Tag Archives: Quiet Man Distillery

Whiskey Burn, The Distilleries Of Ireland By Vespa, Ben Birdsall.

The growth of Irish Whiskey doesn’t just restrict itself to exciting new brands, bottles & distilleries – it also spins off into a growing library of books on the subject.

One of the most delightful books I happened to read recently was Whiskey Burn by Ben Birdsall.

It combines a travelogue of his adventures round Ireland on a vintage Vespa visiting as many whiskey distilleries as possible – along with an entertaining & informative description of those distilleries themselves – as well as the people, places & characters that shape those distilleries – and perhaps the resultant taste of the whiskey too!

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Packed full of fabulous photography, amusing anecdotes and a quirky sense of humour, Ben manages to capture the essence of Irish Whiskey on his circumnavigation of the Emerald Isle.

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Roe & Co c/othewhiskeynut

Published in 2018, Whiskey Burn is already out of date due to the fast moving explosion of Irish Whiskey.

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Powerscourt Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Distilleries that were mere building sites or planning diagrams at the time are now fully functional & accepting visitors like Powerscourt Distillery, Dublin Liberties Distillery and Roe & Co.

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Dublin Liberties Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Others have sadly failed to find adequate backers for their dreams like Quiet Man Distillery.

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Mural in former Officers Mess of sadly closed Quiet Man Distillery building site. c/othewhiskeynut

But as an apt quote in the book says,

” by the time they come out, all whiskey books are out of date”

This however doesn’t detract from the core enthusiasm displayed within Ben’s prose – nor the commitment of the characters encountered.

A must read for any fan of Irish Whiskey.

Sláinte

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Coleraine Irish Whiskey, 40%, Brexit in a Bottle

As I sit tasting a whiskey, relishing it’s flavours & relaxing in the warmth of the brown spirit – my mind often wanders to the stories contained within the glass.

You could say it’s the ‘Message in a Bottle’ that often excites me.

Coleraine Distillery used to produce first class whiskey. Opened in the early 1800’s – Coleraine made triple distilled malts of distinction before struggling during the two world wars eventually coming under the ownership of nearby neighbour Bushmills. It was converted to a grain distillery in it’s latter years before falling victim to Irish Distillers rationalising plans in the 1970’s when grain production was moved to the New Midleton Distillery & Coleraine closed for good.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took a sip.

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Comes with an E & House of Commons logo c/othewhiskeynut

The current incarnation of Coleraine is a budget priced blend trading off it’s past glory. The nose has that e150 caramel characteristic of an entry blend – the taste is rather muted but approachable – the finish is slightly harsh but not unwelcoming – overall no strong flavours, no surprises, but for the price point – it’s grand.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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There is no distillery by the name of Coleraine anymore. c/othewhiskeynut

Brexit – for those that don’t know – is the name given to the process by which Britain will leave the European Union after the historic vote in 2016.

Northern Ireland is part of Britain – along with Scotland, England and Wales.

Depending on how the talks go – Northern Ireland will be out of the European Union (EU) by 2019.

As ‘Irish Whiskey’ is an EU definition – Regulation 110/2008 – I’d argue that definition no longer applies post Brexit. I cannot see how a non EU country will be allowed to label itself the same as an EU country.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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Neck detail c/othewhiskeynut

Now initially this means whiskey collectors will have a field day. Just think – all the whiskey producers in Northern Ireland will no longer be able to label their produce as ‘Irish Whiskey’.

At present these producers are;

Bushmills,  Echlinville,  Quiet Man,  Boatyard  &  Rademon Distillery 

To the best of my knowledge they are all engaged in making, planning or building a whiskey distillery. After 2019 they will all be out of the EU – and if you click on the names you will be guided to their websites.

Do you think the 27 remaining member states will allow a non-member state to trade under an EU registered label?

I think you will get a resounding non, nein, nie, ne ………… and so on.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I continued to sip and ponder.

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Post Brexit is Bushmills non-Irish? c/othewhiskeynut

But it gets more complicated.

There is no grain distillery in Northern Ireland.

At one fell swoop all blends produced there will now become whiskey made in an EU country – Ireland – as well as a non EU country – Northern Ireland.

That will go down well with the Brussels bureaucrats!

It was beginning to wreck my head too!

This is the Message in a Bottle.

I needed another sip at this stage.

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Ring ring, Brexit calling! c/othewhiskeynut

But wait a minute. Doesn’t Bushmills export some of it’s liquid South for other bottlers & blenders to use?

Won’t that be subject to import taxes & customs control?

Won’t the resultant whiskey become a non EU product or a hybrid whiskey at least?

This is the Message in a Bottle.

And it was all getting a bit too much for me – and another song popped into my head.

What is the message in your bottle?

Sláinte.

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Over The Top – Day 2

Day 2 of our Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour dawned rather dull & grey as we continued our journey North to Bushmills Distillery.

Proclaiming to be the world’s oldest distillery with a license to distill from 1608 – living in Westmeath I know Kilbeggan Distillery is actually the oldest working distillery with a continuous license housed in the same building from 1757. The Bushmills Distillery we took the tour in today wasn’t built until 1784.

Regardless of the history, Bushmills is currently owned by Jose Cuervo and the distillery produces an excellent array of age statement single malts along with some pleasing blends. The highlight of hour long tour – which went through the history, manufacturing & maturing process as well as the all important tasting at the end – was undoubtedly entering the extremely hot working still room crammed tight with the stills full of soon to be fresh distillate! Demand is so great there are plans to double the capacity by building a new stillroom on the expansive site.

