The taste certainly reminds me of an American bourbon.
The couple behind the whiskey are American.
Yet this is an Irish Whiskey that happened to be the first I encountered at the excellent Whiskey Live Dublin 2018 show.
‘Is there any buckwheat in the mix?’ was my opener at the stall.
‘No’ was the reply – followed by an enthusiastic & open explanation of how this whiskey came about.
It’s a 10 year old sourced Irish Single Malt Whiskey that new entrants Irish Whitetail Distillery have finished in an unusually innovative & probably controversial manner.
Rather than put the malt into wood – they have put the wood into the malt!
Chunks of heavily charred African mahogany effectively free float in a vat of single malt for a period of time.
The results definitely pleased my palate!
The soft smooth barley entry was accentuated with rich warming vanilla & caramel notes reminiscent of a good bourbon. A heavier, darker element of cherry – along with a mildly drying spice rounded up the experience.
Will it catch on?
I don’t know.
I wish Irish Whitetail Distillery future success with their great tasting venture – but await discord.
Whiskey Live Dublin always throws up a surprise or two.
This years was the safely guarded release of Whiskey 21C.
This is a unique historical bottling of all the Irish Whiskey Distilleries that currently have stocks of matured whiskey in their possession.
The Celtic Whiskey Shop – not content with being the hard working organisers behind Whiskey Live Dublin – contacted all the distilleries with matured whiskey – asked for a donation of some of that precious liquid – proceeded to blend it – bottle it – sell it at the show on a strictly limited never to be repeated release – all for the Downs Syndrome Ireland charity!
Now that WAS a surprise indeed!
The 12 Irish Whiskey Distilleries who kindly donated to this project are – in the order they appear on the back label;
Bushmills Distillery – Producers of the Bushmills range + other brands.
Cooley Distillery – Producers of the Tyrconnell, Connemara, Locke’s & Kilbeggan ranges – as well as numerous other brands.
Echlinville Distillery – All current releases under the Dunvilles brand are sourced – yet Echlinville are sitting on 5 year old whiskey of their own making which has not yet been deemed ready for it’s public debut.
Kilbeggan Distillery – Producers of Kilbeggan Rye – the 1st Irish Whiskey containing rye for many a year and the 1st whiskey to be wholly produced at Kilbeggan since the micro distillery was commissioned there in 2010.
Pearse Lyons Distillery – Producers of Pearse 5 Year Old Single Malt. Some of the Pearse blends also contain malt made on the stills sited at the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin.
Teeling Whiskey Co – Producers of Teeling Single Pot Still. All other current releases are sourced.
The Shed Distillery – Producers of Gunpowder Gin & Sausage Tree Vodka – yet clearly have whiskey waiting to be released.
Tullamore DEW – All current Tullamore DEW is sourced – yet they are obviously sitting on whiskey which has been produced at the new Tullamore Distillery.
West Cork Distillers – Producers of the Glengarriff range. Some of the WCD range is sourced + they supply other brands too.
Camera Shy Cork Distillery – The only whiskey producer not mentioned is Midleton. Could this be them?
A small sample of Whiskey 21C was also offered to Whiskey Live Dublin attendees!
I found it a young, fresh & fruity blend. Approachable & easy despite it’s 54.2% strength. There was no mention if it was either a blended malt or a malt & grain mix – nor the percentages of the distilleries involved in the project. I was just extremely pleased to get a chance to taste the future of Irish Whiskey!
A big thank you to all the hard work of the team behind Whiskey Live Dublin AND Whiskey 21C.
2nd on the list was any locally based Irish whiskey brands – but there weren’t any – as I found out in my recent blog here.
3rd on the list and last pickings were locally based Scotch brands – there were LOADS of them!
Have you ever wondered why only half of the 130 or so Scottish Whisky Distilleries have visitors centres?
The others are so busy pumping out liquid to 3rd party blenders, bottlers & spirits wholesalers throughout the world to bother with tourists.
Liquid like what I found in The Charles House Blended Scotch Whisky.
Now I must admit most of this market is entry level stuff. It usually means they are blends augmented with added caramel – which I can detect & dislike – as well as being chill filtered. There is no pretence to provenance or terroir – in fact there is very little to go on even on the label.
But I don’t drink whisky based on what the label does or doesn’t say.
I drink whisky because I enjoy it.
And I certainly enjoyed Charles House.
When poured into the glass the colour was relatively light – there was caramel on the nose – but not overpowering – and a lovely burnt note which drew me in.
