The BEAT Society Takes Refuge In Manchester

 

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The Pernod Ricard BEAT Society rolled into Manchester this week with its 6 strong team of some of the UK’s influential and engaging industry figures taking over the new Refuge bar and restaurant in the city centre.

Concentrating on seven categories, the likes of Phil Huckle (UK Brand Ambassador Chivas Regal), Liam Sparks (Irish Whiskey Ambassador), Megs Miller (UK House of Tequila Ambassador), Matthias Lataille (UK Brand Ambassador Martell), Michael Foster (UK Brand Ambassador Havana Club) and special guest Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London showed off their respective brand and category, but with a twist that offered an insight ‘outside the box’.

With only two more cities out of the initial seven to visit, I thought I’d offer an insight into what you can expect for the day as the BEAT team head to Newcastle (31/01/2017) and Liverpool (28/02/2017).

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Prepare to demystify the style of Irish Whiskey and the impact that Jameson and Midleton Distillery have created within the whiskey market as Liam Sparks talks through the process of creation. From both column and pot distillation, to the wood styles within ageing, Liam engages with his knowledge and stories over a couple of drams, including distillates from the column and pot stills, as well as the likes of Redbreast 12yr and Jameson Caskmates.

Following the Irish closely are the Scots, championed by Phil Huckle with his focus on the luxury blend of Chivas Regal. Promoting towards the history of the whisky cocktails and how Chivas Regal have been at the forefront of some of the most iconic classics, experience the styles and profiles of such forgotten gems as the Morning Glory Fizz, as well as last years Chivas Masters winning drink by Chelsey Bailey. You can also hear how you can enter the 2017 edition of the Chivas Masters, as well as experience The Huckster!

Heading to the grape side of the spirit categories, Matthias Lataille shows his insight into Martell by bringing it to the forefront of your mind when modifying your cocktail creations. Sample classic cognac drinks such as the Sidecar using the VSOP expression, as well as twists on staples including the Pierre Collins as Matthias shows his creativity and knowledge on cognac and tips of how to invite your customers to experience.

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Special guest star Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London is on hand for the tour to offer an honest insight into the world of cocktail competitions, using his own experiences of entering competitions, including Jameson and Havana Club, in his career that includes positions within famed bars in Liverpool such as 81LTD. The do’s and dont’s of performance etiquette, how to approach those all important judges, understanding the brief set out, and adapting yourself to the live situation with confidence, Jake goes through the motions of before, during and after as you set out to highlight yourself to your peers and industry figures.

Demystifying tequila is Megs Miller, one of the latest additions to the BEAT Society family, as she focuses on Olmeca and how agave is riding the trend of the bartenders inquisitive. Serving up samples of Blanco, Reposado and Anejo, she’ll guide you through the tequila process, how Olmeca has grown over the years to accommodate changing tastes and attitudes towards the category, as well as her own agave experiences and stories when visiting Mexico and teaching across the world.

You can listen to Michael Foster’s stories too as he talks about Havana Club, with an emphasis on Cuba itself. Diving into how Havana Club has impacted the island in regards to cocktails such as the Mojito, Cuba Libra, Daiquiri and El Presidente, the enjoyment of the traditional recipes of such too, plus an understanding of how these classics have been devised through the stalwart bar scene within Cuba itself.

Mr Jake O’Brien Murphy also talks candidly on the vodka category, with the focus on Absolut and twisting the pre-conception that vodka is a ‘dying category’. He talks about the iconic Pornstar Martini and Cosmopolitan whilst giving his own views on how vodka can be best utilised in any bar through some simple changes.

Of course, no day of learning would be complete without a tipple of Mumm Champagne, with Matthias Lataille guiding you through the brand as you finish off the BEAT Society experience.

If you’re anything like me, having the opportunity to listen to one iconic figure in the industry is amazing, but to have seven in one room, offering their slant on their chosen category, is beyond an experience. Get yourselves signed up to Newcastle and Liverpool, immerse within the BEAT and take it all in.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jameson Restructures Its Portfolio With New Family Of Irish Whiskeys

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Jameson has unveiled a new structure to its family of Irish Whiskeys, representing a unique re-interpretation of the super-premium whiskey category. The new portfolio is made up of The Whiskey Makers Series, the range of Heritage whiskeys and The Deconstructed Series with the original Jameson Irish Whiskey at the core. Together, the new portfolio showcases the brand’s rich heritage, celebrates its remarkable present and shares an insight into its innovative future, underpinned by our communications platform of Sine Metu.

