John and his sister Eileen Power were born and raised not far from the distillery he and his family have created. A fisherman by trade, John grew to love distilling as much as he loved the Beara peninsula. It’s hard work to create spirits with a unique panache that will sell in a competitive market but also taste delicious. The Power family, it seems, are indeed artisans. Beara is run by John, his wife Valerie, sister Eileen Brennan and Denise Power. Truly a family enterprise.
Their lines of gin evoke the taste of the Beara peninsula with fuchsia blossom, salt water, sugar kelp, lemon, lime, pink grapefruit as well as juniper, coriander, angelica and orris root. The Pink gin includes rose water, cranberries and carmine for a succulent sweet tart flavour. Both gins are well balanced and easy to drink with no one flavour dominating the other. Their gins define a sense of place, reminiscent of seaside holidays, ocean swims and verdant hedges heavy with blooms. Raised by the ocean myself, there is a fair bit of nostalgia in those bottles.
Beara Distillery has branched out into Whiskey and like their gin, the family has taste and a sense of place.
Like most distilleries, Beara is raising capital by purchasing whiskey from a bonder, aging it in personally selected casks for additional flavour and selling it under the Beara label. Beara has partnered with the Teeling family and master mixer Brian Watts, to source a variety of whiskies to be blended and stored in different finishing Casks. The result is stunning and is the reason we travelled across the country to visit John in his distillery.
Their Beara Deep Char Cask is a wonder. A big bold burst of flavour from months spent in Alligator charred casks that really bring out a taste of luscious vanilla, caramel, sultanas, Christmas cake, orange peel, crème brulee …with a finish that lingers on. It’s a flavour bomb that is rich and complex.
Their Single malt is lighter but brimming with smooth butterscotch, vanilla, marzipan and orange that is refreshing with a light long finish.
Their grain whiskey is column distilled but remarkably smooth. The nose is almost non-existent but the taste is an explosion of orange blossom, almond, peach and vanilla. It’s an excellent summer drink by itself. Highly recommend as a sipping whiskey. One could mix this as an amazing Old Fashion.
Each whiskey makes a statement, I was impressed that their whiskey was without that funky, feinty flavour so popular today. They were reminiscent of the Tullamore 18 and very old school Jameson (from the 1950’s).
The Power family is in the process of building a larger distillery facility. However Covid along with the war in Ukraine has pushed the date out several years. John is not deterred. This distillery is, in his words, for future generations. A legacy for his kids and for the Beara peninsula. Even with plans on hold, there is no doubt that the build will go ahead. In the meantime, the Power family continues to raise funds with their excellent gins, whiskey, and the addition of a Vodka to be released soon.
I do find it a pity that their Single Malt and Grain Whiskies are only available to Germany and Italy. They have a unique flavour profile that is not currently available in the Irish Market. The Grain Whiskey reminds me of the Japanese brands – refreshing and smooth with a long light finish, but not a light weight or single note spirit. There is a surprising depth to each. Hopefully Beara will consider opening up the market to Ireland and other countries.
Once their distillery is up and runny, we hope to revisit the Power family for another review.
Our aim in starting Hip Cask, through this website, our Facebook group and the Instagram account is to celebrate our love of whiskey but also to celebrate the different women within the world of whiskey. We want to hear what they have to say and spotlight those voices and share it with whoever wants to read and listen.
Recently we kicked off that process by way of a virtual sit down with the wonderful Linh Do. Linh runs the instagram account Cookie Đỗ and her website can be found here, where she regularly shares tasting notes of a wide variety of whisky as well as cocktail recipes and insights into her (largely whisky-inspired) artwork which can also be found on Etsy. Linh’s previous account was Whisky Anorach, famed for being one of the top ten whisky Instagram accounts to follow for whisky insights.
Through our sit down we spoke about how Linh got involved in whisky, the strong connection she has to Scotland, the perception felt of women who drink whisky (especially in the US) and the influence her Vietnamese heritage has had on her artwork.
The Fukano 6000 label to the left was wonderfully designed by Linh!
M:Linh, to askthe most obvious question first why whisky?
It’s kind of random, when I was in college, I just fell in love with 20th Century American English literature and my professors would say that the common theme is exploring binary dispositions and I started to look at life as if it were a graph. You have an X and Y axis, perhaps it’s human nature to be on a solid line of an X point and then crossover to the Y axis and do the complete opposite to try to find our own voice. It’s a little bit existential because you’re still on that line and you haven’t worked out through these kind of internal fields and challenges and I thought, well what happens if I bounce around between quadrant 1, 2, 3 or 4 and it would just be something that was non sequitur and that is the way of obtaining happiness? So I just remember waking up one morning and my first thought that came to my mind was that I should use whisky as a muse to write poetry. I’d never had whisky before and it was just such a random thought I just went for it. I went to a bar and I told this bartender about this project and then he started to talk about the different regions of Scotch and it interested me. It reminded me of literature. Also I almost feel like you have to tap into your childhood enthusiasm to reference to things like crème brûlée or these notes. And so, I just instantly fell in love with it and then I quit social work a year later and I backpacked in Scotland by myself for nineteen days!
