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Friday, October 20, 2017
Great to see the Powers John’s Lane, one of my favourite whiskeys coming out on top at the Irish Whiskey Awards last night. Thanks to the Celtic Whiskey Shop, you can see all the winners below....
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
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).
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
(064) 663 5700
Climbing Torc Mountain
Valentia Sky Walk. Islands in the Sun
Crag Cave. Underground in Kerry
Climbing Torc Mountain
Valentia Sky Walk. Islands in the Sun
Crag Cave. Underground in Kerry
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
World Rediscovers Irish WhiskeyDave Broom’s Breakfast-style Whiskey.
|Whiskey ageing silently in Midleton.|
It was a tax dodge that led to one of the great whiskeys!
Leading whiskey (sometimes whisky) authority Dave Broom was talking about Green Spot, the first drop up for tasting during the Roaring Silence - Silent Stills Awaken, the title of a session on the irish whiskey renaissance at Ballymaloe’s LitFest at the weekend.
Because of a punitive tax on malted barley, the Irish distillers decided to use a portion of unmalted barley in their mix and that style became known as Single Pot Still and is now part of the astonishing revival of the Irish spirit. Dave did take the opportunity to point out that John Jameson was a Scot.
|Tomas Clancy (left), Dave Broom and Brian Nation (right)|
Quite a bit to go yet though according to Tomas Clancy, another of the speakers on the panel. he would like to see the industry here mirror that of Scotland with a mix of both small and large operators. He pointed out that the Scottish industry is worth three billion while, at present, the Irish weighs in at three hundred million. “Investment here, he said, “is heavy.”
Dave may not always be sure of which time zone he is in but he knows his whiskey and obviously likes the Green Spot: “..stimulating nose (a signature of Irish whiskey and it dangerous drinkability!)...oily, coating the tongue..sweet...fresh acidity….
Brian Nation the enthusiastic Master Distiller at Jameson Ireland explained how the malted/unmalted mix and the triple distilling “imparts a creamy mouthfeel. The style has orchard fruits and sweet spices (from the distillate) and is toasty from the wood.”
He pointed out that maturing in wood casks had been started a long time ago by Mitchell & Sons Wine Merchants in Dublin, still associated with Green Spot. And he also paid tribute to his predecessor in Midleton, Barry Crockett, whose foresight “in laying down stocks” was crucial to the current revival.
Late in the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th, Irish whiskey was the world leader but over the decades lost out in the UK and US markets because of various factors, including prohibition, World War 1, War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War. And the decline continued right through the Second World War with all the American soldiers in Britain being wowed by Scotch.
Boosted by a Royal Commission 1909 finding in its favour, the Scots were benefitting hugely from improved versions of Aeneas Coffey’s 1830 Column Still invention. French born Coffey was an Irish tax inspector but the industry here dismissed his breakthrough invention, to their cost. “We were the masters of the Pot Still,” said Tomas Clancy. “But Irish Whiskey was too good, too early.”
|Feeling's Single Malt|
Broome, who described Coffey’s invention as “a good piece of kit”, now introduced Teeling Whiskey Single Grain, made from maize. It is matured initially in American oak and is “a great whiskey, creamier and sweet, with banana notes, and a short finish. It is gentle and light, a breakfast style whiskey. Good for cocktails too, very versatile.”
This weighs in at 46% abv and Dave suggested adding some water. I did and got a good result!
Brian told us that this Single Grain, made with maize and malt, is produced in the column still. “It is a fruity, floral style. Jameson, by the way, is a blend of single grain and Single Pot Still.”
In the 1940’s, people, especially Americans, began to look for lighter whiskeys and Tullamore Distillery deliberately blended for the palate. Now there is, since 2013, a brand new distillery there. It has impressed Dave Broome. “It is an astonishing piece of work - go see it.”
The piece of work we had in front of us at that point was the Tullamore Dew Phoenix. Brian Nation said you have to be innovative to meet demand for styles and brands. “Don't sit on your laurels. Look to innovate and stay ahead of the game.”
On the whiskey itself, Dave remarked that the Single Pot Still comes through. “It has a rich dark character and you also note the effects of the sherry barrels. At 55%, it need water. It is lovely, well balanced, with good characters.”
Tomas Clancy said our ancestors didn't want to waste anything. So the empty barrells from Jerez and Porto and other places were put to use to mature whisky. “Colour was one of the main impacts as the barrels changed a dirty looking spirit into an inviting looking liquid.”
Lots of praise for the “innovative, cheeky Teelings” from Broom as we sampled their Single Malt. “Keep an eye on them,” he continued. “They are raising the bar”. Clancy agreed:”They are fantaiusci, will get even more so. They are not in it by accident, they have seen where the opportunities are and should have a fascinating future.”
The introduction of our Glendalough 7 year old Single Malt provoked a discussion about the future. The past first though as Tomas said the current 9 to 10 per cent annual growth is down to Midleton. The stills at Midleton are artisan, don't lose sight of it. Micros are okay but won't be the industry in 20 years time. He remarked too that distilleries need to be encouraged and instanced the fact that one of the bigger new ones had received a half million euro water bill even before they had started operating!
|Whiskey making, old and new|
Brian Nation said at present Ireland has four per cent of the world market and the plan is to grow that to 12 per cent by 2030. “There is plenty of room for other distillers but we need to see the quality kept up. One bad apple….”
We had earlier met Dave Broom’s breakfast whiskey. Now he introduced us to his desert island tipple, the one he'd grab if the ship was going down, none other than the local Redbreast 12, “a style of whiskey the world has fallen in love with, really well priced.”
Brian explained that the key difference here is the cuts during the distillation. “It is full bodied, robust, lots of flavours. On the nose you have the fruitcake aromas, a contribution from the Oloroso casks. The feel is creamy and there are spices there too and also that dried fruit. For me, this is an exquisite whiskey.”
Dave, who had been totally encouraging all along about Irish Whiskey, rounded it all off by saying the category was “on fire”. “Everyone wants Irish Whiskey!” Sláinte to the panel and to Colm McCan and his volunteers at LifeFest who, year after year, come up with the goods.