I was on errands in Dublin but managed a little break in the recently refurbished Distilled premises to catch up with what’s new in Irish Whiskey.
The former Porterhouse Bar has been given a fresh face-lift & re-named Tapped whilst their Whiskey Bar remains reassuringly the same inside.
With such a plethora of new Irish Whiskey on the market I was a little dumbstruck as what to choose from their overflowing shelves. In the end I went for a new Donegal distillery in the shape of Crolly Distillery – or Croithlí if you wish to use Irish.
Croithlí have three Single Malt bottles on the market. None of them are actually distilled at the site – it’s far too young a project for that yet – but they have finished the sourced single malts in a variety of virgin oak casks to accentuate the differing flavours each wood-finish brings to the table.
Given a choice of Irish, European or American Oak – I went for Irish.
Labelled as Sessile Single Malt this bottle shares the same ex-bourbon matured malt as the others before being finished in virgin Quercus Petraea Oak barrels – otherwise known as Irish Oak – which in this instance has been sourced from Slovenia!
A rather soft nose greeted me.
Lovely oaky tannins with a heaviness reminiscent of Midleton’s Dair Ghaelach series were evident on the palate.
Opened up more on the finish where the woody influence shone through.
An entertaining experience would be to try all three wood influences on a back-to-back tasting to tease out the different flavours each displays.
Sadly I wasn’t in a position to do that on the day – perhaps for later.
A wonderful way to showcase the distillery in advance of their own distillate being ready.
A special whiskey require a suitable time to be opened.
The festive season provided an opportune occasion to crack open & share the contents of this splendid bottle.
Teeling Whiskey Company were at the forefront of bringing whiskey distilling back to the heart of Dublin when they opened up in 2015.
They have successfully leveraged that position by releasing a series of limited edition whiskeys under The Revival series label.
As much care & thought has gone into the presentation packaging of this whiskey as to the actual contents.
The elegant oversized black & gold box swings open to reveal an opulent looking bottle. The Phoenix seal of approval officially declares the contents.
The bottle itself is suitably heavy & chunky while the gold topped cork stopper is also of solid weight.
All of this screams ‘Premium Product’ to me – as well as added expense.
I’ve a feeling a lot of these bottles are destined to never being opened.
Some may end up on prominent display to boost the credibility & bragging rights of the owner.
Others may be hidden in vaults to accrue added value & emerge at a future date for sale to eager collectors.
I’m into whiskey however for the taste & flavour so a glass – or two – was poured!
Now I must admit to being fond of Teeling Whiskey.
They generally release at 46% or above which usually denotes non chill filtering & natural colour. The crispness, clarity & richness of flavour attest to this.
Revival V is no exception.
For me the ex-cognac cask have added a sumptuous nuttiness to the mix – which has me hooked.
Being a 12 year old the original whiskey clearly wasn’t distilled by Teeling.
They acquired a large inventory of sourced stock from an unnamed Irish Distillery – or distilleries – from which they’ve further matured, finished, mixed & blended under the expert guidance of Master Distiller Alex Chasko.
What may have originally been destined as the malt content in a blend, a 40% chill filtered & coloured supermarket whiskey – or even a single cask distillery offering – has ended up as a splendidly presented limited release whiskey.
This is not core release Teeling.
This is unicorn bottling.
A one off chance to grab some quality Irish Whiskey while it lasts.
I’m glad someone grabbed it for me.
This kind of product is no longer within my reach!
A band of dedicated, passionate & committed folks coming together to promote & build Ireland’s own unique spirit category – Poitín.
There were a plethora of brands on display.
One off limited releases from Killowen, 2 Stacks & Blackwater to more mainstream offerings from Mad March Hare, Smuggling Nun & also Killowen too!
There’s a poitín for everyone!
So what pleased my palate?
Mad March Hare, 40%
As the crowds initially descended on the more esoteric brands I had free reign to be entertained by the core release from Intrepid Spirits – Mad March Hare.
Offering – to me at least – a classic 100% barley poitín drinking experience. Along with a spicy flourish on the finish Mad March Hare frolicked my senses – just like the live hares do in spring!
Smuggling Nun, 45%
It was a delight to encounter this fabulously branded Irish Poitín from an American based company.
Smuggling Nun is distilled in Ireland to an old mixed mash recipe from the Glens Of Antrim – named after an actual Nun who smuggled in the spirit as Holy Water for the parched prohibition era drinkers.
