With St. Patrick's Day just a week away, Colum Egan, Master Distiller of Bushmills Irish Whiskey in Ireland, stopped by recently to share everything you need to know about the Irish holiday as well as toasts we can use at our own St. Paddy's Day celebrations and details on Bushmills new Irish Honey!
Candace Rose: Do you have any St. Paddy's Day wisdom to share with us this morning?
Colum Egan: "I have loads of St. Patrick's Day! So it's a great time to be Irish, and I think on St. Patrick's Day it's one of the best days to kind of have that sense of fun- that kind of real friendship, meet new people and meeting old friends, and a few of your family. And I think the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is a little glass of Bushmills."
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about Bushmills Irish Honey?
Colum Egan: "Yeah. Irish Honey is something particularly close to my heart. It's great tradition in Ireland to actually have whiskey with honey in it, so we've made it easy for everyone in the U.S. to have a bottle of Bushmills Irish Honey. We've actually taken Bushmills original whiskey which is five years in the making, and we added real Irish honey to it, so as soon as you have a little nose and a little sip you can immediately get that great honey taste."
Candace Rose: When will it be available?
Colum Egan: "Yeah, so it's actually available through February and March, and it's going to be in stores for a long time to come, I hope."
Candace Rose: That's great to hear. What foods would you say, pair the best with Irish whiskey?
Colum Egan: "You know, Irish whiskey is very versatile, so we distilled whiskey three times. So when you distill whiskey three times you get this nice, light, fruity character; And we also air dried the barrel so there's complete absence of any smokiness put in our whiskey, so it makes it very easy adapt and complement food. I think Bushmills is fantastic to do that because it has this nice fruity character. So with food, get some nice sauces; a very simple sauce would be where you take just four tablespoons of softened butter, half a cup of sugar- stir it right up there; little beaten egg- put that in on top; a couple capfuls of whiskey, and then put your salmon or your beef in there and it just makes a wonderful sauce."
Candace Rose: Oh, that sounds delicious.
Colum Egan: "Yeah, it really is. My mouth is watering already, and I'm talking about it! Something that is very kind of what my mom used to do back a few years ago."
Candace Rose: What is the proper way to spell whiskey?
Colum Egan: "You know, there's may ways to spell whiskey, but I always think with an 'e' so w-h-i-s-k-e-y. One of the reasons being many, many years ago the Gaelic was spoken in right through Ireland, and it's still spoken too in some areas. But the Gaelic for whiskey is uisce beatha; and uisce meaning water and beatha meaning life, so water of life. And if you were to spell uisce u-i-s-c-e, that uisce word is the basis of the modern word whiskey, so I do think it's with an 'e' but as long as you enjoy your whiskey, I think that's the most important thing."
Candace Rose: Can you teach us any Irish toasts this morning?
Colum Egan: "Yeah, so I think a very traditional thing in Ireland and especially around St. Patrick's Day is to bring your friends close together so whether it's making new friends or sharing some stories with old ones, I think it's nice to pour a little Bushmills for everybody, everyone hold up their glass and a nice toast would be:
There are tall ships, there are long ships, there are ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, and may they always be."
Candace Rose: Cheers!
Colum Egan: "Yeah. Sláinte is a great Irish way for cheers."
Candace Rose: Well, thank you. Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Colum Egan: "Well, I think to come and visit us at Bushmills Distillery is something that has to be high on everyone's agenda. It really is a magical place. When you arrive at the gates at the distillery you get these beautiful aromas enticing and drawing you into the heart of the distillery. We've got such history and heritage there- 400 years of whiskey making in the Bushmills area. And you'll see this beautiful crystal clear water flowing right through the center of the distillery, beautiful whitewashed walls with black slate roofs; it's like going back in time. So if you want a little slice of Ireland as it has been in the last hundreds of years, come and visit us at Bushmills Distillery."
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Colum Egan: "Yeah, so a great place to go would be Bushmills USA Facebook page, and also Bushmills.com. And I think you can go right on there and there are some wonderful views of the distillery, and some nice ways on how to make whiskey. And it shows really the versatility that Bushmills has. It would be great in cocktails, great neat or on the rocks."
Candace Rose: Well, thank you so much, Colum. Happy early St. Patrick's Day to you.
Colum Egan: "Yeah, the best way to enjoy it and have a great night is to drink responsibly."