Category Archives: Irish Whiskey

Killarney 8 Year Old, Imperial Stout Barrel Aged Irish Whiskey, 46% & Killarney Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Stout, 9.6%

In advance of their €24 million combined whiskey distillery & brewery coming on stream, Killarney Distilling Co have released this limited edition duo.

Killarney Whiskey & Stout c/othewhiskeynut

Comprising of an 8 year old blended whiskey finished in their own Imperial Stout casks – as well as the Imperial Stout finished in whiskey casks – they make for an exclusive pairing.

Aged in Stout c/othewhiskeynut

The 8yo wasn’t giving much away. Quite soft & shy on the nose.

More powerful on the palate. Subtle sweet grain mixed with wholesome malt augmented by the undertones of barrel finishing.

A rather lively & fresh finish rounded this agreeable blend off.

Aged in Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The Imperial Stout had a richness & depth from the whiskey barrels – but I found the carbonation a tad too lively – which distracted my palate from the complexity within.

Leaving it to sit for a while brought out a creaminess – adding to the enjoyment.

A worthy pair to kick start the exciting journey Killarney Distilling Co are embarking on!

Sláinte

Lough Ree, The Bridge Series, St Mel’s No 1, Single Cask, Single Malt, 43%

The Bridge is an apt name for this series of limited release whiskey from the yet to be built Lough Ree Distillery.

St Mel’s No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

Not only does it bridge the gap for their own whiskey to mature, it also takes you on a journey of discovery.

Lough Ree are also on a journey by bridging links with local craft brewery St Mel’s for the Brown Ale casks used to finish this ex-bourbon cask matured single malt.

Back label story c/othewhiskeynut

A welcoming rich, warm & inviting nose of toffee & butterscotch pulls you in.

Silky smooth on the palate, St Mel’s has a luxurious mouthfeel with characterful depth & complexity.

A gorgeous gently drying spiciness wraps up this delightful whiskey.

The Bridge whiskey series tend to sell out – so grab one while you can.

This St Mel’s release took me on a particularly enjoyable journey.

Sláinte

Plain Packaging, Branding & Celebrity Spirits

For health reasons Plain Packaging is now enforced for tobacco products in Ireland & it could well follow for alcohol.

Plain packaging c/oPackagingNews

A recent report highlighted the issues involved – from the brands position – but It did set me wondering.

I drink whiskey to enjoy the taste.

Fancy packaging, back stories & celebrity endorsements may enhance the experience – but the liquid inside the bottle & how my palate perceives it is paramount.

As I’m currently judging this years Irish Whiskey Awards I note all the samples come in plain packaging – albeit without the health warnings.

Blind whiskey judging c/othewhiskeynut

This is to strip out any bias – conscious or unconscious – towards particular brands or distilleries & lets the whiskey speak for itself.

Branding clearly works. It’s why companies spend vast amounts of money establishing a ‘relationship’ with the customer.

Celebrity endorsements are an extension of that process & are part of the cultural fabric today.

McGregor c/oProperTwelve

From Conor McGregor to Graeme McDowell – note the different reception shown to both – George Clooney to Rita Ora – celebrities boost sales.

Prospero Tequila c/oSpiritsBusiness

Whiskey bloggers also court celebrity status promoting merchandise & image over and above actual content.

Love it or loath it – branding abounds.

Whether your whiskey comes in Plain Packaging or not, is promoted by a superstar or just recommended by a popular blogger or not, rest assured the whiskey flavour remains the same.

How your palate experiences & interprets that flavour is unique to you.

Whiskey in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

Pour yourself a measure & let the whiskey do the talking.

Sláinte

Titanic, Premium Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

While Kilbeggan Black explores the softer side of smoke, this latest incarnation of Titanic Whiskey is a bolder offering.

Titanic Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

More pronounced smoke infused with a sweet juiciness from the sherry casks greets the nose.

Quite a clean, fresh & clear grainy palate.

Gorgeously drying spicy finish leaves with an entertaining tingling gently sailing away.

A fabulous addition to the growing peated Irish fleet.

The original Titanic Whiskey was a honeyed blend sourced from Cooley Distillery – there’s still a few bottles around – for Belfast lottery winner Peter Lavery.

Peter Lavery c/o belfastmediagroup.com

The brand was doing well before John Teeling sold to Beam in 2011 – who promptly turned off the taps to 3rd parties.

Titanic 5yo c/oCelticWhiskeyAuctions

Little did Beam know this would precipitate the biggest whiskey distillery building spree witnessed in Ireland for generations!

From Slane Distillery in Co Meath, Great Northern Distillery in Co Louth & Teeling Distillery in Dublin.

McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

Peter Lavery attempted a distillery in Crumlin Gaol – now in new hands as McConnell’s Whisky – & has secured planning for a distillery at Titanic Docks itself!

Today’s Titanic Whiskey is sourced from GND & it’s a lovely little blend.

