Tag Archives: Father Ted

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.

2 (1 of 1)
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.

2 (1 of 1)
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.

DSCF3898 email
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.

2 (1 of 1)-2
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.

Good Logo

 

 

 

Feckin Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

It’s Feckin Irish Whiskey.

It’s  a feckin blend.

As such it probably has added feckin caramel & is feckin chill filtered.

2 (1 of 1)-6
St Feckin who? c/othewhiskeynut

But it has a lovely soft & smooth delivery.

It’s a feckin decent blend.

Go order a Feckin Irish Whiskey at your local bar.

I won’t be held feckin responsible for any consequences arising.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

Fife Whisky Festival, Cupar, 2018

Just how I like to seek out new & exciting whiskeys to taste – I’m also keen to try out new whiskey experiences – especially when they are the inaugural outing for the Fife Whisky Festival in the county town of Cupar.

The atmosphere inside the Corn Exchange building was far more welcoming than the rather ‘drookit & dreich’ weather outside as I made my way to the first warming whisky of the show.

IMG_0731 email
Art Of The Blend No 4 c/othewhiskeynut

Eden Mill distillery is only a short distance away and I have previously enjoyed their sourced blends in the very attractive Art Of The Blend series. The No. 4 bottle is a port cask finish which displayed that lovely dry yet fruity mouth feel I associate with this style of whisky. Very nice, but the sold out No. 3 still remains my favourite. Eden Mill’s own whisky should be ready for release later this year.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company are independent bottlers of fine repute well known for their distinctive cartoony labels – as well as their award winning showman in the shape of Boutique-y Dave.

How could I not resist the ‘My Lovely Horse’ of Irish Single Malt #1?

It’s a 13 year old unnamed source single malt – although you can always guess – and is a very decent representation of the Irish ‘style’ – if it can be pigeon holed in one bottle. Soft, subtle, fruity & sweet. I couldn’t help thinking there’s better than this released now with all the exciting new expressions & distilleries emerging.

IMG_0736 email
A tasty trio c/othewhiskeynut

Undeterred I ventured onto 2 similarly unnamed Scottish offerings. Blended Malt #2 & Blended Whiskey #3. Both were delights & highlighted the true masterful work of a great blend. If anything – #3 was probably a far more complex & rounded offering but the peat in #2 won it for me. Gorgeous.

IMG_0740 email
X marks the spot! c/othewhiskeynut

The nearby James Eadie stall also did a fine blend with a bit of history – and peat – by the name of Trade Mark X which certainly pleased my palate.

Strathearn meanwhile were new to me and despite having a display of malts in different cask finishes – the interesting stuff couldn’t be photographed. They had a selection of spirits which represented the history & development of ‘whisky’ throughout it’s long career.

IMG_0741 email
Strathearn Single Malts c/othewhiskeynut

I was presented with a sample that looked like whisky. It certainly tasted like a young & fresh peated whisky with delightfully different notes. Only to be told it happened to be a peated malt aged in chestnut casks for only 6 months!

Totally outside the SWA (Scottish Whisky Association) rules – yet totally tasty & innovative. I just hope Strathearn can come to some arrangement whereby it can be released. I’d be first in the queue to buy it.

IMG_0744 email
Longrow Red c/othewhiskeynut

I should point out that I rehydrated with water after every sample & rinsed out my tasting glass too to avoid ‘over extending’ myself and contaminating the next sample, which happened to be from Campbeltown distillers Springbank.

They recently released a Longrow Red edition finished in French wine casks which balanced that lovely peaty punch with some sweet fruity notes. Very enjoyable.

IMG_0743 email
Triple distilled Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

I did spot an unusual offering at the other end of the table. A triple distilled Hazelburn! Sadly the soft, smooth & subtle characteristics were a little lost on me after my previous drink – and it was way too sweet for my liking – but a worthy try.

Lough Fyne’s Living Cask – using a solera style maturation with batches drawn off at various intervals – impressed me more than their rather lacklustre blend.

IMG_0749 email
Living Cask 1745 c/othewhiskeynut

The Islay Boys Flatnöse blend also passed me by. Too much Speyside malt had turned down the Islay peat fire for my liking. The blended malt was a far better offering whilst their  Bårelegs Single Malt – from an unnamed Islay distillery – stoked that peat to it’s maximum. I enjoyed it so much – in combination with the attractive packaging & Viking tales – I happily gave it my dram of the day – current release – for the festival.

IMG_0754 email
The Islay Boys whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Oh! The boys were abroad themselves, so one of the mums served me and did a very good job of it too, #whiskymum!

