Taste Kilkenny – Episode 2: Kilkenny Whiskey Guild
In the first episode of my Taste Kilkenny series, I wrote about Highbank Orchard and all that you can do with an apple. This week is all about the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild and I must start by thanking Eddie Langton for kindly hosting me in his hotel during my food tour of Kilkenny.
When I think of whiskey, I think of cosy pubs and warm scarves. I think of hot toddies and long comfy chats by the fire. However, I’ve come to learn that whiskey is so much more than an ingredient. It can be a beautifully crafted and aged alcohol. Irish distillers are knowing a huge renaissance in the last few years and the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild is just the ticket if you want to expand your knowledge of Irish whiskeys and your taste buds too. Ten years ago, there were three whiskey distilleries in Ireland. It is predicted that there will be over 15 by the end of 2017.
Linking in with the new cultural concept that is Ireland’s Ancient East, the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild has a natural home in Ireland’s medieval capital. Did you know that the first written account of distillation in Ireland comes from Kilkenny in the 14th century? If you want to find out a bit more about it you can do some research on the Red Book of Ossory.
The Kilkenny Whiskey Guild consists of ten drinking houses scattered throughout the city. In order to be considered for the guild, they must have a minimum of sixty Irish whiskeys on offer and the staff must be trained to a high standard. This means that if you go to any one of these ten pubs, the bar staff will know their whiskey and will be able to guide your choices. As there is a bit of healthy competition amongst the bars, you will find something different in each house.
Currently chaired by Eddie Langton and Jimmy Raferty (who owns the Dylan Whiskey Bar), the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild encourages its members to stock rare whiskeys. As mentioned in my previous post, Kilkenny breathes community and one of the most interesting aspects of the Guild is the monthly events they are running on the second Thursday of every month. These events move from house to house and are hosted by a distillery. For the very reasonable price of €10, you will get a whiskey cocktail created specifically for the venue and you will get to taste between 3 and 5 whiskeys. Although the majority of what you will taste is available in Ireland, it is expected that the distilleries will be showcasing some of their rarer products, which you can’t buy here. When Langtons held their event, they also offered a food pairing. It sounds like a fun, tasty and very affordable Thursday night out. The next events are on June 8th with Walsh Whiskey at Billy Byrnes and on July 13th with Tullamore Dew at Lanigans.
While I was exploring I stayed in Langton’s and their love of good food and the pride they take in using ingredients from local producers, allows them to fit in comfortably as members of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild and Taste Kilkenny. Amongst their local suppliers you will find Goatsbridge Trout, Highbank Orchard, Iverk Produce along with some local butchers (Tynan’s for the lamb and O’Briens for the sausages). The brown bread and all desserts are made in house.
As I close the second chapter of my Taste Kilkenny series, I am once again reminded of how much I enjoyed my time in Kilkenny and its warm food and drink community. Although they’re technically competing for the same customers, they have understood that together is better and each producer or venue owner I talked to, recommended somewhere else. I like that a lot.