Tag Archives: Irish whiskey

WELL DONE! New ale from Cork brewery

A great night was had at the Oliver Plunkett pub in Cork City to celebrate the launch of the ‘Franciscan Well Jameson-Aged Pale Ale’ – phew, a name that’s almost as big a mouthful as the beer itself!


The new brew is a collaboration between Franciscan Well’s founder Shane Long and fellow Corkman Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at the Jameson Distillery, who, after a successful joint venture with a Jameson-aged stout, decided the time was ripe for another project, this time an experiment with the effect of second fill bourbon casks from the Jameson distillery as a component in a pale ale breed by Franciscan Well.


The press release on the event introduced me to the term ‘back’ apparently used to describe a small measure of a drink, alcoholic or mineral, accompanying another drink. Traditionally, people would order a whiskey with a water ‘back’, a soda back or a beer back. Spirits have been accompanied alongside beer since the 1400s and the new beer aims to continue this tradition by creating a natural pairing.

This is what, in the old Manchester days, we would have called ‘a chaser’. In those days there were upwards of a dozen brewers in the region – the ‘National Beer Grid’  with its associated lack of choice hadn’t reached the region (others, like East Anglia,  awash with the awful Watney’s keg beers, were already submerged). It was our custom, on our regular pub crawls (sighs nostalgically for the stamina of youth) to accompany the last pint of the night with a Scots malt whisky chaser and, being of questing minds, we determinedly sought out the best combinations – for the record Glenmorangie with Boddingtons’ bitter; the soft, ethereally fragrant Glen Scotia with Robinsons; Glendronach with Draught Bass were, if I remember rightly, our top three picks.

In like vein, the Franciscan Well’s biscuit, malt, caramel and citrus notes, enhanced by spikes of orange zest and coriander combined beautifully with the Jameson. The ale is certainly very more-ish and only the 6% ABV prevented it from being ‘a session’ beer. For this we turned, late in the night to the Franciscan Well ‘Chieftain’ which I praised so lavishly after I made the discovery at the Fleadh Cheol in Sligo a few weeks ago.

The evening was further enhanced by some good pub grub, a band, plus an impressive display of barrel dismantling and reassembly by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley.

The beer is rated ‘experimental and exclusive’ so at the moment it’s only available across Cork’s Whiskey Way bars (Canty’s, Counihan’s, Electric, Le Chateau, SoHo Bar, The Mutton Lane Inn, The Oliver Plunkett, The Oval, The Roundy and The Woodford) in 330ml bottles for an RRP of €6. 


Whisk(e)y for beginners – part 2


Highland Park, Orkney
Heather and sweet damp moss on the nose. Add six drops of water and enjoy the butterscotch sweetness and the long, long finish, like coming home to a welcoming turf fire.

Springbank, Cambelltown
Big rich “see yu, Jimmy” of a peated malt. Pokey but with huge class.

Glenmorangie, Ross
Initially sweet, getting drier as it lingers. Trademarks are citric zest, almonds and the dead giveaway, mandarin oranges.

Linkwood, Speyside
Hard to find, but worth seeking out. Huge, powerful banana and pear drop nose on the 12 year old, then sherry and honey sweetness tailing off to a biscuit-dry finish.

The Glenlivet, Speyside
Buffs know it as “Smiths”. Wild flowers, spice and a malt-laden smoothness on the palate. Dry finish.

Talisker, Skye
Amazing ‘curried’ nose abates to let you enjoy the honey-and-cream mouthfeel. Smoky finish with Shirazzy black pepper overtones.

Laphroaig, Islay
Peat smoke and medicinal overtones up front then seaweed and salt-spray tang. Will arouse the jack tar or beachcomber in you. I used to love this but I’m coming to the conclusion that maybe its streetfightin’ macho appeal makes it more of a young man’s drink!

Johnnie Walker Black Label
Quintessential luxury blended Scotch, smooth as a politician’s tongue.

White Horse. “What?” I hear you say. Yes, it’s often discounted at supermarkets and airports but WH is a better than bog standard blended Sctoch, made very distinctive, classy even, by the blender lumping in Lagavuilin, the astringent TCP-ish Islay malt.

Redbreast 12 year-old
Dark, dramatic, steely and very traditional. Impressive spicy nose, a huge mouthful of quality pot-still whiskey follows. Stays for ever.

Jameson 1780
‘Dublin-style’ par excellence, though it’s made in Cork. Oloroso sherry nose and vanilla and digestive biscuit finish sandwich rich fruitcake flavours.

Black Bush
Like the Titanic, dogged by ice. In pubs they presume you want it on the rocks and you always end up sending it back. Drink neat and enjoy the classy fragrant nose and the explosive sweetness on the palate.

Tullamore Dew
The ‘Irish-meets-blended-Scotch’ end of the spectrum. Use of grain flattens the spices in favour of mellow caramel toffee. Quite a lemony nose. Interesting, but not nmuch to my taste.

Midleton Very Rare
Expensive-but-worth-every-penny exemplar of the blender’s art and craft. This is bottled annually and the 2000 was the best I have tasted for some years – incredible.
Everyone should have at least one bottle.

Connemara, Irish Single Malt
You can argue all night about whether Irish whiskey was ever peated, but this is very fine gear. An Islay-esque flavour without the iodine.

Green Spot. A luxury Irish, made by Irish Distillers for Mitchells, the Kildare St, Dublin, wine merchants. Firm but not aggressive with pleasing acacia honey notes. Classic pot still.

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