Tag Archives: Midleton Distillery

Irish Rye?

Brian Nation‘s speech at the recently held Irish Whiskey Awards 2016 held in the fabulous surroundings of the Old Bonded Warehouse in Tullamore certainly piqued my interest.

A number of points were raised that particularly caught my attention.

The first was the spectacular rise of Irish Whiskey in the global market and how everyone associated with ‘BRAND’ Irish Whiskey – from producers to publicans, distributors to bloggers – had a duty of care to promote and protect the integrity of that brand.

Oh dear!

Was my first thought.

I’ve just been branded myself!

But what is Brand Irish Whiskey and who defines it?

Before I could process those thoughts another key word leapt out at me.

Innovation.

There certainly has been some wonderful innovation in the Irish Whiskey scene lately.

The new entrants into the market have been at the forefront of this in my opinion.

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A trio of Teeling c/othewhiskeynut

The multi award winning Teeling Whiskey Company use rum casks to finish their Small Batch blend and Californian wine casks to add flavour to their Single Grain. Neither casks being commonly used. Single Grain is also unusual. Before Teeling Single Grain was released Greenore – now renamed Kilbeggan Single Grain – was the sole representative in this category.

Both these Teeling expressions won Best in class awards on the evening with Kilbeggan Single Grain winning Gold.

West Cork Distillers are also new entrants and have been making spirits often under the radar of the mainstream.

Pogues whiskey
The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The bold design of their Pogues bottle together with the brand association attached to the famous/infamous group – depending on your preference – was certainly innovative.

Criticism has often been attached to the quality of the liquid inside West Cork produced offerings yet winning a Gold Award for the Galway Bay Irish Whiskey release certainly raises their game and puts them in the spotlight.

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The pour c/othewhiskeynut

Midleton themselves -the brand owners of Irish Whiskey during the years they were the only players in the field – haven’t been caught napping.

Using whiskey casks that have previously held beer for the growing Irish Craft Beer scene to mature Jameson Caskmates has certainly been a hit that is now being expanded into other markets.

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Makers Series c/othewhiskeynut

The new Makers Series offer some innovative stories to the spirit although I did find the liquid rather ‘safe’. Nonetheless 2 of the releases won Gold Awards.

The most exciting innovation of the evening however almost made me re-enact that famous scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’

MIDDLETON ARE GROWING RYE IN IRELAND!

Now it won’t be harvested until early spring 2017 and a further minimum of 3 years at least before any spirit can be released – but as a confirmed lover of rye – I can’t wait!

Luckily for me I didn’t have to.

A couple of kind gentlemen from across the pond had informed me beforehand they had brought over something special.

Whilst the Corsair Triple Smoke blew me over it could be categorised as an ‘extreme’ whiskey. I did love it however.

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The Emerald c/othewhiskeynut

The Emerald release from Ransom Spirits of Oregon was far more approachable however and much more pertinent to the Irish Whiskey brand.

Made using barley, oats and rye to an 1865 Irish Whiskey recipe uncovered by some research this stunning whiskey is satisfyingly smooth yet rich in mouthfeel coupled with a delightfully long rye spice finish.

Emerald to me have captured the PAST of Irish Whiskey in a bottle of the PRESENT.

When you know Brian Nation and his colleagues are poring over old Jameson recipes from the early 1800’s that included rye and oats – as well as currently growing rye in the fields around Enniscorthy – then couldn’t this be a representation of the FUTURE of Irish Whiskey?

I certainly hope so!

It’s innovative.

It’s traditional,

And it’s out now.

Gorgeous!

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Kelly’s Bar Tullamore

Unlike The Brewery Tap – I’ve actually visited Kelly’s before for a few drinks – but as it was in  my pre-whiskey days – I can’t remember what I was on.

The ‘piece de resistance’ in Kelly’s Bar is the wall of whiskey – well all 2 of them really!

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Whiskey wall 1 Undrinkable c/othewhiskeynut

The first is a very impressive wooden shelf display behind the bar showcasing a fine range of whiskeys for sale – whilst the other is a room divider proudly emblazoned Uisce Beata with barrel tops highlighting various Irish Distilleries both past and present.

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Whiskey wall 2 Drinkable c/othewhiskeynut

I’m afraid to say that despite the wide choice on offer – I partook of nothing stronger than a hot cup of tea during my visit to this welcoming and homely establishment as I was on driving duty. But I did scan my photos later and spotted a few tasty drams I wouldn’t mind trying out!

