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IRISH POTATIONS

Irish whiskey is generally a bit different from Scotch.
Though based on barley malt, the Irish tend to dry the barley malt in ovens or kilns, while the Scotch producers usually do this over a peat fire.  This latter process contributes an inherent smokiness to Scotch.

Most Scotch is double-distilled.  The Irish tend to do three distillations for their whiskey.  Midleton makes a whiskey which has been distilled five times!

Though there is a plethora of Irish whiskey brands, there are but three distillers (legal ones, anyway) left in Ireland!

wpe8B.jpg (7986 bytes)JOHN POWER & SONS
Powers Irish Whiskey is the brand they drink in Ireland.  Now, if you think an Irishman (or woman) might know a thing or two about Irish whiskey, then you'll probably want to have a taste of this.  Though it's a blend, there's a considerable percentage of pot-stilled whiskey in a bottle of Power's.






wpe87.jpg (12251 bytes)MIDLETON
This amazingly expensive Irish whiskey has a legion of fans.  I never imagined people, especially those frugal Irish, would pony up a hundred-and-something dollars for a bottle of whiskey.  On the other hand, I could not have imagined people rushing to pay a hundred bucks for a Napa Valley Cabernet, so what do I know? 
In any case, this is a much sought-after, rare bottle (apparently). 





wpe88.jpg (5566 bytes)TULLAMORE DEW
This label used to be one of the finest from Ireland.  The distillery closed in 1955 and the label was owned by Irish Distillers and the whiskey is made at Midleton.
The whiskey is more mild and less distinctive than it used to be. 





wpe89.jpg (5132 bytes)TYRCONNELL
I am unsure how the Irish manage to find the name "Tyrconnell" as meaning "the land of O'Donnell."  The O'Donnells were one powerful clan, though. 

Andrew Watt established a distillery somewhere in the vicinity of these O'Donnells and named his whiskey "The Tyrconnell," a pot-stilled, single malt. 

You might notice the label depicts a race horse...the Watts entered a nag in The Queen Victoria Plate race in 1876.  The horse was given long odds to win, being tabbed a 100-1 long shot.  Well, you can imagine--the horse, named "Tyrconnell," won the race.




wpe8A.jpg (7575 bytes)KILBEGGAN
Kilbeggan translates from Gaelic to something like "little church."   It was at this little church that monks began distilling the locally-raised barley and turning it into "Uisce Beatha" (water of life). 

Another of Kilbeggan's claims to fame is that it was the first licensed whiskey distillery in the world, John Locke obtaining government permission back in 1757. 

The whiskey of Kilbeggan is regarded by many as appropriate for Irish Coffee. (That's damning with faint praise, isn't it?)  It has a mild maltiness to the nose and a light kick on the finish, so perhaps fortifying one's coffee with this is not a bad idea.   Oh...this is, for some reason, a big seller in Germany!



wpe8C.jpg (11149 bytes)CONNEMARA
This whiskey is given a treatment some liken more to that commonly employed in Scotland:  The malted barley is dried over peat fires, giving this a somewhat smoky element.  However, it doesn't have the salty, almost iodine-like notes of some of its Scotch counterparts.  This is worth a taste, for it's a very fine whiskey.

A 12 year old bottling recently arrived...expensive, but good.









wpe8D.jpg (4078 bytes)JAMESON
Jameson's is the world's best selling Irish whiskey.  Keep in mind that McDonald's hamburgers are the most popular in the world.  I mention this just for perspective. 
While Jameson's basic Irish whiskey bottling is pretty normal stuff, they do offer a product which is amongst the elite and highly-regarded by fussy Irish whiskey drinkers: Jameson 1780
The year, 1780, refers to when Scotsman John Jameson is said to have arrived in Ireland.   Whatever, it's a whiskey which spends about a dozen years or so in old Sherry casks.  The resulting product is exceptional, smooth and with a sweet bouquet which lingers in the glass seemingly forever!


 


wpe8E.jpg (13972 bytes)BUSHMILLS
Bushmills is a very popular Irish whiskey.  Those from the Emerald Isle know the basic bottling as "White Bush."  (Nothing to do with America's current president or his father.)

They make a range of bottlings, the one called "Black Bush" being predominantly a single-malt with a lacing of grain whiskey.  Aged for more than a decade in used Sherry barrels, this has a marvelously sweet fragrance and a long after-taste.

Bushmills recently introduced a new premium bottling to the portfolio:  Bushmills 16 year old.  They mature a single malt whiskey in both Sherry and Bourbon barrels before blending them and allowing them to "marry" in used Port "pipes" (barrels used in Portugal's Douro for the maturation of Port wine).  

 

 


KNAPPOGUE CASTLE
Apparently this label comes from an American fellow who leases a castle in Ireland called Knappogue.
He has purchased single malt Irish whiskey in barrel and ages it until he feels the spirit is just right.  Experts wax poetic when writing about a 30+ year old single "vintage" whiskey under this label.
We have a 1993 "vintage."  It's distilled for Mark Andrews by Cooley's (who make Tyrconnell and others).  You'll notice the color is lighter than many...he doesn't add anything to make it darker.  The flavors are delicate and there's a note of honey to this.  

 

CLONTARF
This is a nice, toffee-ish, mild Irish whiskey.  The name comes from a castle not too far from Dublin and the spirit has been matured in some sort of locally-produced barrel as well as in used Bourbon casks.  Nice.


We also have Irish  Bailey's Irish Cream and Brady's Irish Cream along with several beers from Ireland.

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)Wine Tasting Today

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