From Irish Beer Fest to Whiskey Fest

The Irish Craft Beer Fest of 27th to 29th August at the RDS in Dublin continues to be the centrepiece of the growing Irish Craft Beer scene. Brewers amaze with their ever expanding range of styles, flavours and tastes while new entrants pop up all over the country with yet more fine ales.

The atmosphere is always very relaxed and friendly with loads of seating areas where casual conversations with strangers quickly enter into the finer qualities of the beverage being consumed.

Cider is also a growing scene – with one of our party braving the massive 15% ABV Tawny from Stonewell Cider!

Brigid's Ale c/o thewhiskeynut
Brigid’s Ale c/o thewhiskeynut

Beers I sampled included the lovely White Hag Heather Sour Ale which managed to better their Bog Ale. Brigid’s Ale from Two Sisters was a lovely new entrant and Mountain Man had some lovely specials based on their Sneaky Owl brew.

Meanwhile the whiskey element seems to have been dropped from the logo – despite this 4 worthy distilleries displayed their wares at the show.

Jameson Caskmates c/o Jameson
Jameson Caskmates c/o Jameson

Midleton actually had 2 stalls. The first showcased their collaboration with Franciscan Wells Brewery of Cork and Jameson Whiskey using beer barrels to age whiskey in – and whiskey barrels to age beer in. Now I’ve tried a few beers of this type – Ola Dubh from Harvieston is one of the best –  and found them generally agreeable – rising to fabulous – but I’ve yet to try the whiskey!

The second Midleton stall was the marvelously wooded Single Pot Still stand offering the highly acclaimed as well as highly enjoyable range of expressions from this esteemed distillery.

The remaining stalls were both from the new kids on the block – no – not the dodgy boyband – but the new generation of Irish distillers.

Dingle Distillery of Kerry were showcasing their Gin and Vodka expressions only which judging by the long queues were going down very well indeed. Their whiskey however has not matured for long enough to be released yet – but should be out by the end of the year.

St Patrick's Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut
St Patrick’s Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut

The last spirit offering came from Cork in the shape of the unknown – at least to me – St Patrick’s Distillery. Despite telling myself I’d stick to sampling the myriad of beers on offer – I was drawn to this new expression – one of very few new releases not connected to the established distilleries.

I got talking to Cyril Walsh about their whiskey release – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey. Turns out their spirit is a blend made from 3 year old grain from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and a 21 year old malt from an undisclosed source – probably Midleton – also in Cork. The distillation, maturing, blending and bottling is all done in the Rebel County. St Patrick’s Distillery aren’t a distillery at all – they just get someone else to make it for them – then market it.

Now before anyone jumps on their high horse – this is a very tried and tested method of whiskey production. After all Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants bonded, blended and sold whiskey under their own brand names – Green Spot and Yellow Spot to name two – which originated from the then Jameson Distillery in Dublin.

St Patrick's Irish Whiskey c/o StPats
St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey c/o StPats

Having said that – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey is not in the Spot class – it is however a very smooth spicy tasting blend which I enjoyed very much. There is a passing resemblance to some Powers releases in my mind – I’d certainly like to try the 21 year old malt that gives this blend it’s lovely flavour! They weren’t selling bottles at the show – a pity as I’d have snapped one up on the strength of the sample I drank.

Powers Johns Lane Release c/o irishwhiskey.com
Powers Johns Lane Release c/o irishwhiskey.com

After having this lovely tipple – despite being at the beer fest – our table started a whiskey fest and an excellent Yellow Spot arrived. This is a smoother 12 year old companion to the equally fine Green Spot. Not to be outdone I offered the Powers John’s Lane Release which also has a rich smoothness complimented by a spiciness which gives it just that extra little kick I love – despite The Cramps who are still looking for it.

As time was getting on – we retired to a friends house where the fine whiskeys kept on coming courtesy of the drinks cabinet.

There was a predominance of Scotch whisky on offer with a few Irish expressions too.

The first off the blocks caused a rumpus. Now I know Speyside malts have an almost cult like status in the whisky world – much like IPA has amongst the craft beer fraternity – and Gordon & McPhail are renowned blenders and bottlers of good repute who have been tantalising the tastebuds of whisky aficionados for over 120 years – but their Speymalt Macallan much like Shania says – didn’t impress me much!

Speymalt Macallan c/o mastersofmalt
Speymalt Macallan c/o mastersofmalt

There you go – said it – I’ve completely dismissed the holy trinity of alcoholic beverages – Scotch whisky – specifically from Speyside – Gordon & McPhail and IPA – the beer style that launched the current craft beer revival – dissed by a slice of cheesy 90’s pop!

But isn’t drinking all about personal taste? Not about what we are told to like by popularity polls or slick advertising?

Springbank 10yo c/o Springbank
Springbank 10yo c/o Springbank

After my host almost choked on his dram – a bottle of Springbank 10 yo proved to be far more aligned with my tastes. I have to admit here that I have had issues with peat in the past – but this finely balanced expression allows other flavours to come through in the mouth whilst the peat element gives an extra oomph to the experience.

Jack Ryan 12yo c/o Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan 12yo c/o Jack Ryan

The Irish contingent were not to be outdone with a very fine smooth glass of the excellent Jack Ryan 12 yo Single followed by an equally smooth Celtic Casks Ocht release which is one of the expressions made in conjunction with the Celtic Whiskey Shop. I did prefer their Knappogue Castle Marsala release – but I think it’s all sold out now!

Knappogue Castle Marsala Cask c/o Celticwhiskeyshop
Knappogue Castle Marsala Cask c/o Celticwhiskeyshop

The final offering also split the table. Whilst the host waxed lyrical about how cask strength is a pure form of the distillers art undiluted by ingredients like water – others mused it blew your head off and as mere drinkers we had to guess how much water to add – too much killed the taste – too little numbed the palate – we felt safer if the expert distiller had done this for us.

Glengoyne Cask Strength c/o Glengoyne
Glengoyne Cask Strength c/o GlengoyneJa

At a massive 58% ABV the Glengoyne Cask Strength hits the palate with a BOOM – but within that there were discernible tastes and flavours. Mmmmm! Must explore this distillery further.

By now the discussions became more rambling and mellow! Teas, coffees and a slice of toast rounded of the very enjoyable evening tasting.

From the premier Irish Beer Fest to a very fine private whiskey fest – what more could you ask for?

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

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Black & White & Golden Dram

When asked to contribute a flight of whiskies for a recent blog, I took a little while to come up with a few favourites. As the story of a whiskey – it’s origins, manufacture, history, heritage and trivia – are as important and enjoyable to me as the tasting – my flight reflects that element.

The story around my Black& White is the basis of this blog.

My Black & White c/o thewhiskeynut
My Black & White c/o thewhiskeynut

A few months ago after a recently acquired contract at work, the decision was taken to renovate the old office space that had lain idle for at least a decade. One of the founding directors had also passed away during that time and the offices had effectively been left abandoned.

There was a mountain of old paperwork,artefacts, pictures, memorabilia as well as outdated phones, electronica and files. Most of it was destined for the skip – but there were a few surprises and items that required attention before removal.

Word soon spread around the yard that a cache of booze had been found.Now the firm had previously been involved in drinks distribution and this may have been a relic from those times – I had to have a look!

Mt eyes lit up and my tastebuds tingled when I viewed a collection of old whiskey, cognac, vodka and gin bottles stored in a locked metal cabinet. There was some Famous Grouse, a Black Bush, Hennessy, some unidentified clear spirits and a Black & White – all with old and aged looking labels.

Old Black & White label c/o thewhiskeynut
Old Black & White label c/o thewhiskeynut

This was an opportunity too good to miss – especially as I hadn’t sampled the whiskies before – so I approached management for a quiet word and after a day or two – became the proud owner of a bottle of Black & White!

Several questions then raised themselves;

How old is it?

Is it worth anything?

Should I drink it?

Is it palatable?

My mind was already decided on the last 2. Whiskey is for drinking – not sitting on a shelf as some kind of object to be admired (although some bottles do look like a piece of art) or seen as a potential pension plan. The contents of the bottle appeared golden clear and despite the dusty outside gave me no cause for concern regards it’s suitability to consume.

I did however delay a little on the first 2 – mostly out of curiosity and the off chance it was worth a few bob.

It quickly became apparent that there was indeed a market for old Black & White – mainly advertising material and pre-1930’s 700ml bottles – but as mine was only a half bottle and not that old – I wasn’t about to drink a goldmine!

As for the date – well that proved a tad more difficult.

I was surprised to find Black & White had no dedicated website, facebook, twitter, instagram, chat show or even TV channel as part of it’s marketing strategy. For such a longstanding and popular dram – created by James Buchanan in the 1880’s where it became a big seller and continues to be so today – and now part of the Diageo stable – this seems somewhat amiss.

I put some snaps up on a whisky chat site – followed up a few leads and eventually got an informed reply to an email;

Black & White barcode c/o thewhiskeynut
Black & White barcode c/o thewhiskeynut
“Additionally, there is a bar-code on the back of the bottle,which was something not widely in use prior to about 1980.”
This was later narrowed down a bit by Diageo GB in a tweet;

we sure can! our archivists inform us it’s from between 1985-1991 as this label was used in that time period

Trans Europe Express – the long lingering finish.

Aachen – a city of 250,00 souls in the North Rhine Westphalia area of Germany founded by the Romans and famous for it’s Cathedral as well as  Charlemagne – and also my chosen spot to explore the Benelux countries.

Benelux Countries c/o wikipedia
Benelux Countries c/o wikipedia

My first day in town was spent exploring the lovely cobbled streets of the old historical centre snapping away like the proverbial tourist I’ve become. Very enjoyable it was too – especially when I gained some free time to wander round the whiskey shops whilst my better half did a tour of the Charlemagne Museum!