As is almost a default position – and my cue for a musical interlude –

Any self respecting bar in Tullamore cannot get by without a large selection of DEW expressions. Kelly’s certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department. The obligatory Egan’s also featured along with Kilbeggan from the nearby distillery of the same name. Just a short trip up the N52 if you want to visit. Midleton – Bushmill and Irishman releases were available too along with a decent array of Scotch and bourbon – although I didn’t spot any rye – my preferred option from the USA

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Give Every Man His DEW c/othewhiskeynut

All this was wrapped up in a friendly bar adorned with whiskey paraphernalia – old photographs, mirrors, empty cartons and bottles in the public bar – as well as hundreds of beer tankards attached to the ceiling beams in the lounge area.

Talking about beer – I was pleased to see a trio of craft beers from the Boyne Valley Brewery on show. Aine O’Hara is not only the head brewer at this new facility – she is also the master distiller too! I’ll look forward to tasting some Boann Distillery Whiskey in the next few years!

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Craft beer too! c/othewhiskeynut

Kelly’s Bar is situated beside the Grand Canal only a short walk from the Tullamore DEW Visitors Centre. The canal aided the whiskey distilling trade in 1820’s Tullamore when barley, peat and coal was shipped in to the 2 working distilleries – with the whiskey produced going out to Dublin or Limerick for onward distribution.

The canal makes a very pleasant walk in fine weather. Perhaps best undertook before you indulge a little in Kelly’s!

Slainte

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Hugh Lynch’s Tullamore

A short 2 minute walk from the impressive Old Bonded Warehouse of the Tullamore DEW Visitors Centre brings you to the rather unassuming windowless facade of Hugh Lynch’s Bar.

On entering – it’s a different story.

A busy public area bustles with regulars watching the sport on TV whilst a quieter lounge area is gently warmed by a glowing stove pumping out it’s welcome heat giving a warm tranquil cosy feel to the otherwise large space.

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Some of the whiskeys at Hugh Lynch’s c/othewhiskeynut

The main attraction for me however lay in the impressive display of whiskeys both behind the bar as well as tastefully shown in glass cabinets too.

A very large bottle of Tullamore DEW Original dominates the bar mainly due to it’s size! Fellow Tullamore DEW releases were obviously in no short supply either – including a few that are now discontinued like the Black 43.

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Tullamore DEW at Hugh Lynch’s c/othewhiskeynut

What took my eye though was another whiskey claiming to hail from Tullamore – Egan’s Irish Whiskey.

Egan’s is a 10 year old single malt and like Tullamore DEW isn’t actually made in the town of Tullamore. Both whiskeys are produced at one or more (in the case of blends) of the 3 large distilleries that currently have stock matured for long enough to be labelled as whiskey. They are Bushmills, Cooley and Midleton.

The new distillery opened in Tullamore by William Grant & Sons in 2014 won’t be able to release it’s first expression until 2017.

P&H Egan’s were a famous grocers in Tullamore who bottled and sold  whiskey in times gone by and the name has now been revived by this new release.

As I missed out on tasting it on my Galway Whiskey Trail adventure I couldn’t refuse the opportunity again!

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Egan’s in the hand c/othewhiskeynut

A rich golden coloured dram soon stood before me and despite being a 46% non-chill filtered release a surprisingly smooth rich nose warmed me to the drink.

The taste pleased me very much. I found it full-bodied and fruity with a lovely warm mouthfeel followed through by a long lingering finish.

Very nice indeed!

It didn’t surprise me to hear the whiskey has already won awards and Pat the bartender informed me it’s a popular seller both in the bar and the off-licence which is also part of the premises.

Lynch’s also features a cafe where decent pub grub can be enjoyed – a large hall at the back for private functions – as well as a regular music nights with a varied selection of bands or comedians hosted upstairs. It’s certainly a busy spot!

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Whiskey Galore! c/othewhiskeynut

I’ll certainly be back to sample some more of the varied whiskeys on offer from countries both near and far. Millars and Shanahans from Ireland I’ve yet to try . Scapa from Scotland and a sprinkling of bourbons from America too.

Being only a half hour train journey from my home in Athlone – I don’t think that visit will be long in the making either!

Slainte.

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Tullamore DEW

Tullamore DEW is another one of those iconic Irish Whiskey Brands that are well represented across the globe. On my last trip to Germany it was everywhere – and from sampling some German whisky I can see why the light, smooth triple distilled dram goes down well there. It is a pleasantly approachable blend appreciated neat – or mixed – according to your taste.

Formerly made in the Irish Midland town of Tullamore – where there was a booming whiskey industry in the 19th Century. The 1837 Ordnance Survey map lists no fewer than 2 distilleries along with 3 breweries – as well as the associated maltings. However – by the 1950’s only Tullamore DEW survived – and it too succumbed to economic pressure to close – along with many others in the Midlands by 1954.

