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!
Old Comber – Hewitts – Dungourney 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.
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!
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.