It hit me. Leaving Cert. Blind silence panic.

There be five of them sat upstairs silently trying to discern between grain and chaff, whisky and whiskey, bourbon and rye. Five different tables, all studiously looking for clues in the three separate samples lined up, swirling, sniffing, scribbling. I never experienced whisky like this. Never a big fan, a couple of run-ins and car crashes inspired by Hunter’s tomes of the feverish Wild Turkey and the Kentucky Derby. Then pointedly avoided.

Bu this was a fiercely different race, a Monday afternoon in May at 37 Dawson Street, five of Ireland brightest barkeeps battling it out with bespoke cocktails, hosting and whisky tasting. Diageo’s all Ireland semi final.

Looking for notes, finishes, bouquets and whatever-you’re-havin-yerself from the distilled mash juice ain’t easy, loquacious lavishings threadbare when put upon a microscope. Just silence, furrowed brows and sinal snortings.

My Leaving Cert was never like this.