By Jimmy Rhatigan
IT WAS billed as a whiskey tasting evening.
It was that and more as, along with enjoying amazing whiskey delights, aficionados of the wee drop were given a fascinating insight into an artisan aspect of distilling.
Members of the Paris Texas branch of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild, over 50 of them of both genders, were introduced to cooper Robert Davidson from Grant’s Whiskey, Scotland to show our devoted imbibers just how the cask that carries the golden juice is cobbled together.
The demo was an eye opener, a look back into a trade that was for generations the pride of the distilling industry and a reminder perhaps that the cooper is on the way back.
Our new found friend Robert constructed a cask which he put together in record time and with the kind of safe and caring hands that you could trust to cradle your loving grandson or granddaughter.
A mini cooperage, no relation of the motor vehicle of almost the same name, was set up for the evening at a Paris Texas also renowned for fine wines, brilliant beers, pleasant porters, gregarious gins and wonderful whiskies.
So scarce are coopers in our country nowadays that one would have a less onerous task if requested to find hens’ teeth than to round up any stray coopers.
Up to recently there were only two souls in Mother Ireland capable of building a whiskey cask.
We know only too well that it would be rather easier to find willing volunteers to enjoy a tipple from said cask.
We salute the coopers of Bushmills, a father and son team and Ger Buckley who plies his noble trade in Midleton, Cork.
The demo went down very well with the audience as did the whiskey supplied by Tullamore Dew.
Poured were Tullamore Dew 12 year old and Tullamore Dew Phoenix, the last batch of the old style Phoenix
What makes the latter so special is that it is bottled straight from the cask, without water, akin to some local areas in the present drought.
These whiskies were chosen because they are wood influenced.
They hit the spot along with a range of food supplied by Paris Texas chef Gavin Moynihan who served up a beef drenched in whiskey before being dried for 140 days.
This original blend was paired with an O’Hara’s Beer, a heavy stout called Leann Folláin that is well worth a thirst-quenching evening in Paris or Texas, whichever you prefer.
The whiskey party experienced a second first, following the cask insight, when it enjoyed the first whiskey from the relatively new €50million Distillery built outside Tullamore, a four and a half year old blended into cocktails by resident mixologist, son of Poland Adrian Zganiacz.
The whiskey was called Buggy’s Dew after a former Paris Texas staff member now working in a top distillery in New York.
The next Whiskey Guild tasting is in the Brewery Corner in July. Tickets will go on public sale and of course members will be warmly welcomed.