New limited edition from the Kinsale Mead Company
Now you can enjoy three-year-old mead aged in Sauternes barrels for 12 months
The Kinsale Mead Company released a second Limited Edition Barrel Aged Mead earlier this month. Following on from Wild Red Mead, which was aged in a Merlot barrel, we can now enjoy a three-year-old mead aged in Sauternes barrels for 12 months. There is one more to come too, a White Port Dry Mead.
“Mead has always been barrel aged, because at one time everything was transported by barrel,” says Kate Dempsey of Kinsale Mead.
“In the US, where there are now 500 meaderies, a lot of them are playing around with bourbon barrels. Our barrels come from Wild Geese wineries in Bordeaux; they come in wet, the wine has just been tipped out, so we have to pour the mead in straight away.”
The barrels have a medium char and, through a gentle oxygenation, impart a rich smoothness to the mead, as well as subtle flavours. The meads are aged for two years in tank, before spending their final year in barrel.
“The Merlot has gone down really well, partly because people are familiar with the name, but they also enjoy the taste. The Sauternes needed longer in barrel. One of the few advantages of lockdown was that it had plenty of time to mature,” she says a little ruefully.
Kinsale Mead can no longer offer tours because of Covid restrictions. Instead it now operates online tutored tastings with virtual tours of the meadery on Zoom. “It’s a fun talk, interspersed with tastings. We include little score sheets for people to fill out,” Dempsey says.
I tasted both barrel-aged meads; the Merlot has bright blackcurrant and sour cherry fruits with subtle honey notes and a smooth off-dry finish. The Sauternes barrel is floral and scented with layers of honey, toasted nuts and citrus peel. Both were intriguing and delicious. Try the Merlot with charcuterie, and the Sauternes with strong cheeses – it would be great with blue cheese.
All three barrel-aged meads are available for €27.95 from specialist spirit stores. A set of three miniatures of their original meads is €18.95. See kinsalemeadco.ie.