Brilliant Line Up of Speakers at The Drinks Theatre Promises to Wow Drink Enthusiasts at LitFest 2017

Brilliant Line Up of Speakers at The Drinks Theatre Promises to Wow Drink Enthusiasts at LitFest 2017

This year LitFest celebrates its 5th edition. The event, described as A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe, runs from the 19th to the 21st of May and it will host numerous talks, tastings and demonstrations, not only related to the world of food, but also featuring wine, spirits and beer at the entertaining Drinks Theatre.

Shaking things up in the cocktail scene

Guests will have a taste of the fine concoctions created by Ally Kelsey at multi award-winning White Lyan cocktail bar in East London. Regarded as ‘Most Creative Bar’ by Timeout Bar Awards 2016, this is the first bar in the owrld that uses no perishable ingredients (like ice, fresh fruits, herbs, etc).

Ally will share the stage with Andy Ferreira of Cork’s cocktail bar Cask. Andy’s events and consultancy company Raise the Bar places a big emphasis on farm to glass cocktails and whenever possible they use locally foraged ingredients. They will talk about ‘Cocktails from locality to mindfulness’, and while their approaches might be different, they both share an emphasis on the current trend in the industry towards minimal or no waste.

Wine Lovers, Spoiled for Choice

Mary Dowey, wine editor of The Gloss and contributor to Decanter, will guide attendees through a fabulous tasting of Champagne and other sparkling wines from family-owned estates. She will emphasise the stylistic differences between Champenoise regions as well as some more recent players in the bubbles scene, such as English sparkling.

Tomás Clancy, journalist, writer and broadcaster will offer a tour of the often overlook but worthy of attention German wines at a tasting titled ‘Wines of Germany – Europe’s Hidden Wine Jewel’. Tomás will also explore the German wine industry’s commitment to traceability and sustainable agriculture.

France’s only female Master of Wine, Isabelle Legeron, will share her thoughts on sustainable winemaking during her talk ‘Natural Wine: an introduction to organic & biodynamic wines made naturally’. She’s the founder of Raw Wine, the UK’s largest artisan wine fair and a leading voice in this fascinating global movement. Later that evening, Isabelle will also present wines at a Natural Wine Dinner in Ballymaloe House.

Caro Feely, wine author and organic winemaker, and Tomás Clancy will also discuss organic and biodynamic winemaking in a conversation named ‘Glass half full’. Caro moved from South Dublin to the South-West of France over a decade ago, and she has writing three books on her life in organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking.

Dermot Sugrue, Munster native and award winning winemaker from Wiston Estate in Sussex will give a talk and tasting of wines including one he has made in honour of his late Grand-Uncle, the extraordinary and innovative Brendan O’Reagan.

Judy O’Kane, London-based Irish writer will speak about wine’s sense of place at ‘Terroir, a sense of place from Ballymaloe to Bordeaux to Otago. Judy trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School where she first learned the importance of terroir, and her work has won the Listowel Writers’ Week Original Poem Prize and been shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Award in London.

Inspiring Spirits

Bertha’s Revenge, an innovative small batch gin made from milk whey, will be featured as part of a wider talk on ‘The Business of Food’ with hospitality consultant Blathnaid Bergin, Brother Hubbard café owners Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland and Ballymaloe House manager, Hazel Allen, and Ballyvolane owner and distiller, Justin Green.

Irish whiskey will be represented on stage by Master of Maturation at Midleton Distillery Kevin O’Gorman and forester Patrick Purser who will guide at tendees through a talk and tasting on the spirit.

Those interested in oak’s influence on whiskey’s maturation, will have the opportunity to listen and observe Ger Buckley, Master Cooper at Midleton Distillery who will give a cooperage demonstration with a focus on oak from different forests.

Brilliant Brewers

Kristen Jensen, prestigious cookbook editor and co-author of  ‘Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider’, will lead a panel discussing Irish cider with ‘From Blossom to Bottle – Irish Craft Cider’, and a second panel will talk about ‘Irish Craft Beer: Good to The Last Drop’, accompanied by craft brewers Sarah Roarty of N17, and Cuilán Loughnane of White Gypsy.

For more information on all of the events and speakers at the Drinks Theatre and to book tickets, please visit

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