Paul Simon or bust… Our Dublin getaway! Part eight

Easy like Sunday morning…  we slept until about 8:00am, which is almost unheard of these days, even on the weekends.  Sunday morning was our last breakfast at the Merrion Hotel, although as it turned out, we totally could have had breakfast on Monday if we’d wanted to.  In fact, I wish we had done that, since the all purpose lounge at the Dublin airport kind of sucks.  For some reason, the breakfast menu on Sunday was abbreviated.  Maybe it was because we came down a little later.  Maybe it’s because it was Sunday.  I don’t know.

It rained on Sunday morning, which was significant because Ireland had gone 40 days without any significant rain.  The drought has scorched the grass pretty badly and, in fact, it was bad enough that a major archaeological find was discovered about thirty miles north of Dublin.

Bill had pancakes with blueberry compote and I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.

Oops… I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to Bill’s face when I took this…  

The eggs were very good.


We had big plans for the afternoon.  I booked afternoon “art tea” for us at the Merrion Hotel.  It was easy to make the booking through Open Table.  Since it wasn’t due to start until 1:30pm, we needed to find something to do in the morning.  I proposed a visit to the Jameson Distillery Tour on Bow Street in Dublin.  We had yet another entertaining cab driver and we were his last fare of the day, so he was quite animated as we discussed topics ranging from Scientology to Donald Trump.  Then he let us off in front of a very high speed looking hostel, where he got out himself because he needed to pee.

We had to do a little searching to find the visitor’s center for Jameson’s, which now only serves as a visitor’s center and not a distillery.  Until 1970, this was where Jameson’s Whiskey was made.  It is now made in County Cork in southern Ireland.  However, although the facility was renovated in 2017, some original features from the original structure built in 1780 remain.  And instead of making whiskey, the place serves as a big commercial for Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, which I will admit is quite nice.

The entrance.

Below are some photos from our tour.  Although we usually go for the more involved experiences, we didn’t have time for anything beyond the basic guided tour, which ran for about about 40 minutes. Also, we had forgotten that on Sundays, one cannot purchase alcohol before 12:30pm.  We were at the distillery in time for the 10:45 tour and were allowed to taste whiskey, but not buy any.  It made perfect sense why the more detailed tours were offered after 1:00pm.  They probably figure that after learning how to make cocktails or blending whiskey, people will be more inclined to buy whiskey in their shop.  We wanted to buy whiskey, but didn’t want to wait until 12:30 pm.

Nice bar area, complete with chandeliers made with Jameson’s bottles.

Sine Metu– without fear.

And the variety of tours one can take.  We did the Bow St. Experience, led by a winsome lad named Adam.

The Bow Street Experience basically consists of hearing about the history of the Jameson brand in one room, then moving to another room, where the process is described.  Actually, having been to way too many scotch whisky distilleries and, by now, knowing the whisky/whiskey making process by heart, I must commend Jameson for their presentation.  It’s interactive and Adam was a good speaker– funny and entertaining.

You can actually see and smell for yourself as the tour guide uses a very nice backlit display to explain the process of making whiskey.

I was imagining Adam would make a good teacher.  His presentation skills and wit were impeccable.

We were given a sample of Scotland’s leading blended whisky, Johnnie Walker Black, a sample of Jameson’s Whiskey, and a sample of Jack Daniels Black Label, which I hadn’t had since my college days.  It was interesting to taste the differences.

Ahh… we get to taste it!

I like how they help out with the logistics of bringing the booze back in luggage…

At the end of the tour, you get your choice of whiskey neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail with lime juice and ginger ale.  I had the cocktail, which was nice.  Bill drank his neat.

The “Daily Grog”, which employees were given at the start and end of every shift.  Now they only give it at the end of the day.

A glimpse of the aging room below the main level.

The area around the distillery is pretty nice.  There are restaurants, places to shop, and on the day of our visit, it looked like they were setting up for a concert, complete with food trucks.

