It’s time to talk about Summer Irish Whiskeys.
I was delighted with the very positive reaction to my last blog where, for the second time ever on IrishWhiskey.com I reviewed an Irish Spirit other than whiskey in my Ornabrak Single Malt Gin Review.
In the same way that even hardened Guinness drinkers switch to Lagers in hot summers, many Irish Whiskey drinkers are occasionally tempted by a long cool G & T as a sunny afternoon tipple. And all the better if the gin in question shares some common Irish whiskey heritage and provenance.
Because of the strong and close links in provenance between the different Irish Spirits categories, I’m thinking about opening a new “Irish Distilled” corner to IrishWhiskey.com where I can occasionally review exceptional Irish distilled Gin’s, Vodkas and other spirits.
But, this is first and foremost an Irish Whiskey Review site. So, in a spirit (pun intended) of fun and fairness, I offered a right of response to the “Ornabrak Challenge” to some of our favourite Irish Whiskey brands.
The challenge was simple. Present a cool summer sipping drink or cocktail for whiskey aficionados that showcases a 2 Pooka “Special Irish Whiskey” from your Stable.
1 Pooka Irish Whiskeys are perfect for mixing with Ice, coke or lemonade to make a long cool whiskey drink.
2 Pooka Irish Whiskeys are better served in cocktails where their special character is accentuated rather than diffused by the other elements in the drink
First to respond to the challenge was Lambay Whiskey.
Lambay Small Batch Irish Whiskey – Camus Cognac Finished
Lambay is a new Irish Whiskey which was launched last summer as a collaboration between Alex Baring of Lambay Island and Cyril Camus of Camus Cognac on the west coast of France. Camus Cognac is wet cellar matured on the cliffs of Ile de Ré and has long been one of my very favourite cognacs with it’s wonderful underlying sea salt and maritime notes.
Lambay Island Small Batch is an Irish Whiskey blend distilled and matured by an Irish Distillery for Lambay Whiskey who then finish it in Camus Cognac Casks before cutting it to 40% ABV with Lambay Island Spring Water. What better whiskey for summer.
Lambay Small Batch Irish Whiskey – The Bothy
Inspired by the Bothy on Lambay Island, a place open to fresh sea breezes, cut grass, sea spray and the delicate aroma of the wild yellow Cowslip flower that blooms in May.
This cocktail sums up exactly what Summer means as a refreshing mixed drink for all occasions, delicious as an appetizer, a BBQ thirst quencher or an easy punch bowl to share with friends.
35ml Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend
35ml Cloudy Apple Juice
Mediterranean Tonic Water
Garnish Expressed Lemon Zest/ Sweet Green Apple Slices
Fill a highball glass full of cubed ice. Then add one measure of Lambay whiskey and equal measure of cloudy apple juice, top up with tonic water. Then add wedges of green apple/ lemon and stir.
Pearse Lyons – Distillers Choice
Pearse Lyons Distillery is another new entrant to the Irish market. Irish Brewing and Distilling Billionaire Dr. Pearse Lyons fulfilled a lifelong dream by creating his own Irish whiskey brand and distillery last year. Pearse, who had been US based for many years, had started his career as a scientist with Irish Distillers before founding his own company Altech in the USA. In recent years, he acquired an old deconsecrated church in Dublin’s Liberties area, his historic family home.
Together with his wife Deirdre, they lovingly restored and remodeled the Church interior to become a stunning boutique Irish Whiskey Distillery and visitor centre. It took several years to bring the church distillery to commissioning. During that time, Dr. Lyons quietly and discretely installed his whiskey stills in a remote location in Ireland. This meant that when the Pearse Lyons Church Distillery finally opened in 2017, they were able to include their own fully matured whiskey in their launch expressions. Forward planning at its best. Sadly, Dr. Pearse Lyons died earlier this year, but the fulfillment of his dream has left a wonderful legacy to Dublin and the Irish Whiskey World.
Pearse Distillers Choice – The TPL (Tonic, Pearse, Lime)
Pearse Lyons Distillers Choice is a blend of Irish Single Grain & Single Malt Whiskeys which were hand hand selected by Dr. Gearoid Cahill, Head Distiller at Pearse Lyons Distillery. Distillers Choice is predominantly aged in Bourbon barrels with a small amount of Sherry barrel aged whiskey in the mix. A four to nine year-old blend, Distillers Choice contains single malt that was distilled on the copper pot stills that are now in the Church.
Pearse Distillers Choice 35.5ml per serving.
Tonic Water and a Lime Wedge
In a long glass add the Pearse Distillers Choice, Squeeze a wedge of lime into the glass. Fill with ice. Top up the glass with a premium tonic water. Place a lime wedge on top to garnish. It’s very simple but surprisingly refreshing!
Hyde 1916 Single Grain Irish Whiskey – The Rising Tide
Hyde Whiskey are a family-run independent Irish Whiskey Bottling company based in West Cork who have been to the fore in Irish Whiskey innovation, particularly in the use of maturation and finishing. Hyde Whiskey’s tag line “It’s all about the wood” reflects this. In particular, the work of Hyde Whiskey in recent years of enhancing the blank canvas of Irish Single Grains with different Cask Finishes has yielded some quite impressive expressions.
