The water of life makes a great gift!

Let’s talk whiskey – I don’t know much about it to be honest but can hold a basic conversation.

Many years ago, I was tasked with organising a trip to Scotland for a group of people. On my pre-trip to organise and book activities, I also visited a whiskey distillery just outside of Edinburgh – I just wanted to make sure that guests would have a great experience. The team was awesome and explained the malting process and how much it influences the flavours.

When it came to tasting, I tried hard to keep my poker face (I don’t have one) and pretend it was lovely! Listening to the guests on the trip – it was an experience.

The group was even able to blend their own whiskey.

And here is where I learned a lot. Not every whiskey is equal. Some ‘distillers’ buy the raw whiskey and create a blend which then matures.

In Ireland we have both – distillers and blenders. When buying whiskey, make sure to buy it (if you like to get serious about it) from a shop like Bradley’s Off-License. Michael Creedon knows a thing or two (actually he knows a lot more than that) about whiskey.

I went last year to get a nice whiskey for Mr T and as I still know nothing about the amber liquid, I asked Michael for recommendations. I was clever enough to have asked Mr T some questions prior to my visit – he loves his Paddy and got a liking for West Cork Whiskey.

With that snippet of knowledge, Michael was able to give me the perfect bottle of whiskey. The West Cork Very Rare Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a single cask release especially for Bradley’s. Michael Creedon went to the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and chose the cask to celebrate the 170th anniversary of Bradley’s store last year with the limited edition.

Mr T loved it when he opened the bottle last Christmas and to ensure that I can repeat the gifting success, I asked Michael to keep a bottle back for me. The colour is dark amber, the aroma slightly honeyed, the texture is smooth but still says hello on the way down and the flavour shows slight tones of caramel without being sweet.

And yes, I have actually tasted the whiskey and although it didn’t convert me to being a whiskey connoisseur, I understand why Michael Creedon is proud of the liquid gold and why Mr T had a big smile on his face when the Easter bunny got him a new bottle.

I am not sure how many bottles Bradley’s has left – you might want to contact him rather quickly if you want to get your hand on one. With a few spare euro you can also join the Cask Club at the West Cork Distillery and have your very own whiskey just like Michael did.

It would make a lovely wedding gift, or to celebrate the birth of a child - send bottles my way!

Irish whiskey is said to be smoother than its Scottish or American cousin due to triple distilling and not using peat (apart from just a few distilleries). Looking at export statistics, Irish whiskey is loved all over the planet (West Cork Whiskey exports to over 70 countries) and scoops up awards everywhere.

A good starter whiskey would be Red Earl by Kinsale Spirit. It is very smooth and has mellow flavours but if in doubt, Michael will be able to advise you.

As always, drink responsibly.