Every now and then a whiskey comes along that kind of takes you by the hand & leads you in to a taste sensation that just enraptures you.
Powers 1817 Release is one of those whiskeys.
On the nose it’s wonderfully rich yet smooth.
Gorgeously rich in depth on tasting with the characteristic Powers pot still spice toned down to a delightful tingle.
With a finish that just goes on and on and on.
At only 10 years old & matured solely in bourbon casks, there must be some much older single pot still malts in here to give the whiskey such gravitas.
Powers 1817 Release is a special bottling for the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) to mark their 200th Bicentenary. The LVA are the trade association representing Dublin pubs.
If you want to sample Powers 1817 you’ll have to visit one of those Dublin pubs – like I was fortunately able to do for a tasting with the highly informative Powers Ambassador Michael Carr at The Brian Boru in Phibsborough.
Michael expertly guided us through the lovely Powers Gold Label blend – a mixture of single pot still & grain whiskey giving a lovely spice kick on the finish – which I must admit to being my ‘go-to’ blend.
The superb Powers John’s Lane Release – a bourbon matured & sherry finished single pot still 12 year old which I thought couldn’t be surpassed.
Until I tasted the 1817 release.
My thanks to Michael for the tasting & Rebecca for arranging the event.
There has been a lot of hot air expended over a bottle of whiskey recently by the name of John L Sullivan.
John L Sullivan is a sourced whiskey brand. They – like many other sourced brands – get their whiskey from a reputable Irish whiskey distillery. They can then proceed to promote, brand, distribute and blend this whiskey in any way they see fit.
Just as many other companies do.
The particular expression that everyone is getting hot under the collar about is one where they have mixed the Irish whiskey with an American bourbon – also sourced from a reputable distillery in the USA – to create a hybrid type of blend.
This hybrid whiskey has garnished rave reviews in some regions here.
And an outpouring of scorn in others.
A facebook thread in Ireland castigates this whiskey as ‘fake’ & ‘pseudo’. It likens the whiskey to the ‘gutrot’ produced by gangsters during prohibitions times which allegedly brought the Irish whiskey industry to it’s knees.
I just don’t buy that narrative.
I congratulate John L Sullivan for coming up with a new & exciting product that can offer an innovative new taste experience to customers – as well as opening up a new revenue stream for Irish whiskey.
The Irish whiskey industry has a long proud history and culture.
But part of that culture is resisting new means and methods of making whiskey.
In 1878 a book was published denouncing the new form of whisky being made by an invention called the Coffey Still.
That new whisky was called ‘silent whisky’ and we now know it as grain whiskey.
Nowadays that ‘silent whisky’ is the main constituent in blended whiskey – which is the very backbone of the modern global whiskey industry making up to 90% of all sales worldwide.
Sections of the Scottish whisky industry took to this new product in the 1840’s to create market leading brands that are still popular today.
It took at least another 100 years for the Irish whiskey industry to fully engage with the new methods. None of the 4 large Dublin whiskey distilleries who commissioned the book exist today
What if this new hybrid whiskey becomes the next ‘silent whisky’ in terms of future sales?
Is the Irish whiskey industry of today going to inflict the first cut in it’s demise as it did in the past?
And as the old song goes, The First Cut Is The Deepest.
Or is this new style of whiskey going to be embraced?
Being a new style means there will be labelling issues, regulatory red-tape and legal gremlins to sort out.
Hopefully that is in process.
Whiskey is fluid.
It has constantly flowed, changing and evolving throughout it’s long existence.
History is not kind on those who wish to stop that flow.
It’s that time of year when the great and good of the Irish whiskey world gather together in a celebration of distillation. This years event takes place in Tullamore with a visit to the new Tullamore Distillery and an awards evening in the Old Bonded Warehouse on October 20th.
As part of the process to pick the winners – members of the Celtic Whiskey Club and the Irish Whiskey Society were invited to a blind tasting of the competing expressions.
I made my way up to Dublin for the day to add my scores to the collective pot and found myself in a basement hotel room carefully laid out with 38 identical whiskey bottles – along with a half dozen barrel aged beers – to rate.
