Tag Archives: Athlone

Sean’s, Clonmacnoise Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

I like a whiskey that takes you on a journey.

A journey of taste – as well as history.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt Irish Whiskey does this in bundles.

A short boat ride down the mighty River Shannon from just outside Sean’s Bar’s beer garden in Athlone – is the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise

The art of distillation is often attributed to monks bringing back the knowledge from the middle east. The route they would have traveled into the heart of Ireland is the very same River Shannon.

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Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The earliest written record of  aqua vitae, or uisce beatha, or whiskey as we now know it – was written in the Annuls Of Clonmacnoise in 1405. It regales the story of an unfortunate local chieftain who died of a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’ during festivities.

Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to receive an advance bottle of Clonmacnoise by Sean’s for appraisal – & more sensible drinking.

Now I’m a fan of pubs releasing their own whiskey brands. It harks back to the days when licensed premises would have had a barrel of whiskey propped up at the bar from which they would have dispensed the spirits inside.

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Sean’s, Ireland’s Oldest Bar c/othewhiskeynut

The degree of individuality, diversity & tastes experienced when going from bar to bar would have been vast – and to a certain extent bars releasing their own brands today reflects that history.

Nowadays the whiskey is usually sourced from a number of distilleries and bottled for the bar.

Sean’s happens to have been sourced at West Cork Distillers (WCD) – and I must admit to being a fan of this slightly unconventional distillery founded by three friends who were mainly previously involved in the fishing industry.

So how did I find Clonmacnoise Whiskey?

Well the colour is a lovely dark amber. Suggestive of charred casks – which WCD do a lot of – or perhaps a sherry finish.

The nose is quite youthful & invigorating – with a warm & inviting depth to it. There’s some dark fruity notes & an intriguing soft hint of smoke.

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Sean’s Bar Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

It starts off light & easy. Very accessible & gently warming – but then it takes you on a journey – slowly developing layers of enjoyable flavours & complexity before a lovely dry spiciness with subtle hints of smoke finishes of this characterful little number.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise captures both the modern rebirth of Irish Whiskey with it’s youthful vitality & modern style – as well as remembering the long historic legacy of Irish Whiskey that has journeyed so far from it’s original birthplace.

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The Viking Ship on the mighty River Shannon at Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

You too can take that journey – by having a glass of Sean’s Clonmacnoise Whiskey in the Oldest Bar In Ireland – Guinness Book Of World Records certified – as well as journeying down river on the Viking Ship from Athlone to visit Clonmacnoise Monastery – home of the earliest written record of whiskey in the world.

Just go easy – don’t end up like the poor old chieftain!

Sláinte

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A Whiskey Cruise On The Shannon

The connections with whiskey and the mighty River Shannon go back a long way.

You could say the Shannon provided the route into Europe for whiskey around 500 to 600AD when Irish Monks brought back the art of distillation from it’s Middle Eastern birthplace.

The earliest written record of whiskey – or aqua vitae as the original clear distilled liquid was known as – is found in the Annals Of Clonmacnoise – that great seat of learning situated on a bend in the Shannon just South of Athlone – written in 1405.

In the Annuls it mentions a certain ‘Richard MacGrannell Chieftain of Moyntyrealas’ who died at Christmas from a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’.

It seems Ireland’s – or the world’s – troubled relationship with alcohol is nothing new!

Whiskey distilleries sprung up all round the Midlands area of Ireland in the late 1700’s early 1800’s.  Athlone, Tullamore & Kilbeggan all had 2 whilst Birr managed 4! The proximity to a ready supply of power – the River Shannon & it’s tributaries – as well as waterborne transport of raw materials & produce and good farming ground were no doubt factors.

The recently held Shannon Festival in Athlone re-enacted those glory days with a delivery of kegs of porter & barrels of whiskey brought to the quayside door of Seans Bar by a pair of original Shannon Barges – 45M built in 1928 & 92E built in 1905 originally as Horse Boat 66.

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45M bringing home the whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

Further whiskey related events were held by Midlands Whiskey Experiences in the town.

A Whiskey Tasting in The Malt House bar had the lovely Kilbeggan Single Grain paired with a milk chocolate made by  Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate which went down a treat.

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A tasty trio in The Malt House c/othewhiskeynut

A Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old Special Reserve – triple casked, triple distilled & triple blended – was heightened by some dark chocolate.

