In this 5 part series Stuart Irvine tells us all about his trip to The Irish Whiskey Academy.
Towards the end of 2016 I was lucky enough to be invited to assist in judging a social media competition hosted by Powers Whiskey Northern Ireland.
The “Whiskey Wisdom Distilled Challenge” focussed on bringing together bars from across Northern Ireland, through the power of social media, and have them complete a series of challenges that allowed them to showcase, not only the Powers Whiskey brand, but also their own business.
The competition resulted in entries being posted on social media, mostly Twitter, and, through the creativity of the teams involved, we were treated to a range of entries that varied from bordering on the professional to the downright hilarious, and I mean that in a good way
The competition tested the teams on their knowledge of the Powers brand and their ability to showcase Powers whiskey in a range of interesting scenarios and creative cocktails.
In the end however, there could only be one winner and, after a hard fought contest, the team from The Bullitt Hotel, Belfast came out victorious.
The prize for the winning team was the chance to be treated to the full two day “Enthusiasts Package” at the exclusive Irish Whiskey Academy in Midleton Distillery, County Cork.
In a twist, that I was not expecting, I too was to head down to the Irish Whiskey Academy, to take part in the two day course with the winning team, as way of thanks for helping with the judging but also to take in the experience and bring it to you all through these words you are reading.
On 27th February I made my way to the National Bar, Belfast where I was to meet the winning team who would also become my fellow “Enthusiasts” for the days ahead. The Bullitt team of Frankie, Alex and Conor were ready and waiting at The National and we were soon joined by Sarah from Dillon Bass and Joe Magowan, Powers very own Irish whiskey ambassador.
As we travelled the 250+ miles to Midleton Distillery we had plenty of time to get acquainted and discuss our thoughts on what lay ahead. As I spoke with the Bullitt team it was clear that they each had a keen interest in finding out more about the Powers whiskey brand and the way in which it’s whiskeys are created at the Midleton Distillery.
Some of the highlights mentioned, that the team were looking forward to, included the blending exercise and a visit to the Midleton archives.
The discussion continued and as a result of the conversation, and I expect a little excitement, the journey seemed to pass us by in no time and before we knew it we had arrived at our temporary home for the next two nights, the five star Castlemartyr Resort, County Cork.
I have to say though that staying in this exquisite hotel was not just a perk that came with this competition, as anyone who partakes in the “Enthusiasts Package” shall also get the chance to indulge in this fine retreat.
After a long, albeit enjoyable journey, we were swiftly checked into our rooms and allowed a short time to relax before dinner in the resort’s Italian restaurant and, of course, a few Powers whiskey nightcaps.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of this 5 part series.
Words by Stuart Irvine aka Whisky Belfast.