The bottles were arranged in their respective categories;
Irish Blends up to 60.
Irish Blends over 60.
Irish Single Pot Stills.
Irish Single Casks
Irish Barrel Aged Beer
The only way of differentiating them was the bottle code for scoring, the colour and the very subjective taste preferences of the judges.
All entrants have to be commercially available in Ireland in October. Other than providing the required sample bottles to The Celtic Whiskey Shop by the allocated date there is no entry fee and ticket sales for the evening are forwarded to charity.
I started with the entry level blends.
What struck me straight away was the uniformity of colour on display.This saddened me. The variety and differences in blended whiskey are what excite me – both visually and taste wise – yet presented here to all intensive purposes were 15 bottles of identical dark golden brown liquid.
My fears of added caramel were confirmed as in one expression after another the dominant – and at times overwhelming – note encountered was sweet. My poor scores reflected this disappointment. A few did have some pleasant fruit notes coming through together with a welcome spice. Some were rough – most were smooth – but there wasn’t much that excited me.
I expected a noticeable increase in flavour and quality in the blends above 60 category as experienced last year. Despite the average scores being slightly higher at 66 as to the former’s 63, that all important “more bang for your bucks” wasn’t forthcoming. At least the colour variation was more pronounced.
Oh dear! Perhaps my 3 weeks in Australia tasting some knockout single malts, ryes, bourbons and wheat whiskies had jaded my palate.
I moved onto the barrel aged beers.
Now I must admit to a benchmark brew in this style which all others are judged on. Trouble is – it’s not Irish! There was one dark beer that came out close however. It had a noticeable whiskey nose together with less carbonation giving it a more heavy feel – much to my liking.
I should point out my method here. Out of an average 3ml sample I possibly tasted and swallowed half. The other half ended up in the spittoon after having been swirled round the mouth for further evaluation. In between each sample a full measure of water was consumed to cleanse the palate and rinse the glass. I must have drank about 2 litres of uisce during the process. A hearty lunch and some hot tea also split the session in two and aided to my relative sobriety at the end of the day.
It was after that lunch I attempted la creme de la creme of Irish whiskey – the Single Pot Stills.
Using a combination of malted barley and unmalted barley in the mash, I was looking for – and happily found – the signature soft spice together with some rich fruity notes. The variety was much more pronounced in terms of colour, flavour profile as well as strength. I distinctly thought one entrant was simply a watered down version of another! The average scores rose to 73 for the packed field of 13 entrants.
Only in the big reveal on awards night will all my hunches be either confirmed – or more likely dashed. The new Redbreast Lustau release was rumoured to be in the mix somewhere. Was it one of my winners?
For me however – the best was yet to come.
The Single Casks had only 5 entrants. All scored highly with a 77 average and one stood out.
Fuller of flavour and richer in style, I dispensed with the spittoon to immerse myself in their beauty. My winning dram on the day happened to be the smokiest entrant and I fear I’m turning into a peathead!
A further sample of this expression went down equally delightfully as the first – well – I did have to re-check my initial scores!
The craic agus ceol was mighty during the session. Judges came and went but all added their penny’s worth to the growing banter and collective scores.
If you haven’t already joined either the Celtic Whiskey Club or Irish Whiskey Society – isn’t it about time you did?
We were gently awoken from our slumbers by the gurgling waters of the River Corrib that once powered the machinery of Persse Distillery on Nun’s Island. This long closed Galway distillery inspired the members of The Galway Whiskey Trail to successfully launch The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey at last evenings extravaganza.
If our hotel room had been around about 100 years ago we could have inhaled the rich malt aromas hovering in the air as the distillery was only a stones throw across the river.
As it happened it was the enticing smell of a freshly cooked breakfast that eventually got us out of the bed to face the day ahead.
Apart from a few drunkenly made arrangements to meet up with some of the launch party crew – which always seem a bit ambitious in the cold light of day – our time was free. Herself however had plans to purchase a new rig out for an upcoming wedding so out shopping it was. Luckily after a few boutiques I made my excuses and headed to another kind of shop more suitable for my tastes – McCambridges.
Being a member of The Galway Whiskey Trail – which I’d previously visited in January – I knew they had an extensive range of whiskeys in their off-licence department. Also knowing The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey hailed from West Cork Distillers – I was curious to find out what their own label West Cork 10 Year Old Single Malt tasted like in comparison.
McCambridges had plenty of Galway Bay in stock but had sold out of West Cork. Luckily there was still some spirit left in the sample bottle so a small taster soon appeared before me.
Now a 10 year old aged in ex-bourbon casks is going to be a bit vanilla sweet – but this was way too sweet.
A look at the small print on the back confirmed my suspicions – E150 – or added caramel to you and me.
I’ve read that added caramel is a tried and tested practice mainly used to darken light coloured blends to give a uniform colour across many barrels and vats.
I’ve read that in small quantities you can’t taste it.
I’m afraid to say – as Heather Greene implies in her highly informative book “Whisk(e)y Distilled” – that as you’re palate develops you can.
There’s just too much added caramel in this single malt for my liking which gives it an unbalanced taste experience. It may have been a perfectly fine whiskey without E150 so why add it?
West Cork Distillers seem to quite like using caramel. They are not alone.
Just the other day I bought a bottle of budget price Scotch by the name of Glen Orchy from a German Supermarket. On tasting some I immediately thought it had the flavour profile of a Richard ‘The Nose‘ Paterson blend all over it. Soft, mellow and caramel sweetness. On doing some research into it’s origins I found it shared the common Glasgow postcode with many other whisky brands – G2 5RG. Suffice to say the headquarters of Whyte & Mackay are based here too – along with Dalmore, Jura and 30 others.
I’m sure there is caramel in Galway Bay – but the port finish gives it a much more balanced result.
1 nil to Galway Bay.
Satisfaction piqued – I met up with Mrs Whiskey. A tentative suggestion of drinks and a snack in the warm sunshine outside one of the Galway Whiskey Trail venues was accepted so Tigh Neachtain‘s won out in this instance.
A white wine for the lady was duly ordered along with the appealingly named Bogman Irish Craft Ale I hadn’t encountered before.
Bogman turned out to be very enjoyable indeed. Not too strong at 4.9% ABV with a satisfying malty flavour. Good work from those at Spiddal River Brewery. Herself enjoyed her wine too!
We wondered if anyone else would bother to turn up from the night before – and then one appeared – followed shortly by another!
There were warm greetings all round with banter about the Galway Bay launch where we had all met followed by yet more drinks – and a tasty lunchtime meal.
I had another whiskey this time. Te Bheag is an entry level peated Scottish blend from Skye which I’d previously encountered at Whiskey Live Dublin. My palate has obviously developed as unlike my previous tasting – I got a dose of added caramel sweetness this time round.
Having the craic and shooting the breeze couldn’t have been more enjoyable. During the course of our stay on this busy pedestrian intersection many people came and went. An immaculately groomed – both male and female – wedding party stopped by for a pint and some photos. I had a chance to chat with the barman after walking out without paying on my last visit! We met one of The Galway Hooker skippers from the whiskey launch lastnight and to crown it all – a stunningly blue eyed musician serenaded one of our party after a throw away comment.
Turns out Thomas Wesley Stern are a travelling band from the Pine Barrens region of New Jeresy who had only arrived in town from Sligo and were heading to Lisdoonvarna later.
They soon had a small crowd of admirers outside Tigh Neachtain’s and garnished much applause – along with a pint for their troubles. Here they are singing a whiskey related song.
Alas a short downpour interrupted the proceedings and broke the spell.
Thoughts of returning to the real world with it’s attended chores clouded the mind and goodbyes with promises to stay in touch were exchanged.
The Galway Whiskey Trail certainly lives up to it’s description in providing an experience you cannot buy.
Together with the fabulous launch of The Famous Galway Bay Irish Whiskey it had been an absolutely stunningly entertaining weekend.
The combination of festivities, friendliness and fun are what it’s all about.