The surprise of the day however was a Kilbeggan distilled 10 Year Old bourbon cask matured Single Malt drawn straight from the barrel by Global Brand Ambassador John Cashman himself as part of the Connoisseur Tour which is held occasionally. Fabulous stuff! Full of flavour with a powerful punch from the 58% ABV. A drop of water accentuated the richness within.

The highlight of the weekend however was a whiskey cruise on the Viking Boat up the Shannon itself.

The Vikings were regular marauders up the Shannon. Clonmacnoise was regularly a target and it’s suggested the Vikings used nearby Rindoon as a base on Lough Ree to conduct their raids from.

Our boat party meanwhile were more interested in some whiskey.

Egan’s Vintage Grain started the session off paired with more of that lovely chocolate. Egan’s is a family concern with deep roots in the Tullamore area. The Bridge House Hotel in the town was built for P&H Egan – and is proudly displayed on the bottle label – who did good business in the area finishing whiskey sourced from several distilleries to their own requirements. The current generation are resurrecting that tradition with tasty results.

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Egan’s Vintage Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Kilbeggan Whiskey is a lovely soft, slightly sweet easy drinking blend which contains a measure of malt from the boutique distillery at Kilbeggan – only a half hour away from Athlone.

Tullamore DEW were represented by their entry bottling – triple distilled, triple casked & triple blended – which was paired with a slice of green apple. This was a new experience for myself and I found it surprisingly enjoyable.

The final pour of the day was a personal favourite of mine – Locke’s 8 Year Old Single Malt. Named after the well respected distillery manager – John Locke – who ran the business for many years and after whom Locke’s Distillery was known as.

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Whiskey on the Viking Boat c/othewhiskeynut

This modern malt is now made at Cooley Distillery – the sister distillery to Kilbeggan – is double distilled & contains 10% peated malt. This adds a very pleasant soft smoke to the gentle oaky notes & leaves a wonderful dry mouthfeel at the end. Beautiful stuff.

With all this whiskey on board we rounded the cruise up with an impromptu ‘dance-off’ in a Father Ted caravan holiday style session to much hilarity & delight.

Spot prizes were awarded to the best performers – and it certainly was a performance at that!

If you’re looking for  a bit of whiskey history – some excellent whiskey & food pairings – as well as having a bit of craic too – a cruise up the Shannon with Midland Whiskey Experiences is a must.

And after sampling whiskey from the oldest continuously licenced distillery in the World – Kilbeggan 1757 – why not continue the fun with a drink in Sean’s Bar – the Oldest Pub In Ireland circa 900AD – just across the road!

Sláinte.

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O’Briens Summer Tasting, Athlone.

My local branch of O’Briens Wines in Athlone organised a Summer Tasting recently.

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O’Briens Summer Tasting promo

They invited a plethora of nearby craft beer producers – as well as a slightly more widespread coterie of spirits & whiskey distillers.

I simply had to go along!

Many familiar faces were encountered on the craft beer stalls.

Black Donkey were showcasing their latest limited edition release – Underworld. Savage Ale indeed.

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Savage Ale c/othewhiskeynut

12 Acres had their Single Malt lager. Dead Centre had some good news regarding planning permission for their town centre brewery/restaurant development. Boyne Brewhouse had some award winning beers. I even enjoyed a Miami J IPA from Rye River Brewing – despite not being an IPA fan – mainly as the hops were softer in the mix which accentuated the summer fruitiness.

Larkins from Wicklow were the only newcomers to me and I sampled some their interesting takes on the lager front.

On the spirits & whiskey front I had some brief chats with the Teeling & Connacht stands having tasted most of their excellent product before. I was tempted by Connacht’s Concullin Oak Aged Gin – mainly because of the whiskey like appearance – and did discern some oak influence in among the unfamiliar to me at least gin flavours.

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Oak Aged Gin c/othewhiskeynut

Galway Gin Co were also in attendance – but for me the main attractions were the stalls offering whiskey I’d never tried before – like Ha’Penny Whiskey on the Pearse Lyons Distillery stand.

Now it was made clear Ha’Penny Whiskey – along with it’s stablemate Ha’Penny Gin & Mil Gin too – are all sourced spirits for the Pearse Distillery who market them to a different audience than the Pearse Whiskey range which was also on display.

