Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Ireland
On my most recent trip to Ireland I had the opportunity to travel with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and attend their Origin Green Conference focused on sustainability and green food and beverage production in Ireland. I met Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny, watched the Gaelic football championship game (Ireland's Superbowl) in a traditional Irish pub and visited my favorite brewery, Guinness. Day one of my trip started in the County Cork at the historic Midleton Distillery. Midleton is home to Jameson, Powers, Paddy and pure potstill Redbreast, one of the best Irish whiskeys on our shelf. They also provide whiskey on contract to support long existing independent brands.
MD is in the process of expanding to nearly twice its current size, easily making it the largest distillery in Ireland, and one of the largest in Europe.
This water wheel at Middleton still works and was used to power a great deal of the distillery at one point in time. It's more or less used as a tour highlight now, but it's amazing to think that this was once one of the most important pieces of equipment on the grounds.
On day two I traveled to First Ireland Spirits located in Abbeyleix, Ireland. They produce a number of Irish creams such as Brogan's and O'Mara's, all with real cream and most with true Irish whiskey as the alcoholic base. I had the opportunity to try their newest Irish Whiskey Liqueur, The Dubliner, made with a blend of honeycomb, caramel and whiskey. It's excellent and will be at Binny's soon! Shortly after, we traveled to the Kilbeggan Distillery, dating to 1757, making it the oldest in Ireland. (The "modern" steam engine pictured here is only a bit over 100 years old.)
Like Middelton, Kilbeggan's is powered partly by their paddle wheel.
There is a lot of historical equipment at Kilbeggan. Some of the most impressive are these old pot stills.
The head distiller, Andrina Fitzgerald, helped us taste through Kilbeggan whiskies. I first met Andrina on a trip to Kilbeggan in 2008, as a server in Kilbeggan's restaurant. Passion, hard work, study and ambition have advanced her to her current position. We wish you the best, Andrina!
My final day touring distilleries ended with Tullamore D.E.W. Now owned by William Grant and Sons, the old distillery buildings have been resurrected as a visitors center and museum.
They've broken ground on their new distillery which is set to be completed in the next year or so. The new distillery will include a cutting edge waste and water processing and reclamation plant, as well as the beautiful stillhouse pictured here.
They are huge supporters of Ireland's Green Initiative, dedicated to do what they can to help. This is the environment plant is.
My trip couldn't have ended any better. I got to visit my favorite brewery - Guinness - and more important share pints with Master Brewer, Fergal Murray.