Galway, Ireland between oysters and whiskey

A festival dedicated to oysters and to themed seafood and whiskey trails from the shores of Connemara. The best time to enjoy the most controversial yet sought-after shellfish, oysters, has officially begun! Irish oyster farming is increasingly in vogue because of the quality of the shellfish on offer. The secret? Clean waters and sustainable farming.

Irish Whiskey, oysters and seafood?

Galway Hooker whiskey

Thinking about the typically Irish gastronomic delicacies that can be paired with, apart from the best-known combination with the world’s most famous stout beer, Guinness, not everyone knows that whiskey is also very popular with oysters.

Yes, this type of distillate is becoming increasingly popular as an ideal companion for the queen of seafood, strong and delicate at the same time.

Oysters and seafood

The ideal place to taste both is Galway, in whose county, off Ballinakill Bay along the Connemara coast, the DK Oysters farm, one of the oldest on the island, was established in 1893. It is still active and it’s among the most popular on the Wild Atlantic Way

…and Connemara whiskey

Thinking of ideal and symbolic ties, Connemara is precisely the name of the island’s only peat whiskey (as well as the only single malt one) whose smoky notes make it one of the most special and suitable pairings.

Produced by the ancient Kilbeggan distillery, which also produces another whiskey ideal for pairing with oysters, namely Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye – since 1890, with 30% rye malt.

Galway the best place for oysters and whiskey

The Oyster and Seafood Festival: 22 to 24 September

The area even boasts an indigenous oyster (the Galway flat) and the world’s oldest festival: the Oyster & Seafood Festival scheduled to take place in Galway from 22 to 24 September 2023, which offers more than one good reason to plan a last-minute late summer trip.

The Flat Galway oyster

Founded in 1954, it is the forerunner of the new local oyster season and offers a rich programme for all tastes. It includes tastings, meetings, dishes based on oysters and seafood from the Wild Atlantic Way and more ‘playful’ moments such as the world echo oyster opening competition.

The Masquerade Mardi Gras parade, which also colours the medieval streets of the town as a tribute to the winners of the challenges, and the music and dancing through the streets of the town are a pleasant constant of this three-day festival.

the festival programme

Galway Land Tour

Tigh Neachtain

If you can’t make it to Galway on festival days, the goodness of oysters and seafood can be tested by booking a visit to one of the local farms. Check out the list on the Board Iascaigh Mhara – Ireland’s Seafood Developement Agency website, in a mythical place like the old Moran’s Oyster Cottage or by making a few stops along the Galway Seafood Trail.

Another interesting venue is Tigh Neachtain , an ancient and noble pub opened in 1894, or if you like stylistic minimalism and rich flavours, the Michelin-starred Aniar in Galway’s West End.

Discovering whiskeys

It brings together 12 places that play a significant role in the city’s whiskey heritage, touching on the best bars and stores. Each stop brings with it a story and whiskey lovers are fascinated by the variety on offer and the warm hospitality of the pubs. An example? At Sonny Molloy’s, here you can immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the iconic Persse Distillery or discover chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Midleton’s, Silent Distillery Collection, the rarest Irish whiskey ever produced!

Local Whiskeys

At Freeneys
you can choose from an impressive selection of local whiskeys and more.

In a cozy space, which until recently also served as a food shop

  • The King’s Head, located in an 800-year-old building and retains medieval details of the time as well as one of Galway’s principal music venues.
  • Other stops along the way include Garavan’s, an establishment known for its whiskey that has been delighting patrons for generations
  • the award-winning Blake’s Corner Bar , offering the renowned ‘Four Corners of Ireland‘ whiskey tasting
  • the atmospheric O’Connell’s, where Ed Sheeran shot the video for his hit song Galway Girl
  • At An Púcán, you can take a real whiskey tour thanks to the city’s largest selection of whiskeys. Over 200 Irish whiskeys and whiskies from Scotland, America, Japan and other countries around the world.

Tigh Neachtain and the colourful Sonny Molloy’s

The meeting point between the route dedicated to seafood and that dedicated to Irish whiskey exists and is represented by two historic pubs:

Tigh Neachtain and the colourful Sonny Molloy’s, whose most expensive Irish whiskey tasting in the world also deserves a special mention: it costs 2,750 euros and brings together true rarities of sublime quality that are practically impossible to find.

Recommendation for pairings

To do this best, it is recommended to have a food grade vaporizer so as not to annihilate the taste of the oyster as happens when you mistakenly drown it with Tabasco.
The spraying should be light and gentle, with just a couple of sprays and at a distance of about 15-20 centimetres to disperse the alcohol and smell only the aromas.
Any sipping must take place strictly after tasting the oyster and having had time to be inebriated by the complexity of its scents: in the case of the Galway flat, it also includes nuances of hazelnut, ideal for distillates with slightly spicy notes.