Saturday 11 February 2012

Irish whiskey shorts

Win an Indigo & Cloth Edition Kilbeggan

You can win bottle 100/100 of the whiskey I wrote up yesterday if you buy an item of clothing in the Indigo & Cloth store over the weekend.

From our Boston correspondent

The Irish Whiskey Society of America ran a clever You don't know John tasting where each round pitched a (John) Jameson against a (John) Power, blind of course. The upshot:
Round 1: Jameson NAS v Powers NAS
Winner: Powers (almost an even split though) 
Round 2: Jameson 12yo v Powers 12yo
Winner: Powers (comfortably)
Round 3: Jameson Gold Reserve v Powers John's Lane Release
Winner: Powers (honourable mention for the Gold Reserve)
There was a bonus tasting of the hot-off-the-docks Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel. This whiskey was well received and stole the Favourite of the Night vote.

The Gospel according to Alex

Cormac MacConnell has canonised Cooley's Alex Chasko for his Connemara Bog Oak (still not quite released). That has upped the ante considerably for complimentary blog reviews. Well, this blog will not be found wanting, so here goes: Alex Chasko is the Dr Dolittle of Yeast, the Picasso of the Pot Still, a Cask-Strength Kasparov!

But it's no exaggeration to say that Alex has the magic touch when it comes to creating great whiskeys. I think the secret is really understanding the whole process, from mash to maturation to blending, and lots and lots of experimentation. I happened to taste one of Alex's latest experiments this week. It's very unexpected and rather good, but I won't say any more about it until the rest of the Irish Whiskey Society has had a chance to try it.

Tweet Tasting

The Whisky Wire is holding a Cooley Tweet Tasting on March 7th. Anyone can follow along, and Noel Sweeney, Cooley's Master Blender, will be online too.

Irish whiskey sales in the US

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States released data (pdf) on the US spirits market in 2011. Of the total whiskey market (Bourbon, Canadian, Scotch, etc), Irish whiskey had about 3.6% (by volume). Scotch had 18.8%. It looks like Irish is way behind but that represents a 23.6% improvement in a category that only rose 1.4% overall.

Some of that growth came, perhaps, at the expense of blended Scotch, which lost 202,000 cases in sales compared with a 327,000 case increase for Irish.

One other point of interest is that Irish sales only include "High End Premium" and "Super Premium" whiskeys, with no contribution at the "Value" and "Premium" levels which account for about 63% of Scotch sales by volume. "High End Premium" includes Jameson, which I'd regard as an entry-level (though very good) whiskey in Ireland. We really don't make poor whiskey. (OK, I've had one or two.)

I'll have to try a VAT 69 or Passport Scotch to see what a "Value" whiskey tastes like.

Whiskey saves the planet

An Irish researcher has figured out how to turn the waste products of whiskey-making into biofuel. If I'm understanding this right then, the more whiskey we drink, the sooner we solve the climate change problem. (These "waste" products don't really go to waste though. The draff is used for animal feed.)

Baroque DJ

This week, something bizarre happened: I heard some good harpsichord music! The classical stations are way too fond of baroque chamber music, and that soulless instrument in particular. But, it turns out, you can eke some feeling out of the darn things after all. Les Tendre Sentiments by Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer on Lyric FM's John Kelly Ensemble caught my ear and, long story short, I ended up buying the whole album on iTunes. Here's a different piece by the same dude: