Friday, September 14, 2012

Back home part four: Jameson Irish Whiskey Tour

Ah friends, we've come to our final installment of my trip back home in Ireland. 2 hens, 1 cute goat, 1 Genie Junior, 2 gigantic breakfasts, 1 dinner feast, a food festival, a food market, some kangaroo skewers and a partridge in a pear tree.

What's our final destination on our whistle-stop tour of East Cork? Any of these terms sound familiar?

What about whiskey? Triple distilled Jameson Irish Whiskey. As we were staying near the Midleton distillery it would have been rude not to visit. Hiccup.

Before our visit I didn't know much about the amber nectar. But now I can happily recite a few little facts. Mr. Moustache tells me I'm annoying, I prefer the term insightful.

My Jameson Irish Whiskey know-it-all-facts. Feel free to use them to pretend you're a whiskey buff too:
  • Its founder, John Jameson, was a Scotsman, not Irish. And a lawyer to boot. 
  • His family motto was 'sine metu' - 'without fear'. Due to the family's bravery at fighting pirates during the 1500s. Never thought I'd write the word pirates on Cuisine Genie. It appears on every bottle of its whiskey to this day. The motto, not the word pirate.
  • Jameson founded his original distillery in Bow Street in Dublin in 1780. All operations moved to the Midleton distillery in 1971. 
  • There are 6 stages in the whiskey making process: Malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. This handy little video describes each phase if you'd like to know more.
  • The principle ingredients are barley, soft water and yeast. Straightforward ingredients there you'd think. But don't try this at home. Barley can spontaneously combust.

Adult tickets are €11.70, if booked in advance. €12.50 on the day. That gets you a tour, a whiskey, and if you're lucky you might get picked for the tasting. The tasting part might lure you there in the first place but I really enjoyed the whole experience. 

The tour starts with a standard video and then a walk through the old distillery, taking you through the 6 stages of whiskey making.  Throughout the emphasis is on the tradition behind the whiskey, pure Irish ingredients and the importance of the triple distillation. All combining to give it that distinctive Irish smooth flavour.

It'll more than likely be raining
A lot of the tour takes place outside, don't worry, you'll get an attractive poncho like me

The Distiller's Cottage built in 1794
Where current Master Distiller, Barry Crockett, was born into the job 

Copper stills are used in the whiskey making process

 Water wheel, dated 1852, the distillery's main source of power and still in use in 1975

The original platform shoe

 Stages of the maturation process where the whiskey ages in oak seasoned barrels
The liquid that evaporates during the maturation process is called the angels' share. Lucky divils. 

At the end the guide asks who'd like to volunteer for a tasting. Stick your hand up there now.You'll taste three whiskeys. American (single distilled), Scottish (double) and a Jameson (triple). Obviously there is only one answer to the question which one did you prefer? Your guide describes how to compare the sweetness of the American to the more peaty notes of the Scottish. Then triumphantly finishes with the smoothness of the Jameson.

Plus you'll get a certificate which you must frame and display on your fridge: 

I'd recommend a visit, you'll have a J old time. There are 2 Jameson Irish Whiskey distilleries to visit in Ireland; Cork and Dublin. Tickets and more information can be found here.

So that's it, our weekend back home updates are complete. Back to cooking, eating and living in London. Now, where's my tube map, feigned Londoner look of disinterest and umbrella? London: let's have ya. 
You might also like:
Back home part three: Eating Midleton (Midleton Food & Drink Festival and Farmers Market)

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