Whiskey. The Real Thing…..

The revitalisation of this sector has been fascinating me for the last number of years and when my close friends Rod and Julie Calder Potts set up their own organic distillery a couple of years ago I started learning a lot more about distilling, whiskey and the challenges around labelling and marketing. 

Join us for 2 hours of passion, story telling and tastings as we chat with

– Jenn Nickerson – Chief Dogsbody, Tipperary Distillery
– Ned Gahan – Head Distiller, Waterford Distillery
– John O’Connell – Head Distiller, West Cork Distillers

and special guest Bill Linnane, freelance journalist with a very particular grá for whiskey.

We will absolutely talk about whiskey labelling, the provenance of brands and the terroir of barley. We will actively explore the various routes open to a new Irish Whiskey Brand and the importance of absolute clarity in how a new brand is positioned in the eyes of consumers.

Hosted as always by Highbank Organic Orchard who are distillers of distinction in their own right and a tour of the orchard and distillery is included with your ticket.
This will take place at 17.30.


Buy Tickets Now

See you on the 29th September 🙂

Keith and Julie

Real Bread Celebration with Andrew Whitley (@breadmatters) – 2nd December 2015, Dublin

When we kicked off Real Bread Ireland in January this year (2015) in Highbank Organic Orchards in Kilkenny we were 6 bakers and 2 supporters with a shared vision of how things could and would be better.

We are at 42 members now with a hell of a lot of support and good wishes from all across Ireland and that deserves a small celebration 🙂

So on Wednesday 2nd in Dublin we are having an open house in The Bernard Shaw on 11 Richmond Street South, Dublin sponsored by Bretzel Bakery who are also celebrating the 15 year of William Bretzel’s custodianship of the bakery.

There will be a supply of real breads from bakers around Ireland and a chance to listen to a chat on where Real Bread is at in Ireland and UK with a discussion being run by William from Bretzel:

The perspectives will be interesting.

Especially great to have Andrew Whitley with us. He founded Village Bakery in 1976 and the Real Bread Campaign 7 years ago. He has written a number of books on baking and for bakers alone is a true legend!

Details on the event on Facebook here.



The Baker, The Forager and the Distiller. Sunday 25th October, Butler House

The last of the 3 also leaves us slightly skewed 5:4 female to male across the evenings.

This one is the 2nd that is led by a baker (my Real Bread Ireland activities influencing me a wee bit 🙂 and her breads form the core of the product collaborations and tastings for this evening. Tickets from this link.

Sarah Richards, Seagull Bakery, Tramore

Sarah has possibly the smallest commercial bakery in Ireland (matching Highbank’s claim to have the smallest legal distillery) and in that tiny space she is constantly creating new varieties of loaves. She also has a passion for exploring older varieties of grains for her baking.

I met Sarah at the Real Bread Ireland launch in Jan 2014 and we have been in regular contact since because of that network.

Tom Jones, Sea of Vitality

Tom has a passion for seaweed and really enjoys experimenting with how it can be re-introduced into every day cooking in Ireland. His is a recent business, set up with Ria his wife, and he is still in the mode of constantly exploring and discovery.

While the wild sea vegetables around their native coastline in Dungarvan are bountiful he also spends time on the Atlantic coast in the West so that he can source the best our oceans have to offer us.

We met at a Taste Ireland event in Wicklow and I had the pleasure of watching him for an hour during the West Waterford Festival of Food earlier this year where he gave a talk in Nude Food. Thats the middle photo below.

Nichola Beresford, Muldoon Whiskey

Nicola I have never met before and her product (a whiskey liquor) is the only one of the vegan ones across the series that I have never tasted. And as with her fellow producers in this evenings session Muldoon is only in production a couple of years.

Based on an old recipe unearthed in 2005 this liquor carries hints of toffee and hazelnuts and its going to be really interesting to see how it is used here!

Thats it. Details and tickets from this link.


Bread, Beer and Butch. Saturday 24th October, Butler House

Obviously that would be meat at the end but I liked the alliteration :-). Also it suits Ed Hicks.

We had a warm up for this during Sally McKenna’s Theatre of Food this year (pic below) and it was a lot of fun. Our lead here is Patrick Ryan, DoughMaster at Firehouse Bakery and the whole collaboration style event was his idea. You can buy tickets here.


Based on the endless conversations between himself, Peter and Ed around how they could use each others products and ingredients in their own creations but never actually having a reason to bring that.

So you the audience are the reason now and they will bring along a variety of products for you to try.

Patrick Ryan, Firehouse Bakery #AsSeenOnTV

Patrick is the founder of Firehouse Bakery in Wicklow and spends a lot of his time driving between that part of the world and Heir Island in West Cork where he gives bakery classes. He is also (I noticed for the first time in the last 2 weeks, I don’t watch TV) a TV Celebrity Baker.

