At our meeting in March, we explored the water of life from the Emerald Isle - seeing as though St Patrick's Day was only a couple of weeks away...

Our hosts Graham & Sue provided excellent fayre and ensured we were warmly welcomed and able to enjoy the evening of imbibing, risque banter and jokes which seemed to get funnier and ruder as the evening progressed.  I blame the copious amount of whiskey - four bottles between only eight of us! 

Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, though a long period of decline from the late 19th century onwards greatly damaged the industry. So much so that although Ireland boasted over 30 distilleries in the 1890s, a century later, this number had fallen to just three.

However, Irish whiskey has seen a great resurgence in popularity since the late twentieth century, and has been the fastest growing spirit in the world every year since 1990. With exports growing by over 15% per annum in recent years, existing distilleries have been expanded and a number of new distilleries constructed.

As of early 2017, Ireland now has sixteen distilleries in operation, with at least a further fourteen in the planning stages.However, only five of these have been operating long enough to have products sufficiently aged for sale, and only one of which was operating prior to 1975.

Our first whiskey was from Ireland's oldest distillery (1608) a Bushmills 10 yo Single Malt - brought in as a late thought as an aperetif ahead of the three whiskies ahead..  With its light and fruity nose, its taste having hints of citrus and melted chocolate before releasing honey on the cheeks - and a finish that was crisp, clean and floral - it was an excellent opener to get our juices flowing.  The tasting notes can be found on the website but we didn't record any formal ratings for it.

Our second whiskey was a Redbreast Lustau Edition whiskey from the Midleton Distillery - aged for 9 to 12 years in traditional Bourbon and sherry casks before being finished for one year in first fill sherry butts seasoned with Bodegas Lustau sherry, from the Jerez region. With its creamy nose and honey, poached plum taste it was a warm continuation into the Irish adventure...

Next up was The Irishman 12 yo whiskey - a relatively 'newbee' being only launched 2012 after being matured for 12 years in Oak Bourbon & Oloroso casks... Also something of select whiskey with only 6,000 bottles being produced each year..

Lastly we drowned ourselves in the exquisite, creamy Yellow Spot 12 yo - triple distilled and then matured for a minimum of 12 long, slow years in Bourbon, Sherry and Malaga (Spanish sweet dessert wine) casks.  The result is a honey & peaches nose and a honey sweetness of taste.

An excellent evening was enjoyed by all!