Showing posts with label Dingle Distillery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dingle Distillery. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dingle Food Festival in Photos

A local!
Dingle Food Festival in Photos
Dingle Harbour

The Blas judging has been done (though the winners won't be announced until  Saturday). The huge Dingle Food Festival will launch this Friday evening before taking over the town on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Here are a few of my Dingle pics from this food weekend in recent years. Get all the details on the 2017 event here. Enjoy. I will!
Market stalls
Shark Bite (via Out of the Blue) on the very popular Taste Trail

Slea Head
You can't get lost at Murphy's Ice-Cream. On the Taste Trail

Venturing out in Ventry

Turbot at Global Village

On the Taste Trail, over 70 outlets

Demos, formal and informal

Lots of little places to discover

Gold medal winner at Blas 
This cask may not be there but a visit to the local distillery is a must!


The sun doesn't always shine at Slea Head


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Warm Welcome to the Spit Jack

Warm Welcome to the Spit Jack
Just off the rotisserie
There is something special about going into a restaurant for the first time, meeting people you've never met before and feeling right at home within a few seconds. That was the feeling I got at The Spit Jack, the new Washington Street (Cork) restaurant. And that was before the beautiful food began to appear. Big credit here to owners Richard Gavin and Laura Sureda and their wonderful staff.

Chicken Croquettes
The owners have spent a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, in getting this place looking perfect, a place where once a medieval lane ran through. Lots of exposed brick in both downstairs and up. The highlight is perhaps the skylight, or at least, the area under it. The ground floor bar is lit by this light and its shelves extend upwards to the roof. You can see it at its best as you go to the upstairs dining room (or the lovely semi-private room, for 8/10, just off it).

Both the medium sized dining rooms are lit by light from the south and are bright and airy and busy and buzzy, even if they are still in soft opening mode (that may change this week). I’ll let Richard and Laura introduce their place: The SpitJack is a rotisserie concept and the first of its kind, offering only the highest quality Irish produce. All of our menus revolve around the rotisserie and we are opened from breakfast to bedtime.

We, and indeed all customers, were taken through the details of the menu and there were helpful suggestions as to what wine or side dishes go best with your order. And service continued in that helpful vein all through the meal. We were guests but could see and hear that all customers were getting the same treatment.
Goat Cheese Salad
There is a full bar so a great choice of spirits, including Dingle Gin and Vodka, Gunpowder Gin, lots of Irish (and international) whiskey, also tasting boards, local beer (including 8 Degrees) and the lovely Johnny Fall Down cider (my choice on the night). 

Didn't get to try any of the many cocktails - they have their own mixologist. Here’s an intriguing one: the Barrel Aged Midleton Hip Flask (Jameson Black Barrel, sour malt and Chard reduction-recycled mash from our friends in Midleton, Lillet blanc and orange bitters. Just one of many.

Nothing gets wasted here; they are always conscious of sustainability, using surplus ingredients to make their own garnishes, infusions, purées, cordials and shrubs. “No ingredient gets left behind.” And they support local. Their meat, for instance, comes from O’Mahony's Butchers in the nearby market.

Scotch Egg
Down to business with Rotisserie Chicken Croquettes with a lemon and thyme aioli. Laura is from Barcelona and her influence was evident here in their tapas style opener. A delicious sign of things to come.

My starter was their Scotch Egg (soft egg wrapped in English Market Italian Sausage with a crisp crumb). Fifteen minutes is the cooking time but it is well worth the wait. Gorgeous and it comes with a beautiful salad as well.
Pork-belly
 CL went for a salad: the honey baked Goat Cheese Salad. It comes in two sizes! They use Ardsallagh cheese on crostini, carrot ribbons, cherry tomato, local mixed leaves and tarragon dressing, more or less the same salad that came with the egg. Another delicious combination.


My cider came into its own with my main course: Porchetta of pork-belly, stuffed with garlic and market herbs (sage mainly). And a tasty rim of crackling. Have had lots of excellent pork-belly since it came into fashion a few years ago but hard to beat this beautifully cooked effort. Great match with the cider!

You get one side (you may order more) with your mains and I was advised to take the classic potato and gruyere gratin. It was spot-on, a rich and cheesy delight. CL’s side - we did share - was another gem. The Rotisserie Roast Potatoes is a rather underrated description. The spuds, with little bacon bits, were roasted under the chicken, the juices falling down and working their magic.
Sides


The West Cork Rotisserie Chicken, by the way, spent 24 hours bring brined with Rosemary, Thyme and Lemon. And you get a breast and leg to enjoy at your leisure! Cooked to perfection and absolutely delectable. They’ve certainly mastered their roasting machine in the few weeks of the soft opening! 

