It was 11am in Gatwick airport on Saturday 14th March. The plane taking a small drinks press contingent over to Ireland for Jameson's extended #HelloDublin St. Patrick's Day celebrations was due to leave in just over an hour from Heathrow. Had I made a terrible mistake?
In fact, I'd just arrived back from a holiday and had always known I couldn't make that flight, just as I now knew all I'd be seeing of blighty was Gatwick airport itself. My flight to Cork was later, and until then I'd simply be pretending I was Tom Hanks in The Terminal. (Although there were no Catherine Zeta-Jones love interest developments to speak of.)
If you take a glance up at the sky, you might notice that the rolling blanket of grey clouds that we’ve become acquainted with for the past 6 months is sometimes briefly replaced with a flaming ball of hot plasma. That fact that we can catch a glimpse of it means the cosmic grip of winter is waning and spring is on its way to thaw us out.
This also means that St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us! To celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick (and the fact that the Sun hasn't left us and ran off with some other planet like COROT-7b), we’re running a little competition which could result in you getting your hands on some fabulous Irish whiskey!
Day 16 brings with it a second Irish whiskey in your Whisky Advent Calendars. You'd think the fact Tullamore D.E.W. didn't have its own distillery between 1954 and 2014 might be a slight problem, but the brand became the second best selling Irish whiskey in the world during that time! Owned by William Grant since 2010, spirit has now been running at the Tullamore distillery since September and will in time provide all the spirit they need.
This 12 Year Old Special Reserve of theirs though, it was a travel retail release originally, which tends to get on my Oreamnos americanus. I mean, how many people clock up more air miles than me?! And yet I still can't get my hands on a number of new releases just because I don't happen to use inefficient
muggle non-supernatural transportation methods. Fortunately, many of these whiskies (including this Tullamore D.E.W.) graduate to their brand's main ranges. Ho, yes!
The second day of Whisky Advent is upon us already and what's behind the second window of the Whisky Advent Calendar?... Why it's Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey!
The Teeling family were of course the good folk behind the independent Cooley distillery (creating the excellent Connemara Peated single malt and Greenore single grain, for example) before it was eventually bought by Beam. Fortunately, they weren't away for long and soon released Teeling Small Batch, a blend of selected casks of Irish malt and grain, finished for six months in ex-Flor de Caña Rum casks! In early 2015 they'll have a shiny new distillery opening in the heart of Dublin too, one of many new projects on the island.
I like a bit of Irish whiskey me. That's why I made a point of writing a big ol' three-part blog post about it earlier in the year. So, bearing that in mind, when I received an invitation to attend the Irish Whiskey Academy at Midleton distillery over in County Cork I didn't really need to think about it for too long. The Academy opened in February 2013 and along with a new still house and archive became a focus for the Irish Distillers' Housewarming celebrations last year.
The Academy is a state of the art training facility whose courses have been attended by many of the leading whisk(e)y writers, journalists and bartenders. There's a nice Dave Broom quote on their site that sums it up quite nicely: "I can honestly say that this is the finest training facility I have ever been in, and some of the finest training I have ever had". That.
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!
UPDATE: You can now find Redbreast 21 Year Old on the site here!
Last night saw the launch of a brand new Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey expression to join a range that already contains the excellent Redbreast 12 Year Old, Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength and Redbreast 15 Year Old.
I know what you’re thinking: “What is the collective noun for robins?”. It’s a worm. A worm of robins. Yep.
The new expression? A 21 Year Old! We were more than a little excited. The Dave Broom quote on the Redbreast website sums it up nicely:
“If the ship was going down within sight of a desert island, my flailing left hand would make a grab for a bottle of Redbreast.”
Tullamore Dew is returning to its spiritual home after 58 years with the announcement that William Grant & Sons will be building a new distillery in Tullamore town itself.
The company, which also owns Glenfiddich and several other brands you’ll be not unfamiliar with, acquired Tullamore Dew in 2010. Second only to Jameson in the popularity stakes, sales of the Dew are growing by 15% annually according to William Grant & Sons, and production from the new distillery is intended to sustain the long-term demands.
Work on the new distillery is scheduled to begin later this year, subject to planning permission, and from the sound of it, it’s intended to be something of a showpiece for Irish whisky. More...