Showing posts with label Clonakilty Distillery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clonakilty Distillery. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

What To Drink When You’re Not Drinking.

What To Drink When You’re Not Drinking.
Taste Better Than Previous Efforts. Look Better Too!
NA Cocktail at Hotel Europe

While settling up after a recent lunch at Kingdom 1795 in Killorglin, we began talking to Suzi about non alcoholic drinks. She and chef Damien, who have put so much into this lovely new restaurant, carry a selection including Stonewell NA Cider, Seedlip and Heineken Zero.

Bradley's include
a NA Cava
I first came across Seedlip a couple of weeks back at lunch in the Whale’s Tale Bistro in Clonakilty. This was the Garden version, the company do two others: Spice 94 and Grove 42. 

So where did the name come from? Seedlip: Over three hundred years ago, it was common for physicians to distil herbal remedies using copper stills, harnessing the power of nature & alchemy to solve medical maladies. In 1651, one such physician, John French, published The Art of Distillation documenting these non-alcoholic recipes. At that same time, a family in Lincolnshire had started farming, hand sowing seeds using baskets called ‘seedlips’.

Seedlip in Clon
Today, you can find Seedlip in quite a few places and it does indeed give you a choice. The Whale’s Tail version was a substitute for gin and served in the big fashionable gin glass. I tasted it like that and it did seem a bit “vegetable” - there were a few slices of cucumber in there too. But once the Fever-Tree Elderflower was added, the magic happened and the combination was just excellent, very acceptable indeed.

In Kingdom 1795, I tasted the Spice version neat, very aromatic and you could easily see how it would be the basis for an excellent drink. Again, Suzi suggested the Fever-Tree as an ideal companion. No wonder the Seedlip company reckon they have the solution to the question “what to drink when you’re not drinking” #wtdwynd
Killorglin's Kingdom, well worth a visit

There is a Seedlip rival on the market also, marketed as a non-alcoholic gin and called Ceders. I was talking to Michael Creedon of Bradley’s (North Main Street, Cork), about things non-alcoholic and he says there is a a definite trend in that direction. He has non-alcoholic wines in stock and also the Ceders.

When we departed Kingdom 1795, we went for a superb walk in the sun on the stunning Bray Head (Valentia Island). On the way back, we called to the Glenbeigh Hotel, again looking for a non alcoholic drink. And right in front of us, on the counter of the old bar, there was a card full of suggestions (Coca Cola suggestions, I think). The driver tried one, the South African “Appletiser”, a sparkling fruit drink with carbonated water, and it went down well. We also saw the non alcoholic Cronin’s Cider (bottled in Wexford) but too late!

NA Cocktail at Cask
based on Ceders spirit
We went upmarket later on that night. In the bar of the Europe Hotel - probably the best hotel bar in the country - we checked out the offerings. They have a terrific cocktail list - I can recommend the Brandy Alexander and the Negroni - that includes a choice of non alcoholic offerings including a long and delicious apple based one with ginger and lemongrass (the name escapes me). And we were also offering a zero alcohol wine.

They also carry the Erdinger NA beer, quite a good one too. I also find the Paulaner a handy substitute from time to time. And yes they support local here with normal strength beer on draught from Killarney Brewery and bottles of the NA Cider by Kerry based Cronins.

We also tasted that cider at lunch in Dingle’s Boatyard the following day. It is refreshing, somewhat drier than their regular 4.5% offering, and not bad at all. It does come for some reason in the smaller 330 bottle.
A selection of O'Brien's zero alcohol wines

Back in town, after the Kerry break, we called to O’Brien’s in Douglas. They carry the Seedlip drinks and indeed say the non-alcoholic drinks in general are flying, so much that they have to work hard to keep on. They have quite a few non-alcoholic wines including some from Torres and three that they bring in themselves.
At The Kingsley

Just the other night, we were going through the drinks list in the Springboard Restaurant in the Kingsley Hotel and spotted a trio of non-alcoholic cocktails (not too many places are using “mocktail” these days). They have the Shirley Temple and the Fishers and the Nojito, the latter an amalgam of mint, fresh lime juice, sugar and soda water. 