Neooro die liquidboutique shop is handily just near the museum on Markt. A fine display of assorted drinks from around the globe greets the customer and they had a small selection of German whiskies for sale including the alluring – if not highly priced Preussischer Whisky. Now I realise that German distilleries produce spirit on a small scale which is reflected in the cost – but it’s at the top end of my budget – so it has to be exceptionally good, have a great story, have been previously tasted and set my tastebuds alight  or have been offered a sample to try before I could commit to it. As these criteria were not met – and the other releases were mainly grain whiskies in lovely looking bottles but similarly priced – I simply window shopped and moved on.

Barrique – also on Markt and just around the corner – is a much more down to earth establishment selling a wide array of wines, spirits, oils and vinegars – all of good quality. It’s method of selling these wares was rather refreshing – and something I’d never come across before.

Barrique Whisky c/o thewhiskeynut
Barrique Whisky c/o thewhiskeynut

It’s how all whiskey used to be sold in times gone by. The distillery would sell the wine merchant (for example)  a large quantity – the consumer would then bring along a suitable container into which the wine merchant would decant the spirit. No fancy labelling – no artwork – no bottle – no ABV marking – no mission statement. Now this I had to try!

Sadly no German distillery had offered their spirit by this method – but with a fine array of Scottish, American, Canadian and a sole Spanish expression on offer – it took me a little while to choose.

Barrique purchases c/o thewhiskeynut
Barrique purchases c/o thewhiskeynut

In the end I went for a 12 year old Ledaig – as this expression from Tobermory was mentioned as a favourite during conversations back in London – and the Spanish DYC Single Malt – as I’ve previously tasted and enjoyed the DYC blend before whilst on a trip in France. Barrique supplied a printout with information on the spirit purchased – but as it was in German I didn’t understand it – as well as an assortment of bottles to put the spirit in. I went for a 100ml size with the intention of bringing them home on the plane – but as we arrived in late every night after a hard days sightseeing a tasty dram was in order and they were empty before we even got to the airport!

DYC printout c/o thewhiskeynut
DYC printout c/o thewhiskeynut

The Ledaig proved to be lovely and smooth with the peat giving it a bit of body to the malt. The DYC didn’t have the peaty kick – but was a more complex and flavoursome tipple than it’s sister DYC blend I enjoyed before.

Now the vatted Ledaig and the DYC in Barrique are probably not available in a bottled release from either distillery – but this method of selling whisky certainly gives the consumer an opportunity to sample an expression from a number of distilleries and gain a insight into the flavour profiles of those premises at a reasonable price – something I’m all for. I wonder if this method could catch on elsewhere – or is viable – as the shop keeper mentioned – not all distilleries are willing to sell their spirit this way. Pity.

There was another shop selling spirits this way in Aachen – Vom Fass – which is an international chain with premises around the world. Despite wanting to get some refills in an attempt to sample yet more fine drams – I never managed to visit whilst it was open.

Reunited with herself after our respective tours a spot of light refreshment was in order and we repaired to The Ergmont watering hole on Pontstrasse. A wonderfully decorated friendly place it turned out to be. Despite an extensive drinks menu there were no German whiskies so I tried out Cutty Sark – which is one of blends that is more popular abroad than it is at home.

Cutty Sark c/o thewhiskyexchange
Cutty Sark c/o thewhiskyexchange

This light delicate blend with a soft peaty punch together with a snack from the neighbouring cafe perked me up no end.

Further up the street we stumbled upon yet another drinks vendor.

Weinhaus Lesmeister is a lovely emporium of fine wine, whiskey, rum and other alcoholic beverages. The staff were very friendly when I enquired about German whisky of which they had a few. Sample tastings were offered and the familiar light yet woody flavour profile I associate with these releases were soon hitting my tastebuds. A bottle of Coillmor Bavarian single malt was duly purchased which completed my baggage allowance for the flight home.

Coillmor Single Malt c/o Liebl Distillery
Coillmor Single Malt c/o Liebl Distillery

As the transaction was going through – the shop keeper asked if I knew of a distillery only 10 minutes from Aachen?

Whiskey Tip No. 3  Always do your research! Despite checking for nearby distilleries on the excellent site deutsche-whisky.de – I’d failed to check out Belgium, Luxembourg or Dutch distilleries.

I had a big smile on my face with the thought of calling in on a distillery during our car trip tomorrow – but one look at herself told me that would definitely be verboten!

Radermacher – 1 of 7 whisky distilleries in Belgium I’ve come across – have been distilling since 1836 – mainly gins and liqueurs – but also a few whiskies. Lambertus single malt was the one I’d encountered but resisted and now I had to drive past the distillery in Raeren on the nearby E421 road as we made our way – as part of our sightseeing tour – to the highest point in Belgium!

Signal De Botrange at 693m – the height of Belgium. A welcome cafe awaits the traveller in this popular skiing area of the Hautes Fagnes Natural Park. There is actually a Signal De Botrange beer available – but as it’s brewed in Colorado – it wasn’t for sale in the cafe.

Luxembourg’s high point was even lower at 558m. There is no cafe but we called in at the nearby smatch supermarche on the N7 road where I glanced at the whisky shelves.

Whiskey Tip No. 4  If you’re going to buy whisky in Europe – check the tax rates first!

Tax on alcohols c/o spirits.eu
Tax on alcohols c/o spirits.eu

There was a bottle of Glenfiddich for 11 euro – and that Belgian Lambertus for 25 – it cost nearer 45 in Aachen! Oh dear -not enough homework done!

I also didn’t do my homework when I found a Luxembourg distillery after I returned home too! I think a European Whisky Distillery Tour could be in order!

The Dutch distilleries I did know about – but they were a little off our route the following day. I was hoping there would be some on the menu when we called in for a meal in Maastricht but alas no such luck.

As with all holidays – time flies – and so we began our return journey via train to Cologne for the evening. There were more whisky shops – but none open during my time in this picturesque city. I made do with a refreshing pint of wheat beer enjoyed whilst taking a lovely cruise along the majestic Rhine on what proved to be the warmest day of the trip.

Erdinger and wine on the Rhine c/o thewhiskeynut
Erdinger and wine on the Rhine c/o thewhiskeynut

The last whiskey purchase was courtesy of Heinemann Duty Free at the airport. Sadly there were no German expressions – but I did pick up a bottle of something which seems to be a private bottling for a German wine merchants.

Now this 10 year old single malt tastes as lovely and picturesque as the pretty little village it’s named after in Wester Ross, Scotland – but if you go looking for a distillery there you won’t find one.

Shieldaig Whisky c/o thewhiskeynut
Shieldaig Whisky c/o thewhiskeynut

William Maxwell are marked as the bottlers but an internet search leads you to the well respected and award winning independent bottlers Ian Macleod from whom this very drinkable dram may originate. There is no indication of the distillery it came from unless you narrow it down to Highland printed on the label.

So there you go – a European Whisky Odyssey – plenty discovered and a lot more to find.

What have been your European discoveries?  It’s a growing market with new releases all the time.

I’d love to know what else is out there.

Comments and suggestions please!

Slainte,

Whiskey Nut

Trans Europe Express – the first tastings.

They say that travels broadens the mind – but in my case it tantalizes the taste buds with the promise of experiencing new whiskey expressions not normally available at home.

My trans Europe jaunt certainly lived up to my expectations – with many a new dram sampled – and a few surprises and helpful tips along the way!

First port of call was my former home for 20 years – London – for the afore-blogged wedding. Having left over a decade ago it was a welcome return but at times I felt like a tourist – so much had changed and I was seeing it with fresh eyes.

A certain Pukka Boy has opened a few establishments around town and it was to one of those I ventured to meet up with my better half and a few of her cousins at a reunion gathering. The meal had ended by the time I arrived so drinks were ordered and as is my custom – I eyed the bar for a suitable tasting experience. Spotting a bottle of Sazerac Rye hidden behind a big branded blend – I sat down to chat and savour the warm rye flavour profile.

Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange
Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange

The rye didn’t disappoint with it’s full flavour opening up in the mouth with a very welcome spicy tinge. I got chatting away on whiskey matters – as you do – favourite drams – the rise of Irish Whiskey and so on – so when another round was required what else could I go for but a glass of the old reliable Green Spot.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Meaty beaty big and bouncy is an apt way to sum up this whiskey – like the Who’s album it’s an old classic – worthy of listening to whilst tasting this historic dram which is still independently bottled by Mitchell & Sons – the way all whiskey was sold at one time.  I didn’t taste his food – but the whiskey at the bar was certainly pukka!

Second port of call the day after the wedding was The Whisky Exchange shop at Vinopolis near London Bridge. As I’ve used their excellent online service on a number of occasions – mainly for UK based relatives at Xmas and birthdays – I thought it about time to pay their shop a visit.

My goal was a bottle of One – a blend using spirit from the recent batch of new distilleries opening in Scotland, England, Ireland (presumably Northern Ireland in this case) and Wales – which appealed to my theme of getting a bottle of home produced whiskey from each country I visit – but;

Whiskey Tip No. 1  Pre-order your purchases before visiting the shop as despite carrying a bewildering array of whiskies – this is only a fraction of the vast stock they hold at he online warehouse in West London.

Aha! I didn’t – so I then spent ages trying to figure out what to buy from the tantalising display on offer.

Eventually I decided on Wemyss Malt Spice King as these whisky blenders have just built a new distillery in Kingsbarns where many moons ago before the distillery was even thought about – before the golf course was even built – and before my brother acquired an american accent – he celebrated his engagement to his US girlfriend by holding a rather chilly party on the lovely beach there whilst they were both students in Edinburgh.

Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange
Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange

Luckily this dram warms you with it’s malty aroma, smooth yet spicy taste and long lasting glow. Lovely. I’ll have to pay a visit and try out the other expressions based on this experience.

Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns
Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns

My last day in London consisted of packing up before catching the train to mainland Europe. There was a brief stop in the Betjeman Arms at St Pancreas Station to sample a Canadian Club with some olives and bread before our departure.

This is a lovely spot to enjoy the fabulous architecture, sculptures and general hustle ‘n’ bustle of train travel in a relaxed atmosphere – as well as enjoying the unexpectedly good aroma and taste of this entry level blend from Canadian whiskey giants Hiram Walker but now part of Japanese giants Suntory – maybe it’s because it’s aged for 6 years together with a rye content – but I found it very tasty indeed! Must try it out again soon.

Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange
Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange

And so into Europe on the train. What a lovely way to travel. No complicated check in – no luggage restrictions – plenty of legroom and the ability to walk around. That walking around led me to the bar where my visions of varied whiskies from around Europe were quickly and decidedly  dashed by the single Jack Daniels miniature on offer. Now I know JD is a phenomenally popular drink – but it’s not mine;

Whiskey Tip No 2  As the Stones sang – “You can’t always get what you want” – so carry a suitable miniature – or better still a hip flask filled with your favourite tipple for those occasions when scarcity, unavailability or simply poor choice denies you the experience of enjoying a good relaxing dram whilst travelling.

Sadly the miniatures I’d bought at The Whisky Exchange were buried at the bottom of my luggage so i’d to wait until our arrival at the apartment in Aachen before having the opportunity of being able to sit down and relax.

Being at a late hour – I rushed out to grab a curry before the restaurants closed and enjoyed a small Black Bottle whisky to wash it down.

Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange
Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange

The slight peatiness and smooth tasting blend complemented the spicy curry which marked our move from familiar places to the excitement of new sights, sounds and smell of the Benelux area of mainland Europe.

To be continued…

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

A Good Blend Is Like A Good Marriage

This blog sends out congratulations to the very happy marriage and highly enjoyable ceremony of Paul and Shazan.

A uniting of two people from diverse backgrounds and countries whose combination is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

In attending the joyous event, I brought along something OLD for the occasion – and how older can you get than a specially bottled whiskey from the oldest working distillery in the world?

Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut
Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut

Like a good marriage – a good blended whiskey brings together diverse spirits – in this case single malt and single grain – that when combined bring about a happy taste experience. The flag bearing Kilbeggan Blend from the Kilbeggan/Cooley distilleries certainly does that in style!

Something NEW is the superbly redesigned Whiskey Shop at the Loop Dublin Airport. I felt like a little kid let loose in the chocolate factory! There was so much whiskey on offer I didn’t know where to begin. From what I can see all the Irish whiskey expressions currently on release were on display – along with a very impressive range of the big four – Scotland, USA, Japan and Canada. There were also some very welcome releases from World Whisky ie,, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, France and India to name a few. But what to chose?

Luckily – a representative from Walsh Whiskey Distillery was at hand with their very impressive range to sample. I spent a happy half hour sampling as well as being informed on the merits of each expression on offer.

Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Founders Reserve c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

First up was the Irishman Founders Reserve. This is the standard blend of the Irishman range but it is no ordinary blend! It is a combination of single malt and single pot still with no grain whiskey in sight that gives it a lovely spicy palate characteristic of a single pot still expression. I really enjoyed this tipple.

Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com
Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com

This was followed up by the Irishman Single Malt which is very smooth and palatable – so much so I’ve a bottle at home already.

Irishman 12 yo c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman 12 year old c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

The Irishman 12 yo Single Malt was an even smoother more complex dram,

Irishman Cask c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Cask  Strength c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

and the Irishman Cask Strength certainly knocked the socks of me.

Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

To finish off there was the delightful Writer’s Tears blend. A popular expression – again with a single malt and single pot still mix which gives it a punchy palate.

I’ve tried a few of these whiskeys before and found them very agreeable – but never back to back. I must admit the Irishman Founders Reserve impressed me the most on this occasion. Good luck to all at Walsh Whiskey in building their new distillery in Co. Carlow, based on my tasting experience – they have a bright future.

The BORROWED element came in the form of the wedding venue – The London Irish Centre in Camden Square, London. During the course of the festivities I acquainted myself with the fine array of Irish whiskey behind the bar and introduced a fellow guest to the delights therein. It’s a pity the range of Irish craft beer on offer wasn’t also represented at the venue.

Two sampling trays together with tasting notes were duly despatched to our table which included;

Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Connemara Peated Single Malt. An Irish peated whiskey that has picked up many awards in it’s time and another fine  Kilbeggan/Cooley expression.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Green Spot. An historical Single Pot Still whiskey that is at the forefront of the rise in interest in Irish whiskey as well as being a survivor of a period when independent wine merchants bottled a distilleries spirit under their own label and specifications. A fine dram indeed.

Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Redbreast 12 yo. A smooth, oloroso finished single pot still that clearly shows why it has won awards upon sampling a dram and,

Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Crested Ten. A favourite tipple of mine at home. Crested Ten has the honour of being the first whiskey Jameson sold under it’s own label in 1963 as opposed to the route of selling to independent bottlers as shown by Green Spot above, It’s a blend of single pot still and grain whiskey with some ageing in sherry casks which give it a more complex finish than the standard Jameson blend. Well worth looking for.

In this taste off – Redbreast clearly shone through with it’s smooth and complex taste with a long finish.

Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

During the speeches a toast was raised to those absent from the ceremony. This constituted my BLUE element and what better to toast those departed than a shot of Wild Geese – a whiskey named after The Flight Of The Earls in 1607 but also to represent the long history of Irish emigration. Over 150 years ago the boats carrying people would have been the Irish fleeing famine across the Atlantic rather than Africans fleeing conflict in the Mediterranean today. I just wish that the compassion, care and help that Irish emigrants received then would be replicated for the modern day emigrants.

