In Galway we have a festival for everything. From Arts to Horse Racing, Oyster, Film, Fashion, Comedy, Harry Potter and Literacy, there’s something for every interest. My favourite is the Galway Food Festival. It’s probably the newest to the calendar but is fast becoming the main event on the Easter weekend. With street stalls, talks, debates, cooking demo’s and tasting menus all over town, visitors and locals are spoiled for choice. On the Sunday evening I managed to get a front row seat at The Skeff Bar and Kitchen’s Whiskey Tasting Event with a few other ITWBN Bloggers.
Granted I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to whiskey (and when they were explaining the distillation process my mind kept wandering back to repressed memories of Leaving Cert chemistry) but I did enjoy learning about how it’s made and what’s more, now I can act like an actual whiskey connoisseur next time I’m out and trying to act sophisticated. Although the fact that I only know the names of four whiskeys when The Skeff have over 100 in their vault may be a bit of a giveaway…
For anyone who actually knows their whiskeys these are the four that we sampled and the notes we made (for anyone who doesn’t have a clue about whiskey I’ll teach you what we learned so you can be a proper know it all too!).
1. Jameson Caskmates:
This is a triple distilled whiskey that has been aged in beer seasoned wooden casks. The initial aroma is supposed to be fruity, like apples, which to be honest I didn’t get. However I did get the aftertaste of dark chocolate and a definite hint of beer. In fairness, I’m not a big whiskey drinker so did find this one a bit strong for my liking. (Tip: if you do find yourself on a whiskey tasting and can’t handle the intensity, dilute your whiskey with a little bit of water so you can still enjoy the flavours).
2. Jameson Black Barrel:
This was my favourite, probably because it was the mildest and smoothest to drink, so if you’re a newbie like me then give this one a go! It has a “creamy” taste with hints of vanilla, toasted wood and spices which come from the pot still whiskey and flamed charred barrels.
3. Powers John Lanes Release:
Among the group, this was by far the most popular of the four whiskeys we tried. I found it that bit too “spicy” however the others really liked it. The intense spiciness is followed by hints of vanilla, honey and dried apricot. This particular whiskey is matured in a combination of bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks which add to its distinct flavour.
4. Redbreast 12 Year Old:
Similar to the Jameson Black Barrel, I found that this had a nice, milder flavour than the Jameson Caskmates and the Powers – and therefore, for an inexperienced palate such as mine, it was a lot more appealing! Again, it is described as having a “creamy” taste which is balanced out with spices, fruit, sherry and toasted wood. If you really want to show off then you can also note “the mature fruitbowl aroma of pears, brown bananas and strawberries”.
While I wasn’t an expert going into the tasting, and still amn’t, I really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that you can go in to a tasting with absolutely no knowledge of whiskey and still enjoy yourself and appreciate the story behind each product or you can go in as an expert and pick the demonstrators brain for more information on their huge collection of over a hundred different varieties – there’s bound to be one you haven’t tried before! If you’re looking for something a bit different to do with a friend or partner why not get a voucher for a whiskey tasting experience and do it together or with a group? As part of our experience we got to try four whiskeys, then get another shot of our favourite to have with some finger food while the demonstrators came round to chat with us. Tickets were €25 and if you’re interested in going to the next event then keep an eye out on The Skeff’s Twitter feed for more information.