Not long ago you may have noticed Beautiful Booze in Ireland alongside Jameson team members from all around the globe and some of the most influential bartenders from different regions. We were there to cover the annual Barrelmen’s Homecoming and have an amazing time, of course.
The adventure started in the wonderful town of Middleton where the Jameson distillery is located where we met with a few of the key team members on the ground alongside our great friends from Cocktails For You for an inside look into how it all works. The tour was really great and it went into the fascinating history of Jameson as will as talking about new innovation from the company. Seeing the massive pot stills in all their glory is certainly a sight to behold but once you step inside the marvelous still house you can’t wait to leave as the heat generated from these stills running around the clock is all but unbearable.
Jameson of course have an amazing welcome center in the core of Dublin for those who don’t have the time, but visiting The Jameson Experience in Middleton takes things to a whole new level. One of the best parts of the experience was visiting the training room, where the Jameson global brand ambassador took us through a comprehensive tasting of the Jameson line including the Black Barrel, Caskmates range and a few other rare tipples. Jameson’s experimental series were real crowd pleasers though I think as a daily nip the Caskmates IPA may have won everyone over with it’s slightly brighter palate.
The first evening was filled with laughter and smiles as we met the rest of the 104 global bartenders and team members at the distillery for cocktails and a surprise dinner along with some live music thanks to Daft Funk (what a name!). As we were all gathered in one of the storehouses listening to the welcome speech the curtain against the back wall spread and a long narrow dining hall was on display with the band at the far end that began belting out tunes and everyone’s excitement stepped it up another level. The meal was a fantastic assemblage of traditional Irish plates such as black pudding and Irish stew.
The following day we returned to the distillery once again with all of the crew for another wander around and a more in depth tasting. Throughout the day we learnt from different experts in different fields about not only the whiskey but the barrel making, using the right ingredients in a cocktail and managing a great cocktail list. Learning about the maturation process is fascinating and we were fortunate to visit one of the storehouses that was full of barrels (no photos allowed L), and that pleasantly pungent aroma of whiskey.
Listening to Oisin Davis and the lead botanist from the famous Ballymaloe Gardens speak about indigenous Irish ingredients, and how these are best used in a cocktail was really captivating. We then transferred into Elliot Ball’s discussion about creating a cocktail menu that is visually engaging, sustainable and profitable, which seemed to contain a lot of information about how to order dildo’s, but that’s a whole other story. Dildo’s aside, the talk was absolutely captivating and went into great detail about how to balance a great cocktails appearance and profitability without diminishing the quality; something that all bar managers struggle with in this social media era.
“Dinner” on day two was a little more of a food truck free for all and the distillery was turned into a backyard party where the attendees floated around playing pool, foosball and a whole lot of games while drinking delicious Jameson cocktails and juicy hamburgers. Then it was off to Cork for some late night shenanigans before our train ride the next day back into Dublin.
Things didn’t stop there though, they didn’t even slow down. Once we arrived in Dublin we were immediately transferred to Jameson’s secondary facility in the core of the city where we were taken on a more immersive and educational tour utilizing updated methods. It was a great contrast going from wandering through the old historic distillery to moving into the new facility where the tour was a guided tour with 3-4 rooms, each with wonderful video demonstrations and a comprehensive sensory room. Of course we finished with a comparative tasting of 3 different Whisk(e)y’s; American, Irish and Scottish.
We were then sent out into the world to explore Dublin and take in the wonderful city for a few hours before getting back together and heading to dinner at the absolutely stunning King’s Inn. Here the evening began with elegant champagne cocktails and moved slowly into a wonderful coursed dinner paired with Jameson cocktails. Special mention to Elliot Ball of The Cocktail Trading Co. who spent the majority of his day carving perfectly rectangular ice for the cocktails he prepared.
As the night came to an end so did the event, and the following day as all of the attendees were leaving for their long journey’s home we hung around and explored more of the Dublin bar scene with the Jameson team. But you’ll have to wait to read about our favorite Dublin bars in the next article.