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Ha’Penny Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The Ha’Penny Whiskey had that very attractive warmth I associate with charred casks maturaton. Only on closer inspection of the label was it revealed 4 different types of cask were used to mature this very flavousome blend; port pipes, sherry butts, bourbon barrels & double charred.

Very nice results too. Giving it a richness of depth & flavour not usually found in an attractively priced blend.

Midleton happened to be next door with their Method & Madness range – well 3 of them at least. How could I resist a vertical taste test?

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A trio of tasty Method & Madness c/othewhiskeynut

The Single Grain continues to excite me with the warm notes of virgin oak contrasting with the clearer, fresher grain influence. The Single Malt doesn’t pull me in as much – but what’s this? – the latest Hungarian Oak matured Single Pot Still?

My my my!

Rich, warm and inviting. A softly growing spice to tantalise & tease. Great depth of flavour with a lovely long lasting finish to remind you of the beauty you’ve just enjoyed.

Now I could easily take this one home with me!

Great stuff!

O’Briens offered a reduction on certain items on the evening so I – and many others – availed of this service and didn’t go away empty handed.

Much appreciation to all the stall holders on the night.

And a BIG UP to all the O’Briens staff in Athlone for putting together such a wonderful showcase of the fabulous beers, spirits & whiskey that abounds in Ireland today.

Sláinte.

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Lambay Whiskey – A Taster – Small Batch Blend & Single Malt, 40%

Lambay Island

A small privately owned island off the East Coast of Ireland with a rich historical background and a thriving biodiversity.

Lambay Whiskey

A business venture by the current Lambay Island owners and French based drinks producer Camus to launch Ireland’s first Cognac cask finished Irish whiskeys.

Sean’s Bar Athlone

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Sean’s Bar Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

The Oldest Bar In Ireland. Also happens to be a local of mine where a tasting of the Lambay Whiskey range was held with their entertaining  & informative ambassador Calum.

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Lambay Small Batch Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Lambay Small Batch Blend

A small batch sourced blend – West Cork Distillers – of malt & grain Irish whiskeys triple distilled, matured in ex-bourbon barrels & finished in cognac casks.

I was looking forward to trying this one.

A lovely soft, sweet yet surprisingly fresh & lively grainy nose pulled you in to a fruity & floral mix complimented by some nutty, almondy notes – presumably from the cognac influence.

The taste was clean & crisp – very engaging. Even at the 40% presentation there was appreciable depth of flavour with more of those nutty notes slowly fading to give that lovely dry mouth feel I enjoy.

This small batch blend certainly introduces a new and exciting flavour profile to the Irish whiskey scene.

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Lambay Single Malt Story c/othewhiskeynut

Lambay Single Malt

Also sharing the same source and maturation as the small batch blend, the single malt spent a little while longer in the cognac casks. Some of them were even matured on Lambay Island itself in a small warehouse used for the cognac finishing.

A softer, more malty & rounded nose led to a very smooth vanilla & caramel taste from the ex-bourbon barrels before the deeper almost cherry fruit notes of the cognac casks came through.

The finish wasn’t as dry – which allowed more of the lovely flavours to linger on the palate.

Conclusion

Both of these new expressions bring a welcome additional taste & flavour to Irish whiskey. Cognac cask finishing is new to Ireland – and relatively new to the whiskey world in general. I congratulate Lambay Whiskey – and all their partners – in delivering a lovely pair of great tasting and exciting whiskeys to the market.

For what it’s worth – I enjoyed the youthful vitality of the blend over and above the smoother single malt. The grain element provided a pleasant kick which contrasted with the softer fruitier depth of the cognac cask influence. Very enjoyable indeed.

Sean’s Bar Whiskey Club

A friendly gathering of whiskey fans to meet, discuss & enjoy fine tasting whiskeys from around the world. For details of future events, membership & activities please email westmeathwhiskeyworld@eircom.net – or chat to a member of staff at Sean’s Bar, Athlone.

Sláinte.

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Drinking Australian Whisky @ Bad Frankie, Melbourne.

Australian whisky has come a long way.

Not only in the physical distance it has to travel to reach outside markets – but also in terms of taste, flavour and style.

