Thursday 12 June 2008

Whiskey at the Taste of Dublin Festival

Today I attended the Taste of Dublin Festival in the Iveagh Gardens. While the food there is wonderful there is plenty to amuse the whiskey geek too. Here are some of the stands that caught my eye.

Cooley Whiskey
There was a fairly complete range of Cooley's own brands on show, including the new Greenore 15yo. The Tyrconnell 10yo sherry and port finishes were there too but the madeira finish is apparently out of stock. The good news is that it will reappear before the end of the year.

The mystery of the Greenore 10yo that materialised a few months ago in Canada and nowhere else was also explained to me by Jack Teeling, Executive Director of Cooley. The original plan was to follow up the 8yo Greenore with a 10yo but the 8yo proved so successful that the older stock was vatted with the younger whiskey to extend the product. A contract with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario for the 10yo still had to be fulfilled however so they got a one-off batch. There is no plan to produce more of the 10yo.

Celtic Whiskey Shop
The Celtic Whiskey Shop is pouring from the Irish Distillers range at the festival (e.g. Powers, Jameson Gold, Jameson 18yo) plus a few Scotches (Auchentoshan Three Wood, Arran 10yo, Bowmore 18yo).

The Irishman Whiskey
The Hot Irishman company started out selling Irish coffee in a bottle in 1999 but subsequently launched two whiskeys: The Irishman 70 and The Irishman Single Malt.

I had heard promising things about these whiskeys but hadn't tried them until today. They are seriously good. Both are vatted from casks specially selected by Bernard Walsh of Hot Irishman and thus have their own distinct character.

The Irishman 70 is the real revelation. It is technically a blend but uniquely among all whiskeys it is a blend of 70% malt whiskey and 30% pure pot still whiskey. In other words, it does not contain any grain whiskey and so is far livelier on the palate than a typical blend. This is a whiskey I have to revisit.

Mitchell & Son
Mitchell & Son are mainly promoting their wines at the Taste Festival but you might be able to persuade them to pull out the bottle of Green Spot Pure Pot Still whiskey from behind the counter.

Murphy's Ice Cream
I knew from Kieran Murphy's elegant weblog that he makes Irish whiskey-flavoured ice cream in his shop in Dingle. Unfortunately this wasn't on offer at the Taste Festival but if it's anywhere near as good as their vanilla it might just be worth the trip to Dingle to sample.

The Murphys recommend Paddy whiskey as an ice cream ingredient, by the way.

Coole Swan
I had my first taste of Coole Swan cream liqueur at the festival. Think Baileys reconstructed with the finest ingredients: fresh double cream, single malt Irish whiskey, real chocolate, cocoa, madagascan bourbon vanilla. It's a stunning concoction.

Coole Swan was being promoted by Brinkman Beverages who also distribute Michael Collins whiskey in Ireland. They hadn't quite got their stall fully set up when I stopped by and the whiskey bottles weren't open for sampling. Perhaps that has changed by now.

Irish Mist
Irish Mist is a blend of Irish whiskey, honey and herbs and it tastes as strong as that list of ingredients suggests. I guess you either like it or you don't. I found it drinkable over ice but I won't be rushing to add a bottle to my drinks cabinet.

Shu Sake
I know almost nothing about sake but during a stint working in Japan I was introduced to some sake of the finest quality. It was an exceptional drink and miles ahead of the normal rice wine I drank around the same time. I have hankered after finding some of the premium stuff ever since.

I didn't find it at the Shu stand but there was as decent a range of sake there as you are going to find in Ireland. I tried several, each quite distinct and pleasant in its own way. It's a subject worthy of further investigation.