When will you visit the trail to capture the craic for yourself?
The journey began last year when I first became aware of World Whisky Day and thought – ‘Now I should do something for that day’. This led to me scrambling around finding a printer open on Friday night to laminate my hastily prepared posters – writing out a basic script for the day and posting some last minute social media posts.
My choice of venue happened during the course of the year. Doing blogs on Whiskey Bars meant I eventually found some much closer to home than I had previously known. Couple this with an award winning whiskey visitors attraction in the shape of Tullarmore DEW Visitors Centre – some whiskey art – architecture and history and the die was set.
2pm on World Whisky Day found me at Bury Quay anxiously waiting for people to turn up.
We were greeted warmly by Shane who invited us in to a complimentary showing of the Tullamore DEW introductory video in the auditorium along with a glass of Tullamore DEW Original to get the day started!
Suitably warmed up despite the rather showery weather outside we made the short walk along the Grand Canal – which reached Tullamore in 1798 and aided the economic success of the brewing and distilling industry of the town – to our first whiskey bar of the day – Hugh Lynch’s.
A hard to find discontinued expression was chosen as drink of choice in this bar to demonstrate the fact good whiskey bars operate almost as whiskey libraries in that they stock many a bottle both old – new and potentially exclusive.
Tullamore DEW’s Black 43 went down well with the gathered clan of whiskey friends. It also demonstrated what an additional 11 months in sherry cask can add to a whiskey.
Onwards into town we went. Pausing to view the remnants of the original B. Daly 1829 distillery along with the wonderfully restored gates and Master Distillers Offices across the road.
Bob Smyths pub sits handily beside the Tullamore Distillery gates. It was once owned by Michael Molloy – who established the distillery – so despite not being a whiskey bar – we popped in for a glass of Paddy to acknowledge the brands sale to Sazerac.
Our next stop proved rather more contentious. Back in 1910 the large brewing, malting, bottling and general wholesellers of P&H Egan built what is now The Bridge House Hotel. Descendants of that family released Egan’s Irish Whiskey a few years ago but sadly it isn’t yet stocked at the bar.
We handed a short plea to the management of the hotel to please remedy this situation so Egan’s Irish Whiskey can be enjoyed in it’s true home. By a democratic vote the whiskey walk participants unanimously agreed to bypass this venue in favour of somewhere that did serve Egan’s.
Thankfully we didn’t have to walk far as one bar that does have Egan’s Irish Whiskey is the lovely Brewery Tap on Bridge Street where landlord Paul offered us a discount on the day to enjoy a glass of the lovely rich 10 year old single malt and toast to the future success of the Egan family.
One inquisitive member of the party suggested Egan’s was just a similar bottling to Tyrconnell – also a single malt – so a glass duly arrived for a taste comparison.
Another unanimous decision was reached. Tyrconnell is a smoother slightly more tasty whiskey than Egan’s. It must be stated however that both these expressions were far superiour to the blends we’d been having up to this point.
Back out on the streets our numbers began to diminish due to time constraints. A visit to the whiskey sculpture Pot Stills in Market Square was abandoned. Commissioned by Tullamore Town Council in recognition of the role the distilling trade had in prospering the town. The 3 pots were sculptor Eileen MacDonagh’s interpretation of the gleaming copper stills that currently produce the distillate which goes on to make whiskey in the new Tullamore Distillery on the outskirts of town as well as those at Kilbeggan Distillery only a 10 minute drive from here.
Market Square is also the site of a short-lived distillery built by Mr Manley which closed early in the 1800’s. However there are many fine building which previously housed the large malting trade Tullamore was famous for. Malt left Tullamore by barge to supply many a famous brewery and distillery in Dublin. These malt stores are now apartments’ shops and offices but you can imagine the hive of industry that once frequented the canal harbour in times gone.
Our last port of call was Kelly’s Bar just down the road from the Visitors Centre where we began. Kelly’s have a wide and varied range of fine whiskeys on offer so various expressions were tasted by several fellow whiskey walkers and opinions exchanged as to the merits – or lack off depending to individual taste – of the drams tried.
