I got a little tip-off there was a new kid in town.
The town is Tullamore.
The new kid is the Tanyard Lane bar on William Street.
Housed in the old Wolftrap building, Carrig Brewing Company have moved into running licensed premises in addition to craft beer brewing from their Leitrim base.
Mrs Whiskey and myself had an opportunity to call in on a Sunday evening for a night-cap.
The premises are large and roomy & spread out over 3 main areas.
A smallish snug area on the front left, a large lounge bar with dining area on the right with an attractive walled bar at the rear.
There is an extensive food menu, a large outside smoking area behind the snug, all equipped with a modern sound system & large sports screens which were thankfully turned down low when we visited.
Carrig craft beers were obviously to the fore. but a decent array of other beer brands featured too, along with an impressive display of gins, wines and over 40 whiskeys to choose from.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to walk into a bar & find a whiskey I’ve not tasted before. Tanyard Lane had a couple of Knappogue Castles to tempt me – but I settled on an Ardbeg 10 year old for a base-line Islay peat hit.
At 46% & non chill filtered – as most Ardbeg releases are these days – I found the familiar satisfying peat hit to be the only show in town. Maybe I was expecting more from this award winning dram? In contrast, my earlier experience of the non age statement Uigeadail release sang to me on many levels & had a longer finish. It left the 10 year old rather one dimensional in my book.
The bar staff were very friendly & helpful and I got chatting with the bar manager Con who was keen to expand on his whiskey selection – which was music to my ears.
The walls were well adorned with pictures of old Tullamore, whiskey mirrors and old drinks adverts.
Kinahan’s made an appearance, along with a Three Swallow ad for Powers and a blatantly sexist ad from Old Dublin Whiskey which you’ll have to visit to see as I refuse to reprint it here.
Whiskey drinking is for both men and women.
Thankfully both were well representing drinking & eating at Tanyard Lane.
A welcome addition to the Tullamore pub scene.
I wish Con & all the crew future success.
As of November 2018 Tanyard Lane is under new management & has rebranded itself as William St.
My blog was written in April 2017. I cannot vouch for any changes that have taken place after that date.
Dublin Whiskey Tours offer a variety of guided pub walks highlighting the history, culture and sampling the present day flavours of Irish whiskey expressions. Depending on which type of tour you choose, there are also some tasty food pairings too!
I happened to be the lucky winner of a prize draw from the excellent Irish Whiskey Magazine when I took out an annual subscription at last years Whiskey Live Dublin event. This gave myself & a fellow friend a day out in Dublin to sample some amazing Irish whiskey.
Dublin Whiskey Tours have a visually attractive & informative website through which up to 3 different types of whiskey tour can be easily booked and paid for.
My prize turned out to be the top level Deluxe Tour which includes tasting 5 premium Irish whiskeys accompanied with carefully selected food pairings in 2 of Dublin’s finest whiskey bars.
The starting point of our trip was the wonderful Dingle Whiskey Bar on Nassau St. I’ve happily selected a number of tasty whiskey treats from the extensive & varied range they proudly display in the groovy curved window on several occasions, so it’s charms are very welcome.
You,ll have to indulge me here, but everytime I mention Nassau St, a song pops into my head!
Our tour guide Justine shortly joined the 2 of us to begin the proceedings.
We were expecting a few others but as the festive season had just finished business was quiet. Tours are normally limited to 6 or 7 during busy periods to allow guests to chat, contribute & openly share their whiskey experiences
It wasn’t long before our first whiskey appeared before us.
Starting with one of the historical single pot still survivors of a time when whiskey distilleries didn’t bottle their own produce but instead sold it off in bulk to grocers & bonders to mature & bottle. Mitchell & Sons are the original creators of both Yellow Spot & Green Spot whiskey and are still going strong today! Sadly they are no longer able to store & mature their whiskey in the heart of Dublin so Irish Distillers – who supplied the original spirit – now do that at the Midleton Distillery carefully adhering to Mitchell & Son’s requirements.