Bill used a handy app to summon a taxi.  It was remarkably effective and we could even watch the taxi’s progress as it made its way to us.  It took just three minutes.  The taxi driver got us back to the hotel at about 12:30 pm and we got dressed up for our afternoon “art tea”, scheduled for 1:30pm.  More on that in the next post.

advice, Germany, shopping

Master Of Malt… a good source for scotch and other sinful drinks…

Our latest haul from

Father’s Day is approaching.  Although Bill’s kids no longer acknowledge him, I still like to remember him on Father’s Day.  Since he really enjoys scotch, I often shop on the British Web site

I discovered this British Web site run by cheeky chaps when we lived in North Carolina.  We had visited Scotland for a couple of weeks and our trip involved a couple of stops at distilleries.  We were soon acquainted with new scotches, but they weren’t so easy to find in the United States, especially in North Carolina, where all the liquor stores are state run.  I started ordering scotch from Master Of Malt before I even knew we’d be back in Europe.  Though it’s not a cheap option, it’s an effective way to score good booze.  The service is very quick.  I usually get my orders on my doorstep well wrapped within 72 hours.

When we got back to Germany, I started using Master Of Malt again.  I really like Campbeltown scotches and they are easy to find on Master Of Malt, though not so easy to find in stores.  Every couple of months or so, I make an order.  This time, I got a Hazelburn scotch by Springbank, a Campbeltown distillery that we visited.  I also got Monkey 47 gin, which comes from the Black Forest and probably could easily be found locally.  I got Twisted Nose, a British gin that I’d never tried before, and a Japanese tasting set for Bill because he’s curious about Japanese whiskey.

One of the nice things about Master Of Malt is that they do tasting drams.  If you can’t afford to purchase a whole bottle of really rare scotch, you can order a sample for a few bucks.  The Japanese tasting set is the first one I’ve tried.  They have plenty of others, though.  And at Christmas, they have a very cool advent calendar gift that offers boozes instead of chocolate.  I wanted to get one for Bill last year but couldn’t justify the cost of the one I really wanted to buy for him.  Maybe this year Santa will bring him some sinful booze presents.

I probably ought to be more wholesome and stop drinking so much… but hell, drinking is fun.  Prost!

San Antonio, shopping, Texas

Texas discovery… Spec’s

One good thing about leaving North Carolina is that we don’t have to deal with ABC stores here.  Texas has private liquor stores and one of them is Spec’s.  Spec’s carries an impressive array of beverages ranging from sparkling waters to rare scotches.  We even spotted a couple of the whiskies we found while we were in Scotland last year, as well as some tasty Guyanese rums I’ve had to buy online until now.

When we first visited Spec’s, it reminded me of a Best Buy store…. only for beverages.  I am not all that impressed with Spec’s beer selection, though they do have some good stuff.  I just don’t think there’s much variety, nor do I think the prices are that impressive.  If you want wine or liquor, though, it’s a good place to be…

Our local Spec’s… very much at home near outdoor malls…

Nice inviting entrance.  Bill picked up a handbasket and I shook my head.  I knew I was wanting some beer.  He knew it probably meant a $200 tab.  He wasn’t too far off.

And tequila.  We need tequila for Labor Day festivities…

Not so bad.  We’ve definitely had bigger orders.  A few items were food.

Bill checks out the beer cooler… Wish it had more interesting beers, but it’s decently stocked.


A couple of months ago, we found Triangle Wine Company, a great beer and wine store in Southern Pines, NC, before we moved to Texas.  It’s probably a good thing we didn’t go there sooner because they had some really fabulous stuff.  I prefer beer and wine to liquor anyway.

Texas also has Total Wine and More, which is also a good place to find unique boozes.  We have enjoyed Total Wine in Virginia and North Carolina and it’s a great place to shop for libations.

The Spec’s pictured about is not too far from where we live, though… and it helps that it’s near World Market, another favorite cash drain.  Spec’s is a Texas institution with locations in major cities around the state.

Tomorrow, Bill plans to take me on an excursion to Central Market, which is supposed to be a really nice HEB.  Maybe afterwards, I can talk him into hitting Trader Joe’s so I can get some frozen “crack and cheese”…