During Irish whiskey’s first great rise (or drop) into international glasses, Richard Allman of the Bandon distillery claimed that his company had been the first to commission specially selected Sherry-seasoned casks from Cadiz. As with maturation itself, no one is ever likely to know for certain when Irish whiskey first fell in love with Iberian wines like Sherry or its fortified sisters Port and Madeira, but the practice of using wine-tinted wood was already common by Allman’s heyday and, if the histories of Mitchells, Gilbey’s, and other winey establishments are to be believed, the relationship hasn't exactly soured from his day to ours. Many still regard the Sherry cask as the quintessential companion of the classical dram, but even a brief look into the past will show that pot still and Port have been flirting almost as long and, indeed, the flavour effects of various seasonings are being explored today with greater precision and ingenuity than they ever have in that same long history. So how did we get here? Why did we chose an obscure cocktail of unaged Brandy and barely (or un-)finished wine as the perfect finish to our own spirit’s coming of age? And where are the best of these headed today? On Thursday, May 26th, society member Fionnán O’Connor will be taking a lovingly long look at the effects of fortified wine on the drams we love, on the actual nature of the wines in question, and at the cutting edge casks of that love affair today.
Indeed, Allman’s age may be closer to ours than we think. During the earliest rumbles of today’s Irish whiskey explosion, a group of likeminded spirits sat down in Bowe’s pub for the first meeting of a shared society, lubricated with donations of the Tyrconnell Port, Madeira, and Sherry cask finishes. At the time, this trio represented the creative fringe of purchasable Irish cask work. Today, our options have blossomed into a wide range of bodega-specific casks and creative barrel mixtures that remind us why Allman and his contemporaries were so keen to use the barrels in the first place. So come join us at the latest event in what we hope to be our greatest calendar since that foundation. In a sense, these finishes were with us right from the start.
Doors open: 7:30pm (please wait in the bar before this time so we can set up the room) Tasting begins: 8:00pm sharp
1. Talisker Distillers Edition
2. Quinta da Noval Port
3. Celtic Cask Cuig Deag
4. Barbeito Madeira
5. Glendronach 19 Madeira Finish
6. BenRiach 18 Latada Madeira Finish
7. Tullamore Dew Single Malt 14
8. Teeling Single Malt
9. Teeling Revival II Calvados Finish