Unlike it’s close neighbour Kilbeggan – which was turned into a piggery after it closed at one stage but now holds one of the original pot stills used at Tullamore – the Tullamore DEW brand continued to be produced at other distilleries – mainly the Midleton New Distillery. The brand changed hands a few times – eventually ending up being bought by the Scottish William Grant & Sons in 2010.

New Tullamore Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut
New Tullamore Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut

Grants – one of a few family owned drinks business in Scotland and worthy of a blog all of their own – brought about the rebirth of distilling in Tullamore by investing over 35 million in building a new plant on the N52 bypass so after a 60 year hiatus – whiskey can now flow again in Tullamore.

Interestingly – in Dundalk – at the northern extremity of the N52 – John Teeling is currently building his Great Northern Distillery!

Tullamore DEW visitors centre c/o Whiskey Nut
Tullamore DEW visitors centre c/o Whiskey Nut

Anyway – a trip to the Tullamore Visitors Centre on Bury Quay is a marvelous experience. Built in the former bonded warehouse it now contains a fabulous restaurant – worthy of a meal regardless whether you do the tour or not – the ubiquitous shop – as well as many original artefacts, photos and whiskey material collected from the rich history of distilling in the Midlands.

For those that want to delve into that history a little more need only to walk up the attractive canal a few steps to the Offaly Historical Society shop where many an article, book or pamphlet has been written on the whiskey trade – as well many other subjects relating to  County Offaly and the Midlands.

Former Tullamore DEW offices c/o Whiskey Nut
Former Tullamore DEW offices c/o Whiskey Nut

Tullamore town literally drips with whiskey heritage. If the former distillery head office on Patrick Street – derelict maltings at the back of the Bridge Shopping Centre at Water Lane – Distillery Lane itself leave you thirsty – then call in at The Brewery Tap pub which graces the  “Give every man his DEW” sign outside and Tullamore’s finest whiskey expressions inside – where you can relax with a dram browsing a whiskey book bought from the nearby Midlands Books.

Give Every Man His DEW c/o Whiskey Nut
Give Every Man His DEW c/o Whiskey Nut

And talking of a dram – at the end of the informative tour in the visitors centre a dram – or 3 in this case – is exactly what you get!

On the day of my visit my fellow guests and I were guided through the following expressions;

Tullamore DEW Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Tullamore DEW Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

The flag bearing Tullamore DEW Original blend. A light, smooth blend which sets the benchmark for other Irish blends.

Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

The Tullamore DEW Phoenix. The name can be both attributed to the rise in fortunes of whiskey in Tullamore due to the new distillery building – or – according to some sources – the 1st aviation disaster in the world occurring in the town in 1785! The whiskey packs a punch at 55% ABV so a little water may be required.

Tullamore DEW Warehouse Release c/o Tullamore DEW
Tullamore DEW Warehouse Release c/o Tullamore DEW

The Tullamore DEW Old Bonded Warehouse was my favourite. Smooth fine tasting with a nice body to it. The fact that it can only be acquired at the visitors centre is also a draw – so I got 2 – one for myself and the other for my Dad on Father’s Day!

There are other releases; a 10 year old Single Malt, a 12 year old Special Reserve are listed on the website – but the 12 year old sherry finish single malt is not – despite being sold at the visitors centre as well as Dublin Airport. Is it because it was made at Bushmills? – and therefore not part of the “in crowd”. It seems to be popular in Germany – so I’ll let Horst tell you all about it as I’ve just got back from a whisky trip there.

Tullamore DEW Cider Cask c/o The Spirits Business
Tullamore DEW Cider Cask c/o The Spirits Business

The new expression yet to prove it’s mettle is the Tullamore Dew Cider Cask. Only available at Dublin Airport for a limited period I have yet to sample a dram. It isn’t currently on sale at the visitors centre. Said to be the 1st whiskey aged in cider casks in Ireland – this is a bold experiment in taste, style and content – I certainly admire Tullamore for releasing it. Whether it’s any good or not will have to wait and see – but the feedback I’m getting is positive.

Grants – the new Tullamore owners – have been innovative and bold distillers in their time. Cider Cask may have something to do with the new owners. It isn’t as yet spirit from the New Distillery – that will be a few years yet – but could be “premiumisation” of Midleton stocks secured in the sales deal – or simply keeping the brand in the market.

Whatever the reason – Tullamore DEW whiskey has a bright future.

The expressions are good.

The Visitors centre is great and as we say in Ireland,

The craic is mighty!

Get youself a bottle of Tullamore DEW today and have some craic!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut