Tag Archives: Thick As A Brick

Feckin Irish Gin

Travel may broaden the mind but, as that is problematic these days, try drinking some gin. Feckin, I had always thought, is one of those expletives along with frickin that are deemed by some to be less offensive than the more guttural Anglo-Saxon fucking. It is and its use in connection with a type of gin makes it stand out from the crowd and create a bit of a talking point.

Feckin, though, is also the participle derived from the Irish verb, feck, which means to steal, to throw or to leave in a hurry. More intriguingly, it is a version of the name of an Irish saint, St Fechin, who founded several monasteries on the island, including the one at Fore in County Westmeath. He was also said to have possessed supernatural powers and the ability to cure others. In an act of self-sacrifice which marked him out for canonisation, he refused to use his remarkable abilities on himself and succumbed to the yellow plague in 664 CE. His feast day is on January 20th.

There is a discernible trend amongst Irish distillers of taking a slightly wry, if not comic, approach to presenting and marketing their wares. A classic example of this trend is Shanky’s Whip, which I reviewed a little while ago. Feckin Irish Gin, produced at the Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin in Northern Ireland’s County Down, on the shores of Strangford Lough, is another.

It comes in a tall angular bottle made of clear glass, not unlike those used by Martin Miller, with a longish neck and deploys a distinctive yellow for its labelling with black print. Looking more closely at the labelling I see that it is designed to look like a newspaper, the Echlinville Times, a marketing ploy used by Jethro Tull in 1972 when they wrapped their album, Thick as a Brick, second only to Aqualung in my view, in a copy of The St Cleve Chronicle and the Linwell Advertiser.

The newspaper idea affords them opportunities for a spot of whimsy, including an advert for a cat flap that is now surplus to requirements as Tiddles was lost out in the lough and a headline informing us that a man wearing a camouflage coat disappears in the forest. Visible from the back of the bottle is the inside of the label which screams “Out of this Feckin World” and that Feckin Irish Gin was found on the Moon. Don’t you just love the Irish sense of humour?

The Feckin brand first emerged in 2005 with the launch of its whiskey and then in 2014 Echlinville Distillery was granted the first licence to distil spirits in Northern Ireland for over 130 years. Yhey also produce a vodka and are expanding to include a museum and visitor centre.

The colour scheme, as well as giving the spirit a distinctive look which stands out from the crowds spawned by the ginaissance, also gives a heavy hint as to the predominant flavour the drinker can expect. There are just five botanicals used in the distillation process: juniper, lemons, angelica root, cassia bark, and coriander. As one who fervently believes that less is more and that each botanical must be made to work, this approach wins my seal of approval.

Yellow equates to lemon and Feckin Irish Gin is a lemon lover’s heaven. As soon as you release the artificial stopper your senses are hit by a waft of juniper and lemon and in the glass the clear spirit launches a bold assault on your tastebuds. Juniper is ever present, but the bitterness of the lemon soon comes to the fore before dancing a duet with the sweeter flavours of the coriander. The aftertaste is long and lemony with almost a sherbet feel to it. There is nothing subtle here but it makes for a feckin distinctive and refreshing drink which, with an ABV of 40%, makes the thought of a second glass irresistible.

Until the next time, cheers!

An Evening With Gerald Bostock

Ian-Anderson

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull plays Thick As A Brick – Royal Albert Hall

On the weekend that saw the Rolling Stones make their debut at the Glastonbury festival, TOWT and I had our own taste of grandad rock when we went to the RAH to see TOWT’s favourite group – Jethro Tull.

This tour started out over a year ago to “celebrate” the 40th anniversary of the release of Thick As A Brick (TAAB), an album famous for its gatefold sleeve in the format of a newspaper, the St Cleve Chronicle – a friend of mine actually did the crossword, what wags we were in those days! – and for being just one track spread over two sides of an LP. The album features a poem written by an intelligent 8-year-old boy, Gerald Bostock, and explores the trials of growing up. Anderson claimed it to be a spoof of the prog-rock monstrosities that were around at the time – some were not convinced, but it was enormously successful at the time.

The original TAAB is a complex piece. Anderson takes a lead role with guitar, flute and vocal parts mastered over each other making it difficult to replicate live. He overcomes the problem by introducing another co-vocalist, his doppelganger Ryan O’Donnell, who also takes over vocals which hit ranges that anno domini prevents the maestro from reaching. Still, Anderson is sprightly enough to give enough of his party piece, playing the flute on one leg, to keep the crowd satisfied. Violinist Anna Phoebe and former Soft Cell vocalist, Marc Almond, made guest appearances. The sound was a bit bottomy for my liking and made the vocals – his word play is one of the delights of Anderson’s oeuvre – difficult to decipher in parts.

TAAB2 wonders what would have happened to Gerald – a greedy investment banker, a homeless homosexual man, a sanctimonious preacher, a soldier or a most ordinary man? – and was clearly written with live performance in mind. It gives an updated twist to the riffs of the original. This was a more confident rendition of the album than the last time we saw it and worked well. The evening was rounded off with a blistering encore version of Locomotive Breath – name checked in TAAB2 to maintain the theme – and reminded the audience that the band has still got it.

Although I prefer my live music in a more intimate setting than that which the RAH can give, it was still an enjoyable evening.

To round off the grandad theme for the weekend, having just hosted our own Bundle of Joy, we had a drink pre-concert in the Gore Hotel, venue for the Stones’ Beggars’ Banquet launch party. Stones’ memorabilia grace the walls. I for one take great delight in these symmetries of life!