Well, our first order of the day on Wednesday was to sleep in and we were highly successful, waking around noon (7am my normal local time — we’re at the DST crossover where America is on it before Ireland switches over to it). We perhaps should have been more ambitious but I’m too old to kill myself with tourism and the sleep was much needed.
When we finally got ourselves roused we went and found (more) pizza at a little Italian restaurant on the Smithfield Square. Of course we ordered fries (truffle and parmesan) with the pizza and shared it all. It was pouring and miserably windy, which Laura said she’d never seen before in all her months here — usually it’s one or the other. I refused to take responsibility for bringing it with me from Kansas! In any case, it was perfect to get out of the weather and snarf down some good hot food.
After that, the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street was basically a block over and around the corner. Again, it was pouring the whole way over but at least that time it wasn’t far away. We went in and signed up for the basic tour, a little less than half an hour from the time we got there, which gave us some time to look around the front room, take pictures, and for Laura to get a special edition bottle with the name of her sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law for their wedding gift. At the shop they were nice enough to hold it so that she wouldn’t have to manage it for the tour — plus we were definitely coming back to the gift shop afterwards!
The tour was fantastic. Our guide, Eoin, was from Kilkenny, and wanted to be sure we could understand him, but he was quite practiced and it was no trouble at all and completely delightful to listen to him. Also he was gorgeous so that didn’t hurt our feelings at all.
The tour was about half an hour. The first ten minutes were a history of the distillery and the Jameson family, with reference to some of the trials and successes throughout the past hundred plus years. We all sat or stood in a little round room with a big table in the center, and above the table was a hanging display of books, kettle, and other artifacts from the history of the distillery. The talk was like magic, because everything was done with projected lights right onto the table, and however Eoin was controlling what came up when, I couldn’t spot it. (Wizardry, I assume.)
After that we moved to a room where we learned all about the distilling process. We clustered around little tables that were workstations with items that went from the very barley to the aging process. Eoin invited us to taste the malted barley, and the woman across from us muttered something about how surely they changed it out between tour groups — Laura and I were not convinced and declined. We were invited to sniff the spirits at different concentrations. The first was rather like something I would clean my bathroom with and the second smelled deliciously drinkable — though Eoin recommended against it as the concoction in front of us was about 89% alcohol.
There were also clear glass bottles that showed how the color changed over the aging process. And Eoin explained about the Angel’s Share (that which evaporates over time) and the Devil’s Cut (that which soaks into the casks.
Finally we got to the actual taste testing part of the trip, where we tried Jameson’s, a blended Scotch that I can’t specifically remember, and Kentucky Johnny Walker black. Each was distilled a different number of times and Eoin explained how that changed the flavor. Something about where the heat hits you: belly, chest, throat. I don’t know, they were all enjoyable although out of the three the Jameson’s was my favorite.
Then we got our free cocktail at the Daily Grog stop, where Laura and I both opted for the ginger lime whiskey since we’d just tried it straight a moment before. We sat at the bar and made fun of the two year old who was sitting on the other side of the bar. (I’m not kidding.)
We had vague plans to go to Penney’s (local TJ Maxx, kind of, except the local TJ Maxx is called TK Maxx and… anyway it has clothes and other stuff but it’s not JC Penney’s, look, just try to keep up, it’s different okay?) But when we left Jameson’s it was still raining, and the wind was blowing in all the directions, and it was generally pretty miserable. And the Cat Lounge that we passed was by appointment only, so we couldn’t even take a break to pet some cats.
We ended up going back to Laura’s room and beginning a truly epic RuPaul’s Drag Race binge, ordering Pizza Hut (don’t worry there were chips (Americans read: fries) on the side so, Irish potatoes), and staying warm and dry for the rest of the night.