Creating a buzz around Mead

A Cork couple have kickstarted the Irish Craft Mead Renaissance, writes Kate Ryan, who spoke to the duo behind Kinsale Mead about their new products and their plans for the future.
Creating a buzz around Mead
Kate Dempsey and Denis Dempsey of Kinsale Mead. Picture: Kieran Hayes Photography.

FIRST it was beer, then ciders and spirits taking the craft drinks industry by storm in the US.

This has given rise to the craft cocktail trend that is incredibly exciting, helped enormously by a new wave of mixologists that take their craft extremely seriously, getting creative with the tools of their trade: tonic waters, bitters, syrup and tinctures.

The latest renaissance in the US drinks scene is about the world’s oldest fermented alcoholic drink: Mead. The least understood of all alcoholic beverages, mead is made from a base of fermented honey. Meaderies carefully source their honey and botanicals and develop their fermentation process to create a drink with an unending variety of flavours and finishes.

And in Kinsale, Ireland now has its first honey-fermented Meadery and it is, pardon the pun, creating quite the buzz.

Kinsale Mead Company is the creation of husband and wife duo, Kate and Denis Dempsey and it seems no one is more surprised than them to be the proud founders of what has been described as Ireland’s first true meadery.

Denis, a former Intel engineer involved in product development for the “Internet of Things”, and Kate, a former IT analyst and published Poet (The Space Between), struck up an interest with mead on one of many work travels to the States. An opportunity to take voluntary redundancy led to the inevitable “What Next?” discussion.

A chance visit to a meadery in Portland in 2016, (the home of craft everything in the USA), inspired them to start experimenting at home with making it with different honeys, fruits and botanicals.

Kinsale Mead. Picture: Kieran Hayes Photography.
Kinsale Mead. Picture: Kieran Hayes Photography.

After perfecting recipes for two of their meads, Kate and Denis entered into the Supervalu Food Academy programme and worked with Bord Bia to refine their brand. The result? Kinsale Mead Company are now on their way to start a Mead Renaissance in Ireland.

“Ireland has a very strong heritage of Mead going back hundreds of years with Mead Halls in ancient settlements of the High Kings and Queens at the Hill of Tara,” says Denis.

“We chose Kinsale as the place to establish the Meadery because of its long standing reputation as Ireland’s premier gourmet destination.

“We also wanted to reconnect with the historical trading routes between Kinsale and Spain — we use Spanish Honey in our Mead and flavour it with local botanicals and fruits grown in Ireland.”

Kinsale Mead Company produce two very different Meads. Their white Atlantic Dry Mead is made from fermented Spanish Orange Blossom Honey and is a light, semi-sweet Mead that is fruity with citrus, crisp apple and sweet pear flavours. The Wild Red Mead is honey sweet, tart with cherry and Wicklow blackcurrant flavours and a delightful finishing spritz.

“The base of our Mead is Spanish Orange Blossom honey, and we use a wine yeast from Cote du Rhone for our fermentation. We ferment our Mead for two to four weeks and mature it for three months before it is ready for bottling,” says Kate.

Both Meads are 12% ABV and easily enjoyable in a range of ways from an aperitif to a base for a cocktail or even as a light liqueur or post-dinner digestif.

The official launch of Kinsale Mead in October at the Blue Haven Hotel in Kinsale drew an engaged and curious crowd of local foodies, friends and supporters sipping on Mead cocktails and nibbling on canapes especially designed for pairing. No better place than Kinsale to embrace Kate and Denis’s innovation and another gem to add to the town’s foodie crown.

People were also afforded the chance to catch up with Kinsale Mead Company at the Cork and Kerry Food Market at Cork City Hall last Saturday.

From mid-October, Kinsale Mead is stocked in a number of Supervalu stores around County Cork as well as a small number of speciality off licences, hotels and restaurants with more stockists being added regularly. Tours of the Meadery will be launched soon too.

Keep up with frequent news and stockists updates via their social media pages: Facebook: Twitter: @KinsaleMeadCo Instagram: @KinsaleMeadCo Web:

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