Category Archives: Whiskey Bars

Johnnie Fox’s & Henry Downes & Co No 9 Irish Whiskey, Blends, 40%

Johnnie Fox’s is a well known pub which does a roaring tourist attraction trade in the mountains just outside of Dublin.

They released a whiskey a few years ago & this is my 1st time to try it.

I’d never heard of Henry Downes before – so had to look them up. Turns out they are also a bar – situated in Waterford City – but originally started out as spirits merchants.

Nice to see some traditions last with this release!

Obviously these are both sourced whiskeys from unnamed Irish distilleries – so what did I find?

Image courtesy apoma.dk

Johnnie Fox’s, Blend, 40%

Pale straw in colour, a fruity little number with hints of darker depth, clean fresh grain palate develops some pleasing spiciness towards the rear finishing with a little spirity kick.

An attractive blend to entice you into the Johnnie Fox’s establishment!

Image courtesy Whiskey.Auction

Henry Downes No 9, Blend, 40%

Whatever happened to the other 8?

A slightly darker shade of pale straw, soft malty nose with hints of wet leather, sweet biscuity palate finishing with a dry peppery spice & slight frisson of excitement.

Grand.

Thoughts

For me Johnnie Fox’s came over as a fresher & livelier style of whiskey which instantly appealed to me.

Can’t help thinking Henry Downes was beginning to suffer from being too long in the bottle & might have been more enjoyable when originally released.

Happy however to have tasted a couple of early pioneers who paved the way for the positive explosion of Irish Whiskey brands entering the market today.

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Johnnie Fox’s website here.

Henry Downes bar information courtesy Publication website here.

Samples purchased from Drams Delivered here.

Shortcross Rye And Malt, 46%, at Thomas Connolly Bar, Sligo

Now here’s a whiskey I instantly fell in love with!

Shortcross Rye And Malt is the 2nd release from the boutique Rademon Estate Distillery in Northern Ireland.

It marks the return of rye to Irish Whiskey with a bold & unapologetic offering.

The 1909 Royal Commission into whiskey – which paved the way for the modern industry we know today – mentions Irish Whiskey usually being made with a mixed mashbill of barley, oats, wheat & rye.

I’m very pleased to see distilleries like Rademon exploring the rich flavours these grains deliver.

Being a self confessed lover of rye – Shortcross Rye And Malt displays that classic rye nose to draw me in.

Some describe it as dry sweet biscuit, my other half experienced almondy nuttiness.

A warming luscious mouthfeel.

The dryness of the rye has been balanced by a barley creaminess.

Offering both depth & complexity Rye And Malt finishes with a flourish of dry peppery spice that delights.

Love it!

Shortcross double distill Irish grown rye & barley & present the whiskey non chill filtered, natural colour at 46%.

Thomas Connolly have an extensive array of Irish Whiskey to suit all palates – especially rye heads!

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Rademon Estate website here.

1909 Commission Report here.

Thomas Connolly website here.

Another Athlone Pub Succumbs To Fire

The Grove Bar situated on the Connacht side of Athlone suffered intensive fire damage after the nearby chip shop erupted in flames.

The inferno quickly spread along a number of businesses sharing a common roof & engulfed a bookies shop, the chip shop itself, a Carry Out Off Licence & the Grove Bar too.

Firefighters worked to quell the flames from spreading to the nearby Texaco petrol filling station.

At the time of writing all the businesses affected have lost their premises & it will be sometime before they can re-establish themselves either on the same site or at another location.

Charlies Bar on the east side of town Athlone was also destroyed by fire – but planning permission is already being sought to rebuild.

Video of the Grove fire can be viewed courtesy local newspaper Westmeath Independent here.

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All images authors own.

Has Athlone lost another bar?

A fire gutted Charlie’s Bar on Athlone’s Dublin Road recently.

Burnt Charlie c/othewhiskeynut

It’s not a venue I’d frequented myself – but being close to Athlone IT ensured it’s popularity among the student cohort.

Having only re-opened after COVID, this is a blow to the staff, owners & clientele of the establishment.

Pledged to re-build, Charlie’s joins another pair of bars in Athlone that unfortunately also went up in flames & sadly are no more.

An empty space where O’Neill’s once stood c/othewhiskeynut

O’Neill’s Bar in the centre of town spectacularly burnt down during the big freeze of 2010. All that remains is a vacant plot.

Live show at The Dell c/odiscogs.com

The Dell – a popular music venue in the 1970’s – faced a similar fate & was eventually bull-dozed into a new road scheme.

While too early to predict Charlie’s future – I worry Athlone has lost another bar.

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J Walsh, Woodford, Co Galway

Taking advantage of the sunny weather a few of us ventured into the East Clare, East Galway area for a scenic drive & walks by loughs & forests.

Returning via Woodford we spotted a bar offering refreshments & popped in – or rather ‘out’ to comply with COVID rules.

J Walsh c/othewhiskeynut

A busy & friendly atmosphere greeted us in the covered & open dining space at the back of J Walsh’s attractive front bar.

I did have a quick glance at the whiskey shelve for a suitable companion to the tasty light meals we enjoyed.

The usual suspects were on display.

Jameson, Powers & Bushmills representing Ireland.

Black & White, Teachers & Grouse for Scotland.

It struck me Ireland had no representation in the peated blend market.

Rather surprising as Teachers is the biggest selling brand in Ireland for the Beam/Suntory portfolio.

Perhaps the roll out of the new Kilbeggan Black will change that?

Peated Kilbeggan c/othewhiskeynut

As it was Black & White made my glass.

That lovely smokey element adding a touch of excitement & character to this easy & accessible whisky.

Kilbeggan Black had to wait till we got home.

Where we duly finished the bottle off!

A great day out.

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Shanahans Original, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 40%

Hopefully by the end of 2021 we’ll be able to freely walk into bars & enjoy ourselves without any worries – as I miss the unexpected encounters within.

Back in summer ’19 herself requested a trip to the seaside on a hot sunny day in contrast to the flat Midland’s bogs we normally frequent.

Afterwards, a spot of light refreshment at Keelings Bar in Donabate rounded off the day.

Shanahans Original c/othewhiskeynut

The whiskey shelves were scanned for a suitable selection & Shanahans Original stood out for me.

Being a commissioned malt from the Cooley Distillery for the famous Dublin based steakhouse – this was in the days before the Beam/Suntory takeover turned off the taps to 3rd parties – Shanahans is a slice of Irish Whiskey’s recent history I was keen to sample.

Back label c/othewhiskeynut

That lovely fresh citrusy & fruity malt aroma greeted me.

A delightfully light & easy whiskey with a touch of malty character – as well as an entertaining back story – to enjoy on a warms summers day in the beer garden of Keelings.

Oh to be able to experience those simple & unexpected pleasures again!

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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.

Sonny Molloy RB27
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.

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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!

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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.

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