It’s that time of year again when preparations for the Irish Whiskey Awards – to be held in Dingle Distillery on October 17th 2019 – begin with an invitation to members of the Celtic Whiskey Club & Irish Whiskey Society along with other industry representatives to attend a series of blind tasting sessions to select the winners for the evening.
Having taken part for a number of years these sessions give a wonderful insight into the current Irish Whiskey scene – provide a chance to meet up with fellow whiskey fans – and test your palate to find the whiskey that suits!
2018’s entrants were both varied, enjoyable & to my palate at least – great quality.
Breaking with previous protocol – no categories were given – so you could only guess if you were having a single grain or single pot still simply by what your palate told you – and I often guessed wrong!
The following are the results of my 2018 blind tasting.
Irish Blends Under €60
This is usually one of the most hotly contested categories with the largest entrants – and biggest sales!
My scores (out of 100) were rather tight – ranging from the low 70’s to mid 80’s. Out of 25 blends – average scores were 77. I only gave 4 marks of 80 and above.
Top of the pile was Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated.
A decent peated blend is always a favourite of mine!
Following closely behind was Clonakilty Port Cask Finish,
with Dubliner Whiskey Master Distiller’s Reserve & Pearse Distiller’s Choice coming in joint 3rd.
Single Malts Under 12 Years
Also with 25 entrants – this was a bumper field reflecting the growth in Irish Whiskey.
With a slightly higher average score of 79 there were 9 bottles with scores of 80 & above.
The winner? Connemara Single Malt .
Peat wins out again!
3 joined in 2nd place; Dunville’s PX12 Year Old, Jack Ryan Toomevara 10 Year Old & Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask.
I really enjoyed this category of only 7 entrants. I found them all to be clean & refreshing whiskey with a good depth of flavour & complexity which resulted in a high average score of 83.
In a closely fought contest featuring a head to head to discern the winner – Teeling Single Grain just pipped the post ahead of Hyde #5 Burgundy Finish.
A small yet powerful field of only 4. All scored above 80 with an average of 82.
Congratulations to The Whistler 7 Year Old Cask Strength.
Joint 2nd winners were; Hyde 8 Year Old Single Grain Cask Strength & Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength.
Again a small field of only 4 with a varied selection of entrants. The low average of 77 reflects a certain ‘works in progress’ as to the quality – and age? – of product coming exclusively from the newest whiskey distilleries in Ireland.
There was a clear winner however.
Dingle Single Malt Batch 3
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye & Pearse Lyons Distillery Reserve Cask Strength came in joint 2nd.
I find it reassuring to note some of the same names keep cropping up in my winning choices; Teeling, Hyde & Dingle for example. And it should come as no surprise I enjoy a dash of peat – along with a good bourbon cask matured whiskey. Although if a finish is required port & sherry seem to do well!
I raise a toast to congratulate all my winners – and the actual winners on the evening here.
Looking forward to see what 2019 brings!
Many thanks to all at the Celtic Whiskey Shop for organising the tasting sessions as well as the awards ceremony itself & the bottle images above.