Wild Geese is another range coming out of the Kilbeggan/Cooley distillery and the dram I had proved to be a very smooth balanced dram. It’s a pity I don’t remember which expression it was but it came in a rectangular bottle so I’m guessing it was the Rare Blend release.

The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut
The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut

To wrap this blog up – what better than to toast the happy couple with a glass of Amrut Fusion whisky. A perfect blend of Indian and Scottish malts married together to create a very enjoyable and tasty dram.

Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut
Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut

Although Shazan is originally from India – the analogy falls with Paul as he isn’t from Scotland (although one of the guests was) – but nonetheless – their marriage is a perfect blend of two cultures coming together in unity.

To borrow from an Irish descendant, “May the road rise with you“.

Sláinte

Good Logo

Whiskey And Popular Music

It’s no surprise that the joys of whiskey is a popular theme for many a singer – band – movie around the world.

A cursory scroll through the pages of YouTube throws up many interesting videos – tunes and snippets.

Kicking off in Ireland there is the world famous “Whiskey In The Jar” by Thin Lizzy. It’s a pity that lead singer Phil Lynott’s struggles with drink and drug issues ultimately led to his early demise.

A more traditional tone is set by Shane MacGowan – another person who has a long history of excessive alcohol consumption – and teeth to make a donkey proud. Talking of pride – “nancy” is a derogatory term for a gay man – but I’d like to state I’m proud to have played my part in making Ireland the 1st country to allow gay marriage – by a popular vote! Nancy Whiskey seems to be a song about the darker side of drink.

Drinking and it’s darker side is a universal theme as shown in this tune from Nigeria by Ice Prince.

Moving on to something a little heavier – rock music – where excess is the order of the day – a group of young Germans do a whole album of whisky.

Possibly not to everyone’s taste!

More mainstream rock is represented by this Southern group – Copperhead.

Which leads to Copperhead Road.

Which leads to Whiskey Friends – a lovely little video I enjoyed immensely!

If that’s all a bit too heavy – let Seasick Steve calm you down.

Moving on to a different genre of music – more contemporary and modern – Verse And Bishop.

And on to a different continent. I knew India was a big market for whiskey – as well as being a big producer too. Amrut Fusion being an award winning expression. But I was taken aback by the amount of popular cultural imagery around whiskey. Bollywood certainly does whiskey big style!

I must admit – the gratuitous use and objectification of the female body in this video was something I thought we had moved on from – but when my granddaughters pointed out recent tracks by Miley Cyrus – Britney and others – not to mention Madonna tracks from my youth – maybe it’s just me growing old. Rachana is walking a well trodden path.

Big dance routines seem to be the order of the day in this clip.

But I’ll wind up my Indian trip with this slightly comic track.

And move to Scotland – where Andy Stewart did cheeky songs for his career.

Not forgetting the film Whiskey Galore..The Daddy of a whiskey films. Loosely based on a true event.

Which is an apt spot at which to leave my brief look at whiskey in music – dance and movie.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Please send me your own favourites and suggestions – I had fun searching for the above!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

Old Jameson Distillery Dublin

The Old Jameson Distillery Dublin has made a great tourist attraction out of what was once one of Dublin city’s biggest trades – whiskey distilling – but that trade succumbed to a perfect storm of prohibition, blended whisky, civil war and the rise of Scotch to eventually close in 1971 when Jameson and Powers of Dublin – together with Paddys of Cork – retreated, regrouped and amalgamated into Irish Distillers where all production moved to Midleton in County Cork – bringing to an end whiskey distilling in Dublin. That is until the opening of the Teeling Distillery of only last month!

Midleton continues to produce a fine array of whiskey to this day as part of the Pernod Ricard Group – The Old Jameson Distillery showcases Jameson’s contribution to the parent group – and what a fine contribution it is!

Chosen as a Strategic Premium Brand – Jameson has seen phenomenal growth in sales in the last decade to become Ireland’s leading whiskey brand – outselling the next brand – Bushmills – by a factor of 10. Even Lady Ga Ga credited Jameson on her Born This Way album!

Jameson Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Original is the flagship blend – ironic in that the Irish distillers reluctance to move to blended whiskey with the arrival of Aeneas Coffey’s new continuous still was one of the factors in the demise of Irish Whiskey – is a perfectly fine balanced – triple distilled – smooth Irish Whiskey – but there are many other expressions which the Old Jameson Distillery opens you to.

Built in the historical Smithfield area of Dublin – the first thing you notice on entering are the 2 massive Jameson bottle chandeliers – a lovely feature – I just hope the maker didn’t drink all the content before assembling the pieces!

Jameson Chandelier c/o thewhiskeynut
Jameson Chandelier c/o thewhiskeynut

There is also a Hobby Horse – an early type of bicycle – as used by John Jameson in the late 1800’s – attached to the wall – sure where else would you park yer bike?

John's Bike c/o thewhiskeynut
John’s Bike c/o thewhiskeynut

The second thing you notice are the queues. Be advised this is a very popular tour so book in advance online. I didn’t originally book so missed out until another trip up to Dublin enabled me to sail to the front of the queue to start the tour within minutes of stepping off the train with my pre-booked ticket.

As whiskey tours go Jameson  guides you through the history, manufacturing , maturing and the all important tasting of the aqua vitae.

What I liked about the sampling was the choice of 3 brands from 3 whiskey making countries representing the different styles each place has traditionally used to produce their spirit.

Comparison Drams c/o Whiskey Nut
Comparison Drams c/o Whiskey Nut

First up was Jack Daniels – America’s No. 1 brand. I must admit I found this too sweet for my liking with very little finish. It’s a problem I have with most bourbon due to the corn used in the mash bill which imparts the sweetness – but rye bourbon has more bite so is much more up my street.

The Jameson delivered the familiar smooth tasty dram expected whilst the Johnnie Walker Black Label impressed me with the extra bite the smoky peat content delivered to the blend giving it just the edge to make it my best of the 3 on offer.

I don’t think Mr John Jameson would have been too disappointed as he was a Scotsman by birth – and being a canny Scot – he saw an opportunity in Irish Whiskey – much like Grant’s have done over 200 years later by buying up Tullamore DEW!

For an extra price – there is the opportunity to sample 4 of the Jameson Family Reserve Whiskeys. This is an excellent way to get to grips with other Jameson expressions which show a variety of ages, cask finishes and styles – all very fine drams making it hard to choose a winner.

Jameson Family Reserve c/o Whiskey Nut
Jameson Family Reserve c/o Whiskey Nut

They were;

Jameson 18YO c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson 18YO c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Limited Reserve 18 year old  – an excellent aged blend with sherry finished notes.

Jameson Gold c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Gold c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Gold Reserve – aged in new oak casks.

Jameson Black Barrel c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Black Barrel c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel – aged in heavily charred bourbon barrels and

Jameson Distillery Reserve c/o Jameson
Jameson Distillery Reserve c/o Jameson

Jameson Distillery Reserve – aged in Oloroso Sherry casks.

It was very hard to choose a bottle as they were all fine drams but I eventually went for the Distillery Reserve – partly as I’m a sucker for distillery releases – partly for the rich, smooth sherry notes coming through on the nose and taste which I very much like – and partly for the price – it’s hard to pay double the cost for a bottle you find equally as good a lesser priced one.

Anyway – I do have a soft spot for a sherry bomb – as long as it’s done right – and the Distillery Reserve certainly is a fine example of that term – Cherry Bomb as sung by The Runaways has a different meaning!

What’s good about this extra tasting session are the fellow whiskey fans you meet whilst imbibing the excellent drams. It’s not long before tales, tips and whiskey stories ensue. Have you tried this yet? Have you tried that? Where is your next distillery visit? You should go there……..and so on. It also helps to have added input into the nuances of wood finishes, cask strengths, ages statements ….. all the things whiskey buffs chat about. I hope Alice from Australia enjoyed her further immersion into Irish Whiskey!

Sadly glasses empty, folks depart for further whiskey adventure and sustenance is required. Thankfully the 3rd Still Restaurant is only a short walk upstairs where you can enjoy a fabulous meal whilst soaking up the atmosphere – as well as the alcohol! Before heading off on your next whiskey quest.

You won’t go far wrong making The Old Jameson Distillery your next whiskey visit. Just remember to book in advance. Linger a while to savour the history, fine food, good company, great craic and above all – excellent whiskey!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

Tullamore DEW

Tullamore DEW is another one of those iconic Irish Whiskey Brands that are well represented across the globe. On my last trip to Germany it was everywhere – and from sampling some German whisky I can see why the light, smooth triple distilled dram goes down well there. It is a pleasantly approachable blend appreciated neat – or mixed – according to your taste.

Formerly made in the Irish Midland town of Tullamore – where there was a booming whiskey industry in the 19th Century. The 1837 Ordnance Survey map lists no fewer than 2 distilleries along with 3 breweries – as well as the associated maltings. However – by the 1950’s only Tullamore DEW survived – and it too succumbed to economic pressure to close – along with many others in the Midlands by 1954.

Unlike it’s close neighbour Kilbeggan – which was turned into a piggery after it closed at one stage but now holds one of the original pot stills used at Tullamore – the Tullamore DEW brand continued to be produced at other distilleries – mainly the Midleton New Distillery. The brand changed hands a few times – eventually ending up being bought by the Scottish William Grant & Sons in 2010.

New Tullamore Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut
New Tullamore Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut

Grants – one of a few family owned drinks business in Scotland and worthy of a blog all of their own – brought about the rebirth of distilling in Tullamore by investing over 35 million in building a new plant on the N52 bypass so after a 60 year hiatus – whiskey can now flow again in Tullamore.

Interestingly – in Dundalk – at the northern extremity of the N52 – John Teeling is currently building his Great Northern Distillery!