Fortunately for me an invitation to a wedding in Melbourne (a Tullamore lad & a Melbourne lassie no less) allowed me the opportunity to sample a few of these marvelous malts.

The option of bringing home some of these usually quite expensive bottlings wasn’t really on the cards – so a venue that had a large selection of the local distillate was in order.

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A wall of Aussie whisky & gin @ Bad Frankie c/othewhiskeynut

Bad Frankie – off Smith St in the bohemian suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne – was recommended to me by the very helpful Pilgrim Bar. It didn’t disappoint.

The 86 tram does pass by – but another young couple kindly drove us there. A Melbourne lad & an Athlonian lassie who happened to be a next door neighbour & whose wedding we had attended back in Ireland. It’s a small world!

Bad Frankie is a popular spot. On the night we visited we only just managed to get a table. The atmosphere was very friendly & inviting. Bad Frankie specializes in Australian food, Australian Gin & the main reason it attracted me – Australian Whisky.  Lots of it!

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Which 2 to leave out? c/othewhiskeynut

Handily for me they did a tasting platter of any 5 whiskies of your choice for 40 dollars. (Prices in July 2016) Seb – the owner – & his staff were very attentive and allowed me to pick the ones I wanted.

I narrowed it down to 7 bottles initially. Despite doing my homework before I came to Oz there were still distilleries I hadn’t heard off! Yet here they were – all tempting me.

The final 5 that won my attention on the night were brought to my table. The samples poured and the back story to each bottle in terms of style, flavour, distillery & even the distillation method were explained by the knowledgeable staff.

A varied round of Bad Frankie jaffles were also served up. I went for the ‘Bangers & Mash’. Basically it’s a sealed toasted sandwich filled with a fabulous concoction of tasty fillings. It certainly made a great whisky food pairing!

So what did I sample?

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The final selection. c/othewhiskeynut

Bakery Hill Peated Single Malt 46%

In Australian terms Bakery Hill is quite a large concern. Based in Bayswater on the outskirts of Melbourne this is a local whisky. I found it a very easy going & attractive softly peated single malt.

Limeburners Single Malt Port Cask, 43%

With a name like Limeburners I couldn’t let this one pass me by.  Western Australia’s first single malt whisky distillery had me hooked! A lovely rich fruity number that only confirmed my prediliction to port finishes.

Cradle Mountain 17 Year Old Single Malt, 43%.

Said to be Australia’s oldest single malt from the fabulous island of Tasmania, this one just blew me away with it’s rich complex depth of character & flavours. Stunning stuff!

Mackey Single Malt, 49%

Another Tasmanian malt. After the full on flavour of Cradle Mountain this triple distilled offering came over rather softer & more subtle.

And finally.

Belgrove Peated Rye Whisky, 42%

Yes – that’s right – peated rye. The world’s first. Not only that. It uses rye grown on the distiller’s – Peter Bignell – farm as well as Tasmanian peat to give a truly unique taste. There is a gorgeous soft smoke with the merest hint of rye spice too. Fabulous!

I must admit the above selection truly stunned me. The quality & diversity of Australian whisky is simply amazing. I love it – just like these Aussie rockers!

I should also point out that these bottles were available when I visited. Many Australian distilleries release small batches or single runs in limited numbers. What is available now is probably very different. One thing that will not be different is the fabulous taste offered by the new releases – whether they are new expressions from the above distilleries or new expressions from new distilleries that hadn’t appeared when I was down under.

As is true in many countries – the range of whiskies available in the home market is usually far larger than that on sale outside that country.

If you really want to taste Australian whisky – you have to go there.

And Bad Frankie for me at least – is the prime spot to do that tasting.

Sláinte.

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Burn’s Night 2018

There are a number of factors mitigating against holding a Burn’s Night in the heart of Ireland.

One of them is the difficulty in finding a haggis for sale in Westmeath!

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Haggis! c/othewhiskeynut

Thankfully I brought some of the prize pudding back with me from a recent Scottish trip – along with some whisky I had in mind – which is my cue for a song!

So January 25th found me in Sean’s Bar – the oldest bar in Ireland – hosting an Irish versus Scotch blind whiskey tasting.

I’d decided to go blind –  the whiskey that is, not me – wrapping the bottles in tinfoil to disguise the brands – so there would be no bias in the results. The nose & taste of the spirit would be the crucial factor.

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Blind tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

I roughly paired the whiskeys into 4 categories.

‘a’ being grains,

‘b’ obviously blends,

‘c’ single malts &

‘d’ being undefined – which will become clearer later. I tried as far as possible to get pairs of equal cost, style, flavour & profile – with only 50% success. The idea was to get a winner for each pair – then a ‘best of’ for the evening – having some fun along the way.

Votes were cast at the end of the tasting round to get the 4 individual winners – as well as the overall winner – before any of the whiskeys were revealed to some surprised faces.

The first winner of the evening was Egan’s Vintage Grain.

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Egan’s Vintage Grain c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve featured this single grain previously in a blog here. For a grain whiskey Egan’s delivers some punch both in flavour & style which didn’t go unnoticed by the audience. Most of them assumed it was a Scotch. 1st surprise of the evening.

I’d cheekily paired this with McDowell’s No 1 – the 2nd biggest selling brand of whisky in the world. This is actually a blend of Scotch, malt & neutral spirit – as it says on the label. Guinness Nigeria is also on the label – although McDowell’s is distilled in India by a company founded back in 1898 by a Scotsman unsurprisingly named McDowell.

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McDowell’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

Some 90% of all whiskey sold throughout the world is blended. So category ‘b’ is the real battle ground. The winner of the evening?

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Sean’s Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Well – being held in Sean’s Bar what else would you expect? But remember – this was a blind taste test and not all the participants had tried either of the entrants before.

The other bottle was named after an Irishman. Ernest Shackleton was born in Co Kildare in 1874 and went on to became a famous Antarctic Explorer. This blend I found a rather weak representation of a whisky he took to those frozen lands in the early 1900’s. My audience seemed to agree.

The single malts also had a clear winner. It gives me great pleasure to announce the wonders of this whiskey.

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26yo Irish Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

Aldi 26 Year Old Irish Reserve just keeps on giving.

I’d paired this with the Dalmore Valour which delivers quite a nice rich, dry port & sherry finish to the palate. It’s youthfulness probably let it down when compared to the depth of flavour of the Irish 26yo. On a price front however – they are comparable.

The last category contained spirit which is not currently available in both countries. Ireland has it’s single pot still whiskey made with a mash of malted and unmalted barley. While Scotland has just released it’s 1st rye for over 200 years. The winning margin in this case wasn’t as wide as previous categories – but a winner there was.

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Scottish Rye c/othewhiskeynut

The cleaner, bolder, more upfront spice hit of Arbikie Highland Rye gave Scotland it’s only winner of the evening. There were a few surprised faces during sampling on this one – and even more when it was revealed – but clearly rye is a style to be reckoned with – and I can’t wait for that 6 year old Kilbeggan rye to be released. Unfortunately Green Spot just didn’t hit the high notes in this round.

Of all the category winners – in fact of all the entrants – I’d asked for a favourite for the evening. The 67% majority vote took me a little by surprise.

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Aldi 26yo wins out! c/othewhiskeynut

What else can I say but congratulations to Aldi & all the team that were behind this amazing release.

The bottle was drained, the haggis was shared out, and the participant that turned out immaculately attired in a kilt was duly given a bottle of whisky by way of a prize.

I’d like to thank all those that attended. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and from comments on the evening, everyone else did too! Big thanks also to Sean’s Bar for hosting the event. By the sounds of it – we’ll be back for more!

Slàinte.

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The Temple Bar Whiskey, 40% x 4

There has been an explosion of new Irish whiskeys in recent years. A trend that is likely to increase as the next generation of Irish whiskey distilleries begin to release their own produce.

Another phenomenon of the re-birth of the Irish whiskey scene is the growing number of whiskey bars releasing their own bottlings.

Local to myself in the Midlands, Hugh Lynch’s Bar in Tullamore & Sean’s Bar in Athlone have both released approachable & enjoyable blended Irish whiskey offerings under their own label – both produced for them by West Cork Distillers.

Generally these releases are only available in their bar of origin. Which makes a good excuse for a journey to sample them in their natural habitat – in the pub full of ceol agus craic. Always a bonus in my book!

However when passing through Dublin Airport a while ago I did notice a quartet of whiskeys under the Temple Bar logo.