Soft, smooth & slightly sweet grain on the palate – mellow enough as befits an entry level blend – but what’s this coming through?
My mouth began to dry out leaving a prickly tingling on the tongue with a lovely soft ashiness.
Aha! I detect a bit of peat influence in this.
The peat adds a bit of bite – some lovely smoky flavours – and just raises the tasting experience up a notch or two.
It brought a smile to my face.
Sorry Run – I’d much rather go back to Charles House.
One of the most innovative & interesting new whiskeys I managed to sample at the recent Whiskey Live Dublin event was a 10 year old grain finished in ex-Mezcal casks.
Mezcal might not be familiar to many – I only recently sampled one myself – hence I thought it timely to explore this drink.
Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant. It has Geographical Indication status and must be made in Mexico.
Mezcal has a long history & tradition involving roasting pits to process the raw agave. The addition of agave fibres to boost flavour during fermentation and distillation in pot stills made of clay – at least for the highest grade of Ancestral Mezcal.
The Monte Alban before me would be an entry level Mezcal – it’s all I could find at my local store – and is produced in Mexico for the Sazerac group.
The nose is very pungent with heavy deep earthy notes complimented by a mere wisp of smoke.
Very smooth & approachable on the palate. The earthy aromas dominate in an oily mouthfeel which slowly dries out leaving a lovely ash laden quality on the long finish.
I found this a very satisfying and intriguing spirit.
One that pulls me in.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what Mezcal flavours come through in the final mix of the retail version Mezcal finished Irish Whiskey from JJ Corry.
When stripped back to basis – all whiskey is made the same way.
A vegetable grain is processed to allow the starch within to be converted into sugar.
The sugar is eaten by a yeast to produce a mild alcoholic liquid.
The liquid is distilled – ending up as new make spirit.
The spirit is aged in wooden barrels.
The wooden barrels are emptied, filled into bottles and labelled.
It’s now whiskey!
Each step in the process – from the choice & quality of grain used – to the length of time & type of wooden barrels used for maturation – ultimately alters & influences the resultant flavour.
Yet it’s all whiskey.
Different countries have different rules governing the whole production methods used. What can be done in one country may not be allowed in another.
Yet it’s all whiskey.
A distillery can make new spirit in one country – mature it in another – ship it out to a third for final blending – perhaps bottle it in a fourth – and sell it in a fifth.
Yet it’s all whiskey.
Whether it is labelled Bourbon, Rye, Single Pot Still, Blended, French, German, Chinese, Irish – by the distillery itself – the blenders – the bottlers – the third party brand makers.
It is all whiskey.
I drink whiskey.
I enjoy exploring the huge variety of styles, flavours and experiences brought about by the myriad of options available both within one country – as well as the countless choices around the world where whiskey is produced.
I enjoy the never ending innovation, experimentation and technical adaptation that constantly evolves what we know of as whiskey.
Roll out the barrels – of whiskey!
All distilleries featured & whiskeys photographed have been visited, sampled & written about previously on this site.
I remember visiting the building site that became the Teeling Whiskey Distillery here.
I remember my first visit to the working distillery here.
And I remember drinking their new make Poitin – distilled in Dublin – here.
So it’s a great treat to eventually getting round to tasting their first official whiskey.
All previous Teeling releases are sourced. I’ve enjoyed a fair few of them over the years so this young Single Pot Still has a very high bar to follow – some might say an impossible task – so does it make the grade?
Well – it Smells Like Teen Spirit!
The idea that a just-over-3yr-old Single Pot Still can match the complexity & depth of flavour of malts matured in a variety of barrels for at least 5 years or more – much more in many cases – is frankly ridiculous.
This Single Pot Still is fresh, lively & exuberant.
There’s plenty of sweet fresh fruit on the nose with just a hint of sour new make in the background.
Initially a smooth fruity mouthfeel develops into a dry peppery spice with a good deal of prickly heat.
The dry spices fade leaving a clean tropical fruit finish.
I actually really enjoy it – but it’s hardly an easy smooth tannic laden whiskey of hidden depth & character. It’s a little rough around the edges – nothing a few more years wouldn’t sort out.
But then this whiskey was never meant to be the finished item.
It’s a work in progress to highlight the maturing process – to keep the adoring fans happy – to keep Teeling in the limelight and to earn a bit of return too.
It’s a historical bottling with a release of 6,000 at an affordable price.
It’s presented at 46% – and like all Teeling releases – there is no chill filtering nor added caramel.
A nice touch is the light blue label which mirrors the Dublin GAA colours.