Craoi na Mona, Single Malt, 40%

Craoi na Mona translates into Heart of the bog.

Living in the Heart of Ireland next door to the Bog of Allen – the largest peat bog in Ireland covering 950 square kms across 9 counties – I just had to try out this Irish Single Malt from Berry Bros & Rudd.

IMG_0409 email
A glass of the best. c/othewhiskeynut

It celebrates the rich cultural & historical ties Ireland has with these boglands on my doorstep. During the seasons I can smell the burning turf from chimneys on my street, I can see the sods of turf drying in ricks from the motorway as well as a steady stream of tractors & trailers bringing it back home from the bog before the winter sets in.

There are 2 peat – or turf as it is called in Ireland – fired power stations within an hour of my house. A local politician was elected to office on the back of a Turf Cutter’s Association protest over restrictions to bog cutting.

Bogs are the very DNA of Midlands Ireland.

There were 2 whiskey distilleries in Athlone. 2  each in Tullamore, Kilbeggan and Banagher. Birr had up to 4 working distilleries. All within a 30 mile radius and all surrounding the bog with it’s readily available fuel source.

IMG_0412 email
Turf or peat? c/othewhiskeynut

Turf would have been used in the whiskey making process – either to directly fire the stills and/ or to dry the malted barley – thus influencing the character & taste profile of that whiskey.

By the mid 20th century – all of those distilleries closed. Only one kept it’s licence  – Kilbeggan – and is now back in production after John Teeling & others started the Cooley Distillery back in 1987.

Cooley Distillery reintroduced peat into the Irish whiskey scene with it’s own Connemara range – as well as many third party bottlings.

Sadly by that time – there were no maltsters producing Irish turf dried barley – nor used Irish turf barrels at hand. All who previously did so were long gone. Such raw materials had to be imported from abroad – usually Scotland.

DSCF1972 email
Sods of turf drying in the sun. c/othewhiskeynut

Craoi na Mona is one such reintroduction.

On the nose there is only a slight welcome waft of smoke on the soft sweet & fruity barley malt.

It’s on tasting a warm roaring turf fire becomes apparent, perfectly balanced by softer fresh fruity notes which start off slightly oily before drifting into a prickly dry sensation.

The smoke lingered like a softly glowing fire at home after an evenings entertainment.

This is a delightfully fresh & almost youthful expression that pleased me no end. I could have stayed all day to embrace it’s charms.

It’s a pity it takes an outside independent bottler to salute the history & tradition of turf cutting in Ireland – but it’s one I’m glad to see.

I just can’t wait for a bottle of Irish whiskey made using Irish turf. Due to the different species of plant that make up that turf – the resultant taste profile will not be the same as Scottish peat – nor Tasmanian peat for that matter – as I found out when I visited that wonderful island here. It’s what’s called ‘terroir’ – and has sadly been missing for a while. Thankfully Nephin Whiskey in Mayo are planning to malt Irish barley with Irish peat as their inaugural release.

DSCF2073 email
Nephin barrel top c/othewhiskeynut

Craoi na Mona has been out for a number of years in various expressions. It’s not commonly encountered. But if you do come across it – go for it!

The heart of Ireland – in a bottle.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s