And, of course, there was a sweet finish, a shared one. The dessert list is short but excellent. I noticed the rotisserie had come into play in one: the Coconut Panna Cotta (with Rotisserie Pineapple and a rum and raisin shortbread). As with the previous plates, there was nothing not playing a part on this one. The Panna Cotta itself was excellent while the shortbread made the taste buds sit up and notice even at the end of a magnificent meal.

Very Highly Recommended!
Sweet

Friday, January 6, 2017

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dingle Diary. Blas and the Festival

Dingle Diary. Blas and the Festival
The Supreme Champion
Massive crowds attended the Dingle Food Festival (1st and 2nd ofOctober) but it was much quieter in the town when I arrived on the previous Thursday morning, just one of the dozens of judges gathering in the Skellig Dingle for the Blas 2016 judging. A record 2,500 products were entered and these had been whittled down to manageable numbers. 

Still there was a lot of tasting to do - from about 11.30 until around 8.30 pm in my case. We finished up in Dick Mack’s pub in Green Street for the alcohol tastings. The pub is well worth a visit in its own right, just to see the huge whiskey selection alone!

One of Dingle's little cafes
Then it was down to O’Flaherty’s Pub for a proper drink and a proper bite. There was a great buzz here, particularly when the music started. Dingle Gin and Tom Crean lager was flying but I delayed turning to those until myself and my new buddy Johnny had cleaned out the Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery!
On the Taste Trail



The next day, Friday, was more or less at leisure and we did a trip around the peninsula (post to follow). That evening though, the Blas judges assembled in the Oceanworld Aquarium where candles lit the scene as the various fish, the shark and the turtle swam around and we gathered for more Dingle Gin and more Tom Crean and, yes, fish and chips!
A Gold winner. For a full list of winners,
please click here
And then Blas chairman and founder Artie Clifford introduced local adventurer Mike O’Shea who gave us an illustrated talk on his life, concentrating mainly on last year’s trip to South Georgia to retrace part of Tom Crean’s footsteps. Very interesting indeed, even the penguins behind seemed to stay still, though there were some strange noises off stage! Check out more of Mike’s amazing adventures here.  

Saturday was the first full day of the Dingle Food Festival and the town was transformed as thousands of visitors arrived, sauntering through the closed streets to sample the food and drink on offer at every step. A huge market covered a few of the streets and then there was the Taste Trail with close to 80 offerings, some very inventive bites indeed.  Besides there were craft workshops, demonstrations by top chefs, a farmers forum, special lunches and dinners and so much more, even a visit to the distillery for us.
Pesto winners: Gold (left) and Bronze
Time too for the Blas judges to visit the producers and see the products (now in their packaging). It was an anxious time for the Blas entrants as the awards were announced throughout the day. I had a lot of sympathy for the entrants in Spirits and Liqueurs, Beers, Ales, Lagers, Stouts and Cider as these were last on the list, scheduled for 5.00pm. A long wait!

At least they could relax on the Sunday as Blas had been put to bed for another year and the sun shone as the Food Festival, again mightily well supported, continued for another day. Well done Dingle! Again.
Lots of talk about this Gold winner!
For the full list of award winners, click here
Sampling at the street market
See also: Visit to the Dingle Distillery
Driving the Dingle peninsula

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan.

Review: The Whiskeys of Ireland
by Peter Mulryan
Midleton
“Whiskey. Irish for droplets of pure pleasure.” WB Yeats.

You’ll find tour guides in the many new Irish distilleries telling you that whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic Uisce Beatha (water of life). No need to believe those novices! Yeats got it right and his interpretation is quoted on the back cover of the Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan. 

Whenever I get my hands on a new Irish food or drink book, I usually flick through the opening pages to see where it was printed and am invariably disappointed. This, printed in the Czech Republic, is no exception. If we are expected to support the Irish food and drinks industry, then our food and drink writers should do all they can to support Irish printers. But that's about the only gripe  (one more - there is no index), I have against this excellent book.



The new Connacht Distillery in Ballina
Because, for a long time, there were spirits galore but no definition of whiskey, Mulryan says it is difficult to trace its evolution. But distilling was alive and well, if not up to FSAI standards, in the 15th century and the Crown passed a law in 1556, in vain, to put a stop to it. Eventually, after the collapse of the Gaelic order, a licensing system was imposed.

The first Irish patent was granted in 1608 but cronyism and corruption led to the collapse of the system. Taxation reared its head in 1661 and that reinforced the illegal side of the trade. And the same happened when a stiff tax regime was imposed in 1779. The underground operators sold their poitín and that became “the drink of the people”.


A more benign tax regime led to a booming whiskey industry in the 1820s and onwards. But that led to widespread alcohol problems and in stepped Fr Matthew. Distilleries closed by the dozen. 

On display in Teelings, Newmarket, Dublin
The respectable side of the business examined the newly invented Aeneas Coffey column still and he had some initial success here before turning to a warmer welcome in Scotland. Ireland, pants down in Mulryan’s phrase, missed the revolution and would pay dearly.

Close to the end of the century though, the big players in Irish whiskey, including Allman’s in Bandon, were flying high again. Phylloxera dealt the French distillers a hammer blow and that too helped the Irish in what Mulryan terms “the Golden Years”.


Scotland too was on the rise but the bubble would burst as the century turned, fraudulent trading, recession, wars, and increased taxes all contributing.

With the author (left) in his Blackwater Distillery
Ireland now had its own problems: wars and then partition. We were behind internationally and now the domestic market collapsed. And, in the US, prohibition was looming. Closure followed closure.

There were back doors to the US market. The Scots didn't hesitate, the Irish did. Then we Irish had the “Economic War” with England and next came WW2. After they were over, in the US, the Scots were in and, except for Irish Coffee, the Irish were out.

It was a long tailspin, halted only in 1966 when the three (yes, 3!) remaining distilleries amalgamated. Eventually a new outlook led to a new distillery in Midleton (1975). John Jameson was the brand that led to the current revival, the brand that eventual and current owners Pernod Ricard used as a wedge to once more open the international market to Irish Whiskey.

Cyril (left) and Barry of St Patrick's in Cork
Meanwhile, Mulryan relates that an opportunity was spotted by John Teeling at Cooley and, thanks to the eagle-eyed entrepreneur, the Irish industry acquired a new and vibrant arm, an arm that is still reaching out. Now virtually every county has a distillery, many of them micro. The consumer, home and abroad, has never had it so good. Cheers to John Jameson (5 million cases in 2015) and the French marketeers.

Those marketeers include a salesman selling Jameson in a Vendeé supermarket sometime in the 90s. He was an insistent guy and I bought a bottle (the price was good too!) and I still have the free cassette tapes that came with it!


Mulryan's fascinating book covers the history, the rises and the falls and the stunning re-birth, in a lively manner, great for the experienced and novice alike. It is well worth seeking out for the history alone. But he also casts his keen and experienced eye (he founded and runs the Blackwater Distillery) over the current scene (sending out a warning to mid-sized operators).

Whiskey by Hyde's
The closing chapters take us, in plain and engaging English, through the making and blending and, most importantly, the tasting of our beloved Uisce Beatha, sorry droplets of pure pleasure. Slainte!

The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.
Hands on research in Dingle recently


Monday, October 3, 2016

Spirit of Dingle Coming Soon

Spirit of Dingle Coming Soon.

ap1200549On the 18th of December 2012, a week before Christmas, the Dingle Distillery started making whiskey. You may well see the results around this Christmas, as the whiskey has now served more than the necessary three years and one day in 700 litre capacity oak barrels.  The period time, the oak and the barrel size are all mandatory, we were told on a tour during last weekend’s Dingle Food Festival.
It looks as if it may be a Happy Christmas for Dingle and for the “Founding Fathers”. These pioneers could also be called the Funding Fathers as it was their money that got the project off the ground, each offering up about six thousand euro for a cask in his or her own name. We saw quite a few of the barrels during the tour and there is also a founding fathers’ wall with all the names inscribed.



ap1200554
Making Gin and Vodka, in Irish

The Spirit of Dingle, with the mouth of the harbour featured, is the name of a painting by a local artist that inspired the setting up of the distillery. And that view can be seen from the gates of the distillery which stands on the western edge of the town.
Like all whiskeys, Dingle’s goes through three main stages: fermentation, distillation and maturation. Yeast is added during fermentation and when it sinks to the bottom, that is the end of the fermentation (see timber fermentation vessels in 2x pic slideshow at bottom). By the way, if you can manage a sniff of a vessel when the yeast is active, it is a great way to clear a stuffy nose! Just don’t overdo it – it is potent!
At end of fermentation, the incipient whiskey has an abv of about 10 % , much like a very strong beer. By the end of the next stage the distilling, the abv has risen to 80 or 85%. It is “cut” with water later to bring the strength down to the normal 40%.
The process in Dingle though is distinguished by the use of a boil bowl on two of the copper stills. This gives what you need for nice, smooth spirit: plenty of reflux. This  built-in bulge (see 2 x pic slide show below) in the neck  – other stills have long slim necks – means the vapour doesn’t all rise right up and condense beyond the drop. You need it to condense and fall back into the still a few times before it eventually condenses and drips into the receiver. And so, to get this smooth spirit before maturation, was why  Dingle modified their still design.
I didn’t know that barrels used for the maturation of Irish whiskey had to be a certain size but I did know that the barrels have already been used elsewhere, “secondhand” as our guide Shane termed it. The barrels used most in Dingle have previously held Bourbon, Port, and Sherry. By the way, there is a constant evaporation during maturation, the often quoted Angels’ Share.
Shane then showed us a smaller area where their gin and vodka are produced in a much simpler way, though the gin process “is a little bit more difficult”.  Interestingly, Dingle uses no less than 13 botanicals in their very popular gin. All the bottling is done on site.
And the site has been in use, on and off, since 1840 when it started life as a flour mill. I spotted an old mill-wheel in storage. A fire destroyed this first business and later, in 1914, a lumber firm took over.
We were then taken to the tasting room and introduced to the main ingredients: malted barley, milled barley and yeast. Here, we enjoyed a taste of the vodka and the gin. No whiskey to taste, of course, but we did get a drop of the “raw spirit” with an abv of about 65%. Hot stuff, yet it tasted quite smooth  – “a good sign” said Shane.


