Saturday 28 June 2008

Whiskey Miscellany

Clontarf Whiskey for sale

The Sunday Tribune reported recently that the owner of the Clontarf Whiskey brand had put it up for sale.

Clontarf was launched in 2000 by the Roaring Water Bay Spirits Company in Dublin. In 2003, Roaring Water Bay Spirits merged with the Great Spirits Company, owners of Knappogue Castle whiskey. It seems that the merged company, Castle Brands, now has one more whiskey brand than it requires.

The origins of distillation in Ireland
It's not known when the technique of distillation arrived in Ireland though it is generally accepted that well-travelled monks brought it back from parts of Europe under Arab influence. The earliest references to whiskey are said to be from the 12th Century (though looking in my own books, no specific source is cited).

An article on The Whisky Channel, however, notes the publication of a new pamphlet claiming to push the written record of distillation in Ireland back to the 6th Century.

The evidence rests on a Latin manuscript called The Lives of the Irish Saints, specifically a passage relating to St Ruadhan of Lothra (or Lorrha) of County Tipperary. Now I haven't read the pamphlet but this is where a little caution is warranted. The earliest copy of The Lives of the Irish Saints that I can find reference to dates from about 1400 and, as a more recent edition of The Lives of the Saints states:
Unfortunately, the Latin and Irish lives are late and unreliable and are mainly concerned with an entirely legendary account of how Ruadhan cursed Tara and caused it to be abandoned, and other magical elements.
New Kilbeggan, Tullamore Dew and Greenore tasting notes

John Hansell posted a spate of Irish whiskey tastings recently. Here's Kilbeggan 15yo, Tullamore Dew 10yo and Greenore 8yo/15yo.