Tullamore DEW visitors centre c/o Whiskey Nut
Tullamore DEW visitors centre c/o Whiskey Nut

Anyway – a trip to the Tullamore Visitors Centre on Bury Quay is a marvelous experience. Built in the former bonded warehouse it now contains a fabulous restaurant – worthy of a meal regardless whether you do the tour or not – the ubiquitous shop – as well as many original artefacts, photos and whiskey material collected from the rich history of distilling in the Midlands.

For those that want to delve into that history a little more need only to walk up the attractive canal a few steps to the Offaly Historical Society shop where many an article, book or pamphlet has been written on the whiskey trade – as well many other subjects relating to  County Offaly and the Midlands.

Former Tullamore DEW offices c/o Whiskey Nut
Former Tullamore DEW offices c/o Whiskey Nut

Tullamore town literally drips with whiskey heritage. If the former distillery head office on Patrick Street – derelict maltings at the back of the Bridge Shopping Centre at Water Lane – Distillery Lane itself leave you thirsty – then call in at The Brewery Tap pub which graces the  “Give every man his DEW” sign outside and Tullamore’s finest whiskey expressions inside – where you can relax with a dram browsing a whiskey book bought from the nearby Midlands Books.

Give Every Man His DEW c/o Whiskey Nut
Give Every Man His DEW c/o Whiskey Nut

And talking of a dram – at the end of the informative tour in the visitors centre a dram – or 3 in this case – is exactly what you get!

On the day of my visit my fellow guests and I were guided through the following expressions;

Tullamore DEW Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Tullamore DEW Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

The flag bearing Tullamore DEW Original blend. A light, smooth blend which sets the benchmark for other Irish blends.

Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

The Tullamore DEW Phoenix. The name can be both attributed to the rise in fortunes of whiskey in Tullamore due to the new distillery building – or – according to some sources – the 1st aviation disaster in the world occurring in the town in 1785! The whiskey packs a punch at 55% ABV so a little water may be required.

Tullamore DEW Warehouse Release c/o Tullamore DEW
Tullamore DEW Warehouse Release c/o Tullamore DEW

The Tullamore DEW Old Bonded Warehouse was my favourite. Smooth fine tasting with a nice body to it. The fact that it can only be acquired at the visitors centre is also a draw – so I got 2 – one for myself and the other for my Dad on Father’s Day!

There are other releases; a 10 year old Single Malt, a 12 year old Special Reserve are listed on the website – but the 12 year old sherry finish single malt is not – despite being sold at the visitors centre as well as Dublin Airport. Is it because it was made at Bushmills? – and therefore not part of the “in crowd”. It seems to be popular in Germany – so I’ll let Horst tell you all about it as I’ve just got back from a whisky trip there.

Tullamore DEW Cider Cask c/o The Spirits Business
Tullamore DEW Cider Cask c/o The Spirits Business

The new expression yet to prove it’s mettle is the Tullamore Dew Cider Cask. Only available at Dublin Airport for a limited period I have yet to sample a dram. It isn’t currently on sale at the visitors centre. Said to be the 1st whiskey aged in cider casks in Ireland – this is a bold experiment in taste, style and content – I certainly admire Tullamore for releasing it. Whether it’s any good or not will have to wait and see – but the feedback I’m getting is positive.

Grants – the new Tullamore owners – have been innovative and bold distillers in their time. Cider Cask may have something to do with the new owners. It isn’t as yet spirit from the New Distillery – that will be a few years yet – but could be “premiumisation” of Midleton stocks secured in the sales deal – or simply keeping the brand in the market.

Whatever the reason – Tullamore DEW whiskey has a bright future.

The expressions are good.

The Visitors centre is great and as we say in Ireland,

The craic is mighty!

Get youself a bottle of Tullamore DEW today and have some craic!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

Tullamore D.E.W. Unveils A World-First Cider Cask Finish Irish Whiskey

A new expression from Tullamore! – (via Midleton)

DRINKS ENTHUSIAST

CIDER CASK 2015-2

Tullamore D.E.W. – the original triple distilled, triple blend Irish Whiskey – has unveiled the world’s first cider cask finished Irish whiskey – Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish.

This unique whiskey combines two of Ireland’s oldest crafts, cider-making and whiskey-making. The result  is a rare blend that brings the senses on a journey – straight to the heart of Ireland. Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish is a triple distilled, triple blend Irish whiskey infused with notes of toasted oak and tinged with cider sweetness to engage and delight the palate of Irish whiskey lovers everywhere.

John Quinn, Tullamore D.E.W. Global Brand Ambassador, commented; “To create Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish, we selected the finest apples, which were then freshly pressed and held in oak casks for several months. As the cider fermented, the tart-yet-sweet notes infused the bourbon casks. We then siphoned all the fermenting cider, replacing it with Tullamore…

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The Teeling TV Show

Having had the privilege of already visiting the new Teeling Distillery before it was opened, sampling some of their excellent whiskeys and meeting some of the key players, Mondays are now Teelings Days to sit down with a dram of the best and enjoy The Whiskey Business documentary on TV3.

Teeling Single Malt c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Teeling Single Malt c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

There is a view again facility available – but I’m not sure if it can be accessed outside of Ireland.

Small Batch c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Small Batch c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Give it a try – Teeling whiskeys are very good indeed!

Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Slainte

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