Wednesday 18 January 2012

Irish whiskey shorts

Beamed up

Beam has completed it's acquisition of Cooley Distillery. Onwards and upwards now. I'll be interested to see what happens with Cooley's many collaborations and private label bottlings. The other two distillers (Bushmills and Irish Distillers) have been far less approachable in this regard and now Cooley has deep enough pockets to ease out of the low end and low volume markets, if it chooses to.

When Bushmills was hived off from Irish Distillers in 2005 I expected some robust, global competition that would further energise the Irish whiskey category but Bushmills has been very withdrawn ever since. Perhaps Beam will square up to Jameson and we'll finally see some sparks fly.

Save the date

The date for Whisky Live Dublin has been announced: Saturday 26th May. I enjoyed it very much in 2011, particularly the masterclasses. If you are a member of the Irish Whiskey Society (IWS), don't buy a ticket yet, because there will likely be a special deal.

It's hardly worth mentioning the January society tasting, because it's all sold out. February's will be Whiskey & Chocolate (Thursday, 23rd Feb); booking for that should open towards the end of this month.

Speaking of the society, IWS president, Leo Phelan, was the special guest on episode 351 of WhiskyCast for a wide-ranging discussion of Irish whiskey history, development and future trends.

On the perfectly-shaped rocks

The Irish Whiskey Public House in Washington DC looks like a grand new spot for a whiskey and a plate of food. The bit that caught my eye on their website was this:
To maximize the delicacy and experience of each whiskey, the venue carries an ice machine shipped directly from Ireland that creates the perfectly shaped ice cube for opening up and revealing each whiskey’s full character.
Are we known for our world-class ice-shaping technology? And what shape is the perfect shape? Is it the cube with a deep indented base? I never really thought about it but those cubes do sit very well within the liquid. (I wouldn't use ice to reveal a whiskey's character though. Best stick with neat for that.)

Anyway, the bar opens with 50 different Irish whiskeys. In a photo I can see Redbreast 12yo & 15yo, Greenore 18yo, Locke's 8yo, all the Bushmills, all the Jamesons (except the Rarest Vintage, I think) and many more. A very respectable line-up, better than most Irish pubs.

Pub of the week

I dropped into The Palace Bar in Dublin to finally try their new house whiskey, a 9 year old single cask single malt, bottled at 46%. It's from Cooley and Cooley malt is just great at that age. I reckon they got a good cask here so it's worth €6.80 for a glass.

If you are visiting Ireland and fancy having one Irish whiskey in one traditional Irish pub, I suggest a shot of Palace Bar whiskey in The Palace Bar. If you want to further explore the whiskey landscape, the bar has a very wide selection of bottles. Ask for their whiskey menu.

Price-wise, The Palace is €4.40/€15 on the Jameson/Midleton index. (I'm trying this out; it needs a catchy name. J/M index?)

Some sounds with that?

Treat yourself to a glass of something from the shelf and spin up some nicely textured modern jazz from the Portico Quartet. This track will be on their new album due out later this month. The guy who looks like he's banging away on a couple of barbecues is actually playing the hang.