So there you are. Just a sample of the many alcoholic options out there now. Now you know #wtdwynd. Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Clonakilty in 24 Hours. A July Excursion!

Clonakilty in 24 Hours.
A July Excursion!
Clonakilty Black Pudding and strawberries, delicious starter at the Emmet Hotel

Lunch on the beach at The Fish Basket
Mussels (left) and Fish Tacos on the lunch menu at The Fish Basket. Both polished off.

The sun is out as we arrive at Long Strand after the drive down from Cork city. The idea was to have lunch at the Fish Basket which has established itself in a wooden shack on the edge of the beach. But we are a little too early as lunch service doesn’t start until about 12.45am. So that gives us time to take a walk on the long and pleasant beach, taking in the splendid views of Galley Head.

When we get back, the Fish Basket crew, a friendly and efficient bunch, have turned the kitchen after a busy breakfast service and we check out the lunch menu. We went on to enjoy two delicious fish dishes, well cooked and neatly presented. There are a few dozen seats inside and as many outside. Great spot and Very Highly Recommended.

Scannell's, a Bar with a Back-Garden Buzz
Together again, in Scannell's

After lunch we headed back to a private visit to the industrial unit in Bandon where Philip O’Connor and his staff turn out those delicious Seymours Irish Biscuits. By the time we get back to Clonakilty, we agree that we deserve a drink and so we called to Scannell’s who we know, from previous visits, serve craft beer. 

Hardly anybody in the bar but the extensive beer-garden at the back is buzzing. It is the 4th of July and there are quite a few foreign accents and every French person in the area seems to be here. We get a seat at a bench (under the shade in our case) and enjoy some Blacks of Kinsale 1601 lager and also the Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale.

The Friendly and Central Emmet Hotel

Fish for dinner
Our base for the night was the O’Keeffe family owned Emmet Hotel, situated in the Georgian square that also owes its name to the Irish patriot. Lots of Irish patriots honoured in the lovely flower bedecked West Cork town. There is a statue of Michael Collins in the square and nearby streets are named, Ashe, Wolfe Tone, and there are more. Indeed, you may visit the Michael Collins house right here in the square.

This is a small high-ceilinged hotel with 20 rooms, a lovely dining room, a garden room and a garden for barbecues and other events. Might be small but there’s a lot going on here. 

It was long been known as a supporter of local producers and this continues with the likes of Caherbeg Pork, Fresh Fish Deli, Irish Yogurts, Rosscarbery Recipes, ZT Fish Rosscarbery, Gloun Cross Dairy, Shannonvale Foods, Bushy’s Strawberries, Clonakilty Black-pudding, and Clona Dairy listed.
Pancakes with superb local bacon

We had our dinner and breakfast here, both very enjoyable. The Emmet is well worth checking out, a lovely friendly well-run spot right in the town centre.

After that breakfast, we strolled around the Friday Farmers Market, which now sets up in Emmet Square, before our visit to the nearby Clonakilty Distillery, the newest attraction in this lively town. And we had lunch in the distillery’s Whale’s Tail Bistro before a leisurely journey back to the city.

Also on this trip:
Clonakilty Distillery
Bandon's Seymour Biscuits

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Clonakilty Distillery. A New West Cork Landmark.

