Happy Finals Week, collegiettes™! I’m sure it doesn’t feel like a happy finals week, but read ahead and I’ll sprinkle you with a little of the luck of the Irish in order to get you through your final exams, papers and projects. If you’ve followed along on my journey, then you are familiar with my quick weekend style trips. I’ve decided to take advantage of my time abroad and I thought the best way (and as it turns out most exhausting) is to visit as many places and locations as possible. This past weekend in Dublin was the first time I felt that this approach on travel was not the best, a reminder that every location is different, unique, and requires a customized itinerary.
Trinity College Library, Dublin
The reason I wish I had spent more time in Dublin, and Ireland as a whole, is the simple reason that the city and country is so diverse. Ireland isn’t known for gorgeous beaches, ancient cities, or the like. But as I arrived in Dublin, I saw the appeal of the city and country for several different groups. For people who are religious, Ireland has a history rooted in religion (St. Patrick of course). There is an incredible amount of history woven into the city of Dublin, an enormous harbour, a renowned university for the academia, a boisterous nightlife, alternative style street art, whisky distilleries and Guinness storehouses. And that’s just in Dublin.
Throughout Europe, countries and cities claim to have the best beer, or wine, or other form of alcohol. Travelling Europe has at times been like listening to each country claim they are the most alcoholic of the bunch. Ireland, of course, took pride in their beer, cider, and whiskey. However in Ireland, less drinking jokes were made, and a large amount of pride was taken in the production of traditional Irish alcohol. The pride and cultural inclusion led to us finally indulging a European country, and touring the Old Jameson Distillery.
The tour of the now retired whiskey distillery, (headquarters moved to Cork in the mid 1900’s), was the highlight of the trip. Irish whiskey making was passed down from generation to generation since the mid 1700’s. Prior to the tour, I had no idea how whiskey was made. The tour takes a journey from the collection of barley, creation of malt (germinated barley seeds), turning of the mill and distillation of the whiskey three times We also learned about the storage in used barrels and the blending of the whiskey. The tour was educational, interesting, and littered with fun puns and anecdotes.
The most interesting portion of the whiskey tour came towards the end – the maturation process. After the whiskey is distilled three times, the liquid is clear, and stored in oak barrels. However, Jameson does not use new oak barrels. Jameson purchases old wine, bourbon, and sherry barrels, which in fact contain remnants of wine, sherry, and bourbon in the oak. As the whiskey matures in the barrels, the alcohol trapped in the oak releases and turns the whiskey different colors and adds a unique blend of flavors. Jameson produces 38 different types of whiskey. n order to do this, there is a master blender who blends two or three of the types of whiskey in a secret formula that is highly protected, and creates a unique blend of Jameson whiskey.
The end of my semester is fast approaching, so my travels are a little slower now. But now I have all the more time to soak in the academic vibes of Oxford!