For a long time Irish Whiskey was defined more by what it couldn’t be rather than by what it could.
When the whisky market was clearly shifting to blended whisky in the late 1800’s, Messrs J Jameson, W Jameson, J Power & G Roe brought out the ‘Truths About Whisky’ pamphlet which railed against this new confounded ‘silent spirit’ & thereby shunned the opportunities available.
Celebrity endorsed brands are making big waves across the globe right now – yet within the Irish Whiskey community there is almost universal rejection of Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve Whiskey – despite it leaping to become the 4th most popular Irish Whiskey in the world.
Many also adhere to the myth that Irish Whiskey can’t be peated.
Which is a pity.
Peated whiskey displays a gorgeous smoky flavour which many customers seek out – customers like myself.
So when Kilbeggan Distillery recently added the Kilbeggan Black Lightly Peated Irish Whiskey to their range – I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The double distilled blend of malt & grain whiskey from Cooley Distillery in County Louth is presented in a no nonsense screwcap bottle at 40% ABV with added colouring.
It’s clearly positioned at the mass market peated blend category previously dominated by Scorch – and I fully welcome Irish Whiskey’s entry into this arena.
A subtle kiss of smoke rises from the honeyed blend.
Soft & easy palate.
Gently drying smokiness envelops the finish in a warm tingly embrace.
Now that the pubs are slowly opening after a long COVID shutdown – it’ll be great to reach for a lightly peated Irish Whiskey.
Ever since the split between Walsh Whiskey & Illva Saronno over the direction of produce distilled at Royal Oak Distillery – premiumisation vs mass market in my estimation – I’ve noticed far more glowing coverage of Walsh Whiskey – now a sourced brand – over and above Royal Oak – who are one of only a few Irish Whiskey Distilleries able to distill all 4 styles of Irish Whiskey – Blend, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still – under one roof.
Normally there’s a ‘hoorah’ over a new distillery’s first offerings – but for Royal Oak it was a mere whimper.
The Busker range is widely available in the US.
For now in Ireland it remains in specialist shops.
I was waiting for it to appear in my local supermarket – but opted for a sampler pack from Dick Mac’s Bar instead.
The Busker range is entirely Royal Oak’s own distillate – which I’ve yet to witness on the shelves – and is a marvelous milestone in the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.
The livery of the bottle is bold, striking & contemporary – a refreshing modern look.
The Busker range is available for the attractive price of €40 for the singles & €30 for the blend.
So how did I find them?
Triple Cask Blend, 40%
Triple distilled, triple cask – bourbon , sherry & marsala – a blend of Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still.
Quite a rich & fruity aroma. The sherry influence appears to dominate. Juicy fruitiness on the palate – like wine gums. An enjoyable tingling spice on the finish which gradually dries out.
Lovely complexity at a pleasing price.
Single Grain, 44.3%
Bourbon & Marsala cask matured.
Gentle & subtle. Hints of woodiness. Clean & fresh palate. Dries out on the finish with a frisson of spice.
A characterful & engaging single grain.
Single Malt, 44.3%
Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.
Smooth maltiness. Lovely sweet juicines on the palate. A delightful drying spice on the finish.
Easy & engaging.
Single Pot Still, 44.3%
Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.
Captivating sweet spiciness. More of those wine gums. More body & woody depth showing through. Lip smacking finish.
There’s a common sherry influenced theme running through all these whiskey. A pleasing sweet juiciness followed by a drying spiciness – but for me the added complexity of the single pot still wins out on the day.
A very welcome addition to the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.
Copeland Distillery are one of a growing collection of new Irish Whiskey Distilleries making inroads to market.
Despite having laid down their own stocks – they have yet to mature – Copeland have taken the route of releasing a sourced blend to build awareness of the brand, gain valuable practice & knowledge regarding marketing, packaging, blending as well as cultivating relationships.
I think it’s a commendable exercise – especially when I get the opportunity to try out a sample bottle!
The presentation is very attractive.
The story plays up the rich maritime history of Copeland Distillery’s home town of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland – which I’m immediately drawn to having been a seafarer in the past.
But it all comes down to the liquid – so a sample was poured.
The nose is rich & inviting. A satisfying display of depth coupled with an attractive bite & hints of wood.
Silky & smooth on the palate. Waves of flavour ebb & flow on a gentle tide.
A delightful spiciness opens up on the finish with succulent fruit juiciness fading to a dry tingling.