G’day guys. As you know, we are living in confusing times. Everywhere I look, every establishment is saying what they’re doing in response to the Corona Virus. I’m well aware there is a germ paranoia going around, and I have decided not to take part in it. I don’t know about you, but we introverts have been avoiding people before it was cool. And the fact that you need to be told to wash your hands is just disappointing. But in these times of avoiding the vulnerable, do yourself a favor and shoot your grandparents a text or a funny email to let them know you still love them. For those of you who are quarantined, by decision or by doctor’s orders, then allow me to treat you to some reading material! I hope you had a happy Saint Patrick’s Day. Last week by luck I snagged a hundy bottle. But I neglected to mention last week that this need not be the case. Irish whiskey is a bit like wine, a humble pricetag is no sign of a lousy label, and you can never have too much. So here’s another potential winner here with the label Kilbeggan.
Kilbeggan is another one of the old hands of the business. When I say old, I mean Kilbeggan are the oldest licensed distillery still operating. Named after the town in which the distillery lies founded and first licensed in seventeen-fifty-seven by Matthew McManus. The label, albeit changing hands, grew in size. By the eighteen-forties the distillery possessed a total of three stills, including a malting floor and such large silos and storages of corn, oats, coal, and turf that the processing of all these raw materials became a lucrative source of employment across the region. After the then owners of the distillery William Codd and William Cuffee’s partnership fell apart, the distillery was taken over by John Locke, probably one of the leading creators of employee benefits. He was said to have bestowed upon his working employees cottages to live in and wagons of coal during the winter. We’ll assume since he went this far he would have had the forethought to give them employee discounts too. He was such a well-respected businessman, that when the Locke’s Distillery an accident fatally damaged their boiler. Locke was unable to afford to replace the boiler, and the future of the label was brought into question. But in response to Locke’s previous good deeds to his workers and his town, the townspeople came together to buy the Locke Distillery a new boiler. The newspaper quoted – “An Address from the People of Kilbeggan to John Locke, Esq. Dear Sir – Permit us, your fellow townsmen, to assure of our deep and cordial sympathy in your loss and disappointment from the accident which occurred recently in your Distillery. Sincerely as we regret the accident, happily unattended with loss of life, we cannot but rejoice at the long-wished-for opportunity it affords us of testifying to you the high appreciation in which we hold you for your public and private worth. We are well aware that the restrictions imposed by recent legislation on that particular branch of Irish industry, with which you have been so long identified, have been attended with disastrous results to the trade, as is manifest in the long list of Distilleries now almost in ruins, and which were a few years ago centres of busy industry, affording remunerative employment to thousands of hands; and we are convinced the Kilbeggan Distillery would have long since swelled the dismal catalogue had it fallen into less energetic and enterprising hands. In such an event we would be compelled to witness the disheartening scene of a large number of our working population without employment during that period of the year when employment Is scarcest, and at the same time most essential to the poor. Independent then of what we owe you, on purely personal grounds, we feel we owe you a deep debt of gratitude for maintaining in our midst a manufacture which affords such extensive employment to our poor, and exercises so favourable an influence on the prosperity of the town. In conclusion, dear Sir, we beg your acceptance of a new steam boiler to replace the injured one, as testimony, inadequate though it is, of our unfeigned respect and esteems for you ; and we beg to present it with the ardent wish and earnest hope that, for many long years to come, it may contribute to enhance still more the deservedly high and increasing reputation of the Kilbeggan Distillery” After this, the story of Kilbeggan was cemented in Irish patriotism and community. Surviving a fire in eighteen-seventy-eight by townsfolk breaking into the burning building to rescue barrels of whiskey, rolling them down the street. Enduring the Prohibition Era, World War I and II, the British trade war, and the Irish War of Independence.
So here it is today, a humbly shaped respectable bottle. A shield shaped label bearing an illustration of the old Kilbeggan distillery. beggan distillery. A moderately pale, amber hue of a distillate housed within, let’s get to tasting. What struck me first of all is the nose. It’s nose is completely uncharacteristic for a typical Irish whiskey. It’s amazing how changing their technique of the textbook triple distilling to the transpacific double distillation method changes the character so dramatically. It’s not a crispy green apple smoothness as a traditional Irish whiskey, it’s more spicy and brash, full-bodied and warm, like a Kentucky bourbon. Notes of orange rind, vanilla, honey, and a subtle spiciness. And as for the taste – Far more characterful than an average Irish whiskey. Deep, heaty and full-bodied. But not as to say it has fully absorbed the styles of a bourbon to the exclusion to the traditions of it’s background. Were this a bourbon, it would be somewhat lackluster, too smooth and mellowed. A very original liquor, something more outside the box than your typical Jameson or your Tullamore Dew. Something to look for when you want something different. Definitely a trier, depending on your storage space, I’d go as far as to say it’s one to keep handy for those who’s budget won’t stretch to the dearer similar Tyrconnell Single Malt. Cheers