JAN/FEB 2003 / VOL. 3 ISSUE 6

The following stories are courtesy of Bushmills Irish Whiskey/Pernod Ricard USA

An Irish Whiskey Tasting Primer

Colum 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 the rim.

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 wood.

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 world."

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.

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 of life.

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 to
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 mellow bouquet.

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, they emphasized.

SLÁINTE! - Jameson Cocktail Recipes

Irish Gimlet
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 lime.

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
1 cherry

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.

Liquid Gold
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
Orange twist

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker and strain over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Hell's Kitchen
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 glass.

Irish Mule
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
Lime wedge
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 mint.

Whiskey Carioca
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.


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