Friday 16 October 2015

Irish Whiskey Awards 2015

I try to avoid mentioning whiskey awards, in general. They are too often profit-driven, cash-for-medals wheezes designed to deceive consumers.

Not so the Irish Whiskey Awards, presented last night at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin. These are organised with scrupulous fairness by Ally Alpine of the Celtic Whiskey Shop. No fee is charged to enter a product (though bottles for judging must be supplied, of course) and profits from ticket sales for the awards evening go to the charity, Mary's Meals.

The Awards are enthusiastically supported by the industry in Ireland, which put its best spirits forward for consideration and turned up in force last night to collect the gongs and enjoy the after party.

They are judged entirely blind by members of the Irish Whiskey Society and the Celtic Whiskey Club. In other words, those weighing in are routine drinkers of the stuff, au fait with the various styles, keep up with new releases, and can sort the wheat from the chaff.

I was out of the country on the judging weekend and so missed chipping in my own vote. I did have a chance at the ceremony last night, however, to taste the winning spirits.

I find myself (mildly) disagreeing with the results this year more than I have done in previous years. Perhaps this is just due to the growing number of whiskeys available, with something to suit every palate. Ally commented that for quite a few of the categories opinion was pretty evenly divided.

I haven't seen the full list of entrants yet but if I was free to choose my own whiskeys of the year I'd nominate the Tullamore Dew 15yo Trilogy and Midleton Dair Ghaelach (tree 4). In other spirits, Bán Poitín and Kalak Vodka have been the exciting new arrivals in their categories.

There were 13 gins up for consideration, a remarkable number given that the oldest of them (Dingle) has only been around for a few years. The winner, Thin Gin, is a new brand, possibly not even on sale yet. It'll be at Whiskey Live Dublin next week so I'll find out more then.

I was also hearing of Mrs Doyle's Irish Cream Liqueur for the first time last night. But we have companies that make many such brands for export so it's not so surprising. It was very tasty, but Coole Swan will always stand out in this category for me.

Redbreast 21yo walked away with the overall prize for the second year running. Few would quibble with that. If anything challenges it, it's most likely another whiskey from the same distillery, Midleton.

Brian Nation, Master Distiller at Midleton

Without further ado, here is the full list of winners and runners up.

Irish Whiskey of the Year (Overall winner) 
Glencairn Trophy Winner - Redbreast 21 Year-Old

Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Redbreast 21 Year Old

Gold Medal - Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Gold Medal - Powers Signature Release

Irish Single Malt Whiskey (12 Years & Younger)
Trophy Winner - Connemara Single Malt

Gold Medal - Teeling Single Malt

Gold Medal - Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt

Irish Single Malt Whiskey (13 Years & Older)
Trophy Winner - Knappogue Castle Vintage 2000 Batch 2 Mongeard Mugneret Burgundy Cask
Gold Medal - The Palace Bar Three Generations Batch 14 Year-Old

Gold Medal - Glendalough 13 Year Old Single Malt

Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of less than €60)
Trophy Winner - Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old

Gold Medal - Writers Tears Copper Pot

Gold Medal - Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel

Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of €60 or more) 
Trophy Winner - Midleton Very Rare 2015

Gold Medal -Jameson Gold Reserve

Gold Medal - Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve

Irish Single Cask Whiskey
Trophy Winner - An Púcán Teeling Whiskey Single Malt
Gold Medal - Celtic Cask Trí Déag

Gold Medal - Celtic Cask Dó Dhéag

Irish Cask Strength Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Tullamore Dew Phoenix

Gold Medal - Midleton Dair Ghaelach

Gold Medal - Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength

Irish Single Grain Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Kilbeggan Single Grain
Gold Medal - Glendalough Single Grain
Gold Medal - Teeling Single Grain 

Irish Poitín
Trophy Winner - Teeling Poitín
Gold Medal - Bán Poitín

Irish Liqueur
Trophy Winner - Mrs Doyle's Irish Cream

Gold Medal - Coole Swan

Gold Medal - The Wild Geese Irish Honey Liqueur

Irish Gin
Trophy Winner - Thin Gin
Gold Medal - Blackwater No 5
Gold Medal - Dingle Gin

Irish Vodka
Trophy Winner - Dingle Vodka

Gold Medal - Untamed Irish Vodka

Gold Medal - St Patrick's Distillery Vodka

Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Irish Craft Beer
Trophy Winner - O'Hara's Barrel Aged Series
Gold Medal - Independent Whiskey Stout
Gold Medal - Franciscan Well Jameson Stout

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Overall Winner) 
Glencairn Trophy - Dick Mack's, Dingle

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Leinster) 
Trophy Winner - The Dingle Whiskey Bar, Dublin
Gold Medal - The Whiskey Palace, Dublin

Gold Medal - L Mulligan Grocer, Dublin

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Munster)
Trophy Winner - Dick Mack's, Dingle
Gold Medal -The Shelbourne Bar, Cork
Gold Medal -The Folkhouse, Kinsale

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Connaught) 
Trophy Winner - Garavan's Bar, Galway
Gold Medal -An Púcán, Galway

Gold Medal - Tigh Neachtain's, Galway

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Ulster)
Trophy Winner - The Duke of York, Belfast
Gold Medal - Bittles Bar, Belfast

Gold Medal - McCuaig's bar, Rathlin Island

Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (International)
Trophy Winner - Whisky and Alement, Melbourne, Australia

Gold Medal - The Shebeen/Irish Heather - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Gold Medal - Scholars Lounge, Rome