I’d heard that tasting events are great!
They afford you an opportunity to try so many different types of whiskey that you ordinarily wouldn’t be buying. Be that cause they’re rare, more expensive than your average dram, or maybe even one you’ve never really be drawn to but now it’s there on the table in front of you, it would be rude not to. I’ve not gone to many of them and have been mainly limited to the tastings you get at the end of distillery tours, but recently I had the opportunity to attend one hosted by the Celtic Whiskey Store at 57 The Headline, with Gerard Garland of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard.
It was back on the 9th of February and while flicking down through some Facebook posts, during some downtime in work, I noticed a post by the Celtic Whiskey Store in relation to an upcoming tasting. It was the below picture that caught my attention and the fact that tickets were only €33!
If ever there was a tasting to go to, this was it! I made a couple of quick calls to family members to see who was available on the date, and my father was the only one free, so I jumped online and booked two tickets. It transpires I was lucky that I was so quick on the draw, as the event sold out within hours of being posted online. There were a lot of disappointed people who had missed out. This was definitely a case of right place at the right time!
The event was scheduled for March 1st, so we had a few weeks to wait before we got to taste the amazing line up. As the event date approached things took a turn for the worst weather wise and Met Eireann (The Irish weather forecast service) had started talking about a storm that was coming which they had called the ‘Beast from the East’. The most alarming part of this prediction was that the worst of it was to hit on… You’ve guessed it, March 1st!!
Unfortunately for my father and I, Met Eireann were 100% correct in their prediction and snow falls not seen since 1982, covered Dublin and this resulted in the event being postponed for very understandable reasons.
Roll on one week later, it’s March 8th and it is event night. I had not been to 57 The Headline before but had heard very good things about it and that the food was top drawer, so we got to the venue nice and early, ordered something to eat and tried some of the wonderful craft beers that they have there. Neither the food nor the beers let us down and we were all set for the main event.
The tasting took place upstairs and was very nicely laid out on arrival. Immediately I noticed that attendance for the event had been kept to a reasonable number (I think there were 30) and that there was no fear of us being to spread out, resulting in us struggling to hear what was happening or feeling disengaged.
The evening started with Emmet from Celtic Whiskey Store introducing himself, he explained how the event would work, he introduced Gerard Garland and he finished his intro with some lovely words about Dr Pearse Lyons, who had passed away earlier that day. Emmet outlined the impact and lasting legacy that Dr Lyons had made on the Irish Whiskey industry and asked that we all raise our first glass on the night in his memory.
After the introduction from Emmet we heard from Ger and it became clear fairly quickly that he is just a fountain of knowledge. His passion for Irish whiskey came across from the outset and it was clear that this was going to be an interesting night, and so it was. Lined up on the mantelpiece, to Ger’s right, was our selection for the night and my god was it impressive looking!
We had eight bottles to sample and it was the cream of the crop.
– Method and Madness Pot Still Batch 1
– Method and Madness Pot Still Batch 2
– Powers Single Cask 286
– Midleton Very Rare 2017
– Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy
– Midleton Dair Ghaelach ‘Bluebell Forest’ Tree 4
– Midleton Celtic Whiskey Store Single Cask
– Redbreast Single Cask
The tasting started with the Method and Madness on the left of the above image and worked its way across to the right, thus finishing with the Redbreast Single Cask bottled for the Celtic Whiskey Store. This was one of three bottles up for tasting that were exclusively bottled for Celtic Whiskey Store, with the Powers Single Cask and Midleton Single Cask being the other two on offer.
With each tasting Ger gave us a great insight into the history of the bottle, the reasons behind its release and the people behind its conception. He gave us detail on age and the wood used. He outlined how some had been finished in varying wood types, like the Method and Madness in Chestnut and the Dair Ghaelach in Irish oak. It’s information like this that you really only get by attending these tasting events.
Like my blog of two weeks ago, where I was sampling Dingle’s finest, I didn’t take tasting notes as I feel it comes across as somewhat rude when you’re in company, but when I sit down to write about these events I wish I didn’t care what people would think of me taking notes, and then I could give more detail about each dram!
The evening drew to an end with a raising of hands as to what our favourite dram of the night was. I went for the Powers Single Cask myself but it was the Redbreast Sherry Single Cask that went away with the honour of being number one. In fairness this was a stunning dram but I’ve a soft spot for Powers!
I enjoyed the evening so much that I’ve now booked another two events for the month of March on the 20th in the Rag Trader being hosted by The Whiskey Trails and I return to 57 The Headline on 29th for another evening hosted by Celtic Whiskey Store.
I can confirm that tasting events are great!