Living in Saudi Arabia means we live in a dry country. We are not accustomed to this, though we’re learning to enjoy the better nights’ sleep we often get, but miss the “I had a shitty day of teaching, I need a whiskey or a glass of wine” kind of drinking. Anyways, when we do leave the KSA, one of the first things we do is find a place to have a nice drink.
Well friends, let me tell you…Ireland is the place for that! At least for me. As a lover of good whiskey (I’m particular to the Scottish Islays – Laphroaig and Lagavulin to be more specific), Ireland offers some amazing whiskey of their own. No doubt you’ve heard of Jameson, which even in its most basic form, makes a delightful glass of Irish Whiskey, yet there are varieties unimagined!
One of the last activities we had planned in Dublin was a trip to the Jameson Distillery/Museum. It’s no longer in use, but you can take a tour or do any number of other items. Instead of the tour (I mistakenly booked something else), we had a private tasting. Normally, reserved for about 40 people, due to Covid there was just four of us, which meant a very tailored tasting with good conversation.
We started off by heading to John Jameson’s office in their originally distillery, now bar/showroom. It was a beautiful set up and you were even able to sit at his desk and take an overly touristy photo!
We were on the tasting with another couple, who happened to be Irish and the woman had worked for Jameson and moved onto Bacardi, which doesn’t really fit into our tasting, I just find it an interesting side note.
Anyways, our host had been through a few programs and knew her stuff when it came to Jameson. We were presented with a flight of 5 different Jameson Whiskeys, of which I cannot remember their names (I’ll try to look it up and see if I can add it back in). We learned about the processes involved with distilling different types of whiskeys, the barrels used (Jameson actually uses old barrels from the US as I believe there is a restriction in place preventing them from using/creating new ones). Like wine, we learned about the viscosity, smelled for different fragrances in the whiskey, and sloshed it about to discover the different tastes. It was a truly enjoyable experience.
Overall, they were all amazing whiskeys. Some I enjoyed more than others, some Ana enjoyed more than others, but on the whole…great set of whiskey. Jameson has never been my go to, but for its price point, its certainly something I can see myself going after with more frequency.
Guinness! You’ve seen it all three of my previous posts, but here it is! We were able to take a tour (not fully because part was shut down to tours due to Covid) of the Guinness Storehouse (and see the St. James Gate!) and learn about the history of and process of brewing Guinness.
As I mentioned in another post, Guinness began using the Harp long before the Republic of Ireland did and it, like many other neat artifacts, was on display in the Storehouse. The process of brewing Guinness was interesting, though I find it to be so of all alcohols, though I particularly enjoyed learning about cask making. They had short videos running on how the cask makers used to create them and it was so interesting to watch as none of the barrels use any nails or adhesives.
It was also fun to see the history of Guinness. For example, when Arthur Guinness leased the land for his first brewery (the Storehouse) in Dublin, he signed a 9,000 year lease. Guinness holds themselves to this today, in that they hope to be there 9,000 years into the future (I hope so too!).
One of the most interesting aspects of the tour (self-guided) was looking at the Guinness advertising campaign through the years. Today, we often think of the Harp, but the Toucan was a prominent feature for a long time. They also had plenty of exceptionally odd ads that I am not entirely sure I understood the purpose.
Guinness has been my favorite beer since…forever and this opportunity was a dream come true. They had all kinds of fun little trinkets and things to buy in the gift shop as well. We ended up with a few magnets and overall, had a great time! We got a few drinks at the end of it all and just enjoyed the entire process.