Good things to come, then, from those whiskey casks. All at Dingle and, indeed a wider audience, are looking forward to the day in the very near future when Cask No. 2 is opened. (Cask No. 1 will be kept closed in perpetuity!). Happy Christmas with the spirit of Dingle!

See also: Driving the Dingle Peninsula
Dingle and its massive Food Festival

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dingle Days. Glorious Food, Drink and Scenery

Dingle Days

Glorious Food, Drink and Scenery
Dingle has it all - glorious food, drink and scenery. It is a terrific visit at anytime and can be visited whether the sun shines or not. Nature doesn't have to perform at its best just because you’re on a visit. Indeed, sometimes Nature in a bad mood is as well worth seeing as it is on the days of calm and balm.

I was there for the Blas na hEireann tastings and the annual food festival and it was a marvelous few days. Tough enough start though on the Thursday with a full day of tastings for Blas in the Skelligs Hotel. Tough? Did I hear you say? Well try tasting nine blue cheeses in a row. Or, in the final session of the day, sampling 15 beers as the sun went down.
Savoury chocolates!

Venturing out in Ventry
But it has its rewards and the first came later that night in An Canteen when we sat down to a very local three course meal by the brothers Niall and Brian. Superb fish on the first two courses and those amazing savoury chocolates by Dovinia were a highlight. And I must also mention that excellent Connemara Pale Ale by the Independent Brewery.

Friday was largely a free day, so we headed west with the first stop at Ventry as the sunseekers were out in some numbers and, let me say, in their t-shirts. Also spent some time watching a group of kayakers getting ready and then sailing off into the haze. The weather had changed, duller and windier, by the time we got to Slea Head but we still got down to the sands and close to the rocks.
Dunquin

Lunch at Blasket Centre: Baked potato, tuna, cheese
The Blasket Centre is a great place to visit to get a feel for the peninsula and the islands and , as a bonus, it is a good spot to stop for lunch. Fueled up, we carried on and came to Clogher Head. Last time, our walk up here was stopped by a heavy shower but there was no such problems on this occasion. Great views out there, even if there was a little haze in the mid-distance.

On then towards Ballyferriter and a visit to Wine Strand before closing the loop - the sun was out again -  and cutting cross-county back to Dingle. We were keen to see the Conor Pass while the weather was still reasonable. By the time we got up though, the clouds had taken over. Still we had a fine view down to Dingle and beyond.
Ceann Sibeal from Clogher Head
Welcome to Wine Strand
Then an hour or two was spent at the awards by the Enterprise Office from the various counties (details here) and after that it was time to think about eating again. We were joined by some of the judges (lots of laughs with Susan and Judith Boyle) in the Global Village who came up with a terrific tasting menu, very popular too as empty plates went back every time. This was a selection of the peninsula’s finest produce over six tasting courses. Highlights were the fish (turbot, seaweed and fennel) and the meat (wild boar, scallop and raisins).

Saturday was a reasonably fine day and we were soon out and about after a good breakfast at the excellent and friendly Benners Hotel, so centrally located. Garvey’s SuperValu had their line of food already in place on the pavement outside. I had a look inside and was impressed. Outside, the market stalls on the various streets were busy and we called to quite a few.
Welcome to Dingle Gin & Vodka from Joe
Turbot at Global Village
Saturday though was mainly about the amazing Taste Trail and you may read all about that here. Caught up on the news from the award ceremony for Blas and delighted for the winners, particularly for those that we know. Taste trail or not, we were still up for a meal later that night and had booked in to the Grey’s Lane Bistro. It was a good call and a lovely meal.

Took it easy on the Sunday morning and, after yet another good breakfast in Benner's, two happy punters checked out and headed home. Dingle, we'll be back!
Smiling traders!