Another Fife distillery recently opened is Lindores Abbey. Famous for the ‘eight bolls of malt’ order from 1494. Their unaged Aqua Vitae infused with gorgeously warming spices is loosely based on what those monks may have been drinking back then. It certainly raised my spirits. What raised my spirits even further was their 70% new make. The clean, crisp & clear taste impressed me very much. Bodes well for intended  whisky releases in years to come.

IMG_0758 email
Powerful stuff! c/othewhiskeynut

Inchdairnie – another Fife distillery – had the most unusual whisky stand I’ve ever encountered. A black box you’re invited in to be shown the workings & philosophy behind this bold venture. They are using an unusual bespoke Lomond Hill still with unconventional mash filtration along with unusual mash bills containing my favourite – rye. I did get a sample of their new make spirit which impressed me with it’s softly spicy rye & creamy barley mix. I just had to give this my dram of the day – future release – for the whole ‘drama’ of the presentation as well as innovation & taste. I’ll be keeping an eye on the development of this one.

IMG_0760 email
! c/othewhiskeynut

Time was beginning to run out on this session so I had a brief chat with Shilton – the constantly traveling & cheery rep – staffing the only non-Scotch stall of the day showcasing the excellent Paul John Indian whisky range.

IMG_0764 email
Paul John’s Shilton c/othewwhiskeynut

To round off this fabulous festival a final couple of drams we’re had at the Ben Nevis stand. Their old recipe based McDonald’s single malt proved peaty, punchy, robust & charming – which made the 10 year old rather soft & subtle in comparison. Give me the bolder character any day over the smoother sibling!

2 (1 of 1)
Ben Nevis whisky c/othewhiskeynut

And with that, it was all over!

The bell to clear the hall sounded & happy punters melted out into a wet Cupar warmed by wonderful whisky.

Congratulations to all the team involved in putting this show together.

It puts Fife firmly  on the whisky trail.

Slàinte.

Good Logo

St Patrick’s Day – Irish Beer & Whiskey Fest

For the day that’s in it, Phil Lynott is yer man.

Quite how Paddy’s Day came to be associated with drinking both in Ireland and abroad is a bit of a mystery. Suffice to say other countries national days also have this reputation – noticeably Scotland’s Burn’s Night which focuses on drinking whisky as well as eating haggis – which is a lovely combination  if you haven’t already tried it.

rabbie

Anyway, it’s wise to be Drink Aware on this day and point out there are many alternative exciting non-alcoholic events taking part around the world on Paddy’s Day to enjoy.

drinkaware-logo

However, I choose not to abstain. I choose to drink the amber nectar, the uisce beatha, the aqua vitae, the water of life.

I choose whiskey.

Whiskey Glass c/o photobucket
Whiskey Glass c/o photobucket

Letting the train take the strain, I set off on a bright crisp sunny morning from Athlone and arrive in a cloudy overcast Dublin.

My 1st port of call was the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield. This distillery closed in 1971 as part of the amalgamation of Paddy, Powers and Jamesons into the formation of Irish Distillers in 1966. Production of all brands moved to the New Midleton Distillery  which opened in 1975 and production of all 3 brands continues there today.

Midletonlarge1

Not having booked on-line I got rather worried at the sea of tourists queuing up and taking pictures. My fears were confirmed as all the tours were booked out for the next few hours. The reception area, bar and shop were all very well decked out with two lovely whiskey bottle chandeliers dominating the scene but as I had other fish to fry, and the bar was not yet open,I left amidst a flock of Frenchmen topped with green hats, I only hoped they had advance tickets!

The recently opened Irish Whiskey Museum beckoned as my 2nd destination. It’s new clean lined decor and whisky memorabilia shop with adjoining bar and friendly staff impressed me. The guide informatively,  enthusiastically and humorously led us through a potted history of Irish Whiskey with the aid of tastefully done set scenes and clever audio visual displays including actors in period costumes to bring the story alive. Interestingly one of the actors was Fr Jack of Father Ted fame, Frank Kelly. I didn’t recognize the others. A stunning display of old Irish whiskey bottles mirrored the rise, fall and subsequent current re-birth of the Irish whiskey industry before being led to the all important tasting session.

Fr Jack

Not being tied to any manufacture allows the Irish Whiskey Museum to give a broad range of whiskeys for it’s customers to sample.  The 4 offered on my tour are subject to change and may not represent future or past tours. This is very refreshing as it allows for new entrants into the market.

