Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

JR and the whiskey

Like a benevolent JR Ewing I was, stepping around the hotel buying drink for anyone who even so much as glanced in my direction.

“Not at all!” I scoffed. “Put that money away! Your money is no good here… I’m Michael, by the way.”

I wasn’t wearing a Stetson of course, though if I had’ve been, it would long since have been plucked atop my head and flung across the dance floor with an ear-splitting, “YEEEEHAAR!” for good measure.


I love weddings, especially when the planets align, which is to say, when the food is good and people are in high spirits and most importantly, a family member has agreed to look after the off-spring and me and Herself are responsibility-less.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to attend as Herself’s cousin Leanne tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend, Paul. After a touching service at Drumragh outside Omagh (Herself bawled through the whole thing), we hightailed it down the road to the Cavan Crystal Hotel whereupon we set about painting the town – or the hotel at least – red.

But the reason I mention last weekend’s welcome reminder of the effervescence of young (and its transience), is for two reasons, the food and a drink.

For the first weekend in living memory, I somehow managed to get through the whole of Saturday and Sunday without cooking a single morsel of food (if you’ll discount the toast that morning). And not cooking… was glorious.

Nibbles and bubbly on arrival were followed by what was easily the most memorable wedding meal I have ever had. You can thank me for this later but I now consider asking,

“What’s the vegetarian option?” to be a life hack.


The carnivores at the wedding were chowing down on turkey or beef whereas yours truly was masticating slowly and deliberately on sumptuous spinach and ricotta tortellini, layered tenderly on a bed of rich tomato ragu and lashings of pesto and grated parmesan for better measure. Not only was it delicious, it also negated the post-meal slump which greedy guts like me habitually suffer from at celebrations of this nature.


“YEEEEHAAR!” I shouted inside and admittedly, I might even have uttered that term once or twice aloud as the dancing began and I hit the floor like I’d just invented jiving. I was like popcorn on a fire, like a naked faun too glad for shame, like a winged star… Yes, I will be avoiding the wedding video for the rest of my life.

But it was after the evening buffet that the dreaded slump started to take hold. A poke of chips and chicken gougons were washed down with (another) glass of dry cider and for the first time, the mojo began to dissipate.

“Jeez,” says I to Herself. “I might be on the way out here.”

However, faced with a roiling stomach and the dancing about to recommence, I did what any self-respecting party goer would do and headed to the bar.

As contrary as I am sometimes, I don’t really go in for shots unless there’s peer pressure involved but I have been known to drink a snifter or two of whiskey. However, Herself is never too keen on me sampling the nippy sweeties as the Scottish might say, so my mission to the bar this time, involved going under the radar.

Standing in the residents’ bar gazing at a vast array of whiskies, I decided I’d try a glass of Midleton. I’d never tasted it before and for good reason, I’m not a millionaire. You’d be hard put finding a bottle of this famous Cork tipple for under £100. Unfortunately though, I was JR Ewing at the time and without missing a beat I ordered my drink and waited.

Alarm bells should have been ringing when I heard one bar tender say it was the first time she’d ever been asked for a Midleton. Plus, as I’ve said, I’d never tasted this before as even in an off-licence it’s expensive.

How and ever, the dram arrived and before I knew it, the words had slipped out from between the waitress’s lips, “That’ll be 20 euro please.”

At first I thought I’d had an auditory hallucination but then… I remembered the off-licence price. Even JR’s eyebrows would have hit the roof.

But it was too late then though. I mean, the drink was already in the glass and sitting in front of me. It wasn’t as if I could suggest pouring it back into the bottle.

So, making out as if I drink Midleton all the time – the quare fella that I am – I sniffed the amber liquid before wetting my lips. One sip turned into two turned into three and before I knew it, the whiskey was gone.

Honestly, I can’t say if it was worth 20 buckaroos or not. It was smooth and crisp and only slightly nippy. I can say however, that after the Midleton I returned to the dancing fray and continued until the music stopped and they oxtered me from the premises.

I tell a lie, I wound up back in the residents bar and it was only remembering that I’d forgotten to hang the breakfast order on our room door that made me forgo the pleasure of any further festivities. Eggs benedict in bed was just too tempting to resist. Yeehaar?

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007

Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below


Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW