Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin

When you think of Jamesons whiskey, what does it remind you of? For me, it used to be my Dad - a bottle of Jameson was always the go-to present for Fathers Day. But now, I just can't get Rihanna's lyrics out my head - "Oh let the Jameson sink in, I drink to that, yeah-yeah!" Anyway...

After our walk around St Stephen's Green Park, we found a hop on/hop off bus and enjoyed a good hour in the sunshine listening to the most hilarious guide we'd had so far. He was joking at the traffic whilst being very informative - ticking all the boxes. We drove past Kilmainham Gaol and around Pheonix Park as part of the bus tour, and then pulled up at The Old Jameson Distillery just minutes before our tour started - phew! We pre-booked our tour on their website the weekend before we went to Dublin as I'd heard from friends who had been that it gets quite busy. When we'd arrived there was a 50 minute wait for the next available tour so I'm glad we booked!

The tour starts in a cinema room with a short film about the history of John Jameson, how he began distilling whiskey and it's roots in Dublin. After the film our tour guide, Niall, asked for volunteers. We weren't 100% sure what we were volunteering for, but Dad and I shot our hands up! We were given green tubes with Jamesons logos on and told to keep hold of them for later... We headed out of the cinema and began our walking tour of the Old Jameson Distillery.

Niall was great. He was funny and answered some tricky questions from others in our 15-person group. We learnt the whole process of making whiskey, and triple distillation which Jamesons is renowned for. The process of distillation smoothes the whiskey, giving it an absolutely gorgeous taste.

The most interesting thing I learnt was that different Jamesons whiskeys - for example the traditional Irish label compared to the gold reserve - have a change in taste mostly because of which barrels they're stored in. Some may be kept in old Porteguese port barrels for 12 years whilst others kept in Italian sherry barrels for 5 years and then moved to different barrels for the rest of their time. The residue of what was kept in them originally gets stored into the wood, and when new liquids are put in these flavours start to come out and make a difference to the finished product.

Our tour concluded in the one place a whiskey distillery tour should finish - the bar. Mum and I enjoyed a Jamesons with ginger and lime (much like a Light & Stormy) whilst Ash and dad enjoyed theirs on the rocks. Those of us who volunteered were offered to take a seat at the back of the bar for a whiskey tasting! We compared the smooth, triple distilled Jamesons Irish whiskey to American Jack Daniels (single distilled) and Scotch Johnnie Walker (double distilled). Tasting them all together really does show you the differences in distillation - I don't think anything compares to Jamesons! And the green tubes? They were to put our 'Official Irish Whiskey Taster' certificates in!

After the tour we headed to the gift shop in the foyer where I picked up some whiskey fudge to share back at the office. JJ's Bar is a small cocktail bar at the front of the distillery and I wish we stopped for a drink, but we were pretty hungry and it was probably not an great idea for Dad and I to drink any more whiskey on an empty stomach... The cocktails looks amazing though and I'll be trying a few of their recipes soon!

I really preferred this tour to the Guinness one. The whole distillery was smaller, more informative about the making processes and of course, I got to drink a lot of whiskey!

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here! Rosie x

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A stroll in St Stephen's Green Park, Dublin

The sun was shining and we were in a beautiful city, all we wanted to do was walk. From the top of Grafton Street, we crossed the road and headed into St Stephen's Green Park. Local's were biking around or sunbathing whilst tourists (like us!) were snapping photos of the swans and their signets.

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here! Rosie x

Monday, 24 June 2013

Grafton Street, Dublin

Grafton Street is in the heart of Dublin, famous for it's buskers and affluent shoppers. Even Damien Rice used to sing here! There were live statues, musicians, sand sculptures, bubble blowers - all sorts. Back in 2008, Grafton Street was the 5th most expensive street in the world to shop on, hence all the buskers. Hey - if people are shopping there, then they've got money to spare, right?

At the bottom of Grafton Street is the world-famous Molly Malone statue, the muse behind the unofficial anthem of Dublin. Tale says that she used to trapes around the streets selling cockles and mussels by day, but preferred a 'different sort' of job by night. Nevertheless, Ms Malone is the spirit of Dublin and features in traditional songs and names of pubs.

In Dublin's Fair City
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheel'd her wheel barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels
 alive, alive o!

Amazing sand sculpture

As we wandered up Grafton Street in the blazing sun late on Sunday morning, we realised one thing was missing. Ice cream. We couldn't find any, but we did find Gino's Gelato, and oh my gosh it was amazing!

