When you’re me and you love cocktails and spirits, and someone writes you to ask if you’d like to have drinks with an Irishman who makes craft whiskey? Well…you go. I was intrigued for sure.
The Glendalough Distillery was started and is run by five friends from Wicklow and Dublin with a deep passion for reviving craft distilling in Ireland. They also like each other and drinking, which is helpful, of course. Each of the guys – Barry, Donal, Brian, Kevin and Gary – brings something to the table, whether it’s in producing, selling, marketing, etc. That way, every part of the business is covered. A little history lesson: In the 18th & 19th centuries, there were over 200 licensed distilleries in Ireland and along with countless unlicensed ones which produced diverse styles of poitín, whiskey, gin and even absinthe. Until recently, that dropped to a small handful. So, Glendalough Distillery is now part of a resurgence of this great heritage.
I met up with Donal O’Gallachoir of Glendaough Irish Whiskey on a quiet Monday night at gypsy brewer Brian Strumke‘s wonderful Brewers Hill bar, Of Love and Regret. I hadn’t been there in so long. I love that place. I was greeted by this handsome guy with a thick Irish accent and immediately liked him. The bartender, Josh, made me a cocktail called Jumping Through Hoops with Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey, Aperol, Cocchi Americano and orange. Love at first sip.
Donal is warm and friendly and knows a hell of a lot about whiskey. He is after all, a self-professed whiskey geek. As we sat and had drinks and snacks (delicious charcuterie and mini-tacos) I took four pages of notes and by the end, I felt like I knew a little more about whiskey – and I still have so much to learn. Here are a few little take-aways from my little whiskey session:
Glendalough means “Valley of the Lock” and is pronounced Glenda-Lock.
Their branding features St. Kevin, who was born into nobility, but turned his back on it, making his own way – a rebel.
They use copper stills, originally designed by Aeneas Coffey in 1830.
The number 13 is lucky in Ireland.
When I asked my nerdy questions about adding water or ice or not, using it in a cocktail, etc…Donal said, “Amy, you should enjoy it however you’d like. The whiskey is yours.” Good answer. Glendalough also makes four botanical gins each year, which sadly are not yet available in the States. Maybe I will have to go to the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland to try that myself. I’m a Fitzpatrick, after all, and I’ve always dreamed of visiting the land of my mother’s ancestors. For gin? Yeah, that might happen. Look for Glendalough at your favorite bars around Baltimore – many are carrying it. And if not, ask them to get it. It’s really delicious.