Irish Whiskey

The devil is in the detail


When I wrote recently about liqueurs and the different rules governing how they’re made, I had a lot of people telling me how useful it was to see those guidelines spelled out. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding spirits and their differing rules, so I thought I’d have a go at putting down on paper the regulations for most of the major spirit categories. When we talked about this over a rum or two at b&t HQ, it seemed like a great idea, but then I started the research…


The problem I ran into right away was that every country seems to have their own set of regulations defining each type of spirit, which means to arrive at one definitive list of rules is nearly impossible. However, after a little research I’ve managed to compile some guidelines for each spirit category, and have written more straightforward interpretations for some of the confusing legal definitions that make up the ‘rules’. So if you’ve ever wondered what makes some gins ‘London Dry’ or have queried the difference between bourbon and scotch, here’s my attempt at unraveling some of those mysteries that make up the defining rules of spirit production. You might want to fix yourself a cocktail as this is one of the longer blogs I've written… and this is just part one!


Alchemists, Princes and Master Blenders

The last few weeks have been pretty full on for b&t and there have been some chances for me to try new products such as the 2010 release of Bushmills 21 year old, as well as to reacquaint myself with some old favourites like Benedictine and Drambuie. So now seems like a good time to talk about what we’ve been drinking!
I have a feeling that we’ll have to do a similar thing with ‘where we’ve been drinking’ too, as there seem to be quite a few new bars popping up at the moment, but I’ll save that for another day. For now here are a few of our favourite spirits from the last month.

Maybe I'll be a distiller for a month... or maybe you will?!

I have a pretty good job; but if there is one thing I have always wanted to do it’s to work as a distiller. I love the craft that goes into making spirits, especially those that are aged and blended. There is a real art form to it and while I am sure the actual work is hard, the reward of being able to taste and enjoy your finished product and seeing other people enjoy it must be amazing!
Well as chance would have it, the guys at Spook Media who look after PR for Bushmills Whiskey dropped me a line to let me know that they are running a competition for someone to win exactly that opportunity! Not being fully familiar with the Bushmills range I asked them to fill the gaps for me, and after a weekend spent enjoying and experimenting with a drop or two of their fine Irish nectar I thought it would be rude not to share my findings with you.
But first a word about this competition. It’s not often that you’re presented the chance to work in a distillery, let alone spend 30 days in Ireland, all expenses paid with £5000 spending money and at the end of it have the chance to produce your own blend of whiskey! To a drinks geek such as myself that really does sound like the next best thing to actually being a master distiller!