My whiskey beginnings with The Guild

January 2, 2020



My name is Bianka McDonagh and this is how I got involved in the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild!


I was a complete novice in 2017, having completed a “Irish Whiskey Appreciation Course” with Mitchell & Sons the previous year. After my course I still had the instructors’ words in my ear: explore more whiskey, drink it.

My birthday came up and we (my better half and I) decided to go down to Kilkenny to visit the Leinster Whiskey Bar of the Year, The Dylan Whisky Bar. It was while there that I heard about the launch of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild but that the inaugural event was an invite only.




I was very apprehensive to go to the first public event, being a woman, drinking Whiskey, hasn’t a clue... and Mr. Mc is not into Whiskey. He drinks it, but that’s it. Anyway, I went to the first public event of the Guild – I didn’t know what to expect but was so pleasantly surprised how easy going everybody was.


The people were so friendly and warm, I just sat down beside a fellow and introduced myself – turned out it was Jim Rafferty from the Dylan - I told him that I don’t know much about Whiskey but I’m here to learn. It was a great night. We sampled a few Powers and had an interesting taste in the end. There was an empty glass left and we got a fill of it and should guess which Whiskey it was. NOBODY got it, not even the real experts. It was the same whiskey as the first one we tasted. That was a great laugh.


New friends made, great conversations and most of all – great craic. Needless to say, I attended as many tastings as possible but being a tour guide means, I’m not able to make them all. In 2018 I joined the guild and we all got a goodie bag with a few baby whiskies and most importantly: our badge.


The best thing about Kilkenny Whiskey Guild is, you never know what’s going to happen: we've had great food pairings, beer pairings, a cooper, an entertainer and many more different tastings. The Guild houses always pull out all the stops to present an unforgettable night.


Long may it last, Slainte







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