Dram Initiative #020 – St. Paddy’s Day Irish Night
(Long overdue event recap. More of these to come…)
It’s fun to pick on the Irish. Well…that’s not entirely true. It’s fun to pick on a particular Irish chap I know. Mostly ’cause he definitely dishes more than he takes, but also simply because he’s delusional. Y’know the type. Believes Guinness is brewed of water from the fountain of youth; actually buys into the Bushmills 1608 date; subscribes to the theory that pubs truly are sunscreen for the Irish; and conceded his heterosexuality is threatened in proximity to Colin Farrell.
Anyway…when it came time to schedule our March event it was a no-brainer to make it a St. Paddy’s day celebration. We pulled out all the stops to suss out a line-up of Irish drams that told a bit of a story (and gave a well-rounded view of Irish whiskey as a category) and settled in for a tour of the Emerald Isle (figuratively speaking), making distillery pitstops along the way.
I tried convincing our Irish whipping boy to present this one, but to no avail. The way it works in the DI is that we almost always have top tier speakers coming through to present to the Collective, but from time to time either the line-up of malts isn’t conducive to an outside speaker or there simply isn’t one at the ready. In such cases the poor saps in the club are forced to listen to me ramble on for a couple hours. This night was just such an occasion. Two hours of yours truly nattering about the ins and outs of Scotland’s poor lesser sibling. At least – as a form of apology/anesthetic – they had a few tasty drinks to help the medicine go down.
We stepped back in time to look at the origins of the spirit (and spurious, unprovable claims of precedence) and dug into topics such as the column distillation, pot still whiskey, the rise and fall and subsequent rise again of Irish drams and finally went through the distilleries themselves in order to shed some light on a drink that is only now seeing a resurgence to its once-proud past. And at the very tail end of it all we spoke to the future and how Irish whiskey could finally see some true revolution in coming days, under the maverick stylings of Mark Reynier’s new Waterford distillery. Even I managed to get excited about a few of these drams.
I say that, not because many aren’t great, but simply because I find them often too light and too…neutered. Irish whiskey at an abv of 46% or higher, and non-chill-filtered has been a relative scarcity. No different tonight, but there were a couple that hit that bench mark, and better still…there were a couple absolutely stunning knee-knockers in the midst. The two Jameson Rarest, in particular. Just wow.
So…for one night a year (or this year anyway), we figured it would be apropos to don the green and cheese out like a bunch of cultural tourists and join the (un)official Irish drinking team. I dare say we done ’em proud. It was a festive eve. The right people, and the right spirit. Pun intended. It was a night for Guinness. For Flogging Molly and The Pogues. For Dropkick and Liam. For Sinead and U2. For culturally insensitive, borderline-racist Irish jokes (in good taste, I must add). And yeah…for Colin Farrell. The gang truly seemed to enjoy our little detour from the norm.
The evening’s bevies (in order presented, though not necessarily ranked):
Bushmills 16 y.o. Single Malt
Bushmills 21 y.o. Single Malt
Bushmills 1989 Single Cask #7983 (Bourbon)
Green Spot Single Pot Still
Midleton Very Rare 2011
Redbreast 12 y.o. Single Pot Still
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2007 Edition #16544
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2009 Edition #55251
Teeling Hybrid Malt Whiskey No. 1 Edition
I have to give credit where credit is due. In all fairness, our overgrown token leprechaun was a good sport, especially considering how liberally I peppered my presentation with mockery. He took it like a champ. Fear not, though. I’m already working on my material for the next St. Paddy’s Day lambasting. Let no shamrock go unturned in the name of a good insult. Slainte Mhath!
– Images: Curt, Steve & Scott
– Words: Curt