The word whiskey comes from the Gaelic words uisce beatha which translates as “water of life”. It is thought that whiskey was one of the first drinks to be distilled in Europe. Many, many years ago the Irish monks are said to have travelled throughout the Mediteranean countries and one of the skills they learned was how to distill perfume. When they came back to Ireland, they passed their newly learned skills on and, out of this the Irish modified the process to make a drinkable spirit!!!
Now many years later we can go into an establishment like The Skeffington Arms Hotel in Galway and find that they house over 150 different whiskeys in their vault!!!
In conjunction with the wonderful ladies at Into The West Bloggers Network and The Skeffington Arms Hotel in Galway I was invited to attend a whiskey tasting in conjunction with the Galway Food Festival.
As a child growing up I remember my Grandfather always having a whiskey at the end of the day when he stayed with us. He smoked a pipe and was constantly burning our lino (linoleum) on the floor!!! The smell of whiskey and pipe always bring me back to those days when I was very young and our Grandfather lived with us. It is amazing how smell has such an effect on our brain. It has the ability to access the limbic brain which is the emotional part of the brain and the hippocampus where our memories are stored.
That is why smelling is the first process in a whiskey tasting. We are told to take the glass to our nose and smell the flavours. They often elicit a memory when a certain ingredient is identified by our brain.
Our whiskeys distilled in Ireland, are distilled three times, whilst in other countries like Scotland it is twice distilled. We were told that this is what gives Irish whiskey a more smooth taste, with mellowed malt and barley honey sweetness. The process of pot distilling (where heat is applied directly to the pot containing the wash for whiskey), gives the whiskey a distinctive spiciness!
These are the four lovely whiskeys we tasted at The Skeffington Arms Hotel, Galway.
The first was Jameson Caskmates. On tasting this whiskey there is an initial sweet mouth coating which, we were reliably told was typical of the Irish pot still whiskey inclusion. This was followed by the effect of the beer cask finish apparent with the subtle touch of the hop and cocoa beans.
Next up was Jameson Black Barrel. There was a burst of flavours in this whiskey which combined to produce a creamy luscious taste experience. There were waves of vanilla toasted wood and spices rolling through from the pot still whiskey and flamed charred barrels. You could also taste the spicy fruity sweetness from the grain which was consistent throughout.
Up next was Powers John Lanes Release. This is a full bodied spice tasting whiskey infused with vanilla, honey and dried apricot. It is matured in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks and is named after the distillery it comes from.
Last and by no means least came a year old old Red Breast. This is a full flavoured whiskey combining a harmonious balance of spices, creamy fruit, sherry and toasted notes. On the nose it is a mature fruitbowl of pears, brown bananas and strawberries.
A special thanks to the whiskey experts in The Skeffington Arms Hotel. They were delightful to listen to and answered questions in a knowledgeable and pleasant manner. Well done guys will definitely recommend a trip to The Skeffington Arms Hotel for whiskey tasting with you.
And then we were treated to some delicious food!
A very enjoyable evening and one I would highly recommended.
Until next time … keep the faith,