Tag Archives: Garavan’s

Pikesville Supreme, Straight Rye Whiskey, 40%

Pikesville was a small neighbourhood in Maryland USA. It is now consumed into Baltimore County and happens to be where some of my in-laws live.

Despite visiting last year – I never did get the chance to try the locally named brand.

Pikesville  – as well as Maryland in general – had a thriving rye whiskey business before prohibition. Only now is there a bit of a resurgence of that proud history with new distilleries entering the market.

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Pikesville Supreme Rye c/othewhiskeynut

This bottle in the meantime is made in Kentucky at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown – and when I spotted it on the shelves in Garavan’s – I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

Now ‘straight’ in American terms means aged for at least 2 years. ‘Rye’ means at least 51% rye is used in the all important mash bill  – the other 49% can be commonly made up of corn, wheat or barley. Added caramel is not permitted.

Rye is a style of whiskey I love.

I like the hit of spicy cinnamon & nutmeg followed through by a rich peppery dryness combined with some softer warming vanilla & caramel notes.

Pikesville Supreme only just had that rye kick. I found it very much muted by the other ingredients – which I suspected as being corn. This resulted in a warm vanilla led nose & taste with only a tingling of rye at the end.

An easy drinking approachable rye yes – but not what I’m craving.

My suspicions on the corn content were confirmed later by an internet search. The mash bill makes all the difference to the taste. In this instance Pikesville appears to have a mix of rye 51%, corn 37%, and barley 12% – which explains why it didn’t light up my life.

That’s not to say it’s a bad rye. In fact many are lamenting the loss of this particular bottling which has been replaced by a 6 year old 110 proof – 55% ABV – expression that might be more up my street. The Washington Post even covered the story here! 

So if you’re missing a taste of Maryland – head for Garavan’s in Galway!

Sláinte.

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The King’s Head, Galway.

The King’s Head is only a short walk down the busy pedestrianised High Street from Garavan’s – but the contrast between the two pubs is marked.

Whilst Garavan’s doesn’t  look much from the outside – on the inside it’s a quiet haven for the whiskey aficianado.

Meanwhile The King’s Head has a marvelous and prominent red medieval window facing out into the thoroughfare which draws in the tourists – sightseers – hungry shoppers and thirsty drinkers. It’s as busy inside the bar as it is on a sales day outside!

I maybe didn’t choose the best spot to sit by the bar as all the traffic passed by – queue a Jimi track – but at least I was close to the whiskey.

Nonetheless – there is a warm feel to the large premises – helped by the open fire burning brightly just inside the door.

Spread over 3 floors there is the bar area itself – a large dining area behind in which many shoppers were already tucking in to a meal – as well as upstairs. I didn’t venture any further than the downstairs today – but I’ve attended a private party held on the top floor where there is a comfortable lounge area complete with it’s own bar.

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The King’s Head Whiskey Bar c/othewhiskeynut

At around 50 whiskeys on offer the lack of rarities I’d experienced elsewhere was evident – but still a good selection of current bottlings from the big 3 distilleries – MidletonBushmills and Kilbeggan/Cooley as well as some from the new generation distillers in TeelingIrishman and Knappogue Castle.

I was also pleased to see the inclusion of some craft beer too with Galway Hooker and my buddy Richard’s Sheep Stealer on tap. Whilst all the previous premises had plenty of  whiskey expressions – their beer selection could be limited. Like the new whiskey distilleries – the rise of craft breweries in Ireland has brought about a taste and flavour explosion for the discerning drinker. Long may it last.

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Sheep Stealer in The King’s Head c/othewhiskeynut

On this occasion my tipple of choice was from the Midleton distillery in the form of Paddy Centenary. Unlike the standard Paddy blended offering – Centenary is a single pot still bottling at 43%. The tasting notes accompanying the glass mentioned apples – spice and oily mouthfeel.

My palate isn’t the best – but I did get a hint of green apples – certainly the spices – and a long smooth finish. Gone is that grainy bite associated with the blend. A far superior whiskey indeed and worth the extra expense.

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The last of a Paddy blend bottle c/othewhiskeynut

Pleased I’d reached my halfway point and was still relatively functioning well – despite a warm pleasant wooziness beginning to kick in – I finished my dram and moved on – and I couldn’t resist this – to the next whiskey bar – thanks to The Doors.

 

Sláinte

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Garavan’s, Galway.

The minute you walk inside Garavan’s – located on the busy pedestrianised thoroughfare of William St/Shop St in Galway – you realise this pub is something special.

The well worn wooden snugs busily occupied by softly chatting customers – the small bar area dominated by a bewildering array of whiskeys behind it – the discrete TV in the corner with the sound down low to not disrupt the conversation – but not too low for the sports fans gathered around it – the regulars coming in and being served their favourite tipple with ne’r a word being said when a nod to the bartender will suffice.

Yes – this place is the real deal.

And that’s before you even get started on those whiskeys!

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Would you like to taste these? c/othewhiskeynut

Old ComberHewittsDungourney 1964 – old and rare brands each with a different story to tell. I’d only read about them in books and yet here they were all on display – and if you’re willing to pay the price – drink.

My Galway Whiskey Trail adventure plans budget hadn’t anticipated such delights so my drink of choice was much more affordable – one of many third party whiskeys that Cooley distillery produced prior to the Beam takeover in 2012 and which are now increasingly difficult to get hold off – Shanahan’s Single Malt.

Made exclusively for Shanahan’s Steak House in Dublin – it proved to be another of my false starts as the Garavan’s bottle was decidedly empty when retrieved from the shelves!

Ah well – I’m getting used to this – try again with Slane Castle Whiskey from the same source.

Now I’m not talking about the new Slane Castle brand owned by US giants Brown-Forman – I’m talking about the original blend launched by the Connyingham family in 2009.

The reviews didn’t exactly give this expression great acclaim – but I was intrigued and excited enough to order a glass – after all – it is now part of the growing Irish whiskey heritage – even if it’s very recent heritage at that.

A slightly sweet sharpish grainy nose follows through to a similarly light grainy taste offering very little in the way of depth or flavour rounded off with a short finish sums it up.

The reports were true – not much going on here – a fairly standard entry blend no more no less – but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try it.

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Brian at Garavan’s c/othewhiskeynut

I enquired about tasting trays – and despite seemingly single handedly running the bar – Brian the bartender – as it was himself that was on duty when I visited – very helpfully showed me the delightful wooden platter complete with a pretty little glass water jug and 3 Glencairn glasses – all embossed with Garavan’s logo across them no less – together with an envelope containing the tasting notes of the particular tray you’d selected – there are several available – just shows the attention to detail that explains why Garavan’s are deserving winners of The Best Whiskey Bar In Connacht for 2 years running!

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Garavan’s winning trophy c/othewhiskeynut

The extensive whiskey menu leaves you salivating at all that is on offer.

I could come back again and again to this lovely bar and still not get over all the expressions!

Truly a marvellous spot for any whiskey afficiado.

Sláinte.

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