Day 63: Malt Fault

Today, Midleton is probably best known as the home of Jameson Irish Whiskey.  The Cork Distillers Ltd. facility in Midleton opened in 1825.  Jameson production moved there after the original Jameson facility in Dublin closed.

The distilled spirits known as Irish whiskey can be traced back to the twelfth century. The oldest surviving licensed distillery in the world is the Old Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim in Ulster, which dates back to 1608.

Briefly, the whiskey-making process involves soaking grain (traditionally barley) in water until the seeds begin to germinate. Once the grains have begun to produce sugars, but before they begin to sprout, the mixture is heated to stop the germination process. In Ireland, the heating process is done in ovens; in Scotland it is done over open peat fires giving Scotch whisky its distinct smoky taste. The product of this process is called malt. The malt is ground and put in vats with water and yeast to ferment. The beer that is produced by the fermentation process is then distilled to make whiskey.

Irish whiskey is distilled three times; Scotch whisky is distilled twice; Bourbon is distilled once. The most expensive whiskeys are made from pure barley malt. Less expensive whiskeys are usually made from blends of barley and more abundant (and thus cheaper) grains, such as wheat. The whiskey is then aged in wooden casks, often ones used previously for sherry. The whiskey is often enhanced by additives (usually trade secrets) that give each brand its distinct flavor.

Laetitia and her group did a walkabout in Midleton, followed by a distillery tour and whiskey tasting. During the tour, Laetitia overheard an argument between a father and his adult son that centered on the son’s poor taste in liquor. It was the source of the limerick of the day.

Said a Midleton dad, “It’s a shame, son
And there’s none but yourself for to blame, Son
Drinking bar Scotch and Bourbon
Is mighty disturbin’
In the town where they make pure-malt Jameson.”

Day 24: Bootleg

On this tour day, Laetitia and her group went to Waterville, which is noted for its world-class golf course. As Laetitia had expected, most of today’s tour members were golfers who had joined the tour specifically because they wanted to play the Waterville course. Laetitia wasn’t a golfer, so while her group was on the course, she drank Irish coffee at the clubhouse and read a novel.

Later, when her group joined her for after-game drinks, they circulated with some of the local crowd and she heard a story that was the basis for the day’s limerick.

Said a farmer from near Waterville
In defense of his barley-malt still
“Bootleg brandy or gin
Would be a grave sin
But I can’t afford pure malt Bushmill.”