The malted & unmalted barely used for a single pot still whiskey imparts a richer, oilier mouthfeel which is evident in Yellow Spot. A rich fruity taste from the sherry casks and ex-bourbon cask maturation definitely make this expression a flag bearer for Irish whiskey and sets a high standard for the rest of our tasting tour!
Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old arrived shortly after. This is also a sherry finished ex-bourbon cask matured whisky but in this instance a single malt. Justine informed us it is distilled in Bushmills Distillery for Castle Brands – an American based drinks company whose founding father owned the actual Knappogue Castle near Quinn in Co Mayo.
Using only malted barley this single malt had a lighter cleaner feel than the Yellow Spot. I found it also lacked a bit of punch by the 40% chill-filtered presentation. We did have a little chat with the friendly bar staff who informed us despite experimenting with 46% non-chilled filtered expressions regular Knappogue Castle drinkers were somewhat put off by the cloudy appearance of fatty acids when water or ice is added to the drink.
This is not a problem I encounter as I generally take my whiskey neat, but would have preferred a higher strength variant for the added flavour & punch I felt was lacking.
Our time at Dingle Whiskey Bar concluded so still chatting away, we walked through the now busy Dublin streets a short distance to The Rag Trader on Drury St. The bar’s name comes from the historical importance of the textile trade to this area of Dublin and remnants of that industry are found in some of the fixtures & fittings within the bar.
Only opened in 2016, The Rag Trader was new to both myself and my whiskey companion who lives in Dublin.
On entering we were greeted by a quaint old fashioned fireplace complete with glowing fire – a gas fed faux fire to comply with clean air laws – which immediately had us remembering the old 1950’s style living rooms of our grandparents. I’ve used it as the heading photo at the top of the blog. A whiskey and a fire – luxury!
Our next whisky also had some fire!
Well not really fire. Beautifully pungent peat smoke on the nose follows through to a softly mellow balanced quiet ambers of a peat fire on tasting. Connemara whiskey from the Kilbeggan Distilling Co breaks all the mythical rules of Irish whiskey.
It’s very much peated.
It’s double distilled and
It’s very drinkable indeed!
It certainly holds it’s own when compared to the peated trio of Talisker, Laphroaig and Jura I enjoyed on a visit to Derry the previous weekend.
A welcome tasting tray of Irish crackers, Irish cheese from nearby Sheridans & some chocolates from Cocoa Atelier accompanied Bushmills flagship malt – the 21 Year Old. Full of complex flavours from the long maturation in a combination of ex bourbon, sherry & wine casks I initially found the 40% offering a little watery to begin with before the elegant finely balanced & delicate taste came through. Maybe the finely balanced soft flavours are just not my style as many a more extreme yet younger whiskey often grabs me.
We saved the chocolates for the final tasting.
And boy what a tasting it was!
The Redbreast 21 Year Old combination of a richer, bolder spirit as found in the single pot still production along with the 46% strength bottling ensured more pronounced notes of fresh fruits combined with a gentle spice finish which delightfully tingled on the tongue. The soft slight bitterness of the chocolates only enhanced this experience.
This effectively rounded up our Dublin Whiskey Tour on a high point – which after starting with the stunning Yellow Spot I didn’t think was possible.
We spent a very enjoyable & informative time with our host Justine. Exchanged whiskey tales from her time at Jameson Bow St Experience – along with many other non-whiskey anecdotes. Been talked through some excellent Irish whiskey expressions paired with lovely artisan food pairings as well as being introduced to the wonderful surroundings of 2 warm & friendly whiskey bars.
Despite this tour being a freebie, I think it’s good value if I’d paid.
The joy of whiskey is as much about the personal experience of drinking it as it is about sharing that joy with fellow drinkers in convivial discussion and a friendly & warm setting.
Dublin Whiskey Tours certainly provide the tasty whiskey,
The enjoyable company,
And the fabulous surroundings.
What more could you ask for?
My thanks to Irish Whiskey Magazine for picking me out of the hat in the prize draw, and to Dublin Whiskey Tours for my day out in Dublin.
An invitation to a 25th Wedding Anniversary helped to extend the New Year celebrations for herself and me.
The first port of call was our local distillery in Kilbeggan for a personalised bottle to the happy couple. Despite the swollen River Brosna and extensive flooding throughout the Midlands, the distillery had escaped any damage and was opening for the 2016 season when we visited. There were already plenty of visitors in the bar area when we arrived but being the driver I made do with tea and scone from the lovely Pantry Restaurant.
Gift in the bag – it was down the N52 to Tullamore then onto the N80 to Carlow. Interestingly both these towns have whiskey distilleries either open – Tullamore DEW – or being built – Walsh Distillery.
Our destination was Ballykealy Manor Hotel just south of Carlow to meet up with old friends – new acquaintances – a celebratory meal and a few new whiskeys!
At any new venue I generally scan the bar for expressions I’ve not tried before. In this department Ballykealy did not disappoint. Along with the usual entry blends – Jameson, Paddy and Powers – there were some mid-range offerings – Bushmills 10, 16, Jameson & Powers 12 – as well as a Midleton VR from 2006.
What caught my eye however was the Craggenmore 12 year old Speyside single malt I’d not tasted. This I duly ordered as a pre-meal appetiser which proved to be a lovely smooth unpeated Scotch and helped ease my way into the evenings craic that ensued.
After a sumptuous 3 course meal in the splendid dining room – the bar and it’s resident whiskeys beckoned and I must have worked my way through a fair amount of the expressions on offer including the very fine Midleton VR.
The next day dawned bright and sunny – a welcome reprieve from the constant rain we’ve been having. A hearty breakfast – more chat and then long goodbyes rounded off the morning before we departed for Kilkenny – The Marble City.
My wife had chosen the destination – but I’d done a quick internet search and found a suitable watering hole in Dylan‘s Whiskey Bar which fortuitously happened to be across the road from our hotel!
Outside it’s an inviting red decor – inside it’s a lovely mix of wooden snugs – dim lighting – whiskey mirrors and memorabilia as well as an entire wall of whiskey to wonder at!
The friendly and informative staff guided my non-whiskey drinking wife through some tasty gins – ending up with a lovely Hendricks with added cucumber, tonic and ice. This satisfied her no end. I opted for a Knappogue Castle 12 year old. A decent dram indeed. Meanwhile a taster of Jack Ryan’s 12 was sampled and matched my flavour bias much better. A blind taster was proffered as a sort of test which I must admit I failed miserably as I couldn’t identify the dram as the Amrut Fusion from India – and I even have a bottle of it back home!
Ah well – this place is whiskey heaven. I could sit here all night going through the expressions on display – but a feed was in order so off to the Italian we went.
Not any old Italian however – my wife has fine tastes – the award winning Ristorante Rinuccini just down from the castle was her chosen spot. The staff were very friendly and efficient. The food was delightful and flavoursome and to top it all there was an extensive whiskey list to choose from. Certainly the largest selection I’ve encountered in a restaurant before (maybe I just don’t get out enough).
The Singleton of Duffton rounded off the evening meal. A satisfyingly rich and complex Speyside single malt. Sadly I didn’t catch the actual expression tasted – and there are a few judging from the website – but it was enjoyable.
Rinuccini also have an extensive range of Italian wines and grappa. An enquiry was made if they had the new Italian whisky Puni but as it’s only just been released they didn’t – as yet – but perhaps sometime?
Suitably stuffed a leisurely amble through the medieval town centre afforded us views of trendy shops and plenty of pubs – most of which displayed a varied range of whiskeys to taste. Kilkenny seems to have a lot to offer on the dark spirit front!
We repaired back to Dylan’s for another drink. Despite being a Sunday night there was live music playing with a good crowd of revellers enjoying themselves. Herself went for the Hendricks whilst myself went for the Tyrconnell Port Finish.
Dylan’s is the first pub I’ve come across to have the entire Tyrconnell range of finishes and a tasting tray of all 4 would be a real treat – as well as a display of the influences various cask finishes have on the resulting tipple. For my purposes this would be better appreciated at the start of the evening rather than at the end – so I made do and savoured the richer, bolder flavours of the port finish over the more light and clear single malt Tryrconnell.
We had a sing-a-long and a few laughs to the music before heading back to the hotel.
I fancied a nightcap and headed to the bar. There were the usual array of whiskeys on offer and I originally went for a Crested Ten – but an unknown name caught my eye – Mulligan Whiskey Liqueur. An Irish Distillers Group offering – now discontinued I later found out – was duly ordered.
On tasting the Mulligan a reassuring whiskey hit was immediately drowned out by a thick sweet dose of honey. Not quite to my taste at all – but nonetheless yet another flavour experience encountered in the name of whiskey exploration!
Kilkenny has a lot to offer the whiskey drinker.
I’d certainly like to call back again in the near future – but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a song encountered at The Dylan Whiskey Bar.
The Irish Craft Beer Fest of 27th to 29th August at the RDS in Dublin continues to be the centrepiece of the growing Irish Craft Beer scene. Brewers amaze with their ever expanding range of styles, flavours and tastes while new entrants pop up all over the country with yet more fine ales.
The atmosphere is always very relaxed and friendly with loads of seating areas where casual conversations with strangers quickly enter into the finer qualities of the beverage being consumed.
Cider is also a growing scene – with one of our party braving the massive 15% ABVTawny from Stonewell Cider!
Meanwhile the whiskey element seems to have been dropped from the logo – despite this 4 worthy distilleries displayed their wares at the show.
Midleton actually had 2 stalls. The first showcased their collaboration with Franciscan Wells Brewery of Cork and Jameson Whiskey using beer barrels to age whiskey in – and whiskey barrels to age beer in. Now I’ve tried a few beers of this type – Ola Dubh from Harvieston is one of the best – and found them generally agreeable – rising to fabulous – but I’ve yet to try the whiskey!
The second Midleton stall was the marvelously wooded Single Pot Still stand offering the highly acclaimed as well as highly enjoyable range of expressions from this esteemed distillery.
The remaining stalls were both from the new kids on the block – no – not the dodgy boyband – but the new generation of Irish distillers.
Dingle Distillery of Kerry were showcasing their Gin and Vodka expressions only which judging by the long queues were going down very well indeed. Their whiskey however has not matured for long enough to be released yet – but should be out by the end of the year.
The last spirit offering came from Cork in the shape of the unknown – at least to me – St Patrick’s Distillery. Despite telling myself I’d stick to sampling the myriad of beers on offer – I was drawn to this new expression – one of very few new releases not connected to the established distilleries.
I got talking to Cyril Walsh about their whiskey release – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey. Turns out their spirit is a blend made from 3 year old grain from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and a 21 year old malt from an undisclosed source – probably Midleton – also in Cork. The distillation, maturing, blending and bottling is all done in the Rebel County. St Patrick’s Distillery aren’t a distillery at all – they just get someone else to make it for them – then market it.
Now before anyone jumps on their high horse – this is a very tried and tested method of whiskey production. After all Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants bonded, blended and sold whiskey under their own brand names – Green Spot and Yellow Spot to name two – which originated from the then Jameson Distillery in Dublin.
Having said that – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey is not in the Spot class – it is however a very smooth spicy tasting blend which I enjoyed very much. There is a passing resemblance to some Powers releases in my mind – I’d certainly like to try the 21 year old malt that gives this blend it’s lovely flavour! They weren’t selling bottles at the show – a pity as I’d have snapped one up on the strength of the sample I drank.
After having this lovely tipple – despite being at the beer fest – our table started a whiskey fest and an excellent Yellow Spot arrived. This is a smoother 12 year old companion to the equally fine Green Spot. Not to be outdone I offered the Powers John’s Lane Release which also has a rich smoothness complimented by a spiciness which gives it just that extra little kick I love – despite The Cramps who are still looking for it.
As time was getting on – we retired to a friends house where the fine whiskeys kept on coming courtesy of the drinks cabinet.
There was a predominance of Scotch whisky on offer with a few Irish expressions too.
The first off the blocks caused a rumpus. Now I know Speyside malts have an almost cult like status in the whisky world – much like IPA has amongst the craft beer fraternity – and Gordon & McPhail are renowned blenders and bottlers of good repute who have been tantalising the tastebuds of whisky aficionados for over 120 years – but their Speymalt Macallan much like Shania says – didn’t impress me much!
