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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.