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I’ll have the 12 please! c/othewhiskeynut

Not content with releasing the obligatory blended offering – Temple Bar have taken it a step further and are offering a trio of age statement single malts at 10, 12 & 15 years old.

I didn’t ascertain where they were sourced from – there are only a few choices at this age – but they were all what I’d call standard bourbon matured Irish whiskeys.

That’s not to say they weren’t good – all of them are far better than the blend offering a richer, smoother & more flavoursome experience for the discerning drinker.

There were subtle differences between all 3 – but for me the 12 year old proved to be the sweet spot.

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Temple Bar 15yo Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The combination of rich vanilla & caramel notes from the bourbon cask combined with some woody tannin notes from the oak barrel won me over.

Having a taster in the airport lounge before a long flight wouldn’t be the ideal spot to really savour these malts. That will have to wait for a visit to the actual Temple Bar in Dublin where a flight of all 4 whiskeys in the comfortable lounge area can be truly appreciated.

Maybe I’ll meet you there for one!

Sláinte.

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Sean’s Bar, Athlone, & His Whiskey

It’s always nice after being away for a short while to come home to an unexpected surprise. Especially when that surprise involves a new Irish whiskey!

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An unexpected surprise! c/othewhiskeynut

Sean’s Bar in Athlone is firmly on the tourist trail.

As the oldest bar in Ireland – and possibly the world depending on your sources – mainly due to the old wattle & wicker wall contained within the bar’s structure –  it has a steady stream of tourists, revellers & locals entering it’s doors.

Being one of my local bars it’s simply a short walk across the mighty River Shannon for me to enjoy the dimly lit snug like main bar as well as the extensive outside back bar which are often both crowded on a weekend.

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Sean’s whiskey bar c/othewhiskeynut

Sean’s never had an extensive whiskey range – the usual suspects were to be had; Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore, Connemara & the Pogues for example – but recently that has all changed.

Sean’s Bar Blended Whiskey has just been released & is available exclusively in the bar either by the glass or the full bottle if you desire.

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Sean’s Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I popped down on a damp Sunday afternoon to try it out.

Now I wasn’t expecting much from an entry level standard blend.

It has that caramalised nose feel and initially the taste is rather soft & mildly sweet. Very approachable & easy however.

What raises this whiskey slightly above the rest for me is a welcome warming spiciness on the finish – very reminiscent of a Powers Gold Blend.

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The back. c/othewhiskeynut

Produced by West Cork Distillers on a limited run. Packaged in an attractive label with a bit of history on the back. It’s a good excuse as any to give Sean’s a visit!

Get in touch if you do – I might just join you for one!

Sláinte

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Burns Night in Athlone

Robert Burns is Scotland’s National Poet.

Burns Night is celebrated with much gusto throughout the world and usually involves Scotch Whisky & haggis.

This lovely short video explains all.

I decided to celebrate Burns Night in The Malt House – my local in Athlone.

The agenda for the evening comprised of 4 differing styles of Scotch with 4 authentic Scottish food pairings – including some haggis!

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The tasting tray c/othewhiskeynut

808 Whisky kicked off the proceedings.

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808 Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Marketed as ‘Whisky Remixed‘, this 40% chill filtered blended grain is the creation of DJ TommyD – hence being named after the famous Roland TR808 drum-machine that inspired modern dance music.

Soft & subtle with a faint spice at the end made this a very easy to drink whisky which went down well with almost all the tasters.

It’s whisky for the new generation – so we paired it with old generation traditional Scottish shortbread.

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Grand Old Parr c/othewhiskeynut

Next up was a far more heavier & peatier example of a Scottish whisky dating from the 1870’s – which makes this blend about the same age as the original ‘Old Parr’ who was allegedly the oldest man alive before he passed away at 152!

The peat content didn’t please everyone – but Grand Old Parr 12 Year Old was balanced by some soft sweet grain notes which smoothed down the overall experience. Scottish tablet complimented this gently chewy whisky.

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Laphroaig 10 c/othewhiskeynut

Laphroaig 10 is one of the big peat hitters from Islay. The smoke had a more intense hit than Old Parr & only the more seasoned whisky drinkers in the audience seemed to enjoy it!

A round of oatmeal biscuit soaked up the welcome fire from this famous single malt.

