The recent Irish whiskey revival has not only brought classic and well-known bottles such as Bushmills and Jameson back into the limelight, but has also seen the emergence of numerous small distilleries throughout Ireland, each showcasing their new and unique methods to produce whiskeys that hold up admirably against their older counterparts on the global market. What’s more, long-standing institutions, such as the Midleton distillery in Cork, have embraced the spirit of the Irish whiskey revival by releasing exciting and innovative expressions of their own. A prime example of this is Midleton’s Method & Madness collection, which features a single pot still bottling finished in – rather unconventionally – Hungarian oak casks. Irish whiskey connoisseurs may also enjoy a dram of DWD Heritage Edition, a recent bottling that pays tribute to what was known in whiskey’s heyday as “The Finest Whiskey in the World”.
There are many ways to explore the marvels of the modern Irish whiskey scene, including simply buying a new bottle (or three), sitting down to a dram with friends at the local, or making a day of it and booking a tasting session in the distillery of your choice. The Irish, however, love nothing better than an excuse to throw a party. What better reason to break out the bunting and banquet tables than to welcome a new Golden Age in the country’s most treasured spirit? Throughout Ireland, festivals, feasts and various other fabulous events have been set up to both celebrate the latest and greatest offerings from old and new distilleries alike. For any whiskey fans contemplating a trip to the Emerald Isle, we have searched far and wide to present this handy guide to the must-see whiskey events taking place throughout Ireland in the coming months.
First up on our Irish whiskey events radar is the first ever Whiskey Social. Hosted by the stunning Waterfront Hall in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast, this new festival will showcase “the best of old, new and experimental Irish whiskey”, with bottlings from north and south of the border, along with a few special guests from around the world. The festival will take place on the 8th September 2018, and limited tickets remain, so prospective visitors are encouraged to book as soon as possible. On arrival, guests will receive a complementary Whiskey Social tasting glass, and are free to sample the drams of their choice, alongside some traditional Irish dishes throughout the day. With bottlings from big names such as Bushmills, Jameson, and Midleton, as well as distilling newcomers like Teeling and Slane, this is an ideal event for anyone wishing to explore the ever-growing spectrum of the Irish whiskey market.
If, for any reason, you’re unable to make it to the Whiskey Social, fear not! November 25th sees Dublin Castle open its doors for Whisky Live, a huge and exciting celebration of Ireland’s rich, historic whiskey culture. Bringing together the minds and hands of the capital’s best bars and restaurants, visitors to this event can look forward to food pairings, cocktail experiments, dram samples, and masterclasses to unlock the secrets of whiskey production. Whisky Live has everything needed to make a perfect day out for the novice and veteran collectors in equal measure; and of course, at the close of the festivities, there is a plethora of Dublin pubs ready to welcome the locals and travellers in and let the good times keep on rolling.
Finally, returning north to one of Irish whiskey’s great cornerstones, lovers of quality food and drink simply must check out the annual Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival. This spectacular weekend-long event offers culinary delights from some of the North Coast’s top restaurants, with emphasis on the region’s first-class fish and seafood offerings. Live cookery demonstrations add a touch of theatre to the proceedings; arts and crafts exhibitions, paired with live music, highlight the rich culture of Bushmills; and a National Trust-funded family fun day ensures that there is something for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Of course, this being a whiskey festival, it just wouldn’t be complete without tours and tasting sessions of one of the world’s most iconic distilleries. While the 2018 Salmon and Whiskey Festival has sadly come and gone, whiskey lovers can start pricing their travel for next year.
In the meantime, however, it’s worth checking out the ever-thriving events calendar offered by the Irish Whiskey Society. Hosting everything from tastings to awards ceremonies to welcome parties for new and independent producers, the Irish Whiskey Society boasts numerous events throughout the year, although membership registration is encouraged to take full advantage of their ample whiskey itinerary.
In line with the Irish whiskey scene itself, the Irish whiskey events scene has evidently blossomed into a thrilling and diverse cultural gem. These events enable whiskey fans at home and abroad to come together and explore the best of old and new Irish spirits. As a bonus, they encourage visitors to develop an appreciation for the historic and scenic backdrops against which these amazing events are now playing out.