Apart from a number of gold Blas ns hEireann awards Firehouse also won the Georgina Campbell’s Natural Food Award in 2015.

I got to meet Patrick for the first time in late 2013 when we were putting together the kick off team for Real Bread Ireland and we’ve been working closely together on that since.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 09.59.06

I hope the other two in this evenings session don’t get all tongue tied by his fame 😉

Pete Rainier, Wicklow Wolf

Pete makes this intro difficult. Because he pretty much doesn’t exist on the internet (its true, try Googling him).

He does have a Linkedin profile and came from Colorado to work with Wicklow Wolf. He could be the 1st Mudlogging Geologist that I have ever met and that might explain why he spends time caving with Ed.

I met him for the first time during Electric Picnic when he turned up instead of Quincey.

Ed Hicks, Hicks and Co Butchers

So this is Butch. Ed is a third generation butcher and also responsible for Bacon Jam (see the photo below).

He is active in Slow Food and responsible for a number of record breaking pasta making sessions. As with many of the craft producers during these sessions he gives workshops where he teaches the skills that he has inherited to others to ensure they are passed from generation to generation.

I first met Ed a couple of years ago at a Taste Council event in Wicklow where my intro was via Liz Maybury who did the brand and label design for the Bacon Jam.

Event details and tickets here.







Cheese, Chocolate and Spirits. Friday 23rd Oct, Butler House

The first of these 3 special Biabeag Meet the Makers events kicks off with a trio grounded in Kilkenny. The theme is the After Dinner Treat and our producers will be messing with your taste buds a little bit with their tastings. Tickets for all 3 events here.

Each of these evenings has a lead producer – the one whose works with the others to shape the evening and on Friday its Julie Calder Potts from Highbank.

Julie Calder Potts, Highbank Organic Orchard

Julie and Rod (her husband and parter on the farm) have farmed organically for over 20 years and now they have the largest organic orchard in Ireland. Having moved from apple juice to orchard syrup (like maple but nicer!) they then developed a range of ciders before reaching the pinnacle of their range – the Single Estate Gin, Vodka and Brandey which they launched in December 2014.

I’ve known Julie and Rod for over a decade and they have become great friends of mine. I admire their ability to constantly develop and refine and their dedication to organic farming.


Screenshot 2015-10-11 09.00.35

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Mary Teehan, Truffle Fairy

For just over a decade Mary has been making a range of award winning chocolates in Kilkenny. Starting at home and selling at farmers markets she make the jump to her own production area and cafe in Thomastown and started to export as well as sell here in Ireland.

For the first couple of years of her business I couldn’t buy from Mary as the limited space she had meant she could not do a vegan range. Since she moved she has always had at least one truffle in the range that is vegan and also produces a constantly evolving range of raw chocolate slices. Happiness for me!

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Helen Finnegan, Knockdrinna

Helen set up a year before Mary (2004) and she slowly expanded with the help of Carlow based cheese maker Elizabeth Bradley. In 2008 she took over the cheeses made by Lavistown in Kilkenny and in the same year she became involved with the Little Cheese Company – an organic cheese collective based in Waterford.

She has won stacks of awards, the most special being the win of Knockdrinna Gold semi-hard goats cheese at the 2013 British Cheese Awards where it was named ‘Best Modern British’.

I know Helen since she worked in Local Rural Development in Kilkenny where the obviously glamorous life of food producers lured her to start up herself. Oops 🙂

Tickets for this event are €10 and you can buy them here



Three Biabeag Meet the Maker events during Savour Kilkenny

Because I was at the Slow Food Terra Madre gathering in Turin last year (2014) I missed out on Savour completely. So I am looking forward to both browsing the food producers marketing over the weekend and also to having fun and exploring the world of food producers each evening in Butler House.

This series will continue with the format we trialled during the Theatre of Food this year which was inspired by an idea from Patrick Ryan of Firehouse – Product collaboration panel. So each evening we will have 3 producers who have worked together to produce at least one new product.

The format of each evening will be each individual producer telling their own story for about 25 minutes and then the panel of 3 talking about the product collaborations they came up with for the series. Questions and discussions with the audience throughout.

Capacity in Butler House (a wonderful venue) is limited to 45 per evening. Tickets here.

Friday, October 23rd, 6pm – The Distiller, The Chocolatier & The Cheesemaker


Join Julie Calder Potts, from Highbank Orchard; Mary Teehan, from Truffle Fairy and Siobhán Ní Gháirbhith, from St Tola in an after dinner treats inspired evening.