The restructure manifests Jameson’s ambition to drive interest globally in Irish Whiskey, a trend that has been led by the brand in recent years. The new family of whiskeys is set to further impact this movement, highlighting Jameson’s wider offering and giving drinkers a meaningful exploration path into super premium whiskey. With a strength of storytelling throughout the range, the new portfolio is rooted in the interests of Jameson’s fans who are seeking to learn more about the people and craft, heritage, taste and ethos of fearlessness behind the brand.

Daniel Lundberg, Global Brand Director for Jameson, comments: “The restructure of the Jameson family is the most significant move in our brand’s recent history. This is an exceptionally exciting development that positions Jameson at the forefront of innovation and advance within the Irish Whiskey category. The family, comprised of The Whiskey Makers Series, the range of Heritage whiskeys and The Deconstructed Series is underpinned by the brand’s people and craft, heritage, taste and fearlessness; in short, the qualities for which Jameson is celebrated throughout the world. Today we finally get to unveil our new family globally and witness Irish Whiskey fans discovering new stories, flavours and experiences from Jameson.”

The Whiskey Makers Series

A brand new range of super-premium Jameson whiskeys – The Whiskey Makers Series – sits within the refreshed family and is comprised of three whiskies that celebrate the people behind Jameson and their craft. Created collaboratively by Jameson Head Distiller, Brian Nation; Head Cooper, Ger Buckley; and Head Blender, Billy Leighton, the range gives Midleton’s craftspeople a unique opportunity to shine a light on their individual areas of expertise. The Whiskey Makers Series is set to deepen consumers’ understanding of Irish Whiskey production through the exploration of three key tools, after which the products are named: The Distiller’s Safe, The Cooper’s Croze and The Blender’s Dog.

The Distiller’s Safe celebrates the role of Jameson’s Head Distiller, Brian Nation, and is a true showcase of the original copper pot still distillate. A purist of whiskey making, Brian explores the influence of the copper on the new-make spirit, using a maturation process that skilfully preserves the qualities of the original distillate, allowing the flavours developed in the pot still to take centre stage. Brian’s tool of choice – the spirit safe – allows him to fine tune the whiskey’s style at any point during the distillation process and the resulting blended whiskey carries distinct sweetness from barley sugar and gentle notes of apricot, cinnamon and melon. A smooth, light whiskey with a luminous, zesty finish.

The Cooper’s Croze showcases the role of Jameson’s Head Cooper, Ger Buckley, and explores the influence that maturation in casks has on whiskey. A fifth generation cooper, Ger has a deep relationship with wood and is tasked with selecting, repairing and maintaining Midleton’s diverse and treasured barrels. Ger’s prized possession – a croze – passed down through his family, is used to make the groove where the head of the cask is positioned. The resulting blended whiskey is matured in virgin American oak barrels, seasoned bourbon barrels and Iberian sherry casks, a combination that delivers vanilla sweetness, rich fruit flavours and a balance of floral and spice notes.

The Blender’s Dog celebrates the role of Jameson Head Blender, Billy Leighton; a tribute to the fine art of blending. A master at matching whiskeys across ages and characters, Billy is tasked with uniting the crafts supplied by distiller and cooper to create harmonious, perfectly balanced whiskeys. Billy’s go-to instrument – a ‘dog’ – is used to collect whiskey samples from the casks, allowing Billy to bring together complementary spirits from Midleton’s extensive range of maturing stock. The Blender’s Dog is a perfect balance of spirit, wood and time; a rich, rounded whiskey with butterscotch sweetness, spices, tannins and an exceptionally long finish.
heritage-series_5The range of Heritage whiskeys

The range of Heritage whiskeys is a new collection of super-premium Irish Whiskeys that bring to the fore over 200 years of remarkable stories and milestones from the brand’s rich history. Created to better highlight three world-renowned Irish Whiskeys – Jameson Black Barrel, Jameson Crested and Jameson Signature – each expression in the range tells a different story from Jameson’s past.

