Too many people turned up for the Athlone Beer Club Kilbeggan Whiskey tasting in The Malt House last night. I was pretty happy with that as a complaint and arrangements were quickly made so that everyone was comfortably accommodated. Deirdre Keon, Manager of the Kilbeggan Distillery Visitor Centre was good enough to bring us some samples of four different Irish whiskies and talk us through tasting them.
We started off with the Kilbeggan 8 Year Old Single Grain. Firstly we smelled it, with our mouths slightly open and our noses stuck right into the glasses to inhale all of the character and vanilla notes from the barrel. Then we tasted it with our tongues stuck out so that the whiskey hit the taste bud target rather than our lips. I’d say we looked comical but this is how you’re supposed to do it! It’s a very smooth, mellow and accessible whiskey and it went down nicely.
Next we had the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey which is aged for at least three years and one day in bourbon barrels. This was closer to what most of us would think of when Irish Whiskey is mentioned. A lovely drop. In between each whiskey we cleansed our palates with oatcakes and water.
Next we had the Tyrconnell Single Malt. Deirdre told us the entertaining story of how it got it’s name, it involves a racehorse, if you want to know the rest, you’ll have to go visit her in the Kilbeggan Distillery! This was a new one for me and I really liked it, I wasn’t alone either. There were a few declarations ‘that’s my favourite’!
We finished up with the original Irish peated whiskey, Connemara Peated Single Malt. I had a conversation about this whiskey earlier in the day and was given the opinion that it was like ‘chewing a sod of turf’! If you can get past that, this is a beautiful smoky whiskey. Deirdre advised us to add a tiny drop of water to it and taste it a second time. It really opened it up, I wouldn’t normally think of adding anything to whiskey but in this case it made a world of difference. Deirdre treated us to another drop of our preferred whiskey before finishing up. Myself and one or two more went for the Tyrconnell but the most popular by a long shot was the Connemara. Deirdre was very pleasantly surprised at this as it was the first time she’d had so many requests for Connemara, ah, the Athlone Beer Club are a fierce sophisticated bunch! I’d like to thank Deirdre for taking the time to share her knowledge with us and thanks to Michelle for her organisational assistance and Rob for being a genial host as always. Sláinte!