Tag Archives: Diageo

The Final Countdown – Day 4

The last day of the Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour started off a bit groggy as we made our way East along the M6 motorway to the oldest working whiskey distillery in the world – Kilbeggan Distillery.

Kilbeggan happens to be my local distillery so I have some attachment to it. Like a lot of Irish distilleries it has had a colourful past which you may wish to explore – but we took the Apprentice Tour with our cheerful guide Rebecca to explain all that to us.

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Crank up that waterwheel! c/othewhiskeynut

Now owned by Beam/Suntory the distillery houses the old water wheel, working steam engine, micro distillery as well as maturing stocks in a nearby warehouse on the banks of the River Brosna. It makes for a very pretty attraction.

The core brands are the self named Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell, Locke’s & Connemara peated whiskey – just to break the myth that only Scotch is peated. Most are actually distilled in the sister Cooley Distillery with Kilbeggan’s  small output ending up as part of the blends.

I wasn’t expecting any surprises on the tour having taken it before a few times – but when it came to the tasting,  the Kilbeggan Single Grain looked distinctly different.

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The new Kilbeggan Single Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Not only has it been re-labelled – it’s had a re-make!

Now boasting some sherry finish influence & boosted to a 43% ABV. From the small sample I tasted I’d give it the thumbs up.

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Re-labelled Tyrconnell c/othewhiskeynut

Tyrconnell also had a new label – although we were assured the single malt within is to the same recipe.

Kilbeggan happens to have a bar on the premises where the tastings are conducted – but it is also open to the public. Distillery exclusives can always be picked up here even if you don’t do the tour – which is handy – but as it was a Sunday when we visited the bar didn’t open until noon. So we pressed on.

Dublin was our last port of call. Specifically the Liberties area of the city which is fast becoming a mecca for the whiskey industry it once was in the past.

Teeling Distillery on Newmarket Square is leading this revival having opened in 2015. The founders Jack  & Stephen Teeling – the sons of the aforementioned John Teeling who just happened to be visiting on the day we called! –  are now carving out their own way in the whiskey world.

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Natalie and the spirit safe c/othewhiskeynut

Teeling is currently the only working distillery in Dublin. The tour immerses you in the rich history, sights, sounds & smells of the vibrant whiskey making process together with some tasty samples of all that hard work in the trendy Bang Bang bar on the second floor. It’s fast becoming a must see attraction & advanced booking is advised to avoid disappointment.

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Teeling’s own single pot still Poitin c/othewhiskeynut

In head distiller Alex Chasko, Teeling have a very innovative person who has released a wide range of award winning whiskeys under the Teeling brand. As yet they are all sourced from other distilleries – but the Spirit Of Dublin Poitin is interesting as the spice from the malted & unmalted mash-bill comes through on the triple distilled spirit. A company to look out for.

The last three distilleries are all in varying degrees of completion. All are in the historic Liberties area within 5 minutes of Teeling.

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Dublin Liberties Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The Dublin Liberties Distillery is only a short walk to the rear of Teeling Distillery. In the safe hands of master distiller Darryl McNally – who spent many years in Diageo’s Bushmills learning his craft – they have released the Dubliner Irish Whiskey range along with the Oak Devil & Cooper Ally expressions. Building works are now in progress at the site.

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Pearse Lyons Distillery nearing completion c/othewhiskeynut

One distillery whose building work is almost complete is the Pearse Lyons Distillery on Thomas Street. Pearse is the Dublin born founder of Alltech who has the money to indulge his dream of opening his own whiskey distillery – in a former church no less! The plan is to release an Irish single malt. Alltech already have the Town Branch Distillery in Lexington KY who have released a range of bourbon, single malt & rye whiskeys for your pleasure. I must admit to having a soft spot for the Town Branch Rye.

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Diageo’s Roe & Co site c/othewhiskeynut

Also on Thomas Street Diageo themselves – after an absence of a few years post their Bushmills sale to Cuervo – are back in the Irish whiskey scene with plans to redevelop the old Guinness Power Station. I happily got invited to their launch night a while ago & enjoyed the Roe & Co blend released in advance of the distillery being built.