Jameson Black Barrel is a triple-distilled Irish whiskey that pays tribute to the cooper’s method of charring barrels for a second time. Charring is a traditional method for invigorating barrels, although today at Midleton double-charred barrels are used by choice rather than through necessity. The expression uses a blend of ‘small batch’ grain and traditional pot still Irish Whiskey, which is distilled just once a year at Midleton, and is matured in a combination of American oak, sherry casks and double-charred bourbon barrels. Time spent maturing in these barrels imparts the whiskey with intensified notes of vanilla sweetness and caramel, alongside toasted wood, fruit, and warm spice.

Jameson Crested, launched globally in March 2016, is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that celebrates the first drops of whiskey to be bottled, sealed and labelled at the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, marking the moment in time (1963) when Jameson took full control of the whiskey making process, from grain to glass. Up until then, distillers – including the Jameson Distillery – sold barrels of whiskey to bonders to bottle themselves, however, reports of whiskey bonders watering down their whiskey in the 1960s led Jameson to complete the process inside the distillery walls to protect the quality of the whiskey. Jameson Crested brings together rich pot still Irish Whiskey and grain whiskey, matured in a high proportion of sherry casks, as well as bourbon barrels. The result is a nose of vivid sherry and pot still aromas, a palate of toasted wood, spice and chocolate, and a warm, lingering sherry finish.

Jameson Signature is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that bears the signature of John Jameson, a mark of quality that has appeared since the early days of the Bow Street Distillery, when all casks were signed off by John Jameson. The expression celebrates this tradition and the generations of meticulously transcribed distillers’ notebooks, a sign that attention to detail remains at the heart of Jameson. Jameson Signature is a commitment from the brand to uphold the founder’s core values of craftsmanship and quality, with a robust and complex whiskey that boasts deep flavours of cedar, vanilla, citrus and dried fruits and a smooth balance of honey.

deconstructed-series_6The Deconstructed Series

The Deconstructed Series is a range of super-premium Irish Whiskeys that explores the key flavour notes of the original Jameson Irish Whiskey. Launched in Cannes in October 2015, the expressions – Jameson Bold, Jameson Lively and Jameson Round – are named after three key taste characteristics found within the family’s core expression, amplifying each flavour trait to offer three new drinking experiences.

Jameson Bold, influenced by pot still whiskey, is an intense and robust whiskey, with a strong influence of spices. Initially sweet and creamy, with an abundance of soft fruits, the pot still spices develop to bring a perfect balance of rich barley notes and mellow baked apple.

Jameson Lively, influenced by grain whiskey, offers an elegant and floral taste combined with a citrus lightness. Its soft and sweet taste, provided by the perfume bon bons alongside turkish delight, combines with drying hints of citrus to balance the sweetness. A little chilli oil brings a prickle of spices to the mouth.

Jameson Round, influenced by the wood contribution, is a balance of rich and plump charred wood tones. A perfect harmony of diverse flavours, sweet vanilla fuses with soft ripe fruit and, together, combines with the rich Pot Still Spices on a firm foundation of toasted oak.

Jameson Celebrates Its Rich Heritage With The Launch Of Jameson Crested

Jameson Crested

Jameson, the number one Irish whiskey, has unveiled a new premium Irish whiskey, Jameson Crested. Launching internationally from April, Jameson Crested brings to life the rich history of the brand and its spiritual home of Dublin, and is set to further increase excitement around Irish whiskey across the globe.

Jameson Crested is a celebration of the first drops of whiskey that were bottled, sealed and labelled at the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, marking the moment in time in 1963 when Jameson took full control of the whiskey making process, from grain to glass. Up until then, distillers – including the Jameson Distillery – sold barrels of whiskey to bonders to bottle themselves before selling on to Irish whiskey consumers. However, reports of a handful of whiskey bonders watering down their whiskey in the 1960s led Jameson to complete the process inside the distillery walls to protect the quality of the whiskey.

Launching internationally from April 2016, Jameson Crested is a triple-distilled Irish whiskey that brings together rich pot still Irish whiskey and grain whiskey, matured in a high proportion of sherry casks, as well as bourbon barrels. The result is a nose of vivid sherry and pot still aromas, a palate of toasted wood, spice and chocolate, and a warm, lingering sherry finish.

