#HelloDublin – St Patrick’s Day with Jameson

Midleton Distillery

It’s difficult to write an article about Jameson’s #HelloDublin press trip. Not because it wasn’t totally and utterly awesome, not because I don’t remember it (despite being plied with endless amounts of Jameson and Midleton whiskey), and certainly not because I’m lazy (ok, that might have something to do with it), but mainly because I still find it difficult to write about an incredible press trip without sounding like a complete dick – particularly when the focus of the trip centres around the St Patrick’s Day celebrations and ties together two iconic Irish words; Dublin and Jameson. Now that I’ve pre-warned you, let’s get to the whiskey.

Late last year, you may have read about Hoban’s previous visit to Midleton for the opening of the Irish Whiskey Academy, or Lucas’ trip in February for the Dair Ghaelach launch. Part of our team has also been across to Ireland before for Jameson Live, and you can read about Graeme and Lucas’ exploits here and here. Going on prior form, it’s safe to say that Ireland has been kind to us. And in March, that kindness continued.

“Wherever I roam, it’s Dublin my heart calls home”

After flying in what can only be described as a washing machine with wings, Turbo and I landed in Cork and were quickly whisked off to Castlemartyr Resort. If you ever get the chance, go. It’s like the castle from Disney’s ‘Frozen’, but it’s laden with whiskey and has more horses. Once there, we pretended to be miserable with the rest of the guests after watching Ireland lose to Wales in the 6 Nations (a result which would later become redundant) before meeting other Jameson folks at that night’s barbeque. Following much polite chat and justifying to ‘proper journalists’ why we’d been invited, we spent most of the night at the bar in the company of Midleton’s master distiller, Billy Leighton. If you’ve ever met him, you can completely understand why Stuart Irvine (off of that there blog Whisky Belfast), Jake Mountain (off of that there whisky retailer Master of Malt), Turbo and I stood with him at the bar until the wee small hours. He’s a gentleman to a fault, and an Irish whiskey encyclopaedia to boot. Cue a private three hour Jameson masterclass at the Castlemartyr bar. Just ask him about what happened to him in 2004 and he’ll gladly regale you with stories…

The following day we visited Midleton distillery, which is quite a remarkable place. Every drop of Jameson is made at this one site, both malt and grain whiskey. It’s a huge operation and possibly the only distillery I’ve been to which has its own road network winding between the warehouses! Sampling 1991 pot still whiskey from a bourbon hoggy and a 1998 pot still whiskey from a sherry butt were big highlights, as was a brief chat with Brian Nation in the still house. Fantastic insights from the people charged with producing some of Ireland’s most revered whiskey. One of the more remarkable things I learned in the warehouse is the evaporation rate at Midleton. It’s estimated that the equivalent of one bottle of whiskey evaporates every three seconds. Fuck me. Apparently, the first 70 casks to be filled on a Monday morning simply make up for the whiskey lost since Sunday evening. Mindboggling. After a slightly more formal Jameson tasting with Billy and a thoroughly entertaining and informative coopering session with Ger Buckley, we headed off to Sage Restaurant for some scran before visiting Pat Shortt’s bar for some genuine Irish craic.

Billy Leighton, Midleton’s master distiller since 2004.

Without going in to too much detail (“what happens on tour, stays on tour” and all that), a fantastic night was had by all, particularly Food Goblin who inadvertently gave her number to Essex’s next big up-and-coming DJ (apparently). The following morning wasn’t quite so chirpy, as Turbo will tell you. But at least he made it to the bus on time, unlike others who will remain nameless*. I’ll leave it there and let him take up the story as we head north to Dublin for the trip’s grand finale, where we met Steve Simpson, designer of Jameson’s limited edition St Patrick’s Day bottling, went into a butchers shop for some incredible cocktails (honestly), and partied the night away at the St Patrick’s Day Live concert at Vicar Street.

Tiger

*You know who you are, you knob.

 

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