Irish whiskey has been having a renaissance over the last few years, springing back from the dark days of retrenchment and consolidation that, by the 1970s, saw the entire industry working out of just two sites, both of which were owned by the same company. Things are rather healthier nowadays, but given the high costs and long lead times involved in setting up a distillery and being able to sell something that’s aged enough to qualify as a whiskey, a lot of the new operations are still using spirit sourced from the New Middleton or Old Bushmills distilleries whilst they get their feet under the table, so to speak.
It is in this environment that the recent Dingles’ announcement of a permanent core line made entirely from spirit distilled and aged themselves is so interesting – other distilleries have been doing great things with the spirit they’ve sourced, but this release means that Dingle are joining the still relatively small club of Irish whiskey makers whose bottles are filled with a spirit that’s really their’s.
As the end, or the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning (depending on your outlook and/or weakness for overused Churchillianisms) of covid distancing measures hoves into view, I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a Zoom tasting of some of Portobello Road’s range of gins and pre-mixes.
[This post harks back to the halcyon days of April, when we were so young and naïve, and our Prime Minister couldn’t even imagine it would last long enough that saying “it’ll be over by SummerAutumnChristmas Easter” could possibly be to leaving himself hostage to fortune. Anyhow, I’ve now got some of the 2020 calling out to me, so best to get the series up and running.]
I sometimes felt that I was fated not to have any of Fuller’s Vintage Ale. At various points over the last twenty years, bottles have swum into view, only to be cruelly taken from me. The pub quiz prize THAT WE WERE DEFINITELY GOING TO SHARE that slipped down a team-mate’s gullet when I wasn’t looking. The one time I’ve been asked for ID in a supermarket in the last decade. That other time, where I fancied picking one up, but I’d gone in for eggs and flour, so it seemed a touch undisciplined.
You know, soul-scarring episodes that mark you and your future. Not just a few unimportant incidents, oh no.
Fate finally determined to right this world-historical wrong a while back, when I was very kindly given a bottle of the 2015 release by a friend. So, taking events by the scruff of the neck, I built on that foundation and boldly picked up a couple of 2019’s crop from a local supermarket (when they were still about – the 2020 has taken their place on the shelves). (more…)
[So, this is definitely not a throw-away piece that was sitting around for in my draft folder for far too long, oh no. Just assume I’m really up-to-date, but you’re reading this no later than August 2018 and the coronavirus is just a bad dream]