness & slightly drying woody tannins.

A gorgeously smooth entry developed with sweet yet deep & dark fruity notes which gently morphed into a soft dry spiciness followed by wonderfully woody drying tannins & oaky opulence.

The dark sweetness, gentle spice & dry tannins complemented each other as they slowly ebbed away on the palate to my great satisfaction.

A fabulous find in a delightfully enjoyable establishment.

Sláinte

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Natterjack Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

I first started hearing about Natterjack Whiskey about 2 years ago.

Such are the lead in times to get a brand to market – let alone building a distillery in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford.

Keen to try out this newcomer to Irish Whiskey – but conscious I’d break the bank buying every bottle – a bar was found.

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P Mac’s in Dublin c/othewhiskeynut

P Mac’s in Dublin’s city centre suited my needs perfectly.

A tempting stock of whiskey had me wavering – but a short window of opportunity between 2 appointments meant I only had time to kiss the toad!

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Have you #kissedthetoad yet? c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve enjoyed the marketing behind this brand.

It’s fresh, it’s novel and it’s exciting.

The Natterjack toad motif on the bottle is also eye catching – but what of the liquid inside?

A distinctively ‘sweet & sour’ mix on the nose.

It’s a note new to Irish Whiskey – but one I’ve encountered before – mainly on young corn whiskeys from America. That is whiskey containing at least 80% corn in the mash bill – according to US rules.

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The bold back. c/othewhiskeynut

As Natterjack is an Irish Whiskey – US rules don’t apply – and it would be called a blend here.

It’s an easy going smooth whiskey on tasting. The ‘sweet & sour’ is less prominent – but still there – before a softly growing spiciness dries out the silky barley.

The peppery spice attractively lingers on the palate at the finish.

It’s definitely a new flavour profile for Irish Whiskey.

Natterjack is bold, innovative & enticing.

Despite not fully setting my tastebuds alight – I wholeheartedly welcome this exciting new entrant into the growing market.

I look forward to the future development of this brand – along with the distillery in Kilmacthomas – and wish the Natterjack success!

Sláinte

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