Irish whiskey gets its due with expansive new list at Claddagh
Claddaghâ€™s Brewery District location will host a whiskey dinner on March 24. The $50 ticket includes a tasting of eight higher-end whiskeys and a three-course meal.
Photo by Tessa Berg
When Gary McGinn became a barman in Ireland in the late ’90s, the trade required a four-year apprenticeship, and his training included stints in distilleries. Now the general manager of Claddagh Irish Pub in the Brewery District, McGinn’s passion for his homeland’s native spirit is carefully annotated on a new menu of 32 Irish whiskeys.
Wait—there are 32 Irish whiskeys?
“People will definitely be surprised,” McGinn says. “People don’t even think Irish whiskey has single malts—they only know Jameson.”
McGinn’s menu was unveiled in Columbus’ two locations last month; eventually it will be rolled out to all 15 pubs in the Claddagh chain. It’s a great introduction to pot-still whiskey, which is Ireland’s signature style: typically made with malted and unmalted barley, without the peat that distinguishes Scotch.
“A lot of the smokiness of Scotch will hide the taste of the whiskey,” McGinn says. “With pot-still whiskey, you’re actually tasting the proper whiskey. There’s nothing there that’s hiding it.”
One rarity on the list is Powers 12-Year Special Reserve ($8). The brand is no longer available in Ohio, but McGinn got his hands on the last eight bottles in the state.
Redbreast 15-Year ($15) is also unusual, and much different from the more typical pot-still style of Redbreast 12-Year ($8).
Most indulgent is Midleton Very Rare ($25), which McGinn says is the best Irish whiskey you can buy in Ohio. (Even better bottles apparently don’t reach these shores.) “Midleton has a bit of bourbon taste to it, which is kind of cool for a pot-still whiskey, and it’s very, very smooth.”
If you’re in a sipping mood on St. Patty’s Day, Irish whiskey fuels a wide range of cocktails.
* Tipperary Cider ($9) is Fado’s version of a Moscow mule, made with Bushmills, Magners cider, lime, bitters and ginger beer. fadoirishpub.com
* Celtic Twilight ($6.50), with Jameson, Baileys and Frangelico, is a sweet and creamy chaser after an order of Dublin Village Tavern’s signature Irish Egg Rolls. thedublinvillagetavern.com
* The Blending Pot ($12) is DeepWood’s sublime marriage of Irish and Scotch whiskeys. Made with Redbreast and Lagavulin, it’s slightly smoky, with a dry, citrusy finish. deepwoodrestaurant.com