UPDATE 11th Oct. Siobhan can’t make it for unavoidable reasons (missing you!) but our award winning local cheese maker Helen Finnegan from Knockdrinna is happily stepping in. Welcome 🙂

Syrup and spirits from organic apple are the centrepiece of this trio’s work with chocolates and cheese being added liberally.

Buy tickets here :-).

Saturday October 24th – The Butcher, The Baker and the Beer Maker


This trio had a lot of fun when we had this session at Theatre of Food :-). From left to right in order of beardiness are Patrick Ryan, Firehouse Bakery, Peter Rainier, Wicklow Wolf and Ed Hicks, Hicks and Co Butchers.

Bread, sausages and beer. Although not always in that order.

Buy tickets here :-).

Sunday October 25th – The Baker, The Forager and the Distiller


We finish off the series with a Waterford trio. Lead by Sarah Richards from Seagull Bakery are Tom Jones, Sea of Vitality and Nichola Beresford, from Muldoon Whiskey.

Sourdoughs, seaweeds and a whiskey liqueur form the basis of this evenings conversations.

Buy tickets here :-).

Look forward to seeing you there.


Biabeag kicking off Theatre of Food on Friday 4th September

With a programme of Autumn events slowing starting to coming into place I have a deadly one to start off with.

On Friday 4th at 4pm I am nervously kicking off Sally McKenna’s Theatre of Food with this trio of talented and passionate food producers. Nervous because the programme includes the most amazing of chefs, producers and foodies and this is my first outing! These 3 will be fine.


Thats Patrick (Firehouse Bakery), Ed Hicks (Hicks Traditional Pork Butchers) and Quincey (Wicklow Wolf).

They have been experimenting with a product collaboration for a couple of months now and Friday will see a mass unveiling and tasting for our audience. Ed Hicks has been teasing shots of the possible end result recently:

If you are around on Friday do come along. Rarely will you get to hear about and be the first of the public to taste such a product offering :-).

October sees a Foraging and Wild Producers event in Cooks Academy on 13th October (Tuesday) and 3 consecutive days of Meet The Collaborating Producers during Savour Kilkenny – you can buy tickets for those now here.




Meet The Brewers, @cooksacademy 15th June

After a great initial evening with the Real Bread Ireland bakers on 27th April the next Biabeag event in Cooks Academy is on 15th June when I will be chatting to 3 superb craft brewing brands.

You can book tickets here.

Caroline (first below) helped us put the lineup together and we have deliberately gone for a spread of experience so that, amongst other things, we can contrast the changing landscape for craft brewery startups over the last 4 or 5 years.

Caroline Hennessy, 8 Degrees (founded 2011)

Caroline has been closely involved with 8 Degrees since day 1 and she is also the co-author of Slainte, The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider.

Daire Harlin, Brú Brewery (founded 2013)

He left his job as a solicitor to co-found Bru Brewery and that cost €250,000 for the kit out.


Photo courtesy of the Irish Times


Barry O’Neill, O’Brother Brewing (founded 2015)

Three brothers, hows that going to work out? Barry (pictured here with his siblings Brian and Padhraig) will let us know.


Photo courtesy of the Irish Independent


For more information and to book tickets click here.


Next Biabeag event is in Cooks Academy, Dublin – Monday 27th April

With a lull in the Highbank Orchards series because I want to focus some time on Real Bread Ireland an opportunity came up to do a couple of events with Cooks Academy on South William Street in Dublin.

It is owned and run by Vanessa and Tim Greenwood and their genuine passion for great food is what drove them to open up 10 years ago. So I was happy when they asked me to bring some of the Meet The Producer conversations to their place of work.

We are kicking off on Monday 27th with a chat with 3 Real Bread Ireland bakers.

  • Thibault (Tibo) Peigne, Tartine
  • William Despard, Bretzel
  • Eoin Cluskey, Firehouse Bakery

will join us and share the deep passion that each of them have for proper bread and baking. It will be the first outing for Eoin who apparently has been carrying Patrick Ryan for years now and is finally going to emerge from under his bosses shadow 🙂

You can find out more about the evening and book tickets here.

Look forward to seeing you on the night.




Videos of Meet the Chocolate Makers @thetrufflefairy @BLYSS_choc @Beanandgoose

Thanks as ever to Ken McGuire, AnyGivenFood, for videoing and editing/design of these rough cuts of the evening. This was a fixed camera as he had to head away but captured most of the evening 🙂

And thanks to the crowd who turned up, to Julie and Rod Calder Potts for their work in hosting and to Karen, Mary and Lyss for sharing their passion and stories with us 🙂

Karen Keane, Bean and Goose

Mary Teehan, Truffle Fairy

Alyssa Jade McDonald, Blyss Chocolate