Ireland first new Meadery in many years opens in Kinsale, Co Cork. The launch will take place in the Blue Haven Hotel on Friday 13th October at 7pm and will include mead tasting as well as gastronomic food and chocolate pairing, cocktails and general merriment.
Kinsale Mead Co was founded by Kate and Denis Dempsey in 2016 to rediscover the ancient art of mead making and to create a delicious, refreshing new Irish drink. They lovingly develop and handcraft their meads in small batches at their new meadery in Kinsale.
What is Mead? – Mead is unique in that its primary ingredient is honey, but it is also incredibly diverse. “We ferment our meads off dry,” says Denis Dempsey, “which can surprise when you know it comes from honey.”
They mix the honey and fruit with local water and then sit back to let nature and time turn it into their delicious mead. “Perhaps over time, the salty air from the wild Atlantic will add its own unique flavours,” Kate adds.
The inspiration for Kinsale Meads comes from sourcing natural ingredients, as well as drawing on the rich tapestry of maritime history in Kinsale. Their honey comes from Spain, particularly the aromatic orange blossom honey in their Atlantic Dry Mead. Their Wild Red Mead is a melomel mead type, where fruit is added with the honey, with tart Wexford blackcurrants and sweet Turkish cherries.
Mead is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, with a glorious, global history 9,000 years old and counting. In Hochdorf, Germany there is a 6th century BC tomb of a Celtic chieftain buried with nine drinking horns and a 400 litre cauldron brim-full of mead. “In Ireland, we were intrigued to discover that St Molaga from nearby Timoleague Abbey is credited with introducing bees to Ireland,” says Kate. “And there’s a 13th century marriage dowry that included ten gallons of mead, a piggery and the town of Youghal.”
Kate and Denis hail from Coventry and Rosscarbery in West Cork respectively. After raising a family, they decided it was time for a change. “And at some point,” says Denis, “we joked, why don’t we start our own meadery? Where do you go to make that kind of decision? – for us, it was the Hill of Tara in the footprint of the Great Mead Hall where we said, ‘Why not?’”
With great support and guidance from Bord Bia, the Food Academy at Supervalu and Enterprise Ireland, they sold up, told the kids (how to shock your friends and family – tell them you’re leaving your jobs to make mead) and headed south. Now, with a warm welcome from the local community, they’re working hard, making wonderful mead in their new home in West Cork.