Sunday, 22 April 2012

Irish whiskey shorts

It feels like yonks since I last did a quick roundup so let's see who's been doing what...

Potent Potables

Matt Lange kicked off a new regular podcast on drinks with an episode dedicated to Irish whiskey. Jim Clarke of the Irish Whiskey Society sits in for a long and excellent discussion on distilling history, whiskey styles and what's coming down the road for the industry. On Jim's recommendation (no surprise to those who know him!), Matt cracks open a bottle of Black Bush at the end of the podcast.

2 Gingers

Potent Potables also interviewed Kieran Folliard, an Irish guy whose home has been Minnesota for the past 25 years. Kieran's Minneapolis bar, The Local, was famous for selling more Jameson than any other bar, um, bar none. Most of that was in their signature drinks of The Big Ginger and The Skinny Ginger - whiskey, ginger ale, lemon, lime and ice.

Having got the idea to swap out the pricey Jameson for a custom-blended Cooley, Kieran went the whole hog by selling his pub interests and distributing his own whiskey label - 2 Gingers.

It's another four year old Cooley blend, a 30/70 malt/grain mix. Unusually for a Cooley blend though, it has a little sherry-aged spirit. That's a twist that can work wonders, if last year's Kilbeggan 18yo is any indication. I'm quite curious to try it, but it's unlikely I'll have the chance on this side of the Atlantic.

Although the podcast was recorded before news broke of Beam cutting off independents, Matt asks some probing questions about security of supply. Given what we know now, it doesn't sound too certain beyond the current year.


The centenary of Titanic's sinking was last weekend. I mention it only because Titanic Whiskey is another one of those Cooley-powered independent brands. (Laboured maritime disaster metaphor dead ahead, Captain!) For indy bottlers, Beam is the iceberg and outfits like the Belfast Distillery Company risk being holed below the waterline by Beam's new policy of reserving stocks for its own brands. The lifeboat (sorry, nearly there) is the distillery that owner Peter Lavery has already promised to build in Belfast. Just as Slane Castle has been goaded into action, this might be the push that refloats (enough, already!) Titanic in Belfast.

Tullamore Dew memories wanted

Now that distilling is returning to Tullamore and the visitor centre is preparing to reopen later this year, Grant's have put out a call for memories and memorabilia related to the town's old distillery that closed in 1954.
If you worked in the distillery or have a special memory of the place, please trawl through your attics and dig out any photographs, letters or memorabilia that might help bring the old distillery back to life by illustrating your stories and anecdotes. We would like to display any marketing material, letters, press cuttings and photographs as well as packaging and machinery. No story is too big or small, we are welcoming all contributions. Please call us on 057 932 5015 or send an email to cathy.sullivan AT

Dublin events

The big one is WhiskyLive on Saturday, May 26th. There is lots happening that day and in the week leading up to it. Check the website for details.

The next Celtic Whiskey Shop tasting is, I think, Emerging Nations on May 10th. Tickets from the shop.

The influence of whiskey on the works of James Joyce will be revealed in Dublin, Distilleries and The Dead,  a talk by Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. I don't know how much whiskey talk there will actually be but it could be quite a bit judging by one of the speaker's published papers. That talk is on Saturday, April 28th, at Farmleigh. (Details)

The following day at Farmleigh sees another talk: Joyce and Chapelizod, by Barry McGovern. There is a good chance of whiskey creeping into this talk too, given Joyce's father's involvement with a distillery in Chapelizod. (Details)