It’s that time of the year again. When every Irish person dusts off their green glad rags and gets ready to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. To that end, Surry Hills’ whiskey haunt The Wild Rover hosted their Irish Whiskey Fair. Irish Whiskey enthusiasts gathered together at The Wild Rover to sample some of the finest Irish whiskies on the market today. The Irish Whiskey Fair included Jameson, Teeling, Bushmills, Tyrconnell, Connemara, Tullamore Dew, Slane, Glendalough, Writers Tears, and The Irishman.
After receiving my branded Irish Whiskey Fair tasting glass, I went straight to the Jameson stand to try the Black Barrel Whiskey. It is the only whiskey in the Jameson selection that contains a triple-distilled sweet grain whiskey which is then blended with select single Irish pot still whiskey. It shows a typical rich Jameson character with deeper spice and vanilla notes that come from being finished in charred ex-bourbon casks. Not a bad drop to start to the Irish Whiskey Fair.
What’s so great about events like this is that yes, you will come in with preconceived notions. I have a bottle of Slane and Connemara at home, I know they are good, and The Irishman never disappoints. But the two brands that really surprised were Bushmills and Glendalough.
Bushmills has always been around, but I had never tried a dram before. Their range did not disappoint, especially their Black Bush blend. A rich, dark, Irish blend, Black Bush contains a high proportion of triple-distilled single malt, aged in Oloroso sherry casks for around 8-10 years. A fairly standard blend, but rich and biscuity. A delightful dram.
Glendalough Distillery has made some major impressions since they opened back in 2012. Their core aim is to make innovative spirits while staying true to the tradition and heritage of their Irish ancestors. Most notably, by returning back to the original practice of double-barrelled whiskey. This prevents oils being stripped away, leaving the whiskey with a long finish and lingering mouthfeel. Their 7 year aged was unlike any whiskey I had ever had before. It had the weight of a deep red wine, but the spicy gingery notes of whiskey. It’s the perfect sipping whiskey, best enjoyed neat.
Glendalough also had two Poitín on offer at the Irish Whiskey Fair. Poitín is Ireland’s own moonshine. Although outlawed during the colonisation by the British, Poitín has been continuously made on the Emerald Isle for centuries. Most likely the cause of the phrase “blind drunk” as it usually has an alcohol percentage of around 80-90%. Not exactly the most palatable. Glendalough has produced their own Mountain Strength version, and bizarrely a Poitín finished in a sherry cask. It has the appearance of a light-coloured whiskey and the taste somewhere between a whiskey and a Poitín. I was not a fan, but I am an admirer of the continued diligence to innovation in the Irish whiskey space.
The Wild Rover has been hosting events for their whiskey club, The Whiskey Co-Op since 2014 and the Irish Whiskey Fair is part of their wider whiskey experience program that runs throughout the year. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for all upcoming events – especially for St Patrick’s day! Sláinte!
F&B Specialist. Usually seen with a flat white in hand or on her way to a whiskey tasting. Needs to stop buying books and start reading them.
The Wild Rover,
(02) 9280 2235
75 Campbell St,
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Mon-Sat 4pm – 12am
Sunday Available for hire