The Hyde Whiskey brand is led by Conor Hyde who is one of the Gentlemen of the Irish Whiskey industry. For this summer whiskey challenge, Hyde have put forward their “1916” label Single Grain which is Bourbon Cask finished and is truly a classic 2 Pooka Irish Whiskey. Hyde 1916 (Hyde Green Label) is a superb Irish Single Grain Whiskey which won the Irish Whiskey Trail “Irish Whiskey of the Year” Award in 2016 and also won the “Best Irish Single Grain Whiskey” at the annual Irish Whiskey Awards of the same year.
The Rising Tide by Hyde Whiskey
Take 60 ml of Hyde 1916 Bourbon Cask matured Irish Single Grain Whiskey
30 ml freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
15 ml sugar syrup
Muddled Mint and dill
1 dash of grapefruit bitters
Shake with ice, pour and garnish with fresh dill.
Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey – Dublin Storm
I first discovered Teeling Small Batch Whiskey in 2013 when commuting between Dublin and my then home in Brussels. It was one of the first if not the first of the new Teeling whiskeys and it really broke the mold of Irish Whiskey with its innovative branding and rum finish. Teeling Small Batch is another classic 2 Pooka Irish Whiskey. A wonderful easy drinking blend (even though bottled at 46% ABV), packed with flavour and with warm rum notes in the finish. Teeling Small Batch has long been one of my personal “Desert island” Irish Whiskeys.Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey won the Irish Whiskey Trail “Irish Whiskey of the Year” Award in 2013 and also won the “Best Irish Whiskey” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2015.
The Teeling Distillery celebrated its third birthday last week and also celebrated the maturation of the first Irish Whiskey to be distilled in Dublin city since the closure of Jameson and Powers distilleries 40 years ago.
Teeling Small Batch Whiskey – Dublin Storm
Take 35.5ml Teeling Small Batch. Add 75ml Cloudy Apple Juice, 75ml Thomas Henry Ginger Beer, 3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Garnish with an Apple Wedge and Serve over cubed ice.
Walsh Whiskey – The Irishman – Founders Reserve Irish Whiskey
Walsh Whiskey was founded in Carlow by Bernard and Rosemary Walsh with the launch of The Irishman blended Irish Whiskey in 2007. What made the Irishman a very special blend is that there was no single grain whiskey in the mix. Instead it was a unique triple distilled blend of 70% Irish Single Malt and 30% Irish Single Pot Still whiskey, making it one of the most flavour packed Irish Whiskey blends ever produced and the first ever Irish Whiskey blend to be 100% Copper Pot Still distilled. It’s also amazingly good value for such a powerful expression.
While living and working abroad last year I imported two cases of the Irishman to my new home as both corporate gifts and as material for the occasional Irish Whiskey tasting classes I ran for local charities in my personal down time. Many confirmed Single Malt Scotch drinkers in the Balkans were converted to Irish Whiskey by The Irishman with its familiar Single Malt depth and energizing Single Pot Still crackle. The Irishman Founders Reserve was listed as one of the highest rated Irish Whiskey’s in Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible with 93 points and Jim’s comment – “Quite a Wonderful Blend”.
The Irishman is now marketed as the Irishman Founders Reserve in deference to its provenance and role in establishing the Walsh Whiskey brand all those years ago. 2016 saw the opening of the Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak near Carlow. The distillery is two years old this weekend, so this time next year will see the very first Walsh Whiskey from their own Royal Oak Distillery reach maturation
The Irishman Founders Reserve – Red is the Rose
Take 20ml – Irishman Founders. Add 30ml – Rosehip, 20ml – Raspberry Jam, 20ml – Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice and 20ml – egg white.
Shake with ice. Serve by Coupe with 3 Red Rose Buds
And Finally, For those who prefer Life on the Savoury Side….
Lambay Whiskey sent me details of their take on the classic Bloody Mary – The Lambay Bloody Mary and Joseph which can be served the morning after the night before or perhaps as an aperitif before a Summer Brunch or BBQ.
The Lambay Bloody Mary and Joseph
Swapping out vodka for Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend in this classic brunch cocktail is a great adventure for your palette. The blend of eastern Sumac spice , salt and pickled beetroot combined with fresh tomato juice give the inevitable refreshment one would expect . Chilli on the side is for those that dare!
50ml Lambay Small Batch Blend
120ml Fresh Pressed Tomato Juice
10 ml Lemon Juice
20ml pickled beetroot juice
0.5 Bar spoon White Wine Vinegar
2 pinches black pepper
I pinch Sumac
2 pinches Pink Sea Salt
3 dashes Tabasco
5 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes Scrappie’s Celery Bitters
Garnish Red Chilli and Rosemary sprig
Add Ice into highball glass to chill. Place all the ingredients into a shaker and add ice. Place a strainer on top of the shaker with the cocktail inside, pick up the other half of the shaker and throw the cocktail between the two by doing a long pour. Repeat four times. Once finished, strain into highball glass and Garnish. This Method adds oxygen in a gentle way into the cocktail, giving a lighter mouthfeel in the drink.
So, who said that Irish Whiskey is only for sipping beside a log fire on storm winter nights! Have a great Summer and for those of you reading this from Ireland, enjoy the next two weeks of sunshine and these five brilliant Summer Irish Whiskeys!
Today’s blog is dedicated to my much loved and missed younger brother Douglas who’s birthday it is today 23 June. Happy Birthday Doug!