A sweet easy & oily mouthfeel developed a pleasing warmth with a slight tingling spice on the rear.
Blackwater a Dó, 48%
Moving up the price range produced a slightly more challenging drinking experience.
This wonderful cross border collaboration between Blackwater & Killowen started off with a soft nose, gorgeously oily palate with an appreciatively spicy bite on the rear!
I also partook of Blackwater’s own yet to be released DirtGrain Poitín, 43%
Clean & fresh with loads of tingling on the finish.
A different beast of a Poitín!
There were a couple of highly informative talks on poitín – which calmed my pace on the drinking – & informed me further on this burgeoning Irish spirit category – before it was back on the tastings!
One of the reasons in attending these kind of events is the opportunity to sample spirits either beyond my price range, limited releases, hard to find – or all 3.
Baoilleach Cratur, 60.4%
Now anything with a peat influence automatically appeals to my palate & this exploratory peated release Cratur delivered that it bucket loads!
Despite the high ABV – which accounts for my blurred photo – the earthy flavours came through delightfully on a richly oily palate.
Why drink whiskey when you can enjoy this fantastic tasting poitín?
Killowen Bulcán Dead & Buried, 67.9%
Killowen’s peated poitín also delighted my senses.
Gorgeous stuff – but beyond my price limit!
Killowen Pangur, 47%
A hopefully more affordable & bit more accessible core release trio by the name of Pangur caught me eye.
Very attractively labelled with a ‘white cat’ – translation of pangur – the range includes a couple of rested in wood poitins & the unrested one I sampled.
A delightful & easily accessible introduction into the poitín category that doesn’t skimp on the fabulous flavours within.
Poitín does need an affordable brand to appeal to & engage with a wider audience for it to grow. I certainly welcome Killowen’s foray to attain this.
2 Stacks Past & Future
I rounded off the event with an extremely limited release poitín produced specially for Poitín Now.
Past & Future is another peated expression that pleased my palate!
Thus ended my outing to the inaugural Poitín Now event in the very accommodating Bar 1661 in Dublin.
Here’s hoping the enthusiasm of the organisers, exhibitors & attendees translates into a world class spirit category.
The quality, diversity & enjoyability of the spirits on show certainly deserve it!
When they first appeared in North London back in the 1980’s – I was there.
One of their earliest bars – The Rochester Castle – became a frequent haunt of mine – & I’ve been in many since.
The Wetherspoon model – which is still in use today – was relatively radical at the time.
No piped music.
No TV screens.
No slot machines.
No smoking areas.
Food served all day.
Free refills of tea & coffee.
Varying taps of ‘real ale’ offered at decent prices.
Little did I know nearly 40 years later I’d be looking forward to a weekend away with herself staying in the newly opened €33 million Keavin’s Port Hotel & Bar to enjoy that very same model!
Most of those monies were spent on the careful & detailed restoration of the 8 Georgian Town Houses – plus 1 Chapel – the premises now occupy.
Pictures, memorabilia & artifacts recalling the former uses of the buildings now adorn the space. From specially commissioned stained glass work of church providers Early & Company to the marvelous inclusion of the former Chapel into a dining area.
The modern hotel is discretely added on at the back & boasts sleekly designed contemporary rooms with all the expected mod cons – plus the lovely touch of artwork from local schools commissioned by Wetherspoons.
The bar areas include a stunning 12 metre high glass atrium, 2 beer gardens & cosy snugs within the old Georgian building.
Prices are very keen – Top Brands – Sensible Prices is the tag line – although I was a tad disappointed at the lack of an Irish flavour.
Opting for a Kenyan Tusker Lager – whose malty body provided a pleasing flavour profile – herself enjoyed a Gunpowder G’n’T from Drumshanbo.
Wetherspoon stalwarts of Hobgoblin, Ringwood & Abbot were on tap – no Irish representation here yet – although Beamish & Franciscan Well are available in pint & cans.
Despite being open for less than a week – with a few minor teething problems – the hotel & bar were packed. At one point the very friendly, helpful & courteous staff informed us they had to turn folks away to keep the numbers manageable!
A convivial & jovial atmosphere ensured a mighty evening – whether it was because of the All Ireland Final the following day or folks out for the first time post easing of COVID restrictions remains unknowable.
The controversial & outspoken head of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, may continue to outrage – though the model of affordable drinking & dining in a bright, architecturally attractive, friendly & comfortably atmospheric space continues to pull in the punters.