Showing posts with label Irish Whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irish Whiskey. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Whiskey Experience in Killarney. Whiskey Galore. Food Too.

The Whiskey Experience in Killarney
Whiskey Galore. Food Too

Here, in a bright room in Killarney, you are surrounded by whiskey. Hundreds of bottles line the shelves. Maybe a 1,000 different types, from Ireland, Scotland, United States and the rest of the world. What do you want?  Aromatic? Complex? Fruity? You’ll surely find it here in the Irish Whiskey Experience in New Street.

But you might be better to visit the website first and go through the listings. You’ll find about 35 pages, 20 bottles per page, new ones, old ones, extremely expensive ones, and thankfully many less expensive ones. Make a short list before calling to Killarney!
Once a major player

And if you know nothing about whiskey, well they’ll teach you. Lots of masterclasses daily, for the expert, for the enthusiast, for the newbie! Oh, by the way, you’ll also be fed here in the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder  where they have quite a decent menu, from morning 'til night!

We booked ahead on the site and after a warm welcome were soon seated with the menus, both drink (some excellent craft beers, local gins, and wines also available) and food. After putting in the food order, I began to look at the spirits, the whiskey in particular.

I remember hearing down in the distillery in Midleton that one of the best, if underrated, whiskeys in their vast portfolio is the Jameson Crested and that, at €5.65, was my first choice. I really enjoyed that very pleasant soft whiskey, full bodied, packed with vibrant flavours and spice, a lovely balance of oak and wood, a long warm finish and a winner for me. This is a blend of course of pot still and grain whiskeys.

My next was also a blend. The Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Special Reserve has been aged (for between 12 and 15 years) in both Bourbon and Oloroso (Sherry) barrels and cost €6.95 per glass (35.5ml). Again this was spicy and smooth and very enjoyable but I must say I preferred the Crested Ten. 

So It just goes to show that you should be guided by your own preferences, certainly not by price! And remember it is individual preferences that keep our local master distillers in form. If everyone went by price, it would soon put a stop to much of the enthusiasm and innovation among the individual distillers, the men and women who give us a wide and exciting range of choice.

Better tell you about the food offering. They start here in the morning with scones and blaas and so on. Then some nibbles, soda bread, various cheese offerings, and more. As the day goes on, small plates and plates come into their own.
Part of the bar

We enjoyed a couple of small plates. I choose the Quinlan’s Smoked Salmon salad with a buttermilk dressing (7.95). Kerry based Quinlan have a great reputation for their salmon and this was excellent. CL too had a lovely salad: St Tola’s Goat cheese with roasted beets, toasted almonds, chives (10.25).
St Tola

Then we moved on to the plates, a little bit more substantial, but I’m sure you can have two small plates if that’s what you want. Anyhow, her next salad wasn't as good, not dressed at all. That came with Wild Atlantic Fishcakes (12.50) and Irish Rapeseed mayonnaise.

I had better luck with a traditional dish that you rarely get out these days: Lamb Liver, with streaky bacon and slathered in a delicious onion gravy and served with sourdough toast (14.95). This was absolutely delicious. 
Delicious liver dish!

Desserts are available, mainly an excuse to try out various drinks with Kenmare ice-creams! And there’s Irish Coffee of course. Next time!

The Whiskey Experience has been open since March and is a great addition to the town. It is bright and comfortable, family friendly too I noted on the night, and the staff are helpful and friendly. A visit is recommended.

The Irish Whiskey Experience
Celtic Whiskey Killarney Bar & Larder
93 New Street
Killarney
Co. Kerry
(064) 663 5700
Facebook: @CelticWhiskeyBarLarder

Monday, July 6, 2015

Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey. New Experience in the Liberties

Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey

New Experience in the Liberties
Left to right: 24% - 65% - 85%
The Teeling family and their whiskey is back in Dublin’s Liberties, an area that once was outside the city and indeed, outside the law, home in the 18th century to some 37 distilleries not to mention houses of ill repute. So I found out during last week's tour of the new Teeling Distillery in Newmarket Place.

The official opening took place in June and the fully functional distillery is the first to be opened in Dublin in 125 years and is “the only operational distillery in the city”.  But the Teeling connection with whiskey goes back to 1782 when Walter Teeling set up a craft distillery in nearby Marrowbone Lane.

The new whiskeys are positioned at the premium end of the market and the promise is of “new flavours and aromas”. “The company is small, so the quality must be high.” There will be no Teeling gins or vodka but there is a Poitin. You may read all about their award winning products (and the family’s recent whiskey adventures in Cooley and much more) here.
Our informative tour guide told us that whiskey was invented by Irish monks in the 6th century and was called uisce beatha (water of life). But it was regarded as a medicine. Luckily, you need no prescription nowadays! Treat it with care though, as the Teeling whiskeys weigh in at 46%, somewhat higher than most.

The ingredients are simple: barley, yeast and water. The water is local, coming from the River Poddle that runs underneath Newmarket! The basic ingredients are first processed into a “beer” which has an abv of 8%. Then it is put through the magic of the three stills, the first one ups the abv to 24%, the second to 65% and, at the end of the third distillation, the abv is 85%.
By the way, US Bourbon has just one distillation, Scotch has two, while the Irish has three. Our guide told us the climate here is ideal for maturation “not too hot, not too cold”. At the end of the distillation process, the liquid is clear; flavour and colour is added during maturation in casks that have been previously used for making Sherry, Port, Wine, Bourbon, Madeira and other similar products.

The Teeling Single Grain is made from corn (which makes it that bit sweeter) and it spends six years in wine barrels. The Single Malt (100% barley) is matured in five different types of wine barrels.
A Favourite!

Their flagship whiskey is the Small Batch and is very smooth and is the one that you get to sample if you've paid for the basic tour. You are also given a cocktail; the current offering is a very seasonal and every enjoyable Teeling Summer Ice Tea and the ingredients are Single Batch, Orange liqueur, Pineapple syrup and ginger. Read all about the tours and the distillery here.

It is early days yet at Teeling in Newmarket but, as you may have seen on the recent TV series, this is a serious venture by a family well experienced in the trade. Just the other day, they appointed Sheila Baird as general manager of the visitor centre.
Sheila Baird
Sheila has over 20 years experience working in the hospitality industry, having been with a number of well-known hotels over the course of her career including the Quinn Hotel Group, the Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links and the Marine Hotel in Sutton. Most recently, Sheila worked with the Cara Hotel Group, as the general manager across a number of their properties.
In her new role, Sheila will oversee the day-to-day running of the visitor centre and will work with the marketing team to deliver an exceptional experience for visitors. The experience at the moment is not bad at all but looks as if it could get even better under Sheila: “I am delighted to take up this new role with the Teeling Whiskey Company. It’s an exciting opportunity to be involved in a brand new tourist attraction from the very beginning. I look forward to working with the entire Teeling team to deliver a stand-out customer experience for visitors from both home and abroad.”

Best of luck to Teeling and to Sheila. She could do worse than start with the taxi drivers - I had to give my taxi driver directions!

See also:
Dublin's Chapter One Restaurant
National Botanic Gardens
Dinner of Delights at Restaurant Forty One
 



Monday, February 9, 2015

Midleton Distillery Tour. Happy Angels Hover Over 1.2m Casks

Midleton Distillery Tour
Happy Angels Hover Over 1.2m Casks

In Warehouse 39B
“This is the biggest Pot Still in the world,” said David McCabe, our guide on a tour of Midleton Distillery. The copper giant that he showed us in the old distillery has a capacity 143,872 litres and is no longer in use. Copper has some key properties that make it highly suitable for the task: it is easy to shape, has good conductivity and removes impurities.

In the new distillery, Midleton has the biggest operating stills in the world. And the three copper giants that we saw are due to be joined by another three later in the year. It is amazing to see these three in action, their contribution coming after the milling, the mashing and the fermenting.

And when they have their work done, the triple distillation (most Scotch whisky is distilled twice), the infant whiskey is piped out to holding tanks before being moved again to mature in casks, 1.2 million of them at last count! The giant warehouses make quite a “town”. For more details on how whiskey is made, and we are talking Irish here, the one with the “e”, see here.
The old distillery
Then anothering mind-boggling figure as we sipped from 24 year old and 17 year old whiskeys in one of the warehouses. The evaporation of the alcohol into the air, known in many cultures as the “angels share”,  amounts to some 24,500 bottles of Jameson per annum! Happy angels but there's some harmless pollution, a dark dust that settles on the warehouses. I have also seen it at the Remy Martin distillery in Cognac; hard to miss it there, as the buildings are white.

The difference between our tastings was not just the age factor. The 24 year old had been matured in bourbon casks while the 17 year was from a sherry cask so there was a colour and flavour difference as well.

The colour difference is easily seen at the Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard Whiskey Academy, the pride and joy of David, our Whiskey Ambassador. It is based in a restored building in the old distillery. Back to figures briefly. The old distillery take up about 12 acres while the new one is ten times larger.
The Academy class-room is state of the art, though David also uses the old chalk from time to time too to illustrate a point. Pupils are taken through the process, step by step, and get the opportunity to blend their own whiskey which they can take home with them.

But the theory lessons are short and you won't be bogged down with detail. In between, you are taken out and about on the site to see the practical side of the whisky making business. Check out those Pot Stills. Hands on. See and taste. Lots to see. You’ll notice the Americans and Spaniards put their bungs on the side of the cask, the Irish on the top because the casks are stored in an upright position here.

Since opening its doors in February 2013, the Irish Whiskey Academy has become the dedicated whiskey institute of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, hosting courses that focus on the production and heritage of Irish whiskey produced at Midleton. It started off to train the distillery sales force but now there are courses to suit everyone and many students come from abroad. Check it out here  and give yourself a present!

Guess which came from the sherry cask!
One type of whiskey, the Single Pot Still, is the real Irish. This spirit almost died a death, for many reasons, but is now on the up and up.  Check the story of this premium product out here where you’ll read that Jameson is not a Single Pot Still but Redbreast is. 

If you join the Stillhouse (no fee), you’ll get special offers from time to time. I just ordered one bottle of a limited edition of Mano a Lámh, a Redbreast made in special sherry casks. But you’d better act quickly as I believe there are not very many left! Must say though, aside from the odd offer, there is a wealth of information on the site and it is well worth a look.


After that, why not take a trip to Midleton to take the distillery tour. Details here.

Cheers. David and Yours Truly,
after breaking in to the 24 year old!
Evidence is evident!