Blimey, it's Friday already! A Valentine's Day Friday, no less! Well, today we only have eyes for delicious Irish Whiskey as we move onto the third and final instalment of this bumper blog post.
Back at the start of Part 1, I mentioned Teeling Whiskey Company's recently confirmed plans to build a new distillery in Dublin, the first in 125 years. This post will cover this and many other projects that could see the number of distilleries in Ireland double, treble, or perhaps even quadruple!
First though, I'll try to briefly run through some other news and developments, starting with the fact that in 2011 Beam Inc. bought Cooley, introducing another big player alongside the giants of Pernod Ricard and Diageo and leaving Ireland without an independent distillery once again (albeit briefly...).
Yesterday, I began my serialised guide to Irish Whiskey with a rundown of its turbulent history through some difficult times, becoming the most popular spirit in the world before nearly disappearing altogether in the 20th century! Fortunately, it has been on a road to recovery in the last few decades and is now thriving.
Despite this resurgence, which has made Irish Whisky the fastest growing drinks category in the world, Scotch whisky still comfortably sells 15 times more cases worldwide, and has about as many times more active distilleries too. With Scotch whisky's dominance since the 1930s, there's perhaps understandably still some confusion, even amongst whisk(e)y enthusiasts, surrounding the styles of Irish whiskey available.
Fret not, however! In this second instalment I'll be looking at each style in turn, complete with a number of yummy examples of each!
Last week Teeling Whiskey Company (who have the tagline 'The Spirit of Dublin') officially announced that they're set to bring whiskey distillation back to Dublin, something that's been in the pipeline for some time now. Jameson, meanwhile, are already looking ahead to St. Patrick's Day with a new limited edition packaging design (with the tagline 'The Spirit of Dublin' – well, they couldn't let those pesky newcomers cause anybody to forget Jameson's own Dublin roots, could they?!). These are interesting times over on the Emerald Isle, and it seems like an ideal moment to shine a massive ol' spotlight on Irish Whiskey, something I've been wanting to do for a while now.
So, what's it all about? What else is new? Herein lies all you need to know about the fastest growing spirits category in the world; from the history, to the styles of whiskey available, through to more recent developments and news. This is the tale of the rise and struggle and rise and rise and monumental collapse and hanging on in there and rise of delicious Irish whiskey!
Dramboree 2014: “July 4, 5, 6 – Scotland. Whisky. Fun.”
What more could you possibly need to know?!
Well, Dramboree is a fun and informal annual whisky weekend of the very highest order, now in its second year. Taking inspiration from Maltstock, Whisky Squad’s Jason B. Standing and The Great Whisky Company’s Jonny McMillan found themselves discussing a perfect UK-based whisky weekend a couple of years ago before it dawned on them that they were the exact people to make it happen! Hey presto – Dramboree was born, and after a highly successful first outing, this year promises to be even bigger and better!
On Monday night I attended a Burns Supper with a difference, courtesy of the Monkey Shoulder Social Club. There was haggis, of course, and Scotch whisky too, but rather than Scotland’s favourite son taking centre stage, the star of this particular show was one Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr. Oh, yes.
Monkey Shoulder, as I'm sure many of you will know, is a fantastic blended malt from William Grant that's made with whiskies from their three Dufftown distilleries: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.
The theme for the evening had been hiding in plain sight for some time as guests entered to win tickets to ‘A Celebrations of Mr Burns’, accompanied by a picture of Rabbie in a pair of shades that had apparently been enough to throw many off the scent. Upon arrival at The Caledonian Club, everything seemed perfectly above board... although... did I spot Groundskeeper Willy on my way up the street?.. Probably nothing, let’s just enjoy this Monkey Shoulder whisky punch (created by Roman Foltan of the Artesian Bar) in the library and speak to a couple of these nice people from the ‘Dufftown Burns Appreciation Society’.
Ah, Maltstock! 2013 marked Master of Malt’s 4th visit to the “relaxed whisky weekend”, although of the four people who went, three of us were, in fact, Maltstock virgins! That Boutique-y Whisky Company have also now released their second batch of Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky, complete with Maltstock label – more on that towards the end!
As mentioned above, Cat (now Maverick Drinks’ Brand Communications Manager), was the only one of us who had travelled to Maltstock before (making the local newspapers in the process), the rest of the team was made up by her Maverick minion Teesh,
Sam Alexandra (who is MoM’s marketing maestro), and yours truly!
Back in December I visited the Worship Street Whistling Shop for a very special, two hour long ‘multi-sensory experience’: the final Diageo Whisky Theatre of the year. The project is the work of irrepressible Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn and the Fluid Movement duo of Tristan Stephenson and Tom Aske who have presented similar experiences in the past, for example with rum, but the mention of whisky certainly caught our attention immediately! I believe Tristan also has a whisky book coming out this year too – one to watch out for.
There is (just) room for nine people but I was joined by a fab four of Gin Monkey, Imbibe’s Laura Foster (recent winner of the Alan Lodge Young International Spirits Writer of the Year), Siobhan Payne from Difford’s Guide and London Cocktail Week and Alex Kratena off of The Artesian (named The World’s Best Bar for the second year running in 2013).
Blimey, it’s been pretty busy around here lately! Jumping crocodiles, there’s been a lot to do! Most of it has something to with some little celebration towards the end of the month or something...
Just kidding, I can’t pretend to not be excited about Santa! I’m literally bursting with festive excitement! You see, I bloody love Christmas, me! The decorations, the music, all the wrapped up pressies and, of course, the Die Hard movies.
What on earth is there not to like?
When asked if I fancied a trip to Southwold I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking. A chance to visit a lovely coastal town, get some fresh, sea air in my lungs, escape the madness of the festive season AND visit the fantastic Adnams distillery to taste two brand new English whiskies?!
Um, yes. I think I can probably manage that, at a push. So off I went to Waveney to meet up with Jonathan Adnams, Chairman and fourth-generation brewer, and Head Distiller John McCarthy for a bit of a shimmy around the distillery and to taste two new, unique whiskies prior to their release.
The first ever Adnams whiskies. Ever.
THE SPECIAL RELEASES ARE NOW LIVE AND CAN BE FOUND HERE!
Got a letter from Diageo the other day. Opened and read it. It was about their Special Releases. They wanted us for their tasting, or whatever. Picture me turning down drams, I said “Hell yeah!”.
We will indeed be stocking all of the 2013 Diageo Special Releases shortly - and yes - they will all be available as 3cl Sample Drams too. You’re welcome. They should be with us any day now, but for more details as they land be sure to keep your eyes glued to the @MasterOfMalt twitter account.