This past bank holiday weekend, for the fourth year running, the mature surrounds of the Mansion House hosted Whiskey Live Dublin, one of the world’s most premier whiskey tasting events. This year was the biggest year yet with over 30 stalls filling the Round Room, showcasing 34 exhibitors, including distillers from Scotland, Ireland, America and Japan. Upon entry, you’re given a handy booklet telling you exactly which whiskeys are available and all the tastings are, wait for it, free. You can try as many drinks as you can handle, just hand over your glass, which you get on arrival, and let the fun begin.
The room was awash with whiskey drinkers swilling glasses, sniffing deeply and sipping slowly, but fear not, if neat whiskey isn’t your thing there are other tipples to tickle your taste buds. There are craft beers to sample, like O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Whiskey Aged Stout, aged 90 days in Irish whiskey barrels. This ageing process gives a sophisticated finish to the stout; deep and rich with a warmth of Irish whiskey.
Meanwhile, some of Dublin’s top mixologists poured innovative whiskey based cocktails. Ryan Pedlar of Harrys on the Green mixed white chocolate liqueur, barley malt extract, half-and-half, with the caramel and honey flavoured Dubliner Irish Whiskey Liqueur. He called this the Honey Crunch as it tasted like mash-up of Crunchie bars and Malteasers. It really did taste just like a liquid chocolate bar, so naturally I was a fan.
The highlight for me however was the food pairings by some of Dublin’s top eateries, treating whiskey as if it were wine and finding the right food to go with the taste. This year Koh, Etto, L Mulligan Grocer and Cocoa Atelier served up bite-sized morsels to be enjoyed alongside selected whiskeys. Some of the food pairings matched the whiskey’s flavour profile, like Etto’s devilled eggs with smoky paprika designed to match the warmth of the Celtic Cask Naoi, a single pot still Irish whiskey that is yet to be released. Cocoa Atelier chose its dark chocolate salted caramel to counterbalance the smoky Connemara Peated Single Malt whiskey, as the salt cuts through the whiskey’s intense flavour. L Mulligan Grocer designed its preserved plum and walnut panforte with blackberry jelly and rose petals, to be elevated by the paired Teeling Single Malt. When enjoyed together this combination sets each other off making everything taste like Christmas in your mouth, a festive combination of boozy Christmas cake and pudding. Ho, ho, ho! And on that merry little high it was time to leave – the tasting sessions last three and a half hours and we had to vacate the room to allow the evening session to begin.
Whiskey Live Dublin affords a great opportunity to experience world-class whiskeys by some of the world’s finest distilleries in our own fair city. I sipped whiskeys that, due to exclusivity or price, I would never ordinarily be able to experience, I drunk once-off designer cocktails and enjoyed food by some of Dublin’s top restaurants; it’s hardly a wonder that this year’s event sold out. It is for these reasons I’ll be purchasing my tickets, priced at €37.50, in good time for next year’s show and I urge you to do the same. This is one event you don’t want to miss. If all that isn’t enough €10 from each ticket sold goes to Down Syndrome Dublin, the Dublin branch of Down Syndrome Ireland. Details of next year’s event will be posted here
From kitchen porter to chef, from 5 star hotels to traditional Irish pubs Melanie May’s experience within the food industry is vast and varied. She has worked and eaten her way across more than 35 countries over five continents, documenting every mouthful via blogs and photographs. When not writing about food and drink for online publications she creates recipes inspired by her travels on her own website www.melaniemay.com