M: So was this because of whisky? You tasted whisky and went, “ I have to know more!”
Yeah! There was never a poem written, and that was ten years ago. Six months into studying whisky, I came across Highland Park, and their brand ambassador, Martin Daraz. He said there’s nothing like standing alone in the warehouse and being by the sea and smelling the alcohol just wafting in your air. You can just feel the whole earth pressed against your feet even when you’re in sandals. I thought, oh well, I definitely need to go to Scotland. There was this magnetic pull to just go by myself. I remember trying a Highland Park 18 year old whisky. I had this beautiful moment where I was confronted with all these peppercorn spices and on the finish it had these honey notes and it just kind of glossed over each taste bud to combat the heat and it made me think, ‘well maybe this is a metaphor for life’; that it’s going to be challenging but if I pursue something that is authentic and genuine, then maybe I could be rewarded with those sweet honey tones so that’s how it came about.
M: Are there any other spirits that inspire you or is whisky kind of it?
Whisky is mainly it. Gertrude Stein who is this, a little bit of an avant garde writer, she wrote this prose called Tender Buttons. This is about, cutting through all of the superfluous adjectives and getting it down to the pure essence of things. We can explain how much we love something, but down to it’s pure essence we just do, and I just naturally have this obsession with whisky. And I’ve dabbled into other spirits and I like it but nothing compares to whisky. It is something that is just very visceral and it just means a lot.
M: You never come to the end of your lesson with whisky; there’s always something new, always something dynamic, always something outside the box. Did you find that Scotland gave you that vibe when you were there too – that the spirits meshed with the landscape? There’s definitely a terroir going on.
Yeah, there is just a very spiritual awakening when I go there each time. I jokingly tell people that Scotland is the bad boyfriend, that I can’t quit. Like I go there and I spend all this money and I come back defeated cause I’m like, I’m poor, F- You Scotland, I’m going to go to a different country… it’s like the Colin Farrell of countries in some aspects!
Going there just has this visceral kind of feeling, where like I’ve been there before and when I had to compare life to a graph. The third time when I was in Scotland, I just remember, driving at night and seeing just the blur of dawn and dusk and it just made me realise; life moves like a celtic artwork. When I was driving alone up in the Highlands, I could see the clouds just hovering over the mountains and everything is blended and melded together and that’s what whisky has taught me – everything is just intertwined and connected and so in life I have to be mindful when I create things and think about people.
M:Can you expand on that a little bit more, how whisky influences your art that way?
I think, every topic that I choose I have to be interested in and each thing that I create has a specific journey, so for example when I made a dress that was inspired by Talisker, I weaved in Alexander Lee McQueen because he is one of the few artists that when I look at his clothing, it’s just so intense, and I remember he created a line, it was called the Highland Rape and it was really controversial and there was tartan fabric and I can’t remember who it was, I think it was his mother who said, you should explore your roots. Because he grew up in London but he found out that his family is from Isle of Skye. It was about this idea of origin and our roots and what is the definition of our roots because I’m somebody who is Vietnamese, I was born in the US, lived in California my whole life, never felt really Californian or American but there’s something about Scotland, that just draws me back to that place so much and I don’t think it’s this xenophobic feeling about myself, it’s not, it’s just that natural pull, and, so when I started to explore Talisker and the idea of origin and our interpretation of origin. I don’t know if I answered your question? This one [showing a white and pink pleated jumpsuit] is about my interpretation of Hibiki [whisky], with pleats, because the ridges of the bottle have those kind of ridges, but also I deal with Origami, so that’s the project I’m working on right now.
M:You mentioned living in California – LA is also incredibly competitive but how has that helped and hindered you?
It’s very challenging. I think I’m somebody who operates on extremes where I’m either very, very passive or I think I’m being direct and honest but it comes off too aggressive, so learning the dialogue of communicating with people in Los Angeles and Orange County was very frustrating. They just want to tippy toe around things and it was really challenging but I remember somebody said – at the end of the day, people want to be loved and understood. And so I force myself to sit and interact with people who I dislike. What I learned was that when I forced myself to approach them with a sense of curiosity I would pick up things that I respected about them, and that changed the dynamics of my relationships with the other person and that was very effective. I think I’m still learning to be honest because I know that for myself, by nature I’m, I feel painfully shy, I’m a huge introvert and I had to muscle through that and practice learning how to talk to different types of people and personalities, and it’s still challenging, I think I just need a little bit more maturity to be more diplomatic when that’s not my strong suit. Because there are dudes out there who are… I just want to tear them a new one! And it’s hard, it’s hard to be surrounded by that sort of thing where they put you down. But you have to have a winning attitude, a positive attitude and I think I’m still working on that to be honest
M:One of the things I have told Sinéad and Avril, because they are both Irish, born and raised in Ireland, telling them that in America, if you are a woman who drinks whisky, it’s automatically a threat and you run across a lot of guys, a lot of dudes who are mean to you and in Ireland, you don’t get that, at all it’s really super refreshing.
