Firstly – Whiskey or Whisky?
Growing up and living in Ireland, to me it’s whiskey. If I were to ask my Scottish friend however, he would no doubt inform me that it is, in fact, whisky.
And then we’d probably use it to forget that we ever had that argument.
One theory is that the ‘e’ is dropped when translated from Scottish Gaelic, whereas it is kept when translated from Gaeilge – uisce beatha.
That said, whiskeys (or whiskies) from America are called whiskey while whiskies (or whiskeys) from Canada are called whisky. This could lend to the theory because of the influence of Scotland on Canada and Ireland on America. Confused yet?
Long story short, in America and Ireland it’s whiskey while in Scotland and Canada it’s whisky.
Distilleries in Ireland
#1 – Old Bushmills Distillery
Sir Thomas Phillips is granted permission, and a licence, to distill.
176 years later, The Old Bushmills distillery is officially registered and trademarked.
A tax is introduced on malt. Many distilleries switch to cheaper alternative ingredients. Bushmills stick to their tried and tested recipe.
FIRE. The distillery is destroyed, but rebuilt.
Prohibition finally ends, meaning the American market is now wide open.
1939 to 1945
All production ceases to help with the Second World War effort.
Bushmills celebrate 400 years in existence.
As well as offering a great visitor experience, this distillery produces some fine whiskeys such as Black Bush and 21 year Single Malt.
If you take a trip to Antrim, the Bushmills distillery is right up there with the Giant’s Causeway as a worthwhile experience.
#2 – New Midleton Distillery
The New Midleton Distillery is a full-scale working distillery which doesn’t offer tours. However, the Old Midleton Distillery just next door does.
Production was moved from the old to the new building in 1975, which is where they currently make Jameson among many others.
The old distillery offers a great visitor centre, known as the Jameson Experience, and is definitely worth a visit should you happen to be in Cork.
#3 – Old Jameson Distillery
Can you guess what they make in the Old Jameson Distillery?
Similar to the Old Midleton Distillery, they do offer tours which has proven to be a top attraction in Dublin.
Irish Whiskey Trails
For hardcore whiskiers, you can follow the Irish Whiskey Trail which will bring you to all of the major distilleries in Ireland.
These include the aforementioned ones as well as the Dingle distillery along the Dingle Way.
What’s a Tasting?
If you find yourself enthralled by all of this whiskey talk, you may even want to conduct your own tasting.
Not something to be daunted by, a tasting is a great way to learn more about this drink.
Connoisseurs and not-so-connoisseurs alike, a tasting is a fantastic opportunity to expand your expertise.
And to drink some whiskey, of course.
But where would you even start?
#1 – Glassware
Nothing says “I have no idea what I’m doing” like serving whiskey from a wine glass.
Some proper glasses will make a good first impression on your guests and set a good tone for the evening.
A glass that has a wide bottom and narrows towards the top is ideal as this allows the whiskey’s aroma to get captured and appreciated in full.
Just make sure that your glasses are odourless and washing-up liquid free.
#2 – Water
Have plenty of water available. This one is sort of self-explanatory.
#3 – Food
No food + lots of whiskey = recipe for disaster.
There are some great combinations that will make the tasting that little bit more enjoyable, because food makes everything better.
#4 – Quantity
Firstly, don’t put too much in one glass. You want your guests to remember the third and fourth whiskey that they taste.
Secondly don’t serve so many that your guests forget they were ever at a tasting.