The recently opened Dublin Liberties Distillery launched a trio of beer cask finished whiskeys at a highly enjoyable & entertaining event held in the fabulous bar at the distillery itself.
Based on the original bourbon cask matured Dubliner Whiskey the limited edition Beer Cask Series have been finished in casks formerly maturing a variety of Irish Craft Beers.
I managed a small taster of those beers.
O’Haras Leann Folláin Irish Stout at 8.1% is a full on bourbon cask matured belter of a brew. Full of heavy dark chocolate & molasses this appealed to my tastes.
5 Lamps Brewdolf at 9% is a worthy contender too. Based on an amber barley wine finished in bourbon casks there were sweet fruity notes balancing the darker & heavier elements.
Rascals Irish Coffee Stout at 4.8% has a wonderful coffee aroma on the nose that doesn’t quite follow through on the palate. Having said that – I’m not a big fan of coffee – so this offering isn’t to my palate.
A variety of cocktails were served on the evening – some tasty titbits – a compered introduction to the whiskeys (and the collaborative beers) by none other than Darryl McNally, Master Distiller of Dublin Liberties Distillery himself – as well as the folks behind the craft beers too – all seamlessly guided along by the dulcet tones of Today FM DJ Ed Smith of Ed’s Songs Of Praise fame.
Rebels, Rascals and Raconteurs indeed!
Sampling the whiskey had to wait for later as I was driving – but this is what I found.
Oh, my test bottles were kindly filled by Dublin Liberties Distillery on the evening.
Dubliner Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey
Lovely warm bourbon cask notes with a subtle depth & clean fresh grainy sweetness. Bit spirity but enjoying the clarity with underlying warmth. Soft prickly spice on a long finish.
Dubliner Irish Stout Whiskey
Deeper, darker & more malty nose. A heavier mouthfeel. The malt has been accentuated & grain mellowed. Long smooth finish.
Dubliner Irish Red Ale Whiskey
Slight sweet fruit off the nose which follows through on the palate. The malt comes through cleanly. Long lasting flavoursome finish.
Well well well!
In a reversal of my findings on the beer from which they came – I think I’d go for the Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey as my favourite!
The combination of the clear sweet grain with a nice depth on the malt & just a hint of coffee in the background proved a winning combination over the smoother & darker elements of the others.
All were very enjoyable blends & quite distinctively different in the ways they presented on the palate.
Just goes to show what a few months in wood can achieve!
The growth of Irish Whiskey doesn’t just restrict itself to exciting new brands, bottles & distilleries – it also spins off into a growing library of books on the subject.
One of the most delightful books I happened to read recently was Whiskey Burn by Ben Birdsall.
It combines a travelogue of his adventures round Ireland on a vintage Vespa visiting as many whiskey distilleries as possible – along with an entertaining & informative description of those distilleries themselves – as well as the people, places & characters that shape those distilleries – and perhaps the resultant taste of the whiskey too!
Packed full of fabulous photography, amusing anecdotes and a quirky sense of humour, Ben manages to capture the essence of Irish Whiskey on his circumnavigation of the Emerald Isle.
Published in 2018, Whiskey Burn is already out of date due to the fast moving explosion of Irish Whiskey.
Distilleries that were mere building sites or planning diagrams at the time are now fully functional & accepting visitors like Powerscourt Distillery, Dublin Liberties Distillery and Roe & Co.
Others have sadly failed to find adequate backers for their dreams like Quiet Man Distillery.
But as an apt quote in the book says,
” by the time they come out, all whiskey books are out of date”
This however doesn’t detract from the core enthusiasm displayed within Ben’s prose – nor the commitment of the characters encountered.
Whiskey Live Dublin continues to grow every year. Not only in numbers attending this marvelous showcase of Irish Whiskey – but also the amount of exhibitors on display.
There are masterclasses held throughout the course of the day which provide access to the distillers, whiskey ambassadors, blenders & bottlers who are driving the current growth in Irish Whiskey. It was to one of those classes that I started my visit to this years show.
Alex Chasko – master distiller with Teeling Whiskey Co. – regaled us with the story behind the current Brabazon series of whiskeys – as well as introducing us to some choice single cask samples.
I was particularly taken by the 2001 Port Single Cask – especially in the newly released Tuath Irish Whiskey glass which was provided to visitors at the event.
After this highly enjoyable introduction – I joined the crowds in the main hall as I tried to sample my ‘hit list’ of whiskeys I’d either missed out on during the year – or were new releases appearing at the show for the first time.
The Glengarriff series from West Cork Distillers were on my list.
I was highly impressed by the Peat Charred Cask single malt. The influence of the peat was clearly evident on both the nose and taste – yet there was a lovely earthy savouriness element to the expression too. Beautiful!
Talking about peat – Echlinville had their Three Crowns Peated on display – very appealing to my tastes. But what surprised me was their yet to be released peated poitin – Bán Barreled & Buried at 47.2% – now that’s a tasty innovation.
Now I’d heard Kilbeggan were showcasing some of their ‘experimental’ casks – as well as the current range of freshly re-branded (and even re-recipied in some cases) favourites too – so naturally I was excited by a 6 year old Rye Pot Still!
Rich rye on the nose & taste followed with some creamy smoothness. Stunning!
Peter Mulryan’s Blackwater Distillery – which is currently under construction in Co. Waterford – chose to reveal their Retronaut 17 year old single malt at the show – a must try.
I can confirm the whiskey is every bit as bold & brassy as the elegantly designed label on the very attractive bottle.
At this stage in the proceedings – with a few samples onboard – chatting away with fellow attendees & stall holders began to divert me away from my ‘hit list’ as I was tempted into trying some surprising expressions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.