Talking about Roe & Co – who remembers George Roe & Co? At the time one of the largest & most popular whiskey distilleries in the world based in the heart of Dublin. He wrote a book railng against the rise of ‘silent spirit’ as produced by the newly invented Coffey Still.

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Roe & Co c/othewhiskeynut

I wonder what he would have made of the modern whiskey industry – built as it is on the back of that ‘silent spirit’ in the manufacturing of what we now call blended whiskey. Especially when his name is being used for one of those blended whiskeys.

Sorry to say George Roe’s fortune declined in the early 1900’s as blended whiskey rose & the distillery is no more.

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George Roe’s windmill c/othewhiskeynut

All that is left is the old windmill.

A testament to the foibles, follies, fortunes & mis-fortunes of whiskey making.

An apt way to end our Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour.

I’ll drink to that!

Sláinte.

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The Rumble For Rye! PrizeFight Irish Whiskey vs Johnnie Walker Rye Cask

Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!

Y’all ready for this?

Welcome to tonites fight!

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PrizeFight c/othewhiskeynut

In the Green corner we have Irish newcomer PrizeFight weighing in at 43%. An NAS – non aged statement – blended Irish whiskey finished in rye casks from Tamworth Distilling, produced at West Cork Distillers for Pugilist Ltd.

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Johnnie Walker Rye c/othewhiskeynut

In the Blue corner is heavyweight Diageo’s well known Johnnie Walker brand with their Rye Cask blended release at 46% with a 10 years old age statement.

Round 1

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POW c/opinterest

PrizeFight jumps straight out and lands a powerful punch which wounds the Johnnie Walker Rye.

The rich dry rye spice nose of PrizeFight is simply bolder than the muted soft notes of JW Rye.

Round 2

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Kaboom c/opinterest

JW Rye is showing flabbiness with excessive caramel & sweet grain taking the edge of that rye kick.

PrizeFight lands one after another with it’s leaner, cleaner & crisper rye punchiness!

Round 3

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It’s all over now!

PrizeFight delivers a knockout blow with a lovely rich dry spiciness that just goes on and on.

JW Rye retreats to it’s corner – unable to match the youthful invigorating power of PrizeFight.

Three cheers for the Green corner!

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Roe & Co, Blend, 45%

Call me a purist.

Call me a fuddy duddy.

Call me old fashioned – just don’t serve me one!

Whiskey – neat – in a glass is all I’m after.

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Queuing to get in! c/othewhiskeynut

No day-glo coloured freshly squeezed juices.

No flame throwed cracked pepper toppings.

No fancy straws or designer sculpted ice-cubes.

I want the whiskey to talk to me.

So what has Roe & Co got to say for itself?

Simple really.

Sing it Phil!

Actually that should be The  Girls.

Tanya Clarke –  Diageo’s General Manager of Reserve Europe – launched Roe & Co at the event & credited the expression to Master Blender Caroline Martin.

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Tanya Clarke launches Roe & Co c/othewhiskeynut

And what a show the event was!

The former Guinness Power Station – intended site for the new distillery – was filled with bloggers, blaggers, influencers, designers movers & shakers & media.

They tempted us with trendy cocktails made with much panache & flair.

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Whiskey & food & branding c/othewhiskeynut

They sated our appetites with gorgeously tasty foods served by an army of friendly & efficient Roe & Co branded staff.

They treated us to a cavernous industrial building not normally open to the public atmospherically lit up with dazzling lights & soft smoke.

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Inside the power station c/othewhiskeynut

They moved us with infectious dance music.

And if you got through all of the above & asked the ice sculptor for a glass of neat Roe & Co, you did indeed get one. Well – rather more than one in my case.

Roe & Co wants to be noticed.

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Roe & Co c/othewhiskeynut

It needs to be.

After an absence of a few years Diageo are back in the Irish Whiskey playground strutting & preening among all it’s former play mates.

It’s young.

It’s enthusiastic.

It’s delightfully bold and

It’s got character.

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Drink me! c/othewhiskeynut

I took notice.

I liked it.

Welcome back Diageo.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

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.

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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;

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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