DSCF3240

Powers Gold Label Blend – I wasn’t expecting much from this entry level blended whiskey but was pleasantly surprised by it’s slightly spicy taste and warm finish. B+

Teeling Small Batch – All Teeling expressions are very good and this blended whiskey  shows what a finishing cask can add to the mix. B+

The Irishman Founders Reserve – A much smoother example of blended whiskey from Walsh Distillery who are currently building in Carlow. B and finally,

Tullamore Dew 12 yo Special Reserve – Despite being aged for 12 years Bourbon and Oloroso casks this blend failed to ignite my tastebuds. Smooth but not enough oomph. B

Not surprisingly personal taste prevailed when asked to name the favorite tipple. A Spanish couple opted for the stronger and fuller flavoured Teeling, a German couple opted for the Irishman whilst I went for the unexpectedly good Powers.

Suitably warmed up it was on to my 3rd stop of the day in the famous Celtic Whiskey Shop. A true cornucopia of whiskey of all descriptions with a mouth watering display for the eyes to feast on. I could have spent hours going through every bottle possibly sampling it’s contents but thankfully for the staff (who would prefer buyers to browsers, although both are welcomed) and my health (I wouldn’t be able for so much Whiskey) I already had a bottle in mind. The shop, through it’s owner Ally Alpine, also runs The Celtic Whiskey Club which conducts whiskey tastings, mails out samples for on-line discussion and offers Whiskey Of The Week to members. Today was the chance for the Hyde 10 yo Single Malt to shine. With a sample taste  I duly bought a bottle along with a miniature of which the shop has a fantastic selection. This is a great idea as for the price of one full sized bottle you can sample 6 or 7 of these handy 5cl bottles to try out first at your leisure.

DSCF3241

As it had already gone 1pm my stomach was in need of more substantial fare. My prime objective and final port of call was the Irish Beer and Whiskey Fest in the RDS where I knew the Pieman would have their stall. On entering the hall I made a beeline for the wonderful Pieman who didn’t disappoint with a Chicken & Mushroom pie with added Teeling Whiskey for flavour. This was washed down with Porterhouse Red Ale, a delightful combination.

pieman

One of the lovely things about the festival are the communal tables and chairs dotted about the place for folks to sit, eat , drink and chat. During the course of my visit I met a South African truck driver now residing in Tullamore, a retired Dublin gent, a young American couple living in Germany and a gaggle of Dublin based Brazilians with a French woman in tow. Conversation flowed easily over what drinks were liked,  tips on which beer to go for next and general chat all conducted in a colourful camaraderie of common consumption!

Lunch over I was now on the lookout for desert. The Irish Single Pot Still display provided it as well as making up for missing the Jameson tour earlier in the day.

Whilst browsing in the whiskey shop at the Loop in Dublin Airport last month I noticed a 4 pack miniature box of Irish Pot Still Whiskeys. As these are the very whiskeys which made Irish Whiskey number 1 back in the late 1800’s before the rise of Scotch, I was intrigued. Now I had my chance to try them out!

Single_Pot_Still_50ml_GP_01_Hi-Res

The staff very friendly made up the 4 samples and gave me a running commentary as I nosed then tasted each one. At this stage of the game my memory and tasting notes were a little muddled by the rich, complex and powerful flavours these whiskeys possess. Greenspot, Redbreast. Powers John Lane and Barry Crockett Legacy truly deserve the marketing campaign that is underway to rebuild the status these whiskeys once held. Again I chose the Powers expression for a full measure shot due to the rich body coupled with a spicy taste. I enjoyed the drink so much I missed the whiskey talk due to be delivered by John Teeling which was a bit of a shame.

I did however make an earlier informal chat with 3 passionate beer makers as part of the Meet The Brewers talk. Kinnegar of Donegal, Mountain Man of Cork and Black Donkey of Roscommon. All told anecdotes about small brewers trying to survive in the market place. I just can’t wait for Black Donkey’s brilliant new advertising idea to bear fruit!

Town-Branch-Rye-Whiskey

Unfortunately I had a train to catch, so my last whiskeys were a taste off between the Pearse Lyon Reserve and the Town Branch Rye at the Alltech stand. The Rye won out with it’s stronger more robust taste and a generous enjoyable shot delayed my departure resulting in a dash with only minutes to spare.

pigs-nose-scotch-whisky

I was tempted to open my Pig’s Nose miniature on the train but quit when I was ahead to opt for tea and crisps from the trolley service. I also erred on the side of caution and went for a  Crafty Irish Red Ale which is part of the Rye River portfolio from Kilcock to accompany the evening meal.

That brought my very satisfying pre-Paddy’s Day celebrations to a happy end. I do hope you enjoy your day as much as I did mine.

I’ll be sober for the actual event – I’m the driver.

Slainte.

Whiskey Nut.