Titanic info c/othewhiskeynut

Who knows – in a few years time there could be a Belfast made whiskey again emanating from the same docks the Titanic ship hailed from.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful dream to achieve?

Roll on the Titanic!

Sláinte

Black’s 18 Year Old, Irish Rum Cask Finish, Single Malt, 56%

Black’s Brewery & Distillery have been satisfying thirsty drinkers for nearly a decade.

Their beers proved a hit on the growing craft beer scene with hop forward offerings – sadly not to my tastes – building a loyal following.

Black’s moonshine c/othewhiskeynut

Moving into the distilling scene Black’s excited me more with an early BlackMoon XXX release which pleased my palate.

Black’s Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Several entertaining whiskeys of sourced distillate also went down well.

Black’s Rum. c/othewhiskeynut

Black’s own wholly Irish produced Golden Rum certainly wowed my senses – as well as The World Rum Awards!

Black’s 18yo Rum Cask c/oBlacks

This latest premium 18 Year Old Single Malt has been finished in barrels used to mature that Irish Golden Rum – a world first!

Luckily a sample from Black’s of this limited edition release came my way.

Black’s 18 c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely golden hue.

Gorgeously rich aromas. Thinking rum & raisin, gentle woodiness – yet almost earthy.

Initially sweet & easy notes of soft caramel infused with stronger oakiness coat the palate before the 56% ABV kicks in with a joyful explosion of power.

A prickly tingling of gently drying spiciness faded slowly away.

A very attractive & alluring malt indeed.

Pity it’s a bit beyond my price range!

Sláinte

Black’s Brewery & Distillery kindly supplied the sample.

All views – as always – are my own.

Kilbeggan Black, Lightly Peated Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

For a long time Irish Whiskey was defined more by what it couldn’t be rather than by what it could.

Truths About Whiskey 1878 c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Proper Twelve c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Sods of turf drying in the sun. c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Peated Kilbeggan c/othewhiskeynut

So when Kilbeggan Distillery recently added the Kilbeggan Black Lightly Peated Irish Whiskey to their range – I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Label info c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Delicately smoky c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Go on Kilbeggan!

Sláinte

8 Degrees, Devil’s Ladder Belgian Tripel, Sherry Cask Aged, 11.5%

Very rich tasting.

Very moreish.

A mountain of a beer at 11.5%.

Devil’s Ladder c/othewhiskeynut

Part of 8 Degrees Brewing Irish Munro series – this beer’s casks are in turn used to age a whiskey creating the Crested Devil’s Ladder version.

Crested Devil’s Ladder c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

As both 8 Degrees & Crested are owned by Pernod Ricard – it’s great to see further developments from this partnership.

Enjoy them while you can!

Sláinte

The Busker Whiskey Range, Blend, 40%, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still, 44.3%.

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.

The fabulous Royal Oak Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

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 samples c/othewhiskeynut

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 c/oTTB/Colasonline

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 c/oTTB/Colasonline

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 c/oTTB/Colasonline

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 c/oTTB/Colasonline

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.

Nice!

Thoughts

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.

Sláinte

Two Tastings of Two Stacks, The First Cut, Blend, 43%

My first encounter with Two Stacks was in a blind tasting.

Devoid of any prior knowledge my brief assessment of this ‘Complex Blend’ was as follows;

Complex Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Neutral on the nose, soft & subtle.

Not giving much away on the palate, mellow easy drinking.

Nice flavours on the finish, intriguing.

I was surprised to find out it was Two Stacks, The First Cut. Mainly as I’d heard the blend contained a peated element – which I’d failed to detect.

My second encounter with Two Stacks was from an actual bottle.

On the back label is the blending mix & yes – peat does feature, but at only 2% – it clearly wasn’t enough to grab my palate.

Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

Having all the information & a longer time to engage with the whiskey did slightly alter the experience.

A mere hint of smoke just pushed through on the nose – although the mild mellow softness still dominated.

The finish left me with a dry tingling – often a reaction I get from peated whiskey. At only 2% however it was a gentle suggestion & I’d probably be happier with a 20% hit.

Two Stacks in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

Interestingly another drinker had a heightened reaction against the peat – even at such a low concentration it was still overpowering.

Others I know detect sulphur from sherry casks in small amounts too.

My palate seems to be the opposite in that I need bigger percentages & bolder flavours to grab my attention.

As it is, The First Cut is a well put together blend.

Nice easy drinking – & while the peated element does add some character – it’s just not enough to excite my palate.

Sláinte

Copeland Merchants Quay, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

Copeland Distillery are one of a growing collection of new Irish Whiskey Distilleries making inroads to market.

Copeland Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

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!

Story time c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Copeland in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Info c/othewhiskeynut

A very engaging & entertaining little number.

I wish Copeland Distillery much future success.

Sláinte

The sample bottle was kindly supplied by Copeland.

All views – as always – are my own.