Ireland’s first new meadery in many years opened in Kinsale in October and has since been creating a real buzz in the craft drinks industry. Kinsale Mead Co was founded by Kate and Denis Dempsey in 2016 to rediscover the ancient art of mead making and to create a delicious, refreshing new Irish drink. The couple now lovingly develop and handcraft their meads in small batches at their new meadery in Kinsale, of which they are very proud.
What is mead? Mead is unique in that its primary ingredient is honey, but it is also incredibly diverse. “We ferment our meads to off dry,” says Denis Dempsey, “which might surprise you when you know it comes from honey.”
Raw honey and fruit are mixed with local water before Kate and Denis sit back and let nature and time turn it into their delicious mead.
The inspiration for Kinsale Meads comes from the couple’s 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 honey, with tart Wexford blackcurrants and sweet black cherries.
“The response has been great around Cork and we think a bottle of mead could make a very welcome Christmas gift – something different, local and totally delicious,” says Kate.
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,” says Denis, “we joked, why don’t we start our own meadery? Where do you go to make that kind of decision? – for us, it was the Hill of Tara in the footprint of the Great Mead Hall where we said, ‘Why not?’”
With great support and guidance from Bord Bia, the Food Academy at Supervalu and Enterprise Ireland, they sold up, told the kids (how to shock your friends and family – tell them you’re leaving your jobs to make mead) and headed south. Now, with a warm welcome from the local community, they’re working hard, making wonderful mead in their new home in West Cork.
West Cork stockists: Urru and Matsons in Bandon; SuperValus in Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Bandon, Bantry, Kinsale; O’Donovan’s Off Licence in Clonakilty; Spar, 1601 in Kinsale; various hotels, bars and restaurants including Kinsale Blue Haven, Actons, Trident, Nashs 19, Pilgrims in Rosscarbery and Monks Lane in Timoleague.
Kinsale Mead Co will also be at the Christmas markets in Supervalu Kinsale and Blue Haven this week and Skibbereen Supervalu next week.