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Episode 29 – Whiskey and Books

Buck Mulligan’s

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This episode I am joined by Eamonn Hennessy, owner of Buck Mulligan’s, a Specialty Irish Whiskey Bar and Bookshop in the heart of Northcote.
Buck Mulligan’s is a lovely space with a cosy snug as well as a leafy courtyard. There are books for sale as well as some available for borrowing or reading whilst enjoying a drink. Eamonn joined me to share three of his favourite whiskeys and talk about his love of books and of whiskey!
The pairings:
 On the nose this is cinnamon and clove with succulent sweet caramel flavours. Complex
and spicy with sweet American bourbon notes. To taste it is robust single grain spices with a touch of cracked black pepper give way to a buttery vanilla and charred oak taste. It is long and satisfying, ending with a silky combination of oak and barley.
Thinking of what book to pair I was struck by the word satisfying and the sweetness of this whiskey.
This epic fantasy tells of a great and perilous quest undertaken to fight evil and to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord himself, and destroy the Ring of Power by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. This is a fabulously complex and yet utterly simple story. It is sweeping in scope and world-building, a whole language was created for this world too – Elvish – and whilst there is a darkness within this story there are so many sweet moments to cherish. It is one of the most satisfying books I have ever read.
I couldn’t help myself and chose a second book to pair with this delicious Irish whiskey!
 Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter might not be as harmless as she seems. Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too.
The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect?
 An intense and complex read set in Belfast this is a thoroughly interesting, if somewhat violent, story, shot through with surrealist or magical realism elements that add a sweet undertone and of course, it’s Irish!
The nose opens with the slightest hint of apricot, coconut and plum, before revealing an intermingling of golden syrup and plum pudding. All wrapped in the spicy hint of cloves. Subdued and mouth filling. Orange marmalade overtones with characteristic rich nougat sweetness and well balanced oak. Rounded and well-finished, lingering to the very end. 
Eamonn chose a Victorian author to pair with this Victorian whiskey …
This was Eamonn’s pairing and his first lockdown read. The book begins with the question, ‘Must I write?’ What follows is both a chronicle of the images that have endured in the author’s mind, and an exploration of their nature. The clarity of the images is extraordinary, as is their range, from Mandrake the Magician to the bachelor uncle kicked in the ‘stones’ as a child, from the country cousin’s doll’s house to the mysterious woman who lets her hair down, from the soldier beetle who winks messages from God to the racehorses that run forever in the author’s mind, beyond the grasslands, to the place where the characters of fiction dwell before they come into existence in books.
On the nose this is powerful smoke, sweet malt, wet turf, coal. Develops chocolate & cinnamon.

Then we get full-bodied, rich and mouth-coating palate. Sweet gristy malt and rich peat, oak spice & tannin, woodsmoke, bbq seafood. Then coal appears mid-palate. To finish this is very long, sweet and smoky, with the coal lingering longest.

The circus arrives without warning, It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. A fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. So of course they soon tumble headfirst into love.
This book is not as dark and gritty as you might expect to pair with this whiskey but it is beautifully descriptive and is a story which lives in the night and the dark and speaks to the chocolate, the cinnamon, to the sweet, mouth-coating and spice flavours and is definitely a story which lingers. Like the peaty whiskey it’s paired with this is not a book I liked at first, but now it is one which I cannot forget.  
Because Justine can’t help herself she also paired this whiskey with The Fireman by Joe Hill …

A book about a plague which spreads through the ash of the fires it causes … perfect!


 And Eamonn also recommends the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin as a perfect Scottish pairing with this Scottish whiskey! 


This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.