Daniel Lundberg, Global Brand Director for Jameson, comments: “The international launch of Jameson Crested is an exciting step as we celebrate the story of the first Jameson whiskey bottled at the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. Jameson Crested has played a key role in the dynamic history of Jameson, and by bringing this expression to an international audience we aim to excite consumers the world over who are looking for Irish whiskeys rich in heritage and personality. As with all of our award-winning whiskeys, exceptional flavour comes hand-in-hand with remarkable stories; Jameson Crested is no exception, offering a new taste experience from the world’s favourite Irish Whiskey brand whilst retaining the recognisable smoothness that is distinctly Jameson.”

Jameson Crested is presented in a new design that reflects the rich history of the brand. This design showcases the product quality; the bottle’s tapered neck is left uncovered so that the cork can be clearly seen and is complemented by an authentic seal, which gently tears when opened for the first time. The new bottle design is used across the family of Jameson premium whiskeys that celebrates the rich heritage of Jameson, including Jameson Black Barrel.

Jameson Crested can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with the gradual addition of water to release its complex flavours. Alternatively, the Jameson Crested & Soda long drink can be mixed in a high ball glass and built over ice using 50ml Jameson Crested Irish Whiskey, a quality bottled soda and a large wedge of orange.

Jameson Crested will be available at an ABV of 40% from April 2016 with an RRP of £29.99 or global equivalent per 70cl bottle.

Green Spot Unveils Bordeaux Wine Finished Irish Whiskey

Green Spot Whiskey 2015
Green Spot Whiskey 2015

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has unveiled the first ever Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey to be finished in Bordeaux wine casks, Green Spot Château Léoville Barton. The new release adds an innovative, new dimension to the classic Green Spot expression, which is already renowned among whiskey lovers for its exceptional quality.

Set in the heart of the Saint Julien appellation in Bordeaux, one of the most revered winemaking regions in the world, Léoville Barton is a grand cru Château renowned for producing world class wine. Léoville Barton is overseen today by Anthony and Lilian Barton, direct descendants of Thomas Barton, a ‘Wine Geese’[1] winemaker who founded a wine merchant company in 1725, after migrating from his native Ireland.

Green Spot can trace its roots back to Dublin-based wine merchants, Mitchell & Son, who matured, bottled and sold the original Green Spot under bond. Established in 1805, Mitchell & Son aged whiskeys bought from John Jameson’s Bow St Distillery in Dublin in their own casks up until 1968, when the practice of selling whiskey to bonders in cask ceased. From that date, Green Spot was bottled by Irish Distillers who also produce Yellow Spot 12 Year Old and now the new Green Spot Château Léoville Barton.

Initially matured in a traditional mix of ex-Oloroso sherry, new Bourbon and ex-Bourbon barrels the whiskeys were then transferred into the ex-Bordeaux wine casks for between 12 and 24 months. This imparted distinctive, floral flavours of varying intensity, resulting in a perfectly balanced whiskey.

Kevin O’Gorman, Master of Maturation at the Midleton Distillery, commented: “With its fresh taste profile featuring notes of green apple, vanilla, toffee and liquorice, Green Spot has been a favourite among Irish whiskey lovers thanks to the Mitchell family since the 19th Century, so it is an honour to launch a further extension to our Spot family.

“Maturing Green Spot in the Château Léoville Barton wine casks provided a fascinating assortment of floral and wood characteristics on the nose and palate, which give way to a long, spicy finish reminiscent of the terroir in France and Ireland. I hope whiskey fans enjoy this latest addition to our growing Single Pot Still family and join us in toasting this new whiskey resulting from of our shared Irish heritage.”

Anthony Barton, owner of Château Léoville Barton, added: “We are delighted to collaborate with the Midleton Distillery to create the new Green Spot Château Léoville Barton. Having been born in Ireland, whiskey is very close to my heart, and wine has been in my family for hundreds of years, so it is an enormous privilege to be able to merge the two now and share our heritage with the Mitchell family with such an exceptional result.”

Bottled at 46% ABV, Green Spot Château Léoville Barton is available from June in five markets, including Ireland, UK and France, at the recommended selling price of $65 per 70cl.

#SinglePotStill

Redbreast Unveils It’s First All Sherry Matured Whiskey

Redbreast Mano A Lamh– New limited edition whiskey available exclusively

to members of The Stillhouse via www.SinglePotStill.com

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has announced the launch of Redbreast Mano a Lámh, the first expression in the Redbreast range to be matured solely in ex-oloroso sherry butts. This special whiskey is the latest release from the Midleton Distillery as it aims to satisfy the increasing global demand for new and original Single Pot Still Irish whiskeys.

Mano a Lámh, meaning ‘hand in hand’ in Spanish and Gaelic respectively, represents the relationship and passion between the Midleton Distillery and the collective of artisans in Spain, which has crafted the distillery’s sherry butts for more than 20 years.

Specially commissioned for the Midleton Distillery, oak is felled in the forests of Galicia, north-west Spain, and then crafted and seasoned by some of the country’s most prestigious family businesses. The Antonio Páez Lobato Bodega in the South crafts the oak into casks, which are then seasoned with Oloroso sherry for two years at the prestigious Páez Morilla Bodega in the nearby sherry capital of the world, Jerez.

The freshly seasoned sherry butts are then shipped promptly, during the cooler winter months, to the Midleton Distillery where they are then filled with new make pot still whiskeys.

Redbreast Mano a Lámh is being released exclusively to members of The Stillhouse, the web-based members club for Single Pot Still Irish whiskey fans. The Stillhouse forms part of the www.singlepotstill.com website, which launched in 2011, to educate discerning whiskey lovers about the quality and provenance of this unique style of Irish whiskey.

While the core Redbreast range is matured in a combination of American bourbon and Spanish oloroso butts, RedbreastMano a Lámh luxuriates in this signature sherry style by bringing together whiskeys which have been matured exclusively in first fill Spanish oloroso sherry casks, imparting distinct, rich, fruity flavours and a full body.

Billy Leighton, Master Blender at Midleton Distillery, said: “Redbreast Mano a Lámh celebrates our longstanding relationship with the family of artisans in Spain who craft our sherry butts, which are so synonymous with the signature style of Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish whiskey. It was an exciting challenge as a Master Blender to work on this project; having to ensure that the right balance was achieved and the sherry contribution did not over power in the final taste. For me, Redbreast Mano a Lámh offers a distinctive, rich whiskey with intense flavours of dried fruit, which gives way to the perfection of the Spanish oak. I am really eager to learn what our Stillhouse members and Redbreast fans think of this rare expression.”

Brendan Buckley, Global Innovation and Prestige Whiskeys Director at Irish Distillers added: “Since its re-launch in May 2011, Single Pot Still Irish whiskey has quickly established itself as the insiders’ Irish whiskey style of choice with the Redbreast brand very much at the vanguard of this revival. We hope that Redbreast Mano a Lámh will excite whiskey lovers, especially those who enjoy sherried style whiskeys”.

“The coming together of tradition and people, talents and passions – true craftspeople working hand in hand through generations and across borders – is what has helped make Redbreast the most definitive Single Pot Still Irish whiskey in the world and long may it continue.”

Limited to just 2,000 bottles, Redbreast Mano a Lámh is non-chill filtered at 46% ABV and is available exclusively to members of The Stillhouse from February 2015, priced at €65. For more information on Single Pot Still Irish whiskey and to join The Stillhouse, visit www.singlepotstill.com.

#RedbreastWhiskey

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard Celebrate 30 Years Of Midleton Very Rare

Midleton Very Rare Purl Edition

The Midleton Distillery has unveiled Midleton Very Rare 30th Anniversary Pearl Edition; an exclusive, limited edition created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the expression heralded by many whisk(e)y experts as the pinnacle of Irish whiskey.

A true Irish masterpiece and a perfectly balanced exemplar of the Midleton Very Rare style, Pearl Edition is the result of a collaboration between Master Distiller, Brian Nation, and Barry Crockett, Master Distiller Emeritus, who share between them more than 60 years’ distilling experience at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork.

Barry and Brian personally selected a 1984 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and a 1981 grain whiskey respectively to blend into a whiskey of exceptional quality. As is tradition, both whiskeys have been matured in American oak barrels, which after 30 years have imparted luscious vanilla and delicate honey flavours.

Local artisans have collaborated to provide exceptional and authentic packaging for the expression, befitting its outstanding quality and rarity. Each presentation pack is bespoke; the Leadbetter family of glassblowers from Jerpoint Glass Studio, Co. Kilkenny, has shaped each bottle individually, which sits in a grand box fashioned from the mightiest Irish oak by some of Ireland’s most-skilled, wood craftspeople from Co. Wexford. The case houses a limited edition, celebratory booklet and a hand-blown miniature of Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition to allow whiskey lovers to taste and share the whiskey without opening the full bottle.

Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition continues the tradition of featuring the signature of the creator on the label. As Master Distiller Emeritus, Barry Crockett returned to craft the expression with Master Distiller Brian Nation, the bottle features both names in recognition of their joint creation. Nation comments:

“Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition has been 30 years in the making; 30 years of craft, 30 years of tradition and 30 years of patience. The liquid, its bottle and the presentation box are examples of the finest Irish craftsmanship, and offer whiskey aficionados the ultimate Irish whiskey experience by perfectly capturing our Irish heritage as we look to the future. Pearl Edition sets a new benchmark for Midleton Very Rare and the distillery’s Prestige Collection, as we continue to craft innovative whiskeys to further enhance the Irish whiskey renaissance.”

Barry Crockett, Master Distiller Emeritus, added: “Few things are worth coming out of retirement for, but the opportunity to be a part of the creation of Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition is certainly one of them. The whiskey is Midleton’s most prized possession and represents the greatest milestone since I crafted the first ever edition of Midleton Very Rare back in 1984. It is an honour to be a part of this release and Ireland’s rich distilling heritage, and I hope discerning drinkers and whiskey enthusiasts cherish every drop.”

With only 117 bottles in existence, Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition will be available in Ireland, UK, France, Germany and China, priced at €6,000 or equivalent, from November 2014.

Irish Distillers Welcomes The Public To The Irish Whiskey Academy

Irish Whiskey Academy

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard is opening the doors to its acclaimed Irish Whiskey Academy to the general public for the first time, with in-depth courses available to spirits enthusiasts from December this year.

The Irish Whiskey Academy, which was unveiled to the trade in September 2013, aims to improve understanding about the quality and provenance of Irish whiskey by teaching visitors about all aspects of the production process, the flavour profile of the different styles available and the category’s rich and colourful history.

A range of courses are available depending on the individual’s level of knowledge, with the first ‘Enthusiasts’ course taking place between 1st – 2nd December 2014. Led by David McCabe, Irish Distillers’ International Whiskey Ambassador and first Academy Tutor, participants will have the opportunity to meet some of the distillery team, learn about brewing, fermentation, distillation and blending, watch a live cooperage demonstration and enjoy a tutored whiskey tasting with one of the production Masters. As part of the package, participants will stay in five star accommodation, visit one of the area’s finest restaurants and at the end of the course, they will receive a personalised bottle of Irish whiskey. The two-day course can be booked online at http://www.irishwhiskeyacademy.com and costs €1,199.

One-day ‘Discoverer’ courses, for those who have minimal knowledge about Irish whiskeys but want to learn more, are available from February 2015 while four-hour afternoon courses are available from November this year. Bookings for all courses can be made online at http://www.irishwhiskeyacademy.com now.

Courses will be tailored to focus on specific brands within Irish Distillers’ family of whiskeys, which includes Jameson, the world’s favourite Irish whiskey, and the much-acclaimed brands that comprise Irish Distillers’ Prestige Collection, including the Single Pot Still Whiskeys of Midleton such as Green Spot and Redbreast, and the pinnacle of the Prestige Collection, Midleton Very Rare.

The Irish Whiskey Academy is the latest initiative from Irish Distillers as it continues its commitment to sustain growth of the Irish whiskey category worldwide.

David Byrne, Head of Brand Education & Visitor Centres at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, said: “After years of planning, we’re delighted to finally be welcoming whiskey fans from around the world to the Irish Whiskey Academy in Midleton, the home of Irish Distillers. As the first of its kind, the Academy heralds a new era of knowledge and understanding of Irish whiskey and we look forward to welcoming people to Midleton and helping them to discover the heritage and unique flavour profile that Irish whiskeys have to offer.”

Simon Fay, International Marketing Director at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard since July 2014, added: “The opening of the Irish Whiskey Academy represents a proud moment for the Irish Whiskey category, and for Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard in particular. The company has been largely responsible for the resurgence and dynamic global growth of the Irish whiskey category in the last two decades and we’re fully committed to continuing this growth. The opening of the Irish Whiskey Academy is a clear demonstration of both our confidence in the future of Irish whiskey and our commitment to driving sustainable category growth through investment and innovation, and we’re hopeful that it will prove to be popular with spirits fans and trade professionals alike the world over.”

