7384006514_1933b74097_hOccasion: Glorious Revolution and victory of William Orange over at the Battle of the Boyne

Date: 1688 and 1st July 1690

This national holiday of Northern Ireland is a day that has plenty of controversies surrounding it since its religious background and often causes tension between the Orange Order and the Catholics of the country. The whole story started back in 1688 when during the Glorious Revolution the then king of England, Scotland and Ireland James II was overthrown by his own nephew and son-in-law William of Orange and escaped to exile in France. Two years later though with the backing of Louis XIV of France, James decided to return through the backdoor (Ireland) and try to regain his throne. William greeted him by the River Boyne with the largest ever army Ireland has ever seen and this led to a quick victory and James once again and finally was forced to leave the country.

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River Boyne and the Trim Castle; a lot quieter scene to visit these days

Many consider this battle as Protestantism (William) vs Catholicism (James) but nothing is as simple as that. Few people know that King Billy`s biggest ally was the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Alexander VIII who was part of the Grand Alliance against Louis XIV thus backing him in the fights in Ireland. Don`t get confused by the date either (1st July) hence in the 17th century Britain they were still using the Julian calendar and the date was adjusted to the 12th after they switched to the Gregorian calendar half a century later. The celebrations will include the typical Northern Irish marches and walks (God they love parading over there…) and hopefully a calm and peaceful day for everyone.

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Orangemen parading, common scene on the Twelfth

So we found out some of the things the Irish guys love to argue about, now let`s discover what is probably the only thing that the whole island agrees on. `Whiskey originates from Ireland, is spelled with an E and Scots are just…` Well I am not gonna be the one trying to sort out this debate but I am more than happy to introduce you to the world of Irish Whiskey and of course Northern Ireland`s flagship brand Bushmills. Irish whiskey started on a high excelling in the late 19th century and clearly possessing higher qualities to the then inferior blended Scotch (the reason for the addition of the famous E letter was to distinguish Irish whiskey from Scotch). Many factors (US Prohibiton was the major) led to a devastating decline in the 20th century but nowadays Irish Whiskey is booming again and is the world`s fastest growing spirit category.

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Bushmills tasting right by the distillery

Irish Whiskey is definitely one of the most diverse of whiskeys with a palette including pot still, double and triple distilled, single malt, single grain and peated and unpeated varieties. You can generally discover hints of fruits (apple mainly) and spiciness (vanilla, nutmeg) and a beautiful creamy texture. Bushmills is the third most popular brand (behind Jamesons and Tullamore Dew) but by far has the quickest growth rate. The Old Bushmills Distillery is widely regarded as the world`s first licensed distillery established in 1608. Besides Bushmills Original the award winning Black Bush which is an 80% malt beverage aged in sherry-oak casks for up to 7 years and has a distinctively dark colour. The company also offers some astonishing single malts which are must tries for Irish Whiskey fans.

Credit to ralfystuff for his detailed analysis of Bushmills products

As far as cocktails go Irish Whiskeys mix really well compared to others but me being a huge coffee fan and considering the locals` tastes today`s drink will be the one and only Irish coffee which is probably the most well-known `Irish` drink around (Guinness fans I hear you!) so here is the recipe for a very simple but incredibly popular twist on your morning (?) coffees.

I will see you in a couple of days when we sail across the channel to celebrate Bastille Day with the French!

5334048788_e9dfc5f24c_z (1)Irish Coffee:

Ingredients:

45ml Bushmills Original

45ml hot coffee

Sugar to taste

Slightly whipped double cream

Method:

Dissolve the sugar in the coffee

Add Whiskey

Slowly top with the double cream poured over the back of your bar spoon