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Rabbie’s own! c/othewhiskeynut

The most refined and complex whisky of the evening was undoubtedly the exclusive Robert Burns single malt from Isle Of Arran Distillers.

Bottled at 43%, aged in a combination of ex bourbon & sherry casks, this malt gave a soft sweet palate of fresh fruits which followed through to mild spice on the long warm finish.

Haggis on a seaweed oatcake brought out a bout of tingling on the tongue as the pepper & spice of the pudding interacted with the spirit – very enjoyable.

There was no outbreak of Highland Dancing nor bagpiping or dubious tartan fashion statements as in The Bay City Rollers – but there was a little corner of Scotland in The Malt House to celebrate the poet.

My thanks to The Malt House for the hospitality & big thanks to all who came along to enjoy the evening.

I’ll leave Rabbie with the last word,

O Whisky! soul o’ plays and pranks!

Slainte.

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It’s A Long Way To Tipperary

I’d been aware of the Tipperary Boutique Distillery and their Rising whiskey release for sometime but hadn’t encountered it before.

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Tipperary Boutique Distillery at Whisky Live Melbourne c/othewhiskeynut

Unexpectedly coming across a Tipperary Distillery stall at Whiskey Live Melbourne brought a smile to my face and had me humming the famous song. Sung here by Count John McCormack of Athlone – who happened to have links with the Kilbeggan Distillery in Westmeath.

The ditty was still going round in my head as I entered the sumptuously wooden lined Bowes Whiskey Bar on Fleet St, Dublin for the launch of 2 new  expressions from the Clonmel based whiskey company.

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Bowes Bar c/othewhiskeynut

Having recently been decorating at home I’d found it hard to get a tin of yellow paint. Gorse, Turmeric or Coltsfoot were offered instead. Much how the paint names try to transpose you into a field of flowers – Tipperary Boutique Distillery have called their whiskeys after the beautiful scenery surrounding the farm based business. Drinking Knockmealdowns or Watershed brings you closer to a sense of place, time or feeling far more evocative than plain 10 year old or NAS – non aged statement.

The Knockmealdowns – for those that don’t know – are a fine range of mountains which divide the counties of Tipperary to the North and Waterford to the South. Having walked a few of them I can attest to their magnificent scenery and rugged beauty.

Knockmealdowns
Looking down on Tipperary from the Knockmealdowns c/othewhiskeynut

The Knockmealdowns are also a watershed for the rains that fall on the hills and flow down into River Suir in Tipperary and the Blackwater in Waterford.

So did drinking these fine whiskeys transport me to the high ground?

I was a little apprehensive. I’d wanted to like The Rising – Tipperary Boutique Distilleries first offering – but found it a bit too sweet for my tastes. It wasn’t in bad company however as I found Jura Superstition to be of a similar style.

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Jennifer Nickerson the fresh new face of Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Tipperary Boutique Distillery MD Jennifer Nickerson opened proceedings by introducing us to the 2 new whiskeys. Her Director dad Stuart Nickerson ably took us through the actual first official tasting of Watershed.

At 47% Watershed gave a lovely soft vanilla nose followed through by more vanilla, some fresh fruits and black pepper with a lovely long finish. Very nice indeed. Knowing that water from the farm had been used to cut the casks added to the appeal as Tipperary Boutique Distillery doesn’t have it’s own stills – yet – and their whiskeys are made by a third party.

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Watershed c/othewhiskeynut

Knockmealdowns proved to be a much more wholesome, heavy and far more rewarding whiskey. Very apt as the actual mountain of the same name at 794 metres is the highest top in the collective range.

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Knockmealdowns c/othewhiskeynut

Full of flavour with hints of oak and pepper coming through the soft vanilla and citrus notes, this 10 year old surpasses the disappointment I had with The Rising. Very nice indeed! I had to have a few more sips just to make sure I wasn’t just kidding myself. I also took the liberty of asking a few of the other guests at the launch what their verdicts were. Unanimously the answer was Knockmealdowns. Thumbs up all round!

Tipperary Boutique Distillery are certainly one to look out for.

The combination of the wealth of experience gained over many years in the Scottish whisky industry by Stuart Nickerson, the youthful confidence and business sense of his daughter Jennifer together with the expert barley growing finesse of her fiancee Liam make this a formidable team.

I wholeheartedly wish them future success in their exciting venture.

Sláinte

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