Our sole Scotch of the day – in recognition that Tullamore DEW is now owned by a Scottish firm – came via a 16 year old Lagavulin. Very tasty it was too.
Eugene the landlord had actually got this whisky in for one of his regular customers. Now that’s an example of a fine whiskey bar!
My thanks go out to all the fellow whiskey walkers who joined me in celebrating World Whisky Day. The publicans, bar staff and the Tullamore DEW Visitors Centre crew who made today a reality in giving generously of their time – and some whiskey too!
Thanks also to the Tullamore Tribune who publicised the event and sent down a reporter to take pictures and report on the days proceedings.
India. A land of 1.3 billion souls stretching from the glacier valleys of the Himalayas in the North to the tropical jungles of the South.
India. A great track by 80’s indie rockers The Psychedelic Furs.
India. A land of whisky.
Yes – You read that right. I’ll say it again.
India. A land of whisky.
Those 1.3 billion inhabitants enjoy whisky at a similar rate to us in Ireland – which makes it a pretty damn big market. So big in fact that some statistics have it as THE BIGGEST.
Not only is India THE BIGGEST market – it is also produces THE BIGGEST BRANDS for those consumers.
But like me – I think you’ll be hard pressed to name any of them.
So let’s get it straight here.
The worlds BIGGEST SELLING BRAND of whisky is an Indian expression I’ve never heard of.
Not only that – 8 of the top 10 brands are Indian and make up over 80% of actual volume sold.
There are similar figures for others years if you care to hunt them down.
So what is going on?
It seems as if Indian whisky falls foul of European regulations helpfully aided by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on what a whisky is.
But lots of Bourbons also fall foul of the above regulations in regard to item 2(a)(iii) and yet we can still buy it in the supermarket.
A bit of seeing things from a Western-centric angle going on here?
It seems to be accepted that lots of Indian whisky – and I’m talking here about high volume blends, not the excellent Amrut or John Paul single malts – are produced by a combination of neutral spirit made from fermented molasses and imported Scotch.
So far so good. I see nothing wrong with using a by-product of sugarcane which is abundant in India for manufacturing a spirit drink.
When whisky makers first entered america there wasn’t much barley. They used what was available – corn, rye – and a new drink called bourbon was developed.
Couldn’t there be room for another category named ‘Indian Whisky’ that can cater for this?
There is already the term ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor’ (IMFL) commonly used to describe such spirits.
There is also much talk about ‘fake‘ and ‘you can’t trust it’.
But wait a minute.Anyone who has read Naomi Klein‘s book ‘No Logo’ wouldn’t be surprised to learn that 6 out of the 8 Indian Whisky brands in the above table are manufactured by only 2 familiar names; Diageo and Pernod-Ricard.
If you’re not prepared to trust what’s in a bottle of Royal Stag or Bagpiper – why do you trust what’s in a bottle of Glenlivet or Lagavulin? The same companies make it.
So when I stumbled across one of these Indian whiskys – I just had to try it!
Seagram’s Royal Stag DeLuxe Whisky according to the label is;
‘A smooth full bodied feel of the best Scotch malts from the highlands and carefully selected Indian grain spirit.’
Bottled and blended by Pernod-Ricard India at 42.8% using the following ingredients;
‘Demineralised water, Grain neutral spirit, Scotch malt concentrate’ and that old ‘INS 150a’ or caramel to you and me. How many times do you see caramel listed on your bottle of Scotch or Irish?
Taste. Sweet, thinking Baileys The Whiskey, Nomad territory here – and then some – but follows through with a lovely softly growing pleasant burn on the mouth and tongue – must be the Scotch kicking in – which lingers.
Finish. Satisfyingly long after the sweetness has faded.
Overall. A very pleasant whisky of 2 halves. The sweetness almost put me off during the first half but when that lovely burn came through in the second – it just made me happy – so happy in fact I had another during extra time!
Verdict; This is an easy going blend to drink. Needless to say I had it neat. The sweetness should be toned down for my liking but otherwise I can see why it’s a popular brand. I don’t think this bottle will last long!
