Ballymaloe Litfest line-up: there’s atin’ and drinkin’ in it

Yet again the festival promises a feast of food and drink producers and experts from Ireland and around the world

The line-up for the third Ballymaloe Litfest is as impressive as ever, with 17 writers, producers and experts from Ireland and around the globe. Subjects covered will include cider, craft beer, wine, cocktails, rum, gin, whiskey and

more. The general focus for this year’s festival, which runs from May 15th-17th, is on current and future trends in the drinks world, with an emphasis on artisan producers.

The star turn for beer is probably Garret Oliver, brewer with the Brooklyn Brewing Company, writer and promoter of craft beer. He will host a tasting and will talk to Caroline Hennessy, author of Sláinte, the Irish guide to craft beer and cider. Cider aficionados will want to attend a talk and tasting, lead by Leslie Williams, on the evolving Irish craft cider movement.

Jancis Robinson headlines the wine events, with a talk and tasting of light and refreshing wines. There will be huge interest in Alice Feiring, author, journalist and champion of natural wine. Feiring has won many awards for her books and columns in the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. She will be taking part in discussions and tastings on natural wine, emerging wine regions and the concept of terroir in wine. Discussions on value in wine will also take place. Gloss columnist and author Mary Dowey will hold tastings of sparkling wines and the Rhône Valley, while Susan Boyle will present her one-woman show on the Irish wine geese. Author and Food & Wine journalist Raymond Blake will take a look at Burgundian wine literature.


London-based mixologist Nick Strangeway will hold a tasting and talk on cocktails as well as joining spirits writer David Broom for a discussion and tasting of rums. Broom will also hold a tasting and talk on Irish whiskey with Tomás Clancy and Brian Nation of Irish Distillers. Those interested in the rapidly developing gin market will want to listen to master distiller Desmond Payne. Ger Buckley of Irish Distillers will present a demonstration on the art of cooperage.

Finally a little navel-gazing, as one panel will ask if wine literature is dead in the age of social media. Another potentially discussion will feature writers from all strands in the drinks world debating whether wine is going out of fashion. A diverse range of Irish journalists and writers will join, and at times host, these events and others besides. In addition to those mentioned, Tom Doorley, Oisín Davis and this correspondent will take part in various events.

Some events have already sold out. Book online at or call 021-4645777for further details or to book your place. If you are unsuccessful, the Big Shed fringe festival will have plenty to entertain you.