Gelato is so much creamier than ice cream, and it has less fat. Winner!

Ash went for white chocolate and I chose Oreo. It was so lovely! I wish we went back to try a few other flavours - they had bubble gum, passion fruit, coffee swirl and lemon cake as well as a LOT more.

My Dad is a gem at spotting things I would have missed, like this plaque about Chris de Burgh. Everyone knows 'Lady in Red' right??

Although we didn't spend any money on Grafton Street except for gelato, you felt like you were walking amongst the wealthy. The stores were beautifully decorated, the streets were buzzing, everything was in bloom and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. A perfect morning perusing another snippet of Dublin.

Mum and I

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here! Rosie x

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Wandering Around Campus - Trinity College, Dublin

On our second morning in Dublin, we took the hop on, hop off bus to Trinity College, home of the Book of Kells. Trinity College is Ireland's oldest University and graduated Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde.

The campus itself is full of lovely architecture and the morning sunshine made for a pleasant walk around the grounds. Unfortunately the line for the Book of Kells was already wrapped around the courtyard, and so we didn't get to go in.

We were so lucky with the weather the whole time we were there. Just check out the blue sky! That's with absolutely no colour enhancement! When we booked a long weekend in Dublin we weren't expecting to come back with a sun tan.

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here! Rosie x

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Dublin By Night

The Liffey / Cocktail Bar / The Spire at Night / Guardian of Taxi Drivers

Here's just a few snaps from our first night in Dublin. We drank at the Temple Bar Inn in the Temple Bar area of the city as they had some brilliant musicians in there. Afterwards we crossed the cobbled street and watched some more musicians before wandering down O'Connell Street to our hotel.  At some point in the early hours we ended up in a funny little bar with a cover band and cocktails... I don't remember much after... except almost walking in to this cased Jesus at the top of a taxi rank. Apparently, he's the Guardian of Taxi Drivers!

Drinks with Mum

Cocktail bar with Ash

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here! Rosie x

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Love All, Serve All : Hard Rock Cafe Dublin

If you haven't been to a Hard Rock Cafe before, let me sum it up for you. It's a chain of restaurants/bars full of music memorabilia which serves amazing cocktails and even better burgers! I love Hard Rocks, a lot. When I first visited the London cafe I was in awe. Our server was way past retirement age with perfectly permed curls and a bomber jacket covered in pins. She was a blur of pastel colours, just like you'd imagine Frenchy to be when she got older... (hey, Grease was released a long time ago, for all I know it was Frenchy!) The walls were adorned with incredible items from musics past and the Vaults below hide the icing on the cake - Jimi Hendrix's first left handed flying V, Elton John's credit card with his own face on, Madonna's bustier from her Blonde Ambition tour, handwritten Beatles lyrics by John Lennon (complete with coffee cup stain) and much, much more.

We stumbled across Dublin's Hard Rock whilst wandering around Temple Bar after our Guinness Storehouse tour on our first afternoon in Ireland. Although Dublin's collection couldn't compare to the Vault in London, it's still fascinating to see signed Beatles prints, U2 lyrics handwritten by Bono and a shirt which Elvis wore. After we ordered our burgers, I wandered around the cafe reading the plaques and snapping photos of the historic pieces on the walls.

Hands down, my favourite thing about the Hard Rock Cafe is their cocktail menu. When I first visited HR London, the server told me about their Keeper glasses - when you get to take home a clean version of the glass you had your cocktail in for half the price of the drink. I'm collecting Hurricane glasses to display in our first house and so far have London, Paris, Sharm el Sheikh and of course, Dublin. I'm excited to add San Francisco and Las Vegas to the list next year!

My drink was a Tropical Rock - Absolut Raspberry Vodka, crème de banane, piña colada mix and Midori Melon Liqueur float, garnished with a maraschino cherry. Perfect for a hot Saturday in Dublin.

Believe it or not, the cheapest place we found to drink Guinness in Dublin was in the Hard Rock, at only €4 a pint - most of the pubs in Temple Bar were more towards the €5! We happily came back on Sunday night for a drink before heading out to the Ha'Penny Bridge Inn as it was so affordable. They even head a dedicated €5 cocktail menu which pleased me a lot - the cheapest I'd seen cocktails advertised anywhere else was €8!

Have you visited any Hard Rocks around the world? Can you recommend one? Rosie x

To see more from our Dublin trip, click here!