Category Archives: Whiskey Bars

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.

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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