This Kinsale Barrel Aged Mead is a lively, attractive drink with a decadent richness.

This Kinsale Barrel Aged Mead is a lively, attractive drink with a decadent richness. 

Kinsale Merlot Barrel Aged Wild Red Mead (Limited Edition) 2022, 70 cl bottle, 12% ABV 

RRP: €31.75. Stockists throughout Ireland, also in GB and NI, in Europe and beyond. Full list here.  

Mead (Miodh in Irish) is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, unique in that its primary ingredient is honey but also incredibly diverse – it can range from dry to very sweet, which may surprise you when you think of honey as its primary ingredient. It is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, fermented from honey and fruit and sometimes with herbs or spices added. 

Kate and Denis Dempsey are the couple behind the Kinsale Mead Company venture. In 2016, they went to work to rediscover the ancient art of mead-making and to create a world-class range of light and refreshing drinks. 

Much has been achieved since then. They have certainly opened many eyes (and palates), both here and abroad, to the flavours and possibilities of the ancient drink. Some meads have no fruit included but when it is (as is the case here), the drink is called a Melomel Mead.

Colour of this barrel-aged mead is a dark ruby with flashes of a lighter red coming through, depending on the light. Aromas are fruity, that mix of blackcurrants and cherries and a hint of the Merlot Barrel in which it spent the last year of its 3-year maturation. 

Smoothness is the initial impression on the palate, then the fruits, the cherry and the tartness of those Wexford blackcurrants well balanced with attractive forest honey notes and caramel from the Bordeaux oak barrels, a harmony that continues through to the dry finalĂ©.

They say: it is a gorgeous 3-year-old berry mead fermented off dry and silky smooth and matured for the last 12 months in French Merlot wine barrels to add intriguing structure and depth. “An exceptional, unique mead, a lively, attractive drink with a decadent richness. ….We were over the moon when this mead won the Drink of the Year from the Irish Food Writers’ Guild in 2021…..”

It was also awarded Drink of the Year from the Irish Food Writers’ Guild.

Denis and Kate suggest it is delicious served at room temperature on its own or with fine food. Other suggestions include pairing it with cheese boards or quality chocolate, with roast duck, grilled ribs or sausages and rich tomato-based Italian dishes.

The beautiful label was inspired by the story of the “Wild Geese” Irish who emigrated in waves from Ireland to the continent at the end of the Jacobite wars and settled in France. Many of them began to start trading and making wine. Today, in Bordeaux, you can find the names of those resilient Irish emigrants on the streets and vineyards of the region – Lynch, Barton, Boyd, Phelan – alongside other trading connections to the wine ports of Ireland.

Photo from the Kinsale Wine Museum in Desmond Castle.
The museum has since closed down.

Kinsale Mead: “In a sense, we are completing the circle, bringing those precious barrels back to Ireland. Kinsale in the 18th century was a thriving port, one of several in Ireland licensed to import wines from France, Spain and Portugal. The harbour and warehouses were full of barrels of the finest wines, ports and sherries.”

Much easier in those far-off days to get your hands on an empty cask.

Click on link for all the info on the full range of their meads at Kinsale Mead Company.