S: Did you find that in Scotland people spoke down to you because you were a woman in whisky or was it different there?
No, it was totally different, we had just a mutual understanding. The confidence of American culture can come across as being too arrogant in other countries. So some Americans they go over to Scotland and they think, “Oh I come from this place, you should give me everything for free, you should let me stay at your cottage blah, blah, blah“, and the people I met in Scotland, they don’t care about that sort of thing. I never told them I worked at this bar or I worked at this particular liquor store where they sell a lot of their booze and I should get something. I bonded very well with the people who work in the distilleries because it was just all about trying to understand where they’re coming from and it wasn’t having that expectation that somebody should give me something, that entitled feeling. So, that was good, I was very lucky, I had no idea that I was getting hooked up with sampling awesome whiskies and they’re like; “How did you get that?”
M: I really appreciated, especially coming from LA, which can be hierarchical and monetary, the fact that you do have a very egalitarian viewpoint. How does that influence your art because being an artist means you have to have patrons.
Yeah. I think it was Ben Eine, a London letter artist, he was in this documentary called ‘Saving Banksy’ and he said that, the challenge with artists is that we create things that come from our soul and birth it, it’s this idea of like, F the money, this is our baby, but, it moves like a Mobius strip. The people who buy art are the ones who have a lot of money and so there’s this very challenging dynamic of finding that balance. A great thing that happened for me was that I was very fortunate to live at Glenfiddich for three months, back in 2019 so I got the artist in residency program where they paid me to live at the distillery and I was just allowed to create whatever I wanted. I’ve done art where I’ve focused so much on what I feel, it’s now boring for me so I want to challenge myself in how do I interact with other people through my art and it becomes more of an interesting conversation because it’s about people and it’s about trying to understand where they’re coming from, what their wants are, and translating that through art is key. So, I’m still working on it, it’s not my strong suit but being able to talk to other people who are a little bit more business minded, that helps to work that out.
For me what’s important to me is making sure that I conduct business in a fair and honest way, so I think that builds more long-lasting relationships and just, you know I’ve been able to do some commission work here and there and you know, doing a whisky label was really exciting.
M:How did that come about?
So, there’s a guy named Chris Uhde, who owns a distributing company and he’s actually a blender for Fukano and Ohishi, so he mixes the whiskies and he, he’s kind of like my big brother, he had always believed in my work and who I am. He hired me to be a sales rep and I was terrible at it and I said, I can’t do it, I’m quitting and he said, “Don’t, don’t leave”. He’s kept me in the loop over the years, if there’s a project to do, he’ll hire me, which is nice. I showed him this book I’m doing documenting all the distilleries I’ve gone to. I really love medieval books and leather bound books so, I want to complete this in this lifetime and he said, just focus on that. [Linh shows a large book filled with beautiful illustrations and notes on each distillery she has visited]
M: How have your roots, your Vietnamese roots influenced your art, your life?
I have to be, I think a little bit open-minded and see the other person’s point of view. Everyone looks at things, or approaches things differently, just because I’m very meticulous doesn’t mean that it translates to how business can be done in an effective manner. My parents worked really hard so I always felt that I needed to work hard and do what I can to follow my passion and for me the idea of my parents – they were just so desperate to leave a country that was controlling them. To uproot themselves and lose everything is just so traumatising. I thought that the idea to follow your dreams or that concept of freedom of speech was important and that I was meant to do that.
I think for me, by nature, I’ve learned that I will never be mainstream in what I create, I can’t be Glenfiddich, I just don’t have it in me to be proper. But that’s ok, and that’s something that was really valuable for me, is that once I went over to Daftmill, and over Springbank, I felt more at ease, like I felt like I could just relax a little bit more. And Frances from Daftmill is just such an awesome human being, he’s very painfully shy but he’s just very meticulous about what he does and he cares about what he does.
Frances is this farmer who sells barley to Macallen and other companies and he started to distil back in, I want to say it was 2005. He was just doing everything by himself and I want to say it was 2018 (I could be wrong) [for the record – she’s not wrong!], he was ready to bottle it and he got various bottlers to bottle his expressions and they said, ‘How much do you want to sell this bottle?’, and he said, ‘Hmm, maybe 60 bucks’, and they said ‘Let’s go for $100’, and in his mind he says, ‘Well that sounds really expensive but ok, whatever’. So, they sell out, I think within 5 minutes and he says, ‘This is just beginner’s luck’. Second release, sells out another for ten minutes or… just insane and his bottle went on the secondary market and people were buying it for $900 a bottle and he had no, zero marketing, it was just through word of mouth, because he genuinely cared about his craft. He’s just very obdurate, wanting to do things his way, the right way, which is awesome.
M: You talk about being able to respect other people and being able to understand other people’s comfort zone but in addition, you need to be able to understand your comfort zone too and respect your boundaries. It sounds like that is because you can admire a distillery like Glenfiddich – it’s very successful, but in your eyes, Daftmill is more successful because, that fits more your model, that is more who you are.
Yeah, I think it’s a, not necessarily more successful, a different kind of success, you know? So I think it just depends on how you want to approach business and coming to be honest with yourself. I couldn’t bear the responsibility of being vanilla.
I think that that’s what it boils down to, you know when I’m sipping whiskey, it goes back to that idea that there’s different approaches and methods, but we have, different interpretations because, even our palettes are built differently, everyone has different palettes and so it goes back to that idea of practicing mindfulness and learning how to listen to people. For me, I’m always so busy in my brain that I wear myself out but when I drink whisky and I analyse it, it’s just very much being in the present and that reminds me that when I talk to people or interact with people, I need to have that level of curiosity and mindfulness too. To not just anticipate what they’re going to say next based on what they said five years ago and how their behaviour is like, but to really remind myself that people are in different stages of their life.
A: Finally, have you visited Ireland?
No! I mean I need to go back to Japan, I’ve been to Japan, gosh, a long time ago, but this was before whisky and I know on your website you have the views of Yamazaki and that was really cool. I’ve been to distilleries in Kentucky and different parts of the US, but Ireland is on my list for sure. That’s important, because people say that whiskey was invented in Ireland [We of course jumped in here with a list of Irish whiskey recommendations!].
That brings an end to our first Hip Cask Interview, with huge thanks to the wonderful Linh. We can’t wait to welcome Linh to Ireland to show off our rapidly expanding whiskey industry but in the meantime we will continue to showcase the wonderful world of whiskey and more importantly the women who are making a name for themselves!
Overlooking the small town of Shimamoto, Osaka, the Suntory Yamazaki distillery was started in 1923 by one of the 2 fathers of Japanese whisky, Shinjiro Torii. The other Father of Whisky was Masataka Taketsuru who went on to found Nikka whisky. Taketsuru was originally trained in Glasgow and studied whisky distilling under Scottish masters. He worked for Torii under the Suntory brand for over 10 years before starting out with his own distillery.
Shinjiro started creating his own wine and whisky for Japanese palates back in 1899. Before then, all wines and whiskies were imported (or distilled in small scale facilities). The favoured drink of the time was Sake and Umeshu or plum wine. Shinjiro not only had to create liquor to please his country’s palate, he also educated them on how to appreciate the products. His first whisky offering was called Suntory Shirofuda (White Label) but was unsuccessful because it didn’t appeal to the Japanese palate. His next effort, Suntory Kakubin was a hit and continues to be Japans number one selling whisky.
Currently, Suntory owns several distilleries and a few breweries (as well as non-alcoholic drinks and vitamins). Their Yamazaki Single malt sherry cask was voted best whisky in the world in 2014 and their Yamazaki Single malts 12 and 18 are delicious expressions of Japanese whisky. Whether the difference is the Mizunara oak casks, time in plum or sake casks or the effect of terriors, the Yamazaki and Hibiki whiskies enjoy a huge popularity around the world. Yamazaki Single malt and The Chita are two of my personal favourite whiskies.
The town of Shimamoto, an unnervingly adorable Japanese town, is a 35 minute train ride from down town Osaka. Since we have family in Osaka that we try to visit regularly, we were able to make the journey a couple of times. The town is on a hill with the distillery at the top, the walk from the train station to the distillery is a scant 15 minutes.
The distillery itself has retained much of its historical feel, yet there have been ample upgrades to accommodate tourists. This is one highly successful distillery and Suntory knows how to market.
There are several tour options, since our Japanese is pretty poor, we went with headphones on a self guided tour. Japan caters to English speaking tourists. The tour starts with a small museum dedicated to its founder. Suntory is proud of its history and their ground breaking products (for the time these were unique and exotic products). Then we viewed the distillery process. Unlike Irish or Scottish distillery tours, we were able to see some production but only behind glass. One felt this was a show room distillery.
The tasting room is a whisky lovers dream. Each whisky has a number and you are able to taste not just the finished products (ie the Yamazaki single malt 18) but each individual cask that helps to create the finished product. So one has the ability to taste cask No. 21, the 15 year old sherry cask whisky that is used to create other finished products. They also offer tastes of whiskies that can no longer be purchased. One can request up to 4 different whiskies to taste at one time out of a list of hundreds. At the time I don’t remember there being a limit to how many tastings of 4 whiskies one could request. I do remember absorbing one heck of an education in one day and the walk back to the train station was a bit of a blur.
It was at Suntory I discovered Summer Whisky such as The Chita. Unlike many northern whiskies, which do a wonderful job of warming one up from the inside out, The Chita is a smooth and light whisky yet with a deeply rich and satisfying flavour and is perfect for sipping during the warm summer. I highly recommend trying to purchase a bottle, they run anywhere from 40-75 euro. One thing I noticed at Suntory was the number of women who were there to taste. Whisky is not a gendered product in Japan as it is in the US so women tend to make up the majority of visitors to distilleries.
We had the opportunity to visit the brand new Killarney distillery and brewing facility located right outside of the town of Killarney in County Kerry.
And what a facility it is! The new 62,000 square foot building is located on the N22 – right on the Ring of Kerry. It’s a spectacular building that immediately catches the eye. Designed by Italian architect, Davide Mosca, it features the distilleries three massive copper pot stills behind a wall of glass facing the roadway and lit by LED lights that change colour. The distillation area is multi-storied and hugged in the curve of breathtaking giant laminate curved wood beams. The brewery is in the opposite wing, with 2 story rounded windows that also face the N22, reminiscent of a Napa valley winery. Everything is state of the art with three pot stills from Frilla, six giant fermentation tanks, three column stills and a Meura high tech mash filter that spans a large portion of the enormous room.
Head distiller, Kerr Petri – lately from Midleton – is in charge of this spanking new distillery. We have every reason to believe he will make the most of this opportunity. There were a few faces from Midleton including our tour guide, Michael and, like us all, has nothing but positive things to say. We here at Hip Cask have said before that there is plenty of room in the Irish whiskey world for more Irish distillers.
We were excited by the head gin distiller, Maeve Kelleher. At 25, she is both passionate and enthusiastic about gin. Killarney will sport a Gin Lab, a unique place where one can bring in ingredients to macerate with Killarney gin to create your own private gin concoction. Be it sloe plums off your hedge, your grandmothers gooseberries, or whatever mixture you may fancy, you can create your perfect personal gin at the Gin Lab.
Parent company KBD owns both Killarney Brewing Company Ltd and Killarney Distilling Company. It was founded in 2013 by Killarney men Tim O’Donoghue, Paul Sheahan, and their Chicago-based business partner, Liam Healy, who has family connections in Kilbrean, Killarney.
The three main owners have strong ties to Chicago and have incorporated small details like recycled Chicago brick combined with local Valentia slate, recycled wood from a Kentucky distillery and an antique bar from an old Chicago pub. Mixed use rooms include the Hemingway room, a speakeasy style room, the Oyster room (modelled after a room at Grand Central Station complete with arched ceilings) and multiple larger rooms for corporate events, meetings large and small, family function venues and educational rooms.
The centre hosts a large restaurant and bar with picture windows overlooking Lough Leane and the Gap of Dunloe. KBD is delighted to add Executive Head Chef Paul Barrett to the group, formerly a Chef de Partie at the Shelbourne.
I think my favourite room is slated to be a Chocolatier Creche. Two chocolatiers are to be added to whip up concoctions using local ingredients as well as the whiskey, gins and beer created on premise. Someplace for the kids and non-drinkers to pass the time while other family members sample the liquid attractions.
The rooftop bar/restaurant has a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
The entire building has been designed and built with the intention of being wheelchair and disabled accessible with ramps and elevators.
The only thing we missed was a chance to actually taste any whiskey, but we know that will be happening soon. Currently KBD has a Killarney Whiskey 1092 on offer, mixed to their specifications. However once the stills go into production this summer, all further bottlings will be under the eye of Master Distiller Petri. Part of KBD, the Cornerstone Cask Society, are offering the chance to purchase a full cask of new Killarney whiskey, stored at their facility for 5 years in American oak ex-bourbon casks. One point we really liked was the fact that Killarney will be storing their whiskey on site in their temperature controlled bonded warehouses and the price includes the storage and insurance fees. Those fees are usually added to the cost of the cask in other distilleries, so it’s a pretty sweet deal.
The opening date looks to be sometime in early summer. We will certainly make it a point to visit again and perhaps have a wee dram or G&T sitting on the rooftop garden overlooking the stunning views.
This rich, almost flourless, one layer chocolate cake is flavoured with whiskey. I strongly recommend a none peated, slightly strong, sweet whiskey such as: Jack Daniels; Jameson; Grace O’Malley; Slane; or the one I used, Glenmorangie Coffee. Almost a sin, I know, but the whiskey/coffee flavour was amazing. For those of you who cook, you will recognize this as a deviation of the famous Reine de Saba cake. Because Julia Child was an amazing human and exacting chef. I am eternally grateful for her guidance and diligence.
6 ounces or 170grms semi sweet chocolate (I used Callebaut chips. Best if using European chocolate as the American chocolate doesn’t have as much melting capacity).
1 tablespoon or 15ml butter
1/4 cup or 60ml whiskey plus more to keep the chocolate smooth
1/2 cup or 110gms butter room temperature
1/2 or 65gms cup golden caster sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons or 10ml vanilla extract
pinch cream of tartar or fine salt
2 tablespoons or 25gms confectioners sugar
1/2 cup or 65gms almond flour or finely ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon or dash almond extract
1/3 cup or 40gms plain cake flour
For the frosting
4 ounces or 113gms semi sweet chocolate. European chocolate such as Callebaut
1/2 cup or 110gms butter
1/4 cup or 60ml whiskey
Preheat oven to 180 Celcius or 350 F. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until peaks form. Add the powered sugar and beat until stiff. Set aside.
Cream the butter then add sugar and beat until soft and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, almond extract and vanilla.
In a double boiler add the chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter. The water should be hot but not boiling. Once the chocolate starts to melt add the whiskey and stir ingredients until smooth and blended. Careful with this part, the chocolate can quickly seize if too warm. Feel free to add more whiskey to keep smooth. One may also add a splash of dark coffee if one likes. The none alcoholic version calls for coffee only.
Immediately fold the chocolate whiskey mixture into the egg yolk butter batter. Slowly add the almond flour until blended. Add half the beaten egg whites with the plain cake flour until blended. Gently fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites.
Prepare a 24 centimeter or 9 to 9 1/2 inch cake pan. I cut a circle of parchment paper, butter the pan, then lay down the paper and add a little more butter over that.
Pour in the batter and tap the pan until the batter is settled. Place in the middle rack of your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Since this is a French style cake, do NOT use the clean toothpick trick in the center. The center of the cake should move just a smidge and be a little damp. A toothpick inserted into the edge may come back clean. If overbaked, the cake comes out too dry. Cool in pan so the cake is just warm, then unmold and place on a plate. Poke some small holes in the top of the cake.
In the same double boiler you may make add the chocolate, butter and whiskey for your frosting. Feel free to add a smidge more whiskey so the frosting is smooth. When melted, pour some of the frosting directly onto the cooled cake. Let the cake absorb a bit of the frosting. Wait until the frosting cools a little more (place the bottom of the pan into cold ice water to quicken the process). Then pour more of the frosting directly onto the cake until completely covered. I usually have to use a spatula or cake tool to smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake.
Decorate the top with flowers, berries, cut out chocolate designs or just leave the smooth frosted top. This is a rich dessert so serve thin slices.
Best with a dollop of whiskey infused whipped cream! 🙂
We sat down virtually with Jennifer Nickerson of Tipperary Boutique Distilleryrecently to find out more about her very interesting journey into the whiskey Industry. Jennifer is the daughter of Stuart Nickerson who has over 40 years experience in the industry and has managed a number of distilleries such as Highland Park, Glenfiddich and Balvenie but Jennifer has well and truly made a name for herself in her own right with Tipperary Boutique Distillery. We chatted about the influence growing up in Scotland has had on her and the whiskey she produces, the role we all play in making the whiskey industry more inclusive for women along with discussing the future of Irish whiskey and the opportunity we have to showcase how innovative and unique we are here in Ireland. Along with producing whiskey, Tipperary have recently released their first ever Farmhouse Distilled Gin which we cannot recommend enough!
How did you get involved in Whiskey? Tell us about your route to where you are now!
I took a very rambling route as I didn’t go straight to accountancy (before Tipperary, Jennifer was a Tax Consultant with KPMG) – I went first to study veterinary as I had a passion for animals, especially horses but quickly decided that being out in the cold and wet didn’t suit me. I left that and spent some time working in bars before going back to college and starting Business and Law, after a while I then focused on Business and Accounting. I loved working in tax and in KPMG, but I’ve always had a passion for whisky and the drinks industry. When moving to Tipperary, I didn’t want to do something that I didn’t love and I was in a unique situation because of my passion for the spirits industry, my husband having the family farm and looking for ways to innovate and also my dad’s experience in the whisky industry – the passion and skills were evident on every side and I didn’t think there would be another opportunity like this. If I wasn’t here doing this – no one would be making this whiskey!
Did you consider Whiskey before studying Veterinary?
I had thought about it, and I had met with some people who my dad worked with. I was interested in project management because you get to work in pretty much everything – that really stood out to me, but at the time I really wanted to do veterinary. Whiskey was always in the background, there was always a part of me that loved the industry and I stayed involved by helping my dad out with shows and events even while I was working with KPMG.
How did you find the process of opening your own distillery?
I can compare it to planning a wedding for anyone who has done that – it’s a lot of work, it’s enjoyable and you put so much effort into it but I don’t know if I’d recommend it to anyone else to do. I was organised, had business plans and also scoped out the investment, timeframes, and understood how much we needed to sell but at the end of the day, they are numbers on a spreadsheet and the reality is very different. I honestly didn’t think it would take 5 years to get permissions and stills up and running. I also wouldn’t have recognised the full value behind marketing and sales when it came to running a distillery. There’s so much involved in the whole process from social media, design, construction to so much more – there are also a million different things that I never thought I’d have to know about, such as using a bottling machine! Through it all, 2018 was a tough year as things were hard, we were persuading people that we would make it. We of course knew what was coming down the line but others didn’t so it was tough for everyone to keep hearing what we were planning but not seeing any output.
It’s so worthwhile now, had you told me how difficult it would be 5 years ago I honestly don’t think I would have believed you.
On the distillery front, will you be opening up to tours in the future?
We are planning on doing tours in the future, but we’re not in a position to do that at the moment. We are aiming to look at that in 2022.
Moving on to the whiskey you produce, were you looking for a specific flavour profile for your whiskies? Are there different profiles that you are interested in pursuing?
I’ve always had the example of a distillery in Scotland that was mothballed because they were trying to get a specific profile from their whisky. They were never able to get exactly what they wanted due to the profile of the water at the distillery. I know what I like, but I don’t want to aim for a particular profile and then the reality does not match with the water or the grain we have here. We tried so many different spirits when we started and we all like different things but the common denominator was always that we liked balanced and complex whisky with a decent finish. We know we don’t want a smooth whisky, we want to be complex and have different layers of flavour to our whiskey.
