March is good for two things – St. Patrick’s Day and college basketball. Now, I’m the impatient sort of nominally Irish-American, so I spend the first two weeks of March counting the days until the ritual of heavy drinking, debauchery, and cultural celebration commences. But it dawned on me recently – in this go-get ’em, fast-paced world of USA 2016, I shouldn’t be expected to actually wait for official holidays – they start when I want! I just needed an excuse, a vehicle for my preemptive celebration.
Enter the nice folks at Glendalough Distillery company who earlier this week invited me to a showcase of their products at Jack Rose, which was kind enough to mix up a battery of four cocktails with Glendalough products. Per their uber-Gaelic website, Glendalough is Ireland’s first craft distillery and works to preserve and celebrate the tradition of Irish distilling. Obviously, the stage was set for a good time with plenty of drinks, food, and a nice view of downtown DC from Jack Rose’s patio deck. Oh, and the Glendalough team brought a game of “Rings” which is like a miniaturized version of horseshoe meets darts. When a bunch of Irish and Americans are throwing metal objects and drinking whiskey, it’s bound to be a party.
But let’s face it, centuries of whiskey history and impossibly emerald countrysides can only go only get you so far – the proof is in the pudding! I had a belt or two of the Glendalough 7 and 13 yrs neat; while I’m by no means an expert, I can tell a serious whiskey when I drink one. Glendalough goes down with a resonant, long-lasting burn that felt especially powerful compared to other variants I’ve had recently. This was a deep, creamy, smooth, oakey, spiced swallow that takes a few seconds to treasure as you sip, slowly. Good stuff!
So how does Glendalough do in cocktails? I started the party off with the “Double Barrel Mountain Tea” with Glendalough Double Barrel, Cocchi Di Torino, Irish-tea infused Dolin Blanc, Orange and Jerry Thomas bitters. This particular mix had an subtle organic, leafy taste that added interesting notes to the power of the whiskey. The Cocchi was an notable addition that contributed a slightly acidic note to the taste. A decent drink. Next, I fulfilled my fantasy of meeting a free-spirited Irish lass with the “Wild Irish Rose” with Glendalough 7 yr, Lemon Juice, Chamomile Mint Gomme Syrup, Teapot bitters, and sparkling rose. This was a really fascinating mix – the whiskey, lemon juice, and soft tea-ish mint flow early for a nice relaxing sensation, and the rose gives it an interesting pop/burn on the back end. A memorable, earthy one worth pondering while looking out over 18th street on a bustling spring evening.
My favorite drink of the evening was the “Wild Side Punch” with Glendalough Double Barrel, Olio Sacrum (Jeffrey Morgenthaler has a good article on this cool ingredient), Sweet Vermouth, Cynar, Green Tea, Lemon, and Angostura Bitters. This was a mouthful and a half – I thought the Glendalough along with the Cynar and Green Tea was a powerful combination, boozy power cut with organics and bitterness. Sort of like my personality. The sweet citrus of the Olio echoes on the back end, adding some sugar to the game. A hefty drink worth sipping slowly, I really enjoyed this one. The last drink was the “Lough and Key” with Glendalough 13 year, Amontillado Sherry, Tawny Port Wine, Green Chartreuse, and Angostura Bitters. This was a spicy little redhead with the sherry and wine adding this sort of lightly syrupy, poppy flavor that rides well on the particularly strong 13 year hit. I wasn’t a huge fan of the chartreuse flavor here though, but I digress. Good times and quality booze was on the menu for this St. Patrick’s Day pre-game, and thanks again to Jack Rose and Glendalough for having me!