GI Gin and the Monkey’s Fart

According to Peter Mulryan of the Blackwater Distillery nobody in authority gives a monkey’s fart about the GI of Irish gin. This is not the glycaemic index of gin (which, I suspect, is low) but the Geographical Indication, i.e. where the stuff is made.

Read his blog here about what gin lovers need to know.

There’s a gin called Belfast 1912 that’s distilled in London but “crafted” in Northern Ireland. Proclaiming itself to be a “cask gin” (which doesn’t have any official meaning), the proprietors tell me – by way of Twitter – that the English-made gin is rested in whiskey casks so as to “mellow the liquid” before bottling.

Well, whatever you’re into, I suppose. I just think it’s strange that something called Belfast is not actually distilled there.


Dumplings for Dublin: Lucky Tortoise Opens in Ranelagh

As a restaurant critic I know that enthusiastic anticipation can come back and bite you in the taste buds but I must confess to a rare sense of excitement at the news that Lucky Tortoise is to pop up in The Hill Pub in Ranelagh on Sundays from 5pm, from 26 February.

The first I knew of this was a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to Zeren Wilson of BittenAndWritten.com in Kiln in Soho, the younger sibling of Smoking Goat off Charing Cross Road. Thom Lawson was FOH at Smoking Goat until his recent move to Dublin where he has been working with Featherblade on Dawson Street.

So, Lucky Tortoise’s DNA looks very encouraging. Even more so is the fact that they will concentrate on dumplings of many kinds, all made freshly in-house and served family style, i.e. for sharing. Lucky Tortoise will also be popping up on a regular basis at The Eatyard on South Richmond Street when it opens next month.

Keep in touch with them on Twitter @luckytortoiseco and the same on Instagram.


Method and Madness at Midleton

The Irish Whiskey Rush continues and it seems that a new distillery is announced every week. However, the people who kept faith with the Irish spirit when it was, frankly, bordering on invisibility in the 1980s, are continuing to lead the field. Irish Distillers, part of Groupe Pernod-Ricard, have been innovating increasingly over the years and the latest venture, based in their micro-distillery in Midleton, Co Cork, is entitled Method and Madness.

The idea is to create a range of whiskeys that combine the rock solid foundation of centuries of tradition, skill and craft with a bit of – forgive the phrase – blue sky thinking. The first collection of spirits to be born out of this initiative is indeed quite different.

I predict that the 31 year old single grain whiskey, bottled at cask strength and priced at €1500, will sell out in jig time, thanks simply to its rarity and its representing Irish Distillers’ first venture into single malt.

At the considerably more accessible end of the spectrum are a much younger single grain whiskey finished in new Spanish oak at €46, bottled at 46% abv and non-chill filtered; a single pot still whiskey finished in French chestnut at €69; and a single malt finished in Limousin oak for €79. All were initially aged in ex-Bourbon casks, with the single pot still having some additional ex-Oloroso influence.

Irish Distillers are also launching a limited release Power’s 1817, a 10 year old single pot still whiskey, to mark the bicentenary of the Licensed Vintners’ Association. As Power’s is my favourite whiskey, I am suitably excited. That peachy pot still thing...


Dunne & Crescenzi Spreads Happiness in Blackrock

Although I live most of the time on a hillside where Cork and Waterford meet, when I’m in Dublin I’m a resident of Monkstown (and have been for thirty years at this stage). Thus, Blackrock is my back yard.

I’m a regular customer at Raven Books, have my hair cut perhaps frequently enough at The Barber Shop, eat at Ouzo’s, drink coffee in Bear Market and browse the Blackrock Market on the rare weekend I’m in the capital.

So, plenty of attractions for me but the news that Dunne & Crescenzi have opened in the Blackrock Shopping Centre is particularly encouraging as this end of the village has always been a vacuum in terms of good food. It has been created by Ghinlon Crescenzi, son of Eileen and Stefano, an architect who designed both the Kildare branch of the empire and the lovely Casa Alimentari on South Frederick Street. For the latter he was shortlisted for and commended in the British Restaurant Design Awards, the only Irish entry ever to be thus honoured.

Ghinlon grew up in Dunne & Crescenzi and was, at various times, waiter, barrista, chef’s assistant and behind a desk in accounts. Now he’s running his own restaurant within the group. It’s located at Units 86 to 88 and 91 to 92. Phone: 01 525 2012, Email: info@dunneandcrescenzi.com


Turtle Bunbury toasts the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild at its launch

Turtle Bunbury toasts the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild at its launch

Kilkenny Becomes the Whiskey Capital

The medieval city of Kilkenny may not have a distillery these days (it’s only a matter of time, I suspect) but there’s a record of whiskey being made here in the fourteenth century. So it seems appropriate that the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild should make the city a magnet for lovers of the Irish spirit.

It’s an alliance of licensed premises each of which offers upwards of 60 Irish whiskeys dispensed by specially trained staff who are happy to provide tasting trays to the uninitiated.

The members are:

Billy Byrne’s Bar

Paris Texas

The Brewery Corner

The Dylan Whisky Bar

The Hibernian Bar

Matt the Millers


The Left Bank

The Wine Centre

Lanigans Bar