There you go – said it – I’ve completely dismissed the holy trinity of alcoholic beverages – Scotch whisky – specifically from Speyside – Gordon & McPhail and IPA – the beer style that launched the current craft beer revival – dissed by a slice of cheesy 90’s pop!
But isn’t drinking all about personal taste? Not about what we are told to like by popularity polls or slick advertising?
After my host almost choked on his dram – a bottle of Springbank 10 yo proved to be far more aligned with my tastes. I have to admit here that I have had issues with peat in the past – but this finely balanced expression allows other flavours to come through in the mouth whilst the peat element gives an extra oomph to the experience.
The Irish contingent were not to be outdone with a very fine smooth glass of the excellent Jack Ryan 12 yo Single followed by an equally smooth Celtic Casks Ocht release which is one of the expressions made in conjunction with the Celtic Whiskey Shop. I did prefer their Knappogue Castle Marsala release – but I think it’s all sold out now!
The final offering also split the table. Whilst the host waxed lyrical about how cask strength is a pure form of the distillers art undiluted by ingredients like water – others mused it blew your head off and as mere drinkers we had to guess how much water to add – too much killed the taste – too little numbed the palate – we felt safer if the expert distiller had done this for us.
At a massive 58% ABV the Glengoyne Cask Strength hits the palate with a BOOM – but within that there were discernible tastes and flavours. Mmmmm! Must explore this distillery further.
By now the discussions became more rambling and mellow! Teas, coffees and a slice of toast rounded of the very enjoyable evening tasting.
From the premier Irish Beer Fest to a very fine private whiskey fest – what more could you ask for?
There are as many expressions of whiskey as there are people that drink and enjoy it, let alone the myriad of ways that it can be drunk.
Being a bit of a purist, I like to drink my whiskey neat – or at best with a little dash of water to bring out the aromas and flavours – especially so with ABV above 46%.
My ability to detect smells and taste isn’t as refined as what it could be – but I’m learning! Therefore I can’t profess to be an expert or give an unbiased assessment of the whiskeys I drink as others do. My personal preferences will no doubt shine through so I’ll explain my whiskey rating table – and show some examples too.
Whiskey Nut Ratings
A+ – Astounding
A – Awesome
B+ – Above average
B – Average
C – Awful
A+ This Knappogue Castle 2000 Single Malt Marsala Cask is a fine example of a dream whiskey. Rich strong spicy aroma followed through on the taste, with a long finish. At 46% a dash of water opens up the flavours even more. A delight.
A Penderyn Red Flag. A lovely story. A lovely whisky. Another fine example of a single malt finished in madeira casks.
B+ Now the B category by default will contain the bulk of blended whiskeys, single malts of no stunning distinction and any other combination of basically a decent drop of the good stuff. B+, as with this hard to get hold of Michael Collins Blend, a now discontinued Cooley product, is a very fine blend with a slight spicy aroma and taste. This raises it above the bar to gain a + symbol. Worth tracking down!
C Nowthis is where it gets a little rough. Despite Clan Campbell being a very popular whisky in the European market, it’s not sold in Scotland. Ever wondered why? I tried it on a visit to France along with a few other whiskies. The tasting panel of 2 rated this one least favorite. Now there were other similar blends on the panel. Label 5 actually scored a B, but then it’s main ingredient malt is from Glen Moray – which I like.
I have got a bit of a problem rating peated whiskey. I generally don’t like it. At the Irish Whiskey Awards 2014, Kilbeggan released a 22 year old single Connemara peated whiskey and a 21 year old Kilbeggan blend. I loved the 21 year old but the 22 was lost on me. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail came as a bit of a surprise when I sampled it at an airport recently therefore. Ardbeg is considered a heavily peated distillery, but despite having a heavy peaty aroma, the Uigeadail taste was pleasantly spicy and fruity. I may have just been converted!
If you find yourself enjoying the same expressions as me, and sharing my dislikes, we’ll get along just fine. Just remember my bias when I post a review!