You really ought to visit The Bull’s Head in Mobberley, Cheshire. No, really. Not only is it a lovely-looking pub from the outside, but the food is quite sublime (I recommend their homemade steak and ale pie or their fish and chips). But before the thought of food should even enter your head, there’s a crucial matter to be overcome: that’s right, there’s a plethora of whiskies at the bar to choose from – over 70 in fact – and it makes The Bull’s Head quite distinct.
And if you think choosing choosing the food might be difficult then ask for their whisky book. There, you’ll be presented with mouthwatering lists of whiskies with which to choose from: Scotch, Irish, American or Japanese, to name a few. Tim, the proprietor, owns another pub which stocks over 90 different gins.
So it was with some excitement that I travelled back from Birmingham two weeks ago to partake in a whiskey tasting session that I’d been invited to, hosted by Ed McAvoy, Jameson’s Brand Ambassador in the UK. Greeted by Tim and handed a palate cleanser (a variation on a Mule, I believe, but with Jameson’s rather than vodka), a small and lucky group of us sat down and listened to Ed expertly explain how Jameson’s Irish whiskey is produced. Essentially, it’s made with different malts, in different stills (in 75,000 litre pot stills actually, the size of whole pubs) and produces a smooth whisky that’s been distilled three times.
A comprehensive post on Irish whiskey will doubtless follow, but onto the important part: the tasting! We had six different whiskies to get through and over the course of three hours we nobly powered our way through all of them with Ed taking questions whilst explaining their similarities and differences. Commencing with Jameson’s standard expression we moved on to a standard Scotch, Jack Daniel’s, Jameson’s Gold, Jameson’s select reserve and their single pot still whiskey, the Redbreast 12 year old (voted Irish whiskey of the year by Jim Murray).
Thankfully we had Lloyd, the in-house chef, who after each tasting brought out some brilliant complementary foods to help absorb the worst of the alcohol. Try having kipper pate with a good whiskey, or an Irish stew with a few drams thrown in. Or, if you’re really in the mood, how about some dark chocolate and orange crystals? Or some crackers with Brie and locally-made Cheddar cheese? (Possibly, whiskey included, the strongest thing we had all evening!)
After a super evening, I left not only with a full stomach (couldn’t resist the steak and ale pie) but also with a new-found appreciation of Irish whiskey: the Gold was quite superb; smooth but with bags of flavour. The Reserve and Redbreast were equally as rewarding, and I recommend you try them both should the opportunity arise, preferably in The Bull’s Head.
Our thanks to Tim Bird for pictures of the pub and the whisky bar, and to Philippa Scott for photos of the tasting night. Finally, a big thank you from Cask Tales to Tim for the kind invite.