We also have a mixture of casks onsite from wine, sherry, bourbon along with some Scotch barrels, We want to play about and see what comes from the different barrels we use.
Whiskey is very much seen as a male dominated industry – do you think there is enough being done to make it more inclusive, both for women to get involved as a hobby or to work in the industry?
There is responsibility on brands to be aware of how we are positioning ourselves and who we are positioning our whiskey to. Your whiskey needs to be available and accessible to everyone, not just targeted to the stereotypical Irish whiskey lover of a male between 30-60.
There is also responsibility on women already in the industry – if we see a female putting themselves out there, it’s upon us also to support and promote them. There’s so many guys with higher profiles or a more established set up that it can be easier to follow them, but to see more women in the industry we have to support them and elevate their voices.
We won’t see a more seismic shift in the industry until we see the bigger brands do this – but we also can’t wait for them. We need to show them that we want it and that we are pushing each other. If you’re a woman in the industry, there is some responsibility on you to stand up and speak out too – it can be so hard to do this, but through doing that will the industry start to change.
Over the last number of years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of distilleries being established in Ireland (currently 39 operating distilleries). Where do you see Irish whiskey being in 5 years? Can and will that growth continue?
There is a limit, I think the target for reaching and exceeding Scotch is ambitious but there is more than enough capacity for 39 distilleries. We need to understand that Scotch and Irish whiskey are two different markets, we don’t need to compare ourselves or reach or surpass Scotch whisky to be successful. Scotch is so well established and you know what you get from each of the regions – but we’re at a different stage and life cycle.
For our Irish distilleries, many of which are new, we’ve a lot of growing up to do as an industry. There is so much experimentation going on with Irish whiskey that we should be selling Irish whiskey as being young, innovative and experimental. Irish whiskey will of course continue to grow but it will taper off, but we need to shift how we market ourselves and not be trying to compare ourselves to Scotch at every turn.
A number of distilleries name their pot stills – do you have a name for yours in the distillery?
We ran a competition for the wash still and the winning submission was Dagda’s Cauldron. We are still thinking about our other stills, but our white spirit still is called Brigit, as she was Dagda’s daughter and also Brigit is the name of the last witch killed in Ireland, who was from Tipperary.
From our conversation with Jennifer, we got to witness how innovative Tipperary Boutique Distillery are and how open they are to experimenting with their spirit. We at Hip Cask are very excited to see what the future holds for Tipperary and are looking forward to trying their first whiskey distilled onsite in the meantime you can check out their current range on their site or at Irish Malts! As much as we love whiskey, we cannot recommend their first batch Gin enough – it’s a beautifully complex, citrus-y gin and really worth getting your hands on a bottle!
Tipperary Boutique Distillery is located on the Ahern family farm in Ballindoney, Co. Tipperary where they are growing the barley to be used in their whiskey. The distillery have released a number of bottles over the last few years from their initial bottling of The Rising in 2016, Watershed Single Malt (ex-bourbon cask) and Knockmealdowns 10yr Single Malt (ex-bourbon cask) to the recent release of their homegrown Single Malt (ex-Rioja cask). You can check them out on Facebook and Instagram and purchase their products from Irish Malts, L Mulligan Grocer and James Fox’s.
Notably Don Draper’s signature drink in Mad Men, but the Old Fashioned has been a very popular cocktails since the 1800’s. In 1806 a cocktail was defined as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters” and that pretty much sums up an Old Fashioned. It was frequently known simply as Whiskey Cocktail and it wasn’t until1880 that the name ‘Old Fashioned’ was coined in the Chicago Tribune.
There are a number of takes on an Old Fashioned from Mezcal Old Fashioned to a Brandy Old Fashioned (apparently very popular in Wisconsin) and many bartenders would include a dash of soda water in the cocktail, which in my opinion it drastically changes the taste!.
60ml Eagle Rare Bourbon
7ml Sugar Syrup (I used Monin)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Add a handful of ice to a cocktail mixing glass (or pint glass)
Add in the bourbon, bitters and sugar syrup and mix for 2-3 minutes
I have a thing for fire, as my family and friends already know. The grill is my friend (and it’s always grilling season, even in snow), if a dish can be flambéd, I will do it. Creme Brulee was a dish I learned early in life and my brandy fired sweet potatoes even made it to a NPR Thanksgiving recipe article.
So when a friend posted this recipe for candied oranges I automatically saw them on fire, with whiskey. They did not disappoint.
Sugar Candied Oranges
6 firm seedless oranges preferably with thin skin. I used Blood oranges from Spain and now can’t imagine using anything else. Must be small, no larger than a baseball.
6 Cups sugar. I used a mix of white granulated and Demerara 4 cups white and 2 Demerara
Parchment paper cut into a circle just a little larger than the diameter of the pot
2 tablespoons whiskey. I made 2 recipes, one with peated whiskey and one Irish whiskey. The peated whiskey went exceptionally well with the oranges.
Wash and dry blood oranges (organic are best. If blood oranges are not available Cara Cara are good). Use a good sharp channeler to channel remove strips of peel from each orange from top to bottom. Goal is to twist the channels so they look like a Russian Onion Dome. Unfortunately my tool wasn’t sharp so my oranges had a less attractive pattern. Keep the peels. Use a large stainless steal pot and fill with water, bring to boil. Add the oranges and peels to the boiling water and reduce to a simmer. Over the oranges, put a lid that is one size too small for the pot to keep oranges under the simmering water. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes to remove any bitterness and blanch. Remove oranges, they should swell and soften but not split or turn to mush.
Drain and keep oranges and peels to one side. In the clean pot add 6 cups water and 6 cups sugar. Bring to boil for approximately 10 minutes or until the liquid takes on a slight syrup quality.
With a slotted spoon, place the oranges and peels into the simmering simple syrup. Cut out the parchment paper into a circle 2 cm or 1 inch larger than the diameter of your pot. Put the parchment over the oranges and cover with the small lid. Reduce the heat until barely bubbling. Keep on this heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the oranges take on a glazed, semi- translucent quality. Remove and place the oranges and peels in a container with the sugar syrup. Cool then store in the fridge. Best eaten after they have cooled for 24 hours. The flavour is hard to describe but is somewhat like marmalade, except better, less bitter and with no gelatine. The entire orange is eaten and is absolutely delicious.
At this point I served the oranges in 2 ways: One way was over a scoop of vanilla ice cream with Slane Irish whiskey. The second was just the orange with Laphroig peated whiskey. I added a few spoonfuls of the sugar syrup before adding the tablespoon of whiskey.
To flambé: Alcohol needs to be gently warmed in order to light. Pour one tablespoon of whiskey over your fruit. Add another tablespoon of whiskey in a pan and gently heat until just slightly warm. Overheating will evaporate your alcohol making it impossible to light. Light the pan on fire (you can see the blue flame) and pour over your dessert. The warmed whiskey will light the rest of the whiskey on top of the oranges. This should definitely be done when the dishes are in front of your guests. It’s dramatic and satisfying. Best yet, the peated whiskey went amazingly well with this dessert. The peat added a smokey quality to the orange and sugar that helped cut the sweet. The Irish whiskey was also delicious but added a caramel flavour to the dish.
The thing I love best about this dish is it looks quite complex but isn’t. It can also be made ahead of time and the oranges in syrup will keep in your fridge for well over a week (I’m going on 2 weeks now). Assembling takes seconds and the end result makes you look like an experienced chef. One could easily put half an orange over thick custard, a panna cotta or ice cream then lighting the entire dish on fire with a tasty whiskey. The perfect end to a fancy dinner. That is if you can keep from eating them all yourself.
I want to thank Tomese Sieminskie Buthod for alerting me to this candied orange recipe from the New York Times.
Any of the left over orange simple syrup may be used as the base for a top notch Old Fashioned. The candied orange peels, soaked in whiskey, are decorative and addictive. Sláinte!
Not all gifts for a birthday, Christmas or special occasion need to be a bottle of whiskey but can be something just as nice for that whiskey lover in your life (or if you’re like me, a treat to yourself!)
We’ve gathered up some cool whiskey related gift ideas we hope will help you pick the perfect whiskey related present.
We will continue to keep this list updated as we find more whiskey related items!
Another Irish candle company is Soilse who also stock a whiskey scented candle (€18.50).
From Barley to Blarney (€27) is lovely coffee table book on whiskey in Ireland, with some fantastic local pub recommendations.
Etsy have a selection of some interesting whiskey posters for all price ranges.
Avoca Irish Whiskey Marmalade (€ 4.95) I have become rather addicted to whiskey marmalade. A great small gift for those who love marmalade and whiskey.
The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt, Bourbon & Rye Whiskies – an interesting coffee table book on different whiskies – including some interesting cocktails!
At €50, the Jameson Cocktail Kit looks pretty cool and would be a great help in preparing any whiskey cocktails.
A hip flask is always a welcome gift to any whiskey (or spirit) lover!
A Glass Apart by Fionnan O’Connor (€38.80) A fantastic book that was recently Written and published by renowned whiskey expert Fionnan O’Connor. It charts the enthralling history of pot still whiskey in Ireland as well as its exciting future.
Cocktail set (€38.18) Insulated cocktail shaker bartender kit. With stainless steel cocktail shaker, mixer, 350ml bar tool set with bamboo stand. Perfect for home bartending
Membership to the Irish Whiskey Society (€50) – A great site for the whiskey lover, novice or aficionado, the Irish Whiskey Society has locations in Dublin, Cork and Galway. Membership gives one access to tastings for 15 Euro, no matter how expensive the whiskey. One can also avail of the specially selected bottling of their own whiskey chosen each year by the committee. The society meets once a month to showcase a minimum of six whiskies each time.
Oak Whiskey Barrel (€51+)- An amazing gift for anyone who loves to experiment, we have made our own barrel aged Old Fashioned