The Irish experience at Galway Bay is the real deal: The bar was built in Ireland and shipped to Annapolis. Six Irishmen came to the States to install the custom-made bar, which features dark wood and glass shelving.
As much thought as went into the design of the bar itself went into the decision about what to stock.
“We had to fight to get some of these whiskeys in here,” Lynch says. “We took what we could get of the whiskeys registered for sale in Maryland. We then worked to get rare whiskeys registered.”
Those efforts paid off, as the Annapolis restaurant and pub was awarded the title of Best Irish Whiskey Experience in the Americas by Irish Hospitality Global. The award was announced in Dublin.
Irish whiskey, distilled in Ireland since at least the 1400s, is a growing market. “At the turn of the century, there were three whiskey distributors,” says Galway Bay general manager Sean Lynch. “Now there are 35. There’s even a whiskey makers’ association.”
Customers who sidle up to the bar find a range from everyday favorites to rare and hard-to-find selections. The bar features a Teeling 29-year single malt. It’s bottle #61 of only 100 made solely for the U.S. market.
The menu of Irish fare was created with the whiskey experience in mind. “We can pair food for you,” Lynch says. Traditional Irish favorites like lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie are served, along with small plates such as beef and beer cheese fries and potato cakes.
Speaking of pairing, Galway has created eight specially selected whiskey flights. Each flight features a three-quarters-ounce pour of three different whiskeys and comes with a menu detailing each pour and what to note as you sip: the nose, the taste and the finish.
The flight named for lucky number seven features Yellow Spot, Tullamore Dew 15-year Trilogy and Redbreast Cask Strength. The Redbreast Cask Strength, straight from the cask, unfiltered with no water added, is said to taste of deep, full-dried fruit with a touch of citrus. Vanilla sweetness leads to toasted oak and barley.
When you stop in for the whiskey experience, expect more than just a chance to sip and savor. “We provide not just a taste,” Lynch says. “It comes with a history of Ireland and of Irish whiskey.”
And it isn’t only Lynch — a native of Cork City, Ireland — who can share a bit of knowledge. “We have a staff that likes their whiskeys,” Lynch says. “They are happy to share their points of view and offer recommendations.”