The following stories are courtesy of Bushmills Irish
Whiskey/Pernod Ricard USA
An Irish Whiskey Tasting Primer
Egan, Master Distiller of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, is naturally passionate
about whiskey. He shares his thoughts on how to properly taste the spirit.
To taste whiskey, you'll need your senses of sight, smell and taste-plus
a little guidance and an open mind. Remember-taste is a personal experience
so there is no right or wrong.
Step 1: Prepare for the Tasting - The tasting room should be
free of extraneous smells and should have good lighting. The right size
and shape of the glass is vital, and makes a huge difference in the ability
to nose effectively. Do not use traditional whiskey tumblers-instead, use
a snifter, which allows you to swirl the spirit and gather the aromas around
Step 2: Note Appearance - Pour about an ounce of whiskey. Hold
the glass to the light, or against a white napkin, and take note of its
color, depth and clarity. The whiskey's appearance should be a guide to
how it has been matured and for how long, since the color comes from the
Step 3: Add Water - Almost all whiskeys benefit from the addition
of water, which will open up the spirit in most cases. It's always best
to add water a little at a time. Older whiskeys (more than 20 years) or
whiskeys aged in sherry can be damaged by the addition of too much water;
the aromas break up and the flavor becomes flat. The water used to dilute
the strength of your dram should be still and not too high in minerals.
At professional tastings, distilled water is normally used.
Step 4: Nose the Whiskey -The aroma of a whiskey is called the
"nose." To determine the nose, tilt the glass, swirl the whiskey and inhale
slowly. Do not sniff too intensely or too often because the alcohol can
inhibit your sense of smell. The aromas are often complex and multi-layered.
With a little practice, you will learn to break smells down and identify
what they are.
Step 5: Taste the Whiskey - Take a sip large enough to fill your
mouth, then roll it over your tongue. It is important when tasting, to
hold the liquid in the mouth and to make sure it coats the tongue thoroughly
to help determine mouthfeel. First, register the texture and smoothness
of the whiskey. Then, try to identify the primary tastes-the immediate
flavors your tongue collects. The finish, or aftertaste, refers to the
sensation experienced after swallowing, as well as the flavors that linger
in your mouth.
Fate Turns Egan to Whiskey
For Colum Egan, becoming Master Distiller of Bushmills Irish Whiskey
was fate. When he visited the distillery as a paying customer almost a
decade ago, he fell in love with the distillery and the process of making
the world's oldest whiskey.
"The history, heritage and magic of the distillery intoxicated me,"
he says. "I immediately felt at home." Egan also points out that the source
of the water supply used to make the whiskey is St. Columb's Rill; his
first name is derived from the word "Columb" and is pronounced the same
way. Egan's wife also grew up in a small town only 12 miles from the distillery.
Purely coincidence? Colum thinks not.
Egan grew up in Portarlington in County Laois-the heart of Ireland's
barley-growing country where he graduated from the University of Limerick
with a degree in production management. After a series of jobs in food
and beverage production, Egan started working in bottling, vatting and
blending at Irish Distillers Ltd in Dublin nearly six years ago. Egan later
joined the Old Bushmills Distillery and was soon appointed Head Distiller.
"Moving from bottling and blending to distilling and processing was a natural
progression," Egan says.
Egan became the Master Distiller of Bushmills, following a year-long
tutelage under the previous Master Distiller, David Quinn. "I have one
of the best, most exciting jobs in the world," he says. "It's a dream come
true." Egan is not only responsible for the day-to-day tasks of managing
the distillery and overseeing the maturation of Bushmills, he's also charged
with maintaining the worldwide reputation and legacies set by his predecessors
at this 400-year-old distillery.
Bushmills Sponsors Slow Food U.S.A.
Pernod Ricard USA, importers of Bushmills Irish Whiskey has become a
national sponsor of Slow Food U.S.A. The collaboration of Bushmills and
Slow Food grew out of the organizations' mutual passion for preserving
the myriad traditions of the table and expressing cultural diversity through
food and drink, according to distillery officials.