Based on my experience with Royal Stag – I’d happily go on to try the other Indian brands in the top 10. The Bagpiper and Old Tavern names appeal to me – so if there are any reps out there heading home….
Dropping the better half off at the airport the other week allowed me to explore the landside bar I knew existed but hadn’t actually visited.
As a musical accompaniment to the blog what else could I choose but…
Handily situated at the far end of the ground concourse below the Ryanair check-in desks – I was a little taken aback to see the name ‘The Angel’s Share‘ emblazoned above the wide entrance – together with a glass cabinet full of rare or hard to find Irish whiskeys.
For those that may not be aware – ‘the angel’s share’ is a whiskey term handily explained by reference to one of the bar walls inside this bright and airy establishment.
It’s also the title of an uplifting tragicomic movie by none other than Ken Loach which I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to see.
Now I know that the ‘piece de resistance’ in Dublin Airport is the magnificent Loop whiskey emporium on the airside duty free area – but for those not flying – or with a little time to spare – The Angel’s Share is a lovely spot to enjoy a glass of your favourite Irish Whiskey perhaps accompanied by a tasty meal or snack too.
Jameson’s fine Black Barrel release was ‘Whiskey Of The Month’ when I called – but as usual I was on the lookout for something I hadn’t had before. Sadly the rare cabinet whiskeys seemed to be for display only as a member of staff couldn’t recall them ever being opened!
The Angel’s Share had a good selection of Midleton expressions – Jameson – Powers – Spots and Paddy together with some Teeling and Hyde. Bourbons and Canadian Club also featured. What tickled my fancy however was a somewhat neglected Midleton release – Dunphys.
Dunphys Irish Whiskey was originally created in the 1950’s mainly for the American market. It became popular as a mixer – particularly in an Irish Coffee – but it’s star has now waned. Midleton’s sales force don’t seem to be pushing it either as many a pub I go into has a ‘Premium Whiskey Selection’ menu featuring only their own releases – in which I’ve yet to see Dunphys included.
Truth be told I wasn’t expecting much being treated as the black sheep of the Midleton family – but Dunphys proved to be a fairly rich tasting malty standard blend. At the price point it’s sold at it compares very favourably indeed. I suppose it has an old fashioned taste – if you can define old fashioned. I certainly enjoyed it and even wondered why it had been left out in the cold – Irish Coffee anyone?
Discovering this little haven of calm in a busy airport left me with a smile on my face.
Other customers were tucking into hot meals – their first or last decent pint of the black stuff depending on travel plans – or just enjoying a wee dram collecting or dropping off friends and family. Just be careful not to relax too much if you are flying however!
Whatever the reason – The Angel’s Share will certainly brighten up my visits to the airport.
The Brewery Tap is one of those pubs that I’ve passed by on numerous occasions – mainly during my day job as a truck driver – but never managed to actually get inside – until now.
Situated opposite the busy O’Connor Square area in the heart of Tullamore town The Brewery Tap is only a stone’s throw from The Bridge Centre shopping complex and the popular Bridge House Hotel – both premises built on or around the old Tullamore Distillery which closed it’s doors in 1954.
Remnants of the distillery can still be seen on nearby Patrick Street where the manager, Daniel E Williams – whose initials formed the DEW element – sat in his office which still proudly displays his name today on one side of the street overlooking the elaborate and well cared for iron gates which formed part of the entrance to the original distillery on the other.
It should come as no surprise then that The Brewery Tap strongly features the entire Tullamore DEW range of tasty whiskeys inside it’s warm and welcoming interior.
Having missed the opportunity to try out the 14 Year Old Single Malt when I last visited The Old Bonded Warehouse – itself only a 5 minute walk away – I wasn’t going to let this chance go by – and in memory of the recently departed George Martin – a Beatles track.
Now on the blind tasting I did some time ago a few Tullamore DEW expressions stood out from the crowd. Both The Phoenix and Cider Cask releases scored very well so when I first gently nosed the 14 to be greeted by some wonderful aromas I knew I was in for a treat.
The silky smooth dram tantalised my taste buds with it’s warm sweetness combined in a delicate balance of the bourbon – port – oloroso and madeira barrels used for maturation.
Triple distilled – quadruple matured – quintuple the taste!
To paraphrase an advertising slogan for my own experience in drinking this lovely whiskey.
This may be my best Tullamore DEW yet!
Other whiskeys on offer at The Brewery Tap included the Egan’s Single Malt. Judging from the amount of P&H Egan advertising materiel adorning the walls of the bar there’s plenty of scope for the new company to expand their drinks portfolio. Ales – ginger beer and liqueurs all featured in the ads from yesteryears. I just wonder what they all tasted like in their heyday?
Outside of lunchtimes The Brewery Tap only serves crisps and nuts. There is a regular itinerary of musical evenings and other lively events both mid-week and at the weekend. It’s also rumoured that many of the Tullamore DEW executives pop in for some down time to enjoy the fruits of their own labours – and who can blame them?
With a warm glowing fire – friendly staff – comfortable seats and cushioned benches as well as whiskey aplenty – who wouldn’t enjoy the atmosphere in such a fine establishment.
I just hope my next visit won’t be as long in coming as my first!
A high pressure weather system had been sitting over Ireland for a few days bringing with it a welcome dose of sunshine after months of wet, dank, grey days.
My first thought was to ‘Run To The Hills’. More in a hiking boots and compass kind off way rather than a leather and studs Iron Maiden rock out!
But herself had other plans. A weekend of gardening was the order of the day.
By Sunday afternoon the lawn had been cut. Hedges had been trimmed and all the mess tidied up so lunch out was proposed.
A suggestion of a meal at the Tullamore DEW Visitors Centre was accepted. Despite herself having worked in Tullamore for a few years – she had never visited the Old Bonded Warehouse by the Grand Canal and I thought it would be a great place to show her.
The sun was still shining a half hour later when we arrived and the solid wooden benches on the boardwalk outside the centre were very attractive – just a shame there was still a spring chill in the air. We decided to head indoors.
The warmly wooded interior complete with whiskey barrels adorning the walls together with Tullamore DEW mirrors and old photographs was very impressive. We both took a few pictures before the friendly and helpful staff greeted us .
The tempting food menu soon appeared and we ordered up a few tasty treats.
This gave me an opportunity to check out the gift shop where the entire range of Tullamore DEW whiskeys were on show.
Pride of place was given to the relatively new 14 Year Old Single Malt. A triple distilled offering finished in Bourbon – Oloroso – Madiera and Port barrels.
As I was the designated driver I didn’t indulge but did get the sales talk from the crew.
Also on show were;
The flagship Tullamore DEW Original. Triple distilled – triple blended using 3 types of grain – and triple cask matured too.
Tullamore Dew Trilogy 15 Year Old. A blend additionally finished in rum casks.
All of these were available at the bar too where a selection of wines – craft beers and ciders – plus a sprinkling of Scottish whiskies from the parent group William Grant & Sons included Glenfiddich – Grants – Monkey Shoulder and a Balvenie 12.
A shout from my wife alerted me to our meal. I enjoyed my beef steak with whiskey sauce whilst herself had a pulled pork bap and chips. Decent pub grub to enjoy a glass or two of the hard stuff if only I wasn’t driving!
Despite not adhering to my Whiskey Bar criteria of an earlier blog – I do think the visitors centre is eligible for honorary membership of that club by virtue of it’s historic and picturesque location. Serving the in-house range of whiskeys plus parents selection too. And the general buzz of the place as visitors – who are generally all whiskey fans of one sort or another – congenially come and go before and after their guided tours.
You don’t have to go on the tour to enjoy the delights of the restaurant – bar or outside seating area. Just get there before the closing time of 5pm on Sundays and 6pm otherwise.
A final touch to our day was the tie-in with a local chocolate producer in nearby Ferbane who has infused their dark chocolate with Tullamore DEW whiskey to create a wonderfully rich sweet treat to finish off our enjoyable stay.
Do yourself a favour.
Choose a day when the sun is shining.
