As a whisky blogger every now and again I'm lucky enough to be invited to the occasional Press Trip which generally up until very recently a lot of them I've had to say thanks but no thanks to due to work shifts and the notice given, however when I was invited recently to spend St Patricks Day in Dublin with Jameson's Irish Whiskey it fell at just the right time and I was able to attend in the week between changing jobs.
Arriving at Dublin airport we were picked up and whisked away to central Dublin to The Marker Hotel, a new(ish) hotel on the Dublin scene and where the vast majority of around 50 invited guests, competition winners and industry insiders would be staying for a few days.
A lovely gift, of a bottle of the new Jameson St Patricks Day 2016 bottling, had been left in each room, along with an itinerary for the next few days.
First on the itinerary was to meet downstairs for some drinks at the bar before we were shipped off to The Fumbally for a glass of Jameson Ginger and Lime on arrival and then a 7 course tasting menu, sampling some of the best food in Ireland.
I was joined at my side of the table by my very good friend Greg (@greatdrams) from Great Drams, by new friend Coralie (@chocoralie) from Tea Time in Wonderland and Kirsty (@whiskycorner) from Whisky Corner.
Highlights in this meal for me were the whipped gubeen farm lardo and cultured butter and the roasted artichokes, chicken skin, mossfield yoghurt and coffee (both shown in the picture below).
When the meal had finished we were all then whisked off to the Liquor Rooms for more Jameson Ginger and Lime and a host of other Jameson inspired cocktails, along with a chance to better mix with the others on the trip and the Jameson staff who were looking after us.
Both Greg and I loved the Potent Potable Cocktail which contained: Jameson Black Barrel, King's Ginger, Apricot Brandy, Spiced Porter, Chocolate and Angostura and which came in these amazing little ready made bottles (see pic below), prepared earlier in the day by the very talented bar staff at Liquor Rooms.
The last coach back to the hotel, followed by a couple of drams at the bar with Greg and Coralie, and a nightcap of something I brought with me, and we headed off to bed to prepare for what day 2 would bring.
Day Two started with a full and hearty cooked Irish breakfast before we boarded the coach for a trip along to a back alley in Dublin where we were led down some indescript stairs to an underground vault that used to act as a warehouse for maturing Jameson whiskey.
A warming Hot Jameson drink was consumed as we watched a fabulous display of coopering skill from Ger Buckley, Jameson's Head Cooper, who explained all about the source of the oak, how it's dried and used in America for Bourbon, or Jerez for Sherry, and then the job of the cooper with Jameson, before he broke down then reassembled the cask, showing us some of the tools of the trade and then breaking down and reassembling the cask in front of us, showing us exactly how much skill goes into this ancient craft.
We then boarded the coach again for a short trip over to the Dublin Writers Museum, which is located within a house that used to belong to John Jamieson himself.
Here we were chatted to by Carol, the archivist for Jameson and Robert, the curator for the Dublin Writers Museum, both of whom were passionate and informative as they explained the history of not only the house itself but the current contents showing the literary history of Dublin, and Ireland, and some fabulous artifacts.
The stained glass windows and the ornate decoration in some of the rooms is stunning and showed a real amount of class, this was a fabulous house that was used to entertain many dignatories in the past, a brilliant place to visit.
We were then dropped off into central Dublin to meet Artist James Earley, who is responsible for the art on this years St Patricks Day bottling for a chat about his inspiration behind the design and a walking tour of Dublins street art with James showing us not only some of his own work but some of the other really interesting pieces in Dublin.
Having spent time seeing some of the bridges, and the waterhorses, which feature on the bottle and listening to James talk about the Stained Glass in his family history and thus why his designs feature that distinctive stained glass look now was really interesting and i'm sure many people will have innocently walked passed these street art designs without even giving them a second glance, i will definitely be looking out for them in the future.
It was then on to the Drury Buildings for a late lunch, with traditional Italian food, mixing with a Irish connection, with a traditional Italian Salad and Irish bread, fabulous food here and yet more opportunity to chat and discuss the events of the trip.
After lunch we walked over to The Butchers, which is a speakeasy hidden away beneath what appears to be a Butchers shop is a training bar owned by Jamesons and used for the purpose of training staff, local bartenders, and for visiting guests, here we met up with Head Blender Billy Leighton and we spent time with him, Nick Strangeway and Adam from coffee specialists 250 Square as we discussed the Perfect Irish Coffee, which was then made in front of us, with some people, Greg included, taking the opportunity to make their own.
This is sweet and delicious and totally nothing like the standard Irish Coffees produced by many bars and restaurants that i've frequented over the years, this is delicous and the coffee itself it fabulous too.
A bit of downtime ro relax, get changed and put my feet up for a short time was followed by yet another trip on the coach as we went to L Mulligan Grocer's for dinner.
Starting with a tasting of three Jameson whiskies with three irish cheeses, my idea of heaven, hosted by Seáneen Sullivan, this was a fabulous start to the meal which only got better from here, some brilliant food, great whisky, great beer and great company ensued.
Dashing through Dublin from here to the Academy, we spent the next few hours watching some fabulous Live acts, whilst drinking Jameson Ginger and Lime at the Bow Street Sessions.
With Walking on Cars, featuring the Dublin Gospel Choir, and Kodaline, this was a event that truely rounded off one of the busiest, but more entertaining, days i've had in years and spending it with such great company, as Greg and Coralie, made it even better.
Another hearty breakfast and a morning of downtime, gave me time to chill, catch up on some much needed sleep, and have a quick wander about the local area, to see what was around us.
It was then time to head over the old Bow Street Distillery for the #StPatricksDayHub where Jamesons were showcasing some fabulous local musical talent, had some fun events like a local barbers (the Demon barbers from the Ink Factory) which Greg and I took full use of, some t-shirt printing, fresh prints of a new design by James Earley, a leather washbag which you could personalise, some lovely stalls and of course, Billy leighton, chatting about Jameson.
This was a great time and sad all the same as Greg had to leave today in time for some prior engagments on the Friday, so it did feel a little anti-clamatic, but still a great day event hosted by Jameson.
For the last evening we went out to Anglers Rest for some traditional Irish food, and some great local folk music, this was a great night and definitely led us from being Strangers to Great friends and the food once again was brilliant.
This was a great experience, and fabulous to meet old friends and make new friends and a huge thank you to Jameson Irish Whiskey, for the invation to this trip and for making it such an enjoyable experience.
Thanks also to Greg for sharing some of his pictures, as i didn't always take some.