"We first approached Slow Food when we realized how closely their philosophies
mirrored ours," said Suzanne Freedman, senior brand manager, Pernod Ricard
U.S.A. "Their dedication to the proliferation of regional culinary traditions
matches well with our mission to share the time-honored whiskey distilling
traditions of Ireland, and in particular Bushmills, with the rest of the
In addition to introducing its members to Bushmills through tastings
and the dissemination of information at local convivium (chapters) throughout
the country, Slow Food also will establish the Bushmills Scholarship, which
will allow one Slow Food member to study first-hand the regional gastronomic
traditions of Ireland.
"We are truly pleased to be working with Bushmills to further our educational
mission," said Patrick Martins, president, Slow Food U.S.A. "The Bushmills
scholarship illustrates our shared commitment to support and celebrate
traditional foods and drinks from around the world."
The recipient of the scholarship will have an opportunity to study with
and work alongside local Irish producers and culinary artisans. The scholarship
also allows for travel to the Old Bushmills Distillery in Co. Antrim, where
Colum Egan, master distiller for Bushmills, will share the rich traditions
and nuances of whiskey distillation.
Slow Food and Bushmills will raise a glass to their new relationship
in early 2003 with the release of the newest - and slowest - addition to
the Bushmills line, Bushmills 21-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey - Madeira
Finish. This unique whiskey has subtle nuances achieved through patient
aging, as well as its extraordinary finish in Madeira casks. Bushmills
21-Year-Old complements the existing line of Bushmills Single Malts, which
are among the few single malts made in Ireland.
"What makes this whiskey so extraordinary is the subtle nuances achieved
through patient aging, as well as its unique finish in Madeira casks,"
said Colum Egan, Bushmill's Master Distiller.
This exquisite whiskey is finely aged in three woods: the Bourbon barrels
lend complex aromas of dark chocolate and wood; the Spanish Oloroso Sherry
butts provide balance and deep fruity notes; and the Madeira gives the
whiskey a brilliant, rich amber hue and its honeyed spiciness that lingers
on the palate, Egan explained.
ABOUT SLOW FOOD U.S.A.
Recognizing that the enjoyment of wholesome food is essential to the
pursuit of happiness, Slow Food U.S.A. is an educational organization dedicated
to stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production; to the
revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and
community; to the invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal
culinary traditions; and to living a slower and more harmonious rhythm
ABOUT BUSHMILLS IRISH WHISKEY
Bushmills Irish Whiskey enjoys a worldwide reputation as an Irish whiskey
with a rich tradition and heritage that has endured through the years.
It has evolved into a classic drink, as relevant today as it was when it
was first created. The town of Bushmills was awarded the first license
to distill in 1608 by King James I. In that auspicious year, Bushmills
became an official distilling site but its whiskey tradition dates back
as early as the 13th century. Bushmills Irish Whiskey is imported by Pernod
Ricard USA, White Plains, N.Y.
Crockett Carries on Family Distilling History
Barry Crockett, master distiller at Midleton Distilleries in Co. Cork,
is uniquely fitted for the exacting job he performs in crafting Jameson
and other leading Irish whiskeys as the world steps into another century.
After graduating from University College in Cork, Crockett entered the
business through the front door — of his home. His father Max Crockett
was a distiller for the Cork Distilleries Company and Barry was raised
in the distiller's cottage at Midleton within the distillery complex. Working
his way through the laboratory at the Distillery in Midleton, he went on
learn how the Dublin distillers made their whiskeys at the Power's
Distillery at John's Lane.
Crockett later moved through roles as production supervisor at Midleton
and met a particularly exciting challenge with the commissioning of the
new distillery complex at Midleton in 1975.
Within the last 10 years, the Old Midleton Distillery, where he grew
up, has been revitalized as a heritage center, which receives 150,00 visitors
annually. This is a constant source of delight for Crockett to see new
life breathed into the 18th century buildings once again. As an active
member of An Taisce (The Irish National Trust) he has a particular
interest in conservation in both the natural and built environment.
Jameson, like all Irish whiskey, enjoys a rich heritage of which many
people are unaware. It is unclear where it all began, but most historians
agree that around the sixth century missionary monks brought the secret
of distillation to Ireland. Up until the beginning of this century, Irish
whiskey was the best known whiskey in the world and the world's oldest
licensed whiskey distillery was founded in Ireland in 1608 AD. Irish whiskey
distillers flourished until Prohibition in America and other factors destroyed
their export trade in the early part of this century.
In 1780, as James Watt perfected the steam engine and as Mozart won
the adulation of Europe for his music, John Jameson founded his distillery
in the heart of Dublin during the Golden Age of Irish whiskey. He quickly
acquired a reputation for making one of the finest Irish whiskeys in the
world, a position Jameson still holds today.
Jameson Irish Whiskey is made from pure Irish water and a mixture of
choice native malted and un-malted Irish barley. The distillers at Jameson
dry their malt in a closed kiln - deliberately omitting any smoky flavor.
In contrast, the Scots dry their malt over an open peat fire imparting
a smoky flavor to the final whisky.
Jameson, like all Irish whiskey, is then distilled three times in huge
copper pot stills to achieve the maximum purity of the spirit. Upon completion
of the distillation process, the spirit is filled into Bourbon-seasoned
American oak and sherry-seasoned Spanish oak casks to give it a superb
The spirit is then put away in vast, dark, aromatic warehouses where
it will slowly mature into whiskey. This process, particularly the kiln
drying of the malt and the triple distillation, makes Jameson uniquely
smooth, approachable and an ideal cocktail ingredient. As a mellow pot
still whiskey, Jamesons has toasted wood and sherry undertones., with a
taste that is round and smooth with sweet, spicy, toasted wood notes. This
makes it dry, and smooth, with a lingering crispness from the pot still.
As Ireland's capital city of Dublin has enjoyed a cultural resurgence
and phenomenal economic growth in recent years, Jameson Irish Whiskey,
too, has seen a significant increase in its sales. Since 1988, Jameson
has grown over 129% worldwide, becoming a million case brand in 1997.
In the US., Jameson has been one of the fastest growing whiskeys since
1995 and the country's leading Irish whiskey.
Jameson's recent growth can be attributed to its discovery by a new
group of drinkers, according to distillery officials. The whiskey is now
consumed by young urbanites who are open to new tastes and experiences,
SLÁINTE! - Jameson Cocktail Recipes
Recipe by Bryan Fuller at Standard Lounge, Los Angeles
4 ounce Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 ounce blue Curaçao
1 ounce Rose's lime juice
Slice or wedge of lime
Pour ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake, strain and
serve straight up in a Martini glass. Garnish with a slice or wedge of
Irish Apple Sour
Recipe by Shayni Rae at Happy Endings Lounge, New York
1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 ounce sour apple liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh sour mix
Drop a cherry in a chilled Martini glass. Shake all ingredients in an
ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain and serve straight up in Martini glass.
Recipe by Brad Cousen & Colin Burke at The Gramercy, Chicago
1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
1/2 ounce Amaretto
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Splash of orange juice
Splash of fresh sour mix
Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker and strain over ice in a highball
glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Recipe by Nicole Myatt at Blue Cat Café, Boston
3 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
Splash of sweet vermouth
4 splashes Tabasco
1 drop Angostura bitters
Place one drop of Angostura bitters in center of a chilled Martini glass.
Place 4 drops of Tabasco on a cherry. Run cherry around rim of Martini
glass. Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker, strain and pour into Martini
Recipe by Max Warner at Baltic, London
1 3/4 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 slices root ginger
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar syrup
1 3/4 ounces ginger beer
Sprig of mint
Slice ginger and place at the bottom of Boston glass, muddle and add
sugar. Add lime juice, whiskey and shake. Strain and serve over ice in
a highball glass. Top with ginger beer, a wedge of lime and a sprig of
Recipe by Dale DeGroff, author of The Craft of the Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup or a level teaspoon of sugar
4 seedless green grapes
2 lime wedges
Muddle the lime, grapes and syrup together in the bottom of a bar glass.
Add Jameson and ice. Shake well and strain over ice in a rocks glass.