Sit outside by the banks of the tranquil Grand Canal where once the barges busily loaded the whiskey to transport it around the world in the early 1900’s.
Work your way through the tasty Tullamore Dew expressions fortified by a hearty meal and savour the sights – smells – aromas and experiences of Tullamore both past and present.
Ever since the invention of the electric guitar in the 1930’s there has been a close relationship between the world of music – as originally played by black bluesmen like John Lee Hooker – and the world of whiskey
Right through to the Jack Daniel’s fueled tales of the recently deceased Lemmy – though I would prefer the Mackmyra produced whisky bearing the Motorhead name,
And the alcoholic excesses of Irish band The Pogues who have also entered the Whiskey Hall Of Fame by having a tasty Irish blend named after them from West Cork Distillers,
Whiskey is associated with rock ‘n’ roll.
Meanwhile back in the 80’s a new musical phenomenon exploded on the scene inspired by a plastic box of electronic wizardry and a different type of drug.
The Roland 808 became a central plank in the development of dance music. So much so it has become an iconic instrument almost as revered as Lemmy’s Rickenbacker bass.
There is even a new film released featuring many of the famous artists who used the 808 in making their music.
The ever changing styles of music and drugs means there is an opening for the more traditional forms of intoxication – as the lyrics of The Far East Movement’s hit ‘Like A G6’ show.
A drinking culture obviously exists in the electronically inspired music scene too. A culture that needs to forge a new identity with new brands for it’s own fulfilment.
One company that’s trying to fill that need is 808drinks.
Now to many people – electronic music is soulless and lacks character.
Grain whisky – when it first appeared in the late 1800’s after the invention of the Coffey Still by Irishman Aeneas Coffey – was also similarly derided as ‘The Silent Spirit’ by the dominant distilleries of the time.
Oh how history is cruel on those who don’t adapt.
Grain whisky is the main ingredient in blended whisky which make sales of up to 90% of the market.
The overarching genre of dance music hasn’t reached that dominance over rock – but is did cross over into mainstream as shown by the 1986 Run DMC / Aerosmith hit collaboration.
808 Whisky is also a collaboration between established icons of Scottish Whisky like Jonathan Driver – formerly of Diageo but now at Whyte & Mackay – the massive North British Distillery in Edinburgh and long standing DJ Tommy D who helped create the sounds for many a famous artist.
Being made for a different audience 808 Whisky bucks the trend.
It’s a blended grain whisky.
It has ‘Chill Filtered For Purity’ emblazoned on it’s trendy designer label.
So can it live up to the ‘808 BOOM’ much loved by musicians?
To start with it’s a light straw colour. This is good in my book as there’s no obvious signs of added caramel.
For me – there wasn’t much going on in the nose however – apart from a subtle sweetness and that grainy smell. Again – no real surprise there.
The taste was rather soft – mellow – and surprisingly smooth. I’ve had many a cheap blend that burns your palate on the first mouthful. Not so with 808 Whisky. A delicate well balanced grain taste.
I actually enjoyed the warm feeling as it slid down.
This grain whisky is an easy to drink – inoffensive – light dram.
Many a distilleries standard blend would also fit this description – and they sell in their thousands – so it’s in good company here.
Personally I’d like something a bit more – well – ‘In Yer Face’ to allow me to showcase yet another 808 inspired tune.
But then I’m not part of the core customer profile this whisky is aiming at – which is possibly younger and more experimental than me.
808 Whisky would make an excellent mixer drink due to it’s soft mellow profile.
It would also make an excellent easy to drink shot to fuel your funkiest moves on the dance floor.
808 Whisky may not yet have the iconic status of it’s namesake synthesiser Roland 808 -but it does combine my passion for music and my passion for whiskey in a wonderful way.
I wish 808 Whisky all the best for it’s bold combination and unusual style resulting in an easy to drink smooth and satisfying blended grain whisky.
Now that’s ‘Something Good’ as Utah Saints used to say.
PS I’d just like to thank The Whisky Lady for bringing my attention to 808 Whisky and allowing me to indulge in my musical mayhem whilst enjoying a whisky or two.