Clonakilty Distillery. A New West Cork Landmark

The spanking new Clonakilty Distillery, so conveniently situated on the N71 (the main road from the city to West Cork), is well worth a visit as I found out on July 5th. It has its own car park (tour buses accommodated) but we just strolled in from the town - we had booked online a few days earlier. Like most distilleries, there are a number of tour options; basically, the more you pay, the better you taste!
Checking the lauter tun, Paddy (left) and Pedro

Our guide, Paddy Hodnett (the visitor centre supervisor), was in top form as he welcomed up and took us upstairs to begin in a room that displayed the town’s drinks heritage and much more. The display, reinforced from time to time by Paddy, told us of the great brewing companies, including Deasy’s. You need barley for beer (and whiskey) and the climate here, mild and damp, is ideal for the crop. And, uniquely, they had a special sea manure, a mix of seaweed and silt available through frequent clearing of the area’s sea access.

Anyone for Gin School?

Next we were on a mezzanine (railed!) that gave us a great view of the three large stills below. Photos taken, we headed on down to the base of the stills and were filled in on purposes of the various tanks around the place, all part of the process, and were told that Clonakilty use 50% malted and 50% unmalted. 

The distillery’s gin, Minke (named after the whale), is also made here in a much smaller set-up compared to the whiskey stills. Interestingly, two local botanicals  (Sea Pink and Rock Samphire), are used. No less than five separate distillations are required to ensure that the best is extracted from each botanical. Then all five are blended together. “It’s an expensive way to make it but the best way,” said Paddy. The process ensures that the likes of the Sea Pink (with its two week window) is at its freshest best and the use of fresh citrus (rather than dried) gives the Minke an edge as well.

While the gin is selling well you, and distiller Paul Corbett, will have to wait up to two and a half years for the whiskey. They are looking forward to seeing how their own Heritage Barley - the owners, the Scully family, have been farming in the area for hundreds of years - works out. In the meantime, they have finished off whiskey that was sourced elsewhere and we would taste some of those with Paddy guiding us through.
The big three

We started our threesome with the Single Batch, a light to medium bodied spirit finished in a refurbished wine cask. Then a definite step up as we enjoyed the same whiskey but this one finished in a Cognac cask. He kept the best until last. The 15 year old Single Malt was exquisite, rounded, smooth, not too many words needed (just lots of euro!). All the tasting was carried out in the bar, the Speakeasy.
My tasting

Just before, we had seen a film, showing the warehouse on the Scully family farm, out towards the spectacular Galley Head, “perfect to mature fine whiskey”. “We use Country Connections to source the best casks worldwide,” Paddy continued. “though the majority are Bourbon. So our whiskey gets the best possible start. There is minimum filtration…, our commitment to quality is ongoing.”

Clonakilty Distillery founders, the Scully family, have patiently farmed by this coastal land for eight successive generations. And their promise is to use that same patience and attention to detail in the distillery. We wish Helen and Michael all the best in this new venture.
West Cork Crab Salad

After the tour, we called to the shop and bought a bottle of the gin to try at home. By the way, they run a popular Gin School  here with the help of a row of mini-stills. It is a great group experience. So team-building or a stag or hen, why not book in and have loads of fun while making your own gin (you’ll also enjoy a Minke G&T) and then take home your own bottle.

The whale’s tail is a symbol of the distillery and is also the name of its bistro. We called there too - it was lunchtime. And here we found a non-alcoholic gin: the Seedlip Garden Gin with Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, a lovely aperitif.
Gin distillery

This is a large and comfortable restaurant serving lunch, dinner (including Early Bird) and Sunday lunch. It was a gorgeous day outside (they also have an outdoor area for dining) so I was thinking of something light and picked the delicious Cork Summer Crab Salad with mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, croutons and tomatoes. CL enjoyed her Cod Fishcake with pickled cucumber and aioli is typical. 

You’ll see local producers named on the menu and all their beef, chicken and fish is locally sourced. Of course, their own whiskey and gin is here, along with a good wine offering and, again, craft beer from the local brewery. Great to see that support for local. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

Clonakilty Distillery     
Fish cake starter in the Whale's Tail Bistro
The Waterfront
West Cork
51 37`17.21 N
8 53`10.37 W
T: +353 23 884 0635

Also on this trip:
Bandon's Seymour Biscuits