The Irish Whiskey Academy

Irish Whiskey Academy

I hold my hands up when ever I conduct or host a tasting, masterclass or seminar and exclaim with the sentence “I confess, I don’t know everything about today’s subject”. Whether that is to be the history of a cocktail, the production of tequila or marketing of a beer, I always have to do my homework, and even then I may still have to refer to my notes to be able to deliver a confident speech or presentation. In my line of work, every day involves some kind of pitch. Even when I was bartending, you have to be confident in selling your products no matter what they are, and that’s exactly what I try to aim towards today. Whether my audience is to be a group of bartenders experiencing pisco for the first time, or thirty wine experts learning about the marketing a product in the modern-day, you have to be prepared for any outcome.

I attend many tastings and masterclasses to learn and experience a wide variety, which hopefully comes across within each article you read on this site. Inevitably I only know and therefore present to you what I take in, with official facts and stories entwined, but the chance to truly understand a category or indeed a specific brand can be rare. I’ve been very lucky since Drinks Enthusiast’s inception in that I have been able to appreciate first hand a variety of brands including Benedictine, Sloane’s, Sibling Distillery, Warner EdwardsAuchentoshan and most recently Grey Goose. All these trips have been an opportunity presented to me and in some cases would be hard for a regular customer to access. One experience is far from this statement, and to the UK, is presented right on the doorstep.

David McCabe of the Irish Whiskey Academy
David McCabe of the Irish Whiskey Academy

Last week, Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard invited me to explore their relatively new concept within the Old Midleton Distillery, just outside of Cork. Since February 2013, The Irish Whiskey Academy has been offering an insight into the process of grain to bottle, and explain everything in between through modern and traditional techniques. The academy is taught through a classroom of sorts, within the renovated mill manager’s house at the boundary between the old and new Midleton distilleries. Here begins your journey into one of four packages that the academy offer, all presented by the incredibly knowledgeable David McCabe. For myself and the rest of the whiskey enthusiasts who had joined me from across the UK, Ireland and Netherlands, we experienced the ‘Enthusiast’ package (appropriately named I know!) which meant a two day look at everything the academy can offer.

The arrival at the Old Midleton Distillery offers an enticing view that easily transports you back to the 1800’s and sets the tone for the styles of buildings you will explore. In no particular order of itinerary, a tour of the old buildings dives into the workings of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with the impressive Warehouse A1, one of the first warehouses that matured Cork Distillery whiskey, a must see. Interactive scenes gives you the best insight into the life of a distillery worker with even the likes of the customs office and waterwheel available to explore.

Malted Barley
Malted Barley

The main part of the academy though brings you to a comfortable lecture hall styled room. With movable blackboards offering clear diagrams, David McCabe explains everything from the raw materials used within the distillery, how each material is cultivated, brewed and fermented including the upgrade to modern techniques over the decades and the two main distillation methods used; pot and continuous distillation. Hands on approaches are also used, with the ability to see, smell and taste malted and unmalted barley straight from the fields, to the experiment of distilling water and alcohol within the classroom itself. An explanation into the differences between the variety of expressions created at the new distillery is also offered, so that you are fully aware of how each is created and ultimately shows a different flavour profile.

Staves are also handed out for a better understanding of the maturation techniques that the Irish Distillers use, as well as a look into their use of American and sherry oak barrels and how they came to be an integral part of the brands they create. This becomes even clearer with a demonstration within the cooperage itself, hosted by Master Cooper Ger Buckley. Here, Ger explains his role within the company and the art of creating a barrel through the tools used by previous generations. The insight into the woods used and the methods to repair casks that will ultimately hold whiskey for a number of years really gives an indication of how important the role of a Master Cooper can be.

Warehouse 42
Warehouse 42

This knowledge will also impart your beliefs and flavours into the blending exercise where you are able to blend your very own whiskey for you to take home. Not many places who can give you that kind of opportunity.

Of course, no academy course would be complete without a lesson in the art of truly appreciating the finished product. Held in the lounge area of the academy, itself adorned with old advertising posters, vintage photos and a wall of bottling’s from the Irish Distillers over the years, you can taste the likes of the Jameson range, Paddy’s, Powers, Midleton, Redbreast and both Green and Yellow Spot. To compliment, lunch at the Malt House, Jameson’s own restaurant within the Old Distillery, is a must.