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Bushmills Distillery Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

As this was the first distillery we visited that had their shop open a bottle of the 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve made it into the bag. A pleasant mainly sherry cask matured triple distilled malt presented at 40%

Oddly enough Bushmills malt is not peated unlike it’s nearest working distillery – Laphroaig on Islay – which is only a short sea crossing of 30 miles away or so. On a good day you can see the hills of Scotland from the nearby Giant’s Causeway coast. There is a new ferry service taking you on the short crossing if you wish called High Sea Spirits – now that would be an adventure!

As our car isn’t amphibious we took the road instead to Derry where Niche Drinks are building their Quiet Man Distillery in the former military barracks of Ebrington Square. We were kindly met by Ciaran Mulgrew – the managing director of Niche Drinks – who proudly showed us round the building site explaining how a modern & stylish distillery with an attractive visitors centre could be built within the old listed building and  yet still retain it’s history & integrity. He also told some wonderful stories of how cross party alliances which straddled the former divided city came together to get the project off the ground. Very impressive.

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View of Derry Peace Bridge from inside Quiet Man Distillery site. c/othewhiskeynut

What is also impressive is the award winning bar & restaurant that is Walled City Brewery handily adjacent to the distillery. Happily we had booked a tasty meal here & despite stocking Quiet Man whiskey – the allure of some tasty craft beer proved too much for some! Wonderful.

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On Tap in Walled City c/oLeoPhelan

The sun came out as we made our way down to Sliabh Liag Distillery. Situated just inland from the impressive sea cliffs  that it takes it’s name from. The actual distillery site hasn’t yet even started – but we were enthusiastically shown round by the highly  informative & engaging founder James Doherty.

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I’d like my new distillery here please! c/othewhiskeynut

He comes with a wealth of experience from his years in the drinks industry & his stories of that career mirrored the seanachai traditions of Donegal –   so we repaired to the local John The Miners Bar in Carrick where a glass of the Silkie blend awaited us. This sourced whiskey’s name recalls old stories of seals taking on human forms when ashore to befriend lonely menfolk – it certainly befriended us with it’s soft yet slightly spicy notes.

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The Silkie blend c/othewhiskeynut

We could have stayed for longer – but a long drive through the stunning coastal scenery to our hotel for the night in Sligo beckoned.

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Seanachai central! c/othewhiskeynut

A nightcap in Thomas Connolly’s Bar rounded off our extremely entertaining day covering the whiskey distilleries across the top of Ireland.

Dram of the day?

There wasn’t one to top the stories we heard from our day on the road & in the bar that evening!

Sláinte.

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Walled City Brewery & Hudson Baby Bourbon

A suggestion to head North for a few days was eagerly taken up for the chance to explore some new scenery, some new dining adventures and above all else – some new whiskeys.

Derry sits astride the majestic Foyle River which we crossed by the relatively new Peace Bridge heading for Walled City Brewery which sits on the historic Ebrington Square.

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Derry at night c/othewhiskeynut

The former army barracks & parade ground are now a growing tourist attraction building on the new found harmony in Northern Ireland after years of conflict.

Building 70, a former Pay Office, is now home to Walled City Brewery, combining a craft brewery with a restaurant & bar – this was our destination for the evening.

Opened in May 2015 by master brewer James Huey and his wife Louise, James brought his years of experience working with Guinness to branch out on his own – and he also runs a Homebrew Academy too!

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‘Kicks’ @ Walled City Brewery c/othewhiskeynut

Very attractively furnished with a bottled motif wall, historical beer map, beer bottle chandeliers & a comfy dining area along with a well stocked bar – Walled City Brewery certainly made us feel at home.

A large hanging chalk board proudly proclaims about 10 beers available on tap. Some are Walled City’s own – with others from White Hag in Sligo & Kinnegar in nearby Donegal.

I went for ‘Kicks’ a Walled City pilsner named after Derry’s finest group – The Undertones.

This flavoursome tipple perfectly accompanied a trio of Pintxos for starters followed by a juicy lamb burger for mains.

There were plenty of other beers to try. Walled City offer a tasting tray to sample a few which is always a great way to familiarise yourself with a range of styles and flavours.

The whiskey menu also impressed.

Covering all 4 styles of Irish whiskey – Blended, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still – from Glendalough, Teeling, Derry’s own Quiet Man – who are planning to build a distillery on Ebrington Square –  Echlinville and a couple of Spot whiskeys – they certainly tempted me. But a trio of American bourbons – not all of which I’d tried before – caught my eye.

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A tasty trio of bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Sadly a tasting flight of whiskey wasn’t on the menu – as yet – so I chose the Hudson Baby Bourbon for afters.

At 46% this 100% corn bourbon from a craft distillery in upstate New York gave a rich sweet nose with a full bodied mouthfeel. It packed a lovely heat on the palate finishing with a gentle spice & warm finish. If only all bourbons were as good as this!

Feeling fully sated & gently merry we recrossed the Peace Bridge in the growing winds admiring the starry lights of Derry which is attractively built on gently rolling hills.

I’m certainly looking forward to the growth of Walled City Brewery & the nearby Quiet Man Distillery.

My first impressions of Hudson Whiskey were also positive – I will definitely check them out on my next encounter.

Slàinte.

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