Originally released in 2010 by a flamboyant entrepreneur who had big plans for the small island off the West coast of Ireland the whiskey is named after – Inish Turk Beg. The whiskey – if nothing else – comes in a very attractive & distinctive bottle with an equally delightful back story.
By 2013 – it was all over.
Nadim Sadek’s dreams were in taters – and the island sold on.
Those lucky enough to purchase a bottle at the time are likely to see the value increase – those that didn’t – tough. Much like the ill fated Titanic – both the Atlantic liner and the whiskey brand of lottery winner Peter Lavery – this ‘Maiden Voyage’ expression is destined to be the last voyage.
Luckily for me – many bars up and down the country still have a bottle you can order a shot from. So when I encountered Inish Turk Beg in the relaxing West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen recently I had a simple choice to make.
To slightly mangle The Clash’s lyrics – should I buy a glass to see what all the fuss was about? Or should I just leave it – never to try it out?
It’s what you call a ‘no brainer’ really.
If – like me – you are curious about all whiskey – what they taste like, what the style is – irrespective as to the country of origin, manufacturer, back story or not – you try it. Preferably soon after the original release. The longer you leave it inevitably 2 things will happen;
1 – The price will go up.
2 – It will all be gone.
So I tasted it.
A very smooth & soft caramelly nose infused with honey, toffee & a slight earthy note.
Very easy sipping. More vanilla & caramel. The earthy note develops more and gives this expression a rather unique character.
A satisfyingly lovely warm glow from the bourbon cask maturation gently fades away on the palate.
Was it worth it?
In short – yes.
The whiskey inside the bottle isn’t exactly earth shattering – but it is a decent dram. There is enough of a twist to make it interesting. Now you could possibly find a bottle of whiskey for the same price as a shot of Inish Turk Beg that would be equally as good – but it wouldn’t have been the same.
You wouldn’t have had the chat & banter with the bar staff and fellow drinkers as to the merits of whiskey, gin & craft beers.
You wouldn’t have bothered to check up the internet to discover the back story to Inish Turk Beg.
And you wouldn’t have enjoyed a dram from a very fancy bottle to satisfy your curiosity and see what it was really like for yourself.
O’Connell’s on Eyre Square is handily situated a stones throw from the railway station and my train home.
The outside of the premises looks like an old shop with the large open window at the front allowing a view into the bar inside.
Indeed O’Connell’s used to be a grocers – operating alongside the pub – which is still a feature of many a more traditional Irish bar. The grocery is long gone now – but a lovely patterned tiled floor remains to remind you of former times.
I’m surprised I could still hold the camera steady enough to capture a snap after all the great whiskey I’d had during my day on the Galway Whiskey Trail – and seeing as this was my last venue – I threw caution to the wind and went for 2 expressions from the fine array of bottles perched on wooden shelves behind the bar.
A Titanic was very quickly spotted with the friendly and informative staff giving me a brief lowdown on the heritage of this Cooley made discontinued brand.
As I’d previously met Peter Lavery – the brands owner – at the 2014 Irish Whiskey Awards – and turned down the Titanic in favour of Baileys Whiskey in Tigh Neachtain’s earlier – I loved the opportunity to plug the gap in my whiskey tasting experience.
Glass duly in hand I sat down below the front window on a long bench beside the growing number of customers to enjoy the lovely mellow and sweet – smooth tasting tipple from the Belfast Distillery Company. Such a delight. Pity it’s no longer around.
At times like this I do ponder if the mood and general wellbeing of the taster- as well as the ambience of the premises and conviviality of fellow drinkers – influences the resulting ratings given to any particular dram.
It wasn’t just the whiskey warming me to this lovely pub. The conversation was flowing too – and the heat was definitely on with warm air being pumped into the large bar area from under the bench.
You’ll have to excuse the musical interlude to commerorate the passing of yet another musical icon – Glen Frey.
O’Connell’s also boasts a more traditional lounge area at the back – along with a beer garden to compliment the rather unique setting of the front bar. I certainly enjoyed it. So much so that when I chatted to the staff and spotted a bottle of Crown Royal – I couldn’t pass it by.
Crown Royal Deluxe is the entry level blend from the now famous Canadian distiller whose Northern Rye expression is the Best Whisky In The World 2016 – according to Jim Murray. I was curious to see what the fuss was all about.
From the initial sweet aroma of the rye – the smooth creamy mouthfeel and complex taste together with the lovely warm finish – this is certainly a different flavour profile to the Irish whiskeys sampled before. I can see why Jim rates this brand and I’m sure I’ll seek out other opportunities to try it. I wasn’t disappointed!
A glance at the time roused me from my revelry. With less than 5 minutes before the last train home I hurriedly made my way to the station.
The ticket collector was already shouting out the imminent departure as I – and a few other stragglers – ran along the platform. I’d only got round to taking my jacket off before the train started rolling. Talk about cutting it fine!
At only half seven in the evening – I’d be having an early night – but considering my first whiskey was at half ten that morning – it would be welcome.
My Galway Whiskey Trail adventure was a wonderful experience.
So many pubs.
So many new expressions sampled and plenty more yet to taste.
So much help and advice from the friendly staff and so much craic from the customers.