Destinations / JOURNEY
because I love gifts. He continued to explain that the only
way to kiss the stone is to hang upside down at the highest
point of the castle in order to reach the lucky rock with an
inverted kiss, and I realized I would need a gift to overcome
vertigo first to make this happen. Instead, I decided to avert
any vertiginous challenges, especially on a full stomach, in
preparation for more whiskey tasting at Jameson, the next
stop on my tour.
The Jameson Distillery is located in the east Cork town
of Midleton, and it’s well worth the trip. The sense of heritage is palpable, with original buildings dating back to 1795,
a water wheel that turns to operate the cogs and wheels in
a mill building, and a still house, the home of three original
copper pot stills — one of them the largest pot remaining in
existence, holding up to 31,000 gallons. An impressive tour
through the cooperage and warehouse revealed hundreds of
barrels under lock and key and finished with a comparative
tasting between Irish, Scotch and Bourbon whiskeys.
What Is the Difference?
In the simplest of terms, the differences between whiskeys
are geography, spelling and ingredients. Whiskey is the
overarching term, while Scotch whisky (without an “e”)
is made in Scotland, and Bourbon whiskey is made in the
U. S. Both Irish whiskey and Scotch are made from malted
(soaked and germinated) barley or a blend of grains, and
Bourbon is distilled from corn. The malted barley in Scotch
is dried over bricks of smoldering peat, which gives it a char-
acteristic smoky aroma. The malted barley in Irish whiskey
is kiln-dried and rarely peated (Connemara is Ireland’s only
peated whiskey) and has no smoky characteristics. I voted
for the smooth and honeyed team and departed Jameson’s
an Irish whiskey convert.
The next stop on my whiskey tour was Dublin, but that
required a three-hour drive, and I had been tasting whiskey, so I decided to make a night of it in on the southeastern
coast. Luckily, there is no shortage of accommodation in the
region — from castle deluxe (Castlemartyr Resort) to sumptuous country house (Ballymaloe House) to plenty of cozy
independent bed-and-breakfasts sprinkled in between. I
wanted food first and headed to the Midleton farmers’ market, one of the largest and most famous markets in Ireland,
where I ogled elderberries and black currants, farmhouse
cheese and heritage meats, pasties and scones, before settling on smoky fish cakes and mackerel pâté from Belvelly
Smokehouse, the only traditional timber smokehouse in
Ireland where fish are hung for smoking. From there I
drove along increasingly narrowing roads, winding through
farmland and thatched-roof villages to the sandy beaches
of Ballycotton, before turning north on the coast road. I
passed the tiny village of Youghal, a Norman walled port,
and arrived in Ardmore, a seaside resort and fishing village
believed to be the oldest Christian settlement in Europe and
home to the Cliff House, my destination for the night.
The Spirit of Dublin
The following day I headed straight to Dublin, where I bade
a final farewell to my car and faithful GPS. Dublin was traditionally the heart of Irish whiskey production. By the 19th
century John Jameson and John Power had established
Irish whiskey as a formidable export and dozens of distilleries were clustered in a one-mile radius in the city, dubbed
the golden triangle. The 20th century took its toll on the
industry, in large part to due to wars at home and abroad,
American Prohibition and the Great Depression. The number of distillers dwindled and those few that remained
merged and eventually moved to Midleton by the midcentury. Dublin’s Old Jameson Distillery was one of the last
distilleries to close in the ’70s (it is now an exhaustive whiskey museum), and since then there has not been any whiskey
distillation in Dublin — until now.
This page: The bar
at Dingle Distillery.
Opposite from top:
House; copper pot still
at Teeling Whiskey
Company, which is
bringing craft distillery
back to Dublin.
Distillation methods can be
traced as far back as the Middle
Ages, with all sides laying claim.