IRELAND’S first new ‘Meadery’ in many years is now open in Kinsale.
Kinsale Mead Co was founded by Kate and Denis Dempsey last year, to rediscover the ancient art of mead-making and to create a new Irish drink.
The couple develop and handcraft their meads in small batches at their new meadery in Kinsale.
‘Mead is unique in that its primary ingredient is honey, but it is also incredibly diverse. We ferment our meads off dry,’ said Denis, ‘which can surprise when you know it comes from honey.’
The Dempseys 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 added.
The inspiration for Kinsale Meads comes from their carefully sourced 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 to the raw honey, with tart Wexford blackcurrants and sweet cherries.
Mead is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, with a global history 9,000 years old.
‘In Ireland, we were fascinated to read that St Molaga from Timoleague Abbey is credited with introducing bees to Ireland,’ explained Kate. ‘And there’s a 13th century marriage dowry that included 10 gallons of mead, a piggery and Youghal.’ A beautiful Harry Clarke stained glass window in the Honan Chapel in UCC also depicts St Gobnait and her army of bees.
Kate and Denis hail from Coventry and Rosscarbery respectively. After raising a family, they decided it was time for a change. ‘And at some point,’ explained Denis, ‘we joked, why don’t we start our own meadery?’
With great support and guidance from Bord Bia, the Food Academy at SuperValu and Enterprise Ireland, they sold up, told the kids they were leaving their jobs to make mead, and headed south. ‘We’ve had a warm welcome from the local community, and we’re working hard, making wonderful mead in our new home in West Cork,’ said Kate.
Stockists of Kinsale Meade include various SuperValus in Cork, the 1601 off-licence in Kinsale and selected bars and restaurants.