I recently teamed up with the Gone Away Bar, The Tortilla Guy and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to do a taco and whisky pairing. I’ll upload a few photos in a couple of days but here was the idea behind the evening’s pairings:

Whisky: 51.7 - Come in from the Cold

Pairing method: Contrast

Pairing:Salmon Tostada, chipotle mayo and home cured salmon.

Idea: Although Bushmills is close to the sea it doesn’t have any maritime notes. It does have an intense fruity lightness. The idea here was to bring the sea to the distillery. A good introduction to those who haven’t taken part in a food & whisky pairing before.

Effectiveness: 7/10 


Whisky: 100.20 - Kermit’s kale knackwurst

Pairing method: Complement

Pairing:Vegan, mole árabes, dukkah and braised carrot.

Idea: This was crying out to be mirrored with sweetness, spices and Mexican/north African inspired flavours.

Effectiveness: 9/10 


Whisky: 36.147 - Midnight Contemplation

Pairing method: Contrast

Pairing:Chicken tinga tostada, avocado leaf and black beans.

Idea: I decided that the flavours were influenced by the woody jammy notes in the whisky. These matched very well to the crispness of the tostada, sweetness of the chicken and earthy qualities of the black beans. Each one alone had very mellow flavours but combined created an intense explosion.



Whisky: 70.28 - A Seashore Sunrise

Pairing method: Contrast and Complement

Pairing: Slow cooked beef brisket, salsa negra and onions.

Idea: Sometimes more is more! The idea here was to take the flavours and multiply them. This was the first real introduction of smoke to the evening, perfect to match with the syrupy smoky spicy flavour of the salsa negra. The sweetness of the white maize and the coastal sweetness of the whisky were perfect companions. This divided the group as the flavour combination was extremely intense.

Effectiveness: 10/10 for 70% of the guests 6/10 for the rest. My personal favourite.


Whisky: 10.146 - Sweet smoky succulent sensation

Pairing method: Contrast

Pairing: Mole poblano and mole árabes served with a bundle of warm tortillas, freshly pressed and grilled while the guests waited.

Idea: Festival whisky with the traditional festival food mole. The idea here was that the flavours are so intense that harmony is the only way to go. Chocolate and smoky whisky is almost a no brainer, so this was an easy pairing to set up but probably the most well loved and a great celebratory way to finish the evening.

Effectiveness: 10/10 My second favourite. 

We had a fantastic evening and we’re definitely going to do it again! Big up to everyone who was involved.



Waterford Distillery

I've just come back from Ireland and we had amazing weather... for a change. We also got to visit a very special distillery: Waterford Distillery. This is high-tech, state of the art stuff with two beautiful stills from Islay at the heart of it. Very impressive. Haven't heard of it yet? I bet you've heard of Mark Reynier the former head of Bruichladdich though. You mightn't know them as they haven't released any whiskey to date but flippin hell have they been busy and trust me you will know them very soon. First off, the guys we met there were brilliant, so a big cheers to Eamonn and Padraig for taking such care and time out of their day for us. I don't really know how to start explaining what this distillery is up to because they are doing so much and are more or less resetting the Irish Whisky industry or maybe even bringing it back to its roots. We've all heard of the Irish Whiskey Renaissance but I think this might be the start of the Irish Whiskey Revolution (I know, it's a pity they're not from Cork, but nobody's perfect). Another thing you might not know are the names of Irish barley farmers but you will in a few years, believe me. While we were there we got to try 3 kinds of new make from three different farms and I can safely say it's the first time I've seen an example of terroir or micro climate in Irish whiskey. One of them was being distilled while we were there. All three tasted completely different. Completely different. They ranged from super farmyard tasting to almost being a whisky as we know it but without any maturation. There has been talk going around recently about introducing a new kind of un-aged whiskey category for Ireland, one where there is no minimum time in the barrel. When I first heard it I was sceptical. Then I tried the new make in Waterford: It's already good, very good in fact - imagine what a little time in a decent barrel would do? I tried something there that even 12 months in a good barrel would transform into something fabulous! Imagine if it were possible to already buy this, rather than waiting the arbitrary 3 years? Well that's just my 2 cents and I'm definitely not saying that Waterford are the ones trying to introduce this system, I'm just super excited to try the final product. If even 1 % of the attention to detail I saw makes it to the first bottling we're all in for a good show. One thing I can tell you is this: These guys know what they're doing, so form an orderly line and get ready for something special.


PS I'll be one of the first in that line by the way.

PPS: It's founded on the site of a historic brewery so we got to see that too! My dad came along too, I'm sure you can guess from the photos who he is.





We have some great stuff planned for you in 2017, and I'll be uploading the dates, times, locations and themes very soon! But first this:

Lots of bad stuff about 2016 in the media but really if we take the time to look around us locally, spend time with our friends and family, maybe even enjoy the odd whisky I think you might see a different version of 2016. Think global act local, support your local dealer and spend time with the one you love! The whisky jack had a great year with all of you and I want to say thank you to all my guests, customers, partners and family without you there's no whisky jack! Can't wait for 2017, Gearóid.



Pickled and marinated mushrooms, onions & fennel


This is the recipe from the food pairing & whisky tasting. It’s originally a Jamie Oliver recipe that I’ve adapted. On the evening we had large jars but if you can you should use smaller ones because once a jar's been opened it will only last for a week in the fridge. It makes about 2 litres

pickling liquid:
1 litre cider or white wine vinegar
1 litre water
2 tablespoons sea salt

pickling marinade:
500 ml extra virgin olive oil 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 kg mixed mushrooms (cleaned) like chestnut, chanterelle shitake, enokitake - anything you like really just don’t use regular white mushrooms
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and sage

Make sure you sterilize your jars before you start. Bring all the pickling liquid ingredients to the boil in a large pan. Slice your vegetables any way you like, I normally use a mandolin on a thick setting. Like maybe 5mm to 10mm. You need to do this so as the flavours and pickling liquid will penetrate enough. Smaller pieces, like baby mushrooms or really small onions, can be left whole. 
Put the pickling marinade ingredients into a large bowl with the herbs and mix. 
Put the sliced vegetables in the boiling pickling liquid and leave for around 3 minute. Push them down to ensure they are all immersed. Lift the pieces out with a slotted spoon and place them into your bowl of pickling marinade and toss them together.
After 3minutes, put the hot vegetables and pickling marinade into your sterilized jars. Make sure you fill them to the top. Cover everything completely with the marinade and put the lids on tightly. 
Put the jars to one side until they're cool. Clean the outside of jars, attach sticky labels and write the date and the contents on them. Store the jars somewhere cool and dark - it's best to leave them for about two weeks before opening so the veg really gets to marinate well, but three days later is also fine. The longer you wait the better everything tastes.

If you want to make pickled onions & fennel then use the following instead of mushrooms:

500 g fennel bulbs and their tops
500 g of small mixed onions & shallots and 4 bay leaves



Food pairing and whisky

Next week I'm hosting a food pairing and I've been doing loads of research. Like loads!! Anybody who knows me knows how much I love food and this has been the most fun research I've done in a while. It's so interesting how the flavours change when you mix them together. It'S fascinating how you have flavour one and two, put them together and you have something completely new.

When the tasting has been and gone I'll let you know how it went and "publish" my findings.




We are close to finalising the menu for next week...

We are close to finalising the menu for next week because this time it's blended malts and a full dinner! Yeah! 

Tickets still available here:

Btw if you were one of the luck people who got a voucher for Christmas please contact us for booking details.