Irish Whiskey writer Stuart McNamara changes tumblers to try the new lady of the Irish Spirits Industry, Kalak Vodka.
Kalak Vodka – The New Lady of the Irish Spirits Industry
There’s a new lady in Ireland who’s about to shake up the Irish Spirits industry. Her management team had invited me to meet her a few weeks ago when she threw a party in the Irish Whiskey Museum to announce her arrival, but unfortunately, I was abroad. Friends of mine who did meet her that night seemed very impressed with who they met that night. “Tell me more?” I asked, but all they did was smile and say “See for yourself!”.
It wasn’t long before I received a second invitation to meet up from her team. Walking into Upstairs at Kinkara in Ranalagh last Thursday night for her second party, I was still intrigued. I had seen photos and she seemed tall, elegant, young and confident. But was there an icy streak maybe?
And her name – Kalak. Definitely a Slavic influence there. As I walked up the narrow stairs to the roof garden, I ran through my range of greetings from years spent working in Central and Eastern Europe. As I walked across the sunlit decking at Kinkara, I saw her standing beside her MD Patrick Shelley. Hi I said, I’m Stuart. Hi Stuart, I’m Kalak, she said, in a warm West Cork accent!
You see, Kalak comes from Cailleach, the Irish Language name of the ancient Irish God of Winter, long associated with the beautiful Beara Peninsula in deepest West Cork on the very Southernmost tip of Ireland.
For Kalak is not a person, but a new hand crafted Irish Vodka from West Cork made from quadruple distilled Irish malt barley mash. The finished vodka is then cut with West Cork Spring Water and carbon filtered, making it one of the smoothest drinking vodkas that I have ever tasted.
Kalak Irish Vodka – A Spiritual Spirit
The associations with a triple distilled single malt whiskey are obvious and so is the taste. There is a depth of creaminess to the mouth feel from the malted barley that I have never experienced with any other vodka that I have tasted. In all my years working and living in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the spiritual Slavic home of Vodka, I have never tasted anything of the sheer quality of Kalak. Like the Japanese make better Scotch, it now appears that the Irish make better Vodka!
And Kalak is a spiritual spirit. I had spent the earlier part of that warm July day judging the Spirits and Wines categories in the Quality Irish Food Awards. Here, marks are won and lost for the quality of packaging and presentation as well as taste and quality of the product, as the Feel Good factor when one buys a premium bottle of spirits is also so, so important.
Only a week or so, I passed through the wonderful Loop Whiskey Shop at Dublin Airport fully planning to treat myself to a bottle of a very special and premium Irish Whiskey with a “unique” wood finish. My friends in the loop offered me a taste as I had missed the official press launch a week earlier. It was wonderful! I went to buy a bottle but discovered that a bottle of premium whiskey dedicated in name to the wood it aged in was in a cheap cardboard box. There it stood on the shelf surrounded by lesser stablemates, all sitting proudly in their own wooden boxes. I didn’t buy, because suddenly I didn’t feel special. Who buys a Rolls Royce with cloth upholstery!
But Kalak have ticked all the boxes. The bottle is tall slim and elegant, The Ice Staff of Kalak is woven through the lettering and crowned with the antlers of the deer who were the Soldiers of Cailleach in the Irish Winter. This is an inspired and wonderful Irish Vodka in bespoke finery. Would you feel special buying or receiving Kalak as a present? Yes!
Kalak Vodka – Review
Kalak’s Tipperary born MD Patrick Shelley, who has over 15 years of experience in the International Luxury Drinks market building and marketing iconic brands explains.
“I was not a vodka drinker until very recently, as I found vodka in general to be odorless and tasteless. I wanted to create a vodka that ‘I’ could enjoy, one with taste, character and depth as well as purity and smoothness. If nothing else, I have at least found a vodka I can enjoy with Kalak!”
What’s even more amazing is that Patrick has successfully completed the entire project from his own resources with no external investors. But I do see that he retained the services of the well-known Scottish Master Distiller Dr. Jim Swan. Patrick is also quick to praise the support of the Irish Food Board An Bord Bia in helping him to brink his Kalak dream to market.
It may be summer now, but take note of what I say! This Winter will be all about Kalak, in Ireland and abroad!