Tasting the range within the Irish Whiskey Academy
Tasting the range within the Irish Whiskey Academy

Although I could write about everything I have learnt from my own two day trip, I feel that It would be more effective to explain within each of the features I have written, so please take a look at my articles of the Irish Distillers portfolio over the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at how each expression is created. In summarising this feature though,
I can’t stress enough that although the academy offers quite literally everything you need to know regarding not just Irish Distillers, but Irish whiskey in general, it’s not just for bartenders or expert whiskey lovers. I can safely say that all grades of knowledge will come away with an idea of what whiskey is all about. The four packages have been created to cater, and whichever you ultimately go for, you will go away with so much more than when you entered.

Get yourself signed up, enjoy yourself and try some fantastic whiskies. The Irish Whiskey Academy should be a high priority for anyone who has even a slight interest in Irish whiskey.

For more information on The Irish Whiskey Academy, please visit their website.

For more photos from my trip, please visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cork Dry

Cork Gin

Cork Dry Gin is not a brand you would really expect to see over here within the shores of England, Scotland and Wales, but its home country of Ireland hails it as the biggest selling gin around. A bold statement perhaps, but on the odd occasion, and especially with Ireland, a home-brew outstrips even the most mainstream of brands.

Cork dry gin was first produced way back in 1793 at the Watercourse Distillery in Cork itself. It’s said that the recipe, although these days it is now created by the Cork Distilleries Company based in Midleton. Its acquisition by Irish Distillers, a Pernod Ricard subsidiary, in 1988 meant the streamlining of the gin, and boosting its profile within venues in Ireland, gaining the title of biggest selling gin in the country.

The recipe itself contains juniper oils, coriander, angelica and other rare botanicals, which themselves are combined within a triple distilled neutral grain spirit through the cold compound method.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Cork Dry – 37.5%

Very dry on the nose with plenty of herbal aromas with a sweetened finish. The sweet flavours follow onto the palate, with a blend of bark, deep citrus hits and a roast coffee bean finish.

A good, all-round gin, and you can see why it’s the number one selling. It’s just a good old-fashioned gin! Speaking of old-fashioned, the label features the Cork Coat of Arms, commissioned by Cork dry gin to artist Gladys Leach in 1951 to reinforce the gin’s association with the city.

One you can pick up if you’re not one for travelling to Ireland, but be prepared to enjoy if you do, it’s not kidding when it means it’s the biggest selling.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Two New Speyside Single Malts Released As Tormore Reveals New Look

DistilleryChivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, has released two new small batch, single malt whiskies from its Speyside distillery, Tormore.

The launch of Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old, both produced in limited quantities from a small number of carefully-selected casks, coincides with a new identity for the brand, as it aims to appeal to the growing number of discerning drinkers who appreciate the craft quality and provenance of Speyside single malt whisky.

Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old are aged in American oak casks that demonstrate the distillery’s light, smooth, and fruity character. Tormore 14 Year Old has a fruity nose that offers hints of citrus and raspberry, a smooth, sweet taste featuring liquorice and ginger, followed by a long, sweet finish with a spicy tang.

Tormore 16 Year Old, which is bottled without chill-filtration to reveal further layers of complexity, presents a well-balanced nose of sweet orange and barley sugar, a mouth-watering, juicy taste of ripe melon and pear, with a long and slightly dry finish. Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old are currently sold in France, priced at 42€ and 56€ respectively, and are expected to be available in other countries throughout 2014.

The new look for Tormore includes a contemporary logo and refreshed packaging, which highlight the distillery’s still room and natural landscape, reinforcing the purity of the spirit. The whiskies are presented in a luxury gift box that features the batch number and the signature of Master Distiller, Neal Corbett, reinforcing its crafted quality and making it an ideal gift for single malt fans.

A new website (www.tormoredistillery.com) has also been developed, enabling malt whisky enthusiasts to discover the unique flavour profiles of the two expressions and to explore the distillery’s heritage.

Neal Corbett, Master Distiller at Tormore Distillery, comments: “The re-design of Tormore and the release of these handcrafted whiskies herald a new era for the distillery, which I am proud to be leading. Tormore 14 Year Old and 16 Year Old showcase the distillery’s smooth signature style, so we hope that both Scotch connoisseurs and discerning drinkers looking to expand their repertoire will enjoy discovering these whiskies in the months to come.”