Think about the worst experience you ever had with alcohol. The warm beer from the shelf? The first sip of vodka stolen from a family party? Maybe even the raw astringent taste of a cheap whiskey? Where were you? what were you doing? I still wince when I think of that first sip of straight vodka…..
Now think again. What’s the best experience you’ve ever had with alcohol? The first creamy pint of Guinness after touching back on Irish soil after a stint away? The champagne after a celebration? Perhaps, if you’re like me, then it’s one of the plethora of times I’ve been lucky enough to taste some amazing whiskies! Whatever the occasion or your poison of choice may have been I’d wager you weren’t alone and were most likely with friends or family. I bet it’s not only the spirit or the beer that made the moment memorable but also the people and the surroundings. For me, alcohol is a social experience and while I’ve often been known to slink off somewhere quiet to make up a few tasting notes and to try really analysing a whiskey but 9/10 times it’s something with friends or a group.
I’ve been privileged enough to try some outstanding spirits: Special edition Laphroaig, Powers from the 60’s and 70’s, Dungourney 1964, the list goes on. One of the only reasons I’ve had the chance to taste these extremely rare whiskies is the fact that I’m a member of the Cork Whiskey Society. The society comprises a group of like minded individuals who, under the guidance of a sage like committee, pool our resources together and manage to get our hands on some really excellent whiskies, as well as exclusive access to some really special events – think private distillery tours and whiskies that aren’t for general release. The wisdom and passion that everyone in the society shows for whiskey is undoubtedly a motivating factor in my own love of the spirit and makes it really easy to see why there’s such a renaissance in Irish whiskey! That renaissance is being built on the passion and drive of motivated and enthusiastic whiskey drinkers like you’ll meet at society tastings.
Every month the society gets together for different themed tastings (different regions, countries, brands etc.). Occasionally there’s outings and there’s always opportunity to discuss new whiskey trends, whiskies people have recently had and a chance to further your own knowledge from listening to many of the guest speakers and product ambassadors who come to visit – West Cork distillery, Bruichladdich, Midleton and Laphroaig being just four of the most recent examples. Without the society I certainly wouldn’t have tasted half of the whiskies I had, nor would I have half the knowledge!
At any tasting there’s usually a vast wealth of experience and passion gathered in the room. From the professionals in the distillery business, the off and on-license trades to the enthusiastic amateurs like myself and there’s a always a few new recruits throwing in the head in order to see what it’s really all about. With the increase in Irish whiskey production and all the new bottlings that are going on sale, it would cost a fortune to try and taste everything that’s out there yourself. My best advice to resident Corkonians and adoptive Corkonians alike with any interest in the amber liquid is to step inside and allow the oracles of the Cork Whiskey Society guide you through the world of whiskey.
So, what’s the lowdown? How do I get in on this amazing world of whiskey I hear you ask? Well if you’re in the Cork area then check out the website corkwhiskeysociety.wildapricot.org and see when the next tasting is happening. Each tasting costs about €15 for members and €25 for non-members so with membership at a mere €50 the more events you attend throughout the year, the more you save. Simple economics really!
The guys are on insta @: cork_whiskey_club and twitter @CorkWhiskeySoc , check them out!