Tonight the start of the thirteenth edition of FNB Whiskey Live is calling swarthy whiskey swirlers to the Sandton Convention Centre.
Annually around 10 000 people make their way through the doors at FNB Whiskey Live in Sandton, making it one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the world. This year there is another noteworthy edition to FNB Whiskey Live – Irishman Kevin O’Gorman.
O’Gorman is the head of maturation and an ambassador for Jameson and the single pot still whiskeys of Midleton in Ireland.
The emphasis is on single pot still, a style of whiskey production that has become unheard of in parts of the world. O’Gorman is in South Africa to reintroduce the secrets of single pot still whiskeys.
Speaking to The Citizen ahead the first evening of FNB Whiskey Live, O’Gorman who flew in from Ireland especially for the whiskey festival, can be considered a historian on single pot still whiskey.
“If you go back a few hundred years this is the way whiskey was produced. What distinguishes single pot stilled wiskey is that it’s made from a mix of malted and unmalted barely. The story goes that this style of productions tarted around the 1700s when there was a tax on malt in Ireland.
That’s when the tradition started. Soon the taste won over whiskey drinkers, among other because it has a creamier mouth feel.”
According to O’Gorman single pot silted whiskey was popular globally and more than a hundred years ago it was one of the most sold whiskeys in the world. Wars, troubles in Ireland and the production of other whiskeys led to the eventual downscaling of single pot stll whiskeys: until now.
“This week I’m talking to people, and getting people to taste it. It’s really something where you need to get people to experience it.”
South Africans can get a taste the following whiskeys from Jameson and the single pot still whiskeys of Midleton in Ireland, Redbreast, Spot Whiskey, and Powers.
But how to enjoy this whiskey. O’Gorman gives his expert advice; “A lot of this is personal preference, but I pour it and then I will nose and taste it at strength, and then add a drop of water. Water often changes the flavour and you have to experiment with that.”
O’Gorman is not against adding ice or a mix to whiskey, but he does believe it is worth savouring your whiskey. Bredbreast for instance is a 12-year-old whisky and he thinks it is something that should rather just be enjoyed, unspoiled.