Kinsale Mead Company
Up and Running.
|Kate does a check|
The Kinsale Mead Company was officially launched last Friday (13th) but owners Kate and Denis Dempsey have been working away since the spring in their meadery in an industrial unit in the Barrack Lane area of the town. Indeed, they already have two products on the market and a third due any day now.
|Note the distinctive bottle shape|
Atlantic Dry Mead is a traditional mead type, white in colour and with a refreshing citrus orange honey flavour. Its primary ingredient is raw orange blossom honey from southern Spain. Kinsale’s history is of course uniquely linked to Spain and the battle of Kinsale in 1601. This mead is best served chilled, or over ice or with tonic water and a thin slice of orange. Atlantic Dry Mead is lovely with olives, herby pasta dishes or with a dessert like raspberry and white chocolate tart.
Their Wild Red Mead is a melomel or fruit mead type, made from a Spanish dark forest honey, tart blackcurrants and sweet cherries to produce a zesty fruity aroma and long finish, perfect to have chilled or at room temperature. This Wild Red Mead also pairs very well with a cold meat platter, cheese board or sticky barbecued ribs.
The pair, both with an ABV of 12%, are available in local bars and restaurants and in the 1601 off-licence in Kinsale, also in O’Brien’s, Matson’s and Bradley’s and in SuperValu via the Food Academy. Mead is more a wine than beer, with a final alcohol level anywhere between 10 and 18 percent. Each of the Kinsale bottles is rated 12%.
|The business end of the meadery|
The newest version is a Six Berry mead. It is not in bottle yet but we got a taste from the tank when we visited last week. It has a red berry nose (raspberry and strawberry), fruity on the palate and again with that distinctive off-dry finish.
|A crossflow filter|
Local water is an important ingredient but honey is the essential, and expensive, component and indeed accounts for about thirty per cent of the ingredients. The Kinsale company are using Spanish honey while the country’s other meadery (at the Lough Gill brewery in Sligo) are also importing it.
The process itself, including fermentation, with good temperature, environmental and hygiene control, takes four to five months before the mead is ready for bottling.
Initially, the honey has to be heated but “not too much”. They use a honey pump to purify it and then mix it into the water (local) with a large whisk! A Cotes du Rhone yeast is then added. For the red, the frozen fruit added consists of the marvellous blackcurrants from Mr Jeffares of Wexford and cherries from Sunnyside in Rathcormac.
When the primary fermentation, usually at about 17.5 degrees, is complete, the temperature is reduced to 3 degrees to stop the action of the yeast which flocculates to the bottom of the tank. There the mead sits for a few days and then it is racked off the lees and into a new tank. A filtering process, using an Italian crossflow filter (more normally seen in a winery), also takes place and the now crystal clear mead is allowed mature for a few months.
Hygiene is an intrinsic part of the meadery and Kinsale Mead give it a very high priority from start to finish. When the mead is ready, the bottles are cleaned using a Ferrari engineered device. They are filled, corked (by hand, at present) and then labelled, all on site.
|Ferrari in the meadery|
Kate and Denis have indicated various uses for the mead (see opening paragraphs). But they also asked various people around Kinsale for ideas. Jamie from Haven Seafood suggested adding a few drops to an oyster. And there was a general guideline to use the white mead in situations where'd you would use a white wine.
And a corresponding guideline applies to the red. You could try adding a dash to venison dishes. Use in sauces for Barbecued ribs or similar. And ever inventive local chocolatier Frank at Koko has used the red as a main ingredient in a dark Madagascan chocolate truffle.
Kate and Denis have quite a bit of space in their unit with a welcome room and bar at the front. The eye-catching counter was crafted in Carrignavar from timber between two and three hundred years old. Next year, you’ll have a chance of seeing it yourself as the company intend to start doing tasting tours.
|The bar counter|