Off the bat, today was amazing! We started our day with breakfast at our B&B in Annascule, which today meant fresh fruit salad with vanilla yogurt, Irish soda bread with butter and raspberry jam (had to get R to taste test it for me, it was red and strawberries are scary 😂), and a boiled egg. R’s full Irish breakfast had fried mushrooms and a roasted half tomato, which I stole, because I’m the veggie half in this pair, lol. Mine was well balanced! 😜
Then we headed off to Inch Beach, in the rain and fog! It’s a three mile golden sandy beach with blue flag waves. On a sunny day, it’s actually fantastic for surfing, and I had to say, I was a little sad we missed out on that with the weather today. We still ran around like the Newfoundlanders we are though, the only two crazy enough to be out in it.
Afterwards, we headed for Dingle. This is the village that originally made me want to come to Ireland three years ago. Not really sure why, I basically seen it on a map and thought- I want to go there! On the way, we stopped for water at the gas station, because I wanted to take a picture of a church, and turned around in the car park only to see the most amazing bridge with vines in a field! Wow!
When we got to Dingle, we headed for the aquarium after a brief walk through town. AND WE SEEN BABY OTTERS! THEY WERE SO ADORABLE. They were born in April, and were cuddled up in their nest with their mom playing, it was so sweet. There was also two blue lobsters. Since at home, blue lobsters are so rare, I was amazed to see two and had to ask the guy working there what the incidence of them here is. Fun fact: It’s the opposite to home! The red-orange ones are actually rare here, and it’s normal for their lobsters to be blue.
From there we went to the Farmer’s Market (10-2 on Fridays only, how lucky for us!), and I got fresh carrots for our drive tomorrow, and a knit hat! Because a) I obviously am in desperate need of another knit hat and b) One simply cannot leave Ireland without a knit good. I also got a delicious oatmeal caramel bar and flat white. Have I told you the flat whites are as good here as in Australia? It’s a thing.
We ended off our sight-seeing in Dingle with a trip to the Dingle Distillery, which makes pot-still vodka, whiskey and Gin. It was so neat! We learned about the making of all their products, and it was very unique in that they don’t have any fancy tour-viewing areas, they take you right into their real production area, industrial stairs, forklifts and all!
For whiskey, it all starts when barley is malted by soaking it in water for three days, until it thinks it’s spring and starts to sprout. It’s then toasted and shipped to the distillery. We tasted some of this today, and it was actually like a nice cereal! This is then soaked in well water to extract the sugar from the barley, and this is called mash. The liquid extracted from the mash is moved to fermenting vats, and high-quality yeast is added. This creates a very basic alcohol, which goes on to be triple-distilled. There are three different distillers, and it took me right back to first year chemistry, with the alcohols evaporating at a different temperature than the water, the bulb of the pot distilled helping to purify the product and then these vapours being collected in a condensing duct. The end of this process creates a smooth distillery pot-distill, which is clear, colourless and tastes like a heck of a shot of Buckley’s. We tried a very small sample today, and our tour guide described it as a more smooth moonshine. Oh my. Thankfully, this gets put in barrels, and is aged/matured for at least three years, during which time it loses some of its volume and alcohol content through evaporation (“The Angel’s Share”). This is how whiskey gets its colour and flavour profile.
Vodka is started using a similar process, but with wheat instead of barley. It gets distilled five times after the mash extract is fermented with yeast. We tried this today, and it was actually quite nice as far as vodka goes.
Saving the best for last, today I learned that Gin is basically vodka with botanicals. Who knew? They take their wheat mash extract and add five different botanicals, including juniper berries during the fermentation process. It also gets distilled five times, and is hand-bottled and just won World’s Number One London Dry Gin. I obviously got some to bring home, and also got a set of real Gin glasses to enjoy it with! Very exciting 🙂
We ended off our fantastic day by driving to Ennis, where we will overnight before heading off to the Aran Islands at six am, because we’re off to cheer for Canada at the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition! Woo!
Goodnight all 🙂