Monday, March 14, 2022

Denis and Kate get bonus when Port barrels arrive. Enjoyable Barrel-Aged Kinsale Mead Tasting last week.

Denis and Kate get bonus when Port barrels arrive.

Enjoyable Barrel-Aged Kinsale Mead Tasting last week.

Denis and Kate of Kinsale Mead get a bonus when the Port barrels arrive.

During last week’s very enjoyable Barrel-Aged Mead Tasting, Kate and Denis (owners of Kinsale Mead) told us that they quite look forward to the arrival of Port barrels (known as Pipes), barrels that they use to finish ageing their Atlantic Dry Mead. Barrels are specified to be delivered “wet” and the exporters leave enough port in the barrel to fill three or four bottles! A nice little bonus indeed.

They also import other types of barrels. They prefer those with medium toast: “works best for us”. “They come after their second use, still a good bit of oak in them and we use them twice again. By the way, we lose about 8% via evaporation and leakage. Perhaps someone else in the drinks business might like to put something else into our used barrels to see what will happen!”

They founded the Kinsale Mead Company in 2016. Denis told us it is a bit like a winery in so far as equipment is concerned, expect they don’t need a pressing machine. They tell us that honey is the all-important ingredient and they get it mostly from Spain as there is not enough produced in Ireland. Denis revealed that they keep trying here and have sourced a summer honey from West Cork and the mead produced from that is maturing at present.

The tasting started surprisingly enough with the red. Of course, the Wild Red Mead was the only non-barrel aged one on the night. 

Mead #1: Wild Red Mead 12% ABV

It is a gorgeous melomel mead fermented off-dry with Irish blackcurrants, dark cherries and pure honey. An amazingly enticing drink with a beautiful, rich colour. It is delicious served at room temperature on its own or with food. All the meads are used in cocktails; the one below is just one example.

The Wexford blackcurrants, from the Jeffares farm, are beautifully balanced with the dark cherries, tempered over the hint of honey and matured to a silky smooth finish. Serve with roast duck, barbecue ribs or sausages and rich, tomato-y Italian dishes. Lovely with cheeseboards or good quality chocolate. A popular choice with wine drinkers who prefer a smoother style. Fantastic in a mulled mead for winter days.

Melomel Fruit Meads were Ireland’s medieval red wines made from native wild berries and raw honey and now created anew at Kinsale Mead Co’s meadery.

The judges really like the Wild Red Mead and it has been awarded Gold at the Blas na hEireann – Irish Food Awards, Gold at the Free From Food Awards.

Mead #2: Wild Red Mead - Merlot Barrel Aged 12%

Again, serve at room temperature. A gorgeous 3 year-old berry mead fermented off dry and silky smooth and matured for the last 12 months in Merlot oak wine barrels to add intriguing structure and depth.

"The barrels come from two of the so-called wild geese wineries in Bordeaux. We plan at some point to take a bottle over to Bordeaux and show them what mead tastes like from their barrels. The barrels were sourced from vineyards with Irish connections, known around Kinsale in particular (there is a wine museum here), as the Wine Geese term may have originated here. The label for this series, on the bottle above, is inspired by the Wine Geese."


  • Pate on thin toasted triangles (can use vegan pate eg mushroom)
  • Prosciutto or Parma ham
  • Artisan mini sausages (can use vegan sausages)


Their Atlantic Dry Mead is a delicious, off-dry traditional style mead, beautifully crisp with a lovely citrus honey flavour. Best enjoyed chilled or over ice as a pre-dinner drink. And it was used in the next two drinks to be tasted.

Mead #3 Atlantic Dry Mead - White Port Barrel Aged 12% ABV

An alluring 3-year-old traditional mead fermented from orange blossom honey from Valencia, finished crisp and honeyed, matured for the last 12 months in a oak port barrel. Enjoy this delectable, dry mead lightly chilled.

Subtle with delicate citrus on the nose, spicy on the palate, lots of honey and amaretto with oak, smooth, stone fruit character and nuttiness resonating on the palate.

Must admit I like my dry ports and so I ‘bonded” with this one immediately. Still by the finish, the Sauternes below was also becoming a favourite. Indeed, I liked all four and wouldn’t want to leave any behind if I had the choice.

Pair with:

  • Smoked Salmon crostini 
  • Mackerel or mushroom pate 
  • Sushi or sashimi 
  • Vanilla fairy cakes
  • Goatsbridge Smoked Trout
  • Poached Scallops

Atlantic Dry Mead - Sauternes Barrel Aged 12% ABV

A gorgeous 3-year-old traditional mead fermented from orange blossom honey, finished dry, crisp and honeyed, matured for the last 12 months in an oak wine barrel which had been previously used to make the famous sweet wine of Bordeaux. Barrels can range from €60 or 70 to €500 and the Sauternes barrels are not the cheapest!

The mead soaks through the barrel charring and into the French oak bringing back vanilla and caramel flavours as well as the flavours of the Sauternes that was in there before. Floral and almond aromas and a bright dry finish. 


  • Lemon Tart 
  • Salted nut selection
  • Cheese such as Durrus or Gubbeen and crackers
  • Olives

So there you are. Quite an eye-opening tasting indeed and one that means I’ll be looking more keenly when I see Kinsale Mead on a restaurant list, or in a cocktail, or indeed in an off-licence in the future. Big thanks to the hard-working Kate and Denis for the invite to join in on Zoom. 

No comments: