Perspective

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Yesterday morning, the 6.45am train from Midleton to Cork was cancelled without warning. When I contacted Irish Rail, they informed me that this was because a driver rang in sick. I was fuming – and soaking wet, as it was pissing down. I didn’t bother complaining, reminding myself that this is yet another example of why people in Ireland don’t use public transport as much as they should.

Then today on the 5.15pm train from Cork to Midleton, a young man boarded in a motorized wheelchair. He struggled to get up the ramp and then had to stay in the middle of the carriage as there wasn’t enough space for him. At Carrigotwhill, the driver came and placed the ramp so he could disembark, and was about to go back and drive off again when a passenger pointed out that the lift for disabled passengers was locked, meaning the young man had to get back on the train via the ramp once again and stay on until the train went to Midleton and then returned to Carrigtwohill via the other platform, thus adding about 20 minutes and no small amount of humiliation to his journey.

Perspective is important – the train not showing up in the morning and me getting wet is not a big deal. A disabled person being forced to endure something as tedious and completely avoidable as what happened this evening is a big deal. There is no excuse, and as long as Irish Rail continue to make ridiculous mistakes like this, nobody in Ireland will willingly pay for their service.

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Festivus is no longer for the rest of us it seems. Looks like ’12 pubs’ is now more ’12 pubes’, aimed solely at the underage drinker. They are welcome to it:

Ugh.

 

McGregor’s Legacy

To "The fighting Irish" 🍀😄 #MidletonRare #featherweightchampion

A post shared by Orlagh Hunter (@orlaghhunter) on

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Conor McGregor toasts his win over Aldo and ‘the Irish running the game’ with a Barry Crockett Legacy.

Conor McGregor, Lorenzo Fertitta toasts whiskey after UFC 194 (Video)

PR eschewing

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Few people have any real idea what public relations actually entails. I certainly didn’t until I managed to blag my way into a summer internship in a high-profile firm in 2001. It was a great experience – it was a well-established Dublin-based company that mostly dealt with luxury brands and business-to-consumer stuff. It was also quite the education – up to that point I had no clue how to even answer a phone properly. Thankfully on the first day someone took the time to tell me that picking up the phone and yawping ‘hullo’ down the phone was simply not the done thing. I somehow mastered answering the phone in a semi-professional manner, and a few other basic tasks – I was basically Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada, only with a flat east Cork accent.

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During my time with the firm I got to work with and meet lots of great people, but learned early on that it’s not all smiles and sunshine. PR agencies are the firewall that protects the client from the media-driven outrage-athon, and they get little thanks for it. So always be nice to the PR firm. And I’m not just saying that because I got this in the post today:

I first met the guys from Burrell PR around this time last year when they helped organise the broadcast of Sean Moncrieff’s Movies and Booze on Newstalk down in the distillery in Midleton; you can read my coverage of the event here. The focus there was also on this great drink. Redbreast was the first pot still whiskey I tried and it is still one of my favourite whiskeys. As Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett describes it, it’s Christmas cake in a glass – stewed winter fruits, toasted nuts and oak, and that rich warm glow, a velvet thickness that just wraps itself around you. If you are looking for a gift for the whiskey fan – be they novice or nerd – Redbreast is a great, affordable option; at 65 yoyo, it is actually great value for money… in whiskey terms, at least. Again, I’m not just saying that because I got a bottle of it as a present. And anyway, I don’t think a post about whiskey on Ireland’s least successful blog qualifies as ‘leveraged coverage by a key influencer’ or even makes me as a ‘bribe unit‘. But as today is my last day off before nine days straight working in one of the busiest A&Es in the country, it really did lift my spirits. So thank you.

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Waters of life

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The Finnish language has no gender. That is to say, its pronouns are gender neutral and the language completely lacks grammatical gender. One example is the word ‘han’ – a gender neutral word that means both he and she, meaning that when relating a story about a boy and girl on a date, you have to be extra careful when relating who said and what and to whom. The Finns themselves would say that this facet of their incredibly complex language has led to one of the most equal societies in Europe. And they may be right. Sometimes it can be see just how gender-codified our world is. I see it daily in my work – patients will address male nurses as ‘doctor’ and female doctors as ‘nurse’. Granted, it is mainly the older patients – the same ones who occasionally call me doctor or even ‘Father’. But we gender codify everything – jobs, films, books, breeds of dog, and even food and drink. Which brings me, as almost everything does, to whiskey.  

The whiskey scene is completely gender polluted – go to almost any event and it will be packed with young male hipsters or old ‘George-from-Glenroe’ types (I’m the latter). You may see the odd wife or girlfriend, but overall, they are the minority – recent statistics suggest that globally women make up just 25% of whiskey drinkers. It is a fantastic drink, not just because of its incredible complexity and depth, but also because it is innately Irish – it is a travesty that more than half the population might be slow to try it because it is seen as ‘a man’s drink’. But joining a whiskey society can seem daunting, as they often bear a passing resemblance to a Star Trek convention.

So the River Lee Hotel is trying to change that. They held a whiskey-tasting evening specifically aimed at women in the surrounds of their beautiful hotel, a stone’s throw from the old Crosses Green and North Mall distilling sites.

DKANE 03/12/2015 REPRO FREE Distiller Karen Cotter pictured toasting the inaugural cultural Winter Whiskey Club masterclass ‘Woman and Whiskey’ at the River Lee Hotel. The River Lee Winter Whiskey Club celebrated its inaugural session with a special masterclass entitled ‘Women & Whiskey’ led by female distiller Karen Cotter. Gathered with Cotter was a largely female audience who experienced a tasting flight of Ireland’s finest whiskeys on the night, including Redbreast 12 year old, Greenspot, Jameson Black Barrel and Powers 12 year old. Karen Cotter, distiller at the Microdistillery at the Jameson Experience Midleton, which is part of Irish Distillers, said: “Jameson has led the current surge in popularity of Irish whiskey – we’ve grown from less than 500,000 cases in the mid-1990s to 5 million cases this year. Jameson’s signature smooth taste profile, Irish character and authenticity have won legions of fans globally and we have effectively communicated with consumers through marketing properties such as film and St. Patrick’s Day. Ultimately, it’s the taste of the product that secures its success and future potential – and we’ve got that in spades across our whole portfolio.” Research reveals that women make up just 25 per cent of whisky drinkers worldwide*, but that number is increasing as cocktail culture becomes embedded in society and the appreciation of provenance and taste grows. Woman are joining the ranks of self-confessed whiskey aficionados such as Christina Hendricks and Lady Gaga, who credits Jameson for helping her song writing. The River Lee has a number cultural events planned for the Winter Whiskey Club in the New Year including Whiskey & Culture with Sean O’Riordan, Whiskey & Fashion with the Irish Year of Design and Whiskey & Music with Triskal Arts Centre and Other Voices. For more information on upcoming Winter Whiskey events at the River Lee or to make a reservation visit www.doylecollection.com/hotels

The event was hosted by Karen Cotter, above, currently master distiller of the micro-distillery in Midleton. She guided the audience through the classic Redbreast 12 year old, Jameson Black Barrel, Powers 12 year old – and the wonderful Green Spot, allegedly the biggest hit with female drinkers.  

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Those in the distilling trade say it’s because Green Spot has a lightness, a fresh, almost-menthol like finish that goes over well. However, the suggestion that the female palate needs a lighter whiskey is ridiculous – women have been scientifically proved to have a better sense of taste than men, so they should get even more from one of the big hitters like Powers John’s Lane or cask-strength Redbreast.  In fact, one of the marketing team at Jameson told me she believed Green Spot was a hit with women simply because it looks like a bottle of wine. 

Anyway, enough mansplaining – here’s the blurb:

The River Lee Winter Whiskey Club celebrated its inaugural session with a special masterclass entitled ‘Women & Whiskey’ led by female distiller Karen Cotter.  Gathered with Cotter was a largely female audience who experienced a tasting flight of Ireland’s finest whiskeys on the night, including Redbreast 12 year old, Greenspot, Jameson Black Barrel and Powers 12 year old.

Karen Cotter, distiller at the Microdistillery at the Jameson Experience Midleton, which is part of Irish Distillers, said: “Jameson has led the current surge in popularity of Irish whiskey – we’ve grown from less than 500,000 cases in the mid-1990s to 5 million cases this year.  Jameson’s signature smooth taste profile, Irish character and authenticity have won legions of fans globally and we have effectively communicated with consumers through marketing properties such as film and St. Patrick’s Day.  Ultimately, it’s the taste of the product that secures its success and future potential – and we’ve got that in spades across our whole portfolio.”

Research reveals that women make up just 25 per cent of whisky drinkers worldwide*, but that number is increasing as cocktail culture becomes embedded in society and the appreciation of provenance and taste grows.  Woman are joining the ranks of self-confessed whiskey aficionados such as Christina Hendricks and Lady Gaga, who credits Jameson for helping her song writing.

The River Lee has a number cultural events planned for the Winter Whiskey Club in the New Year including Whiskey & Culture with Sean O’Riordan, Whiskey & Fashion with the Irish Year of Design and Whiskey & Music with Triskal Arts Centre and Other Voices.

For more information on upcoming Winter Whiskey events at the River Lee or to make a reservation visit www.doylecollection.com/hotels/the-riverleehotel.

Here are some pics from the event:

And if you think this entire post is just sexist nonsense, just be glad I didn’t go with any of these titles:

  • Drammer Queens
  • Pot stiletto
  • Whiskey whimen
  • And so on.

As far as I’m concerned, the more people drinking whiskey, the better for both consumers and the industry. Here’s to diversity.

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Waterfordist division of labour

That is the Twitter equivalent of those montages in the A-Team when BA transforms some old rusted car parts into a Black Hawk stealth chopper.

Mark Reynier’s crack team have taken an old Guinness brewery and turned it into a state-of-the-art distillery in a very short space of time, and are now ready to distill. It seems like only yesterday that the whisky world was asking ‘where the hell is Waterford?’ when Reynier resurfaced there, but since then he has put in place an incredibly detailed and transparent traceability system for his grain supply, and has deconstructed and reconstructed the brewery to suit his need – that need being, specifically, to bring some ‘mindfuckery’to Irish whiskey. But more than that, he is bringing honesty; no dressing up Cooley stock, no vagueness about sourcing grain, and a respect for the past without exploiting it; ie, no marketing bullshit. If he follows the Bruichladdich template, this will be about terroir, experimentation and hopefully the same wild spirit of adventure. And at least the weather is better than Islay.

Here’s a short film about what he has done in the sunny south east: