Stripped of any clues as to what’s before you it heightens your senses to the tastes & flavours experienced on drinking the liquid.
Presented before me were 6 samples. I duly poured them into 6 identical Túath glasses & proceeded to savour the contents.
For some reason I thought this was a rum tasting – & quickly revised this theory as No 1‘despite having a bit of a sour nose the lack of body on the palate & high ABV kick signalled to me a poitín! Can’t say it did much for me. Nice experience – but not an approachable spirit’.
There was no No 2 so No 3‘proved intriguing. The pale yellow colour, soft fruity nose, easy palate with slight hints of burnt notes on the rear drew me in. I could drink this one again!’.
With No 4 ‘I experienced a slightly musty nose, indicative of long ageing, perfectly fine palate yet lacked a bit of body & very dry on the rear. Rather nonplussed by this one’.
No 5‘had a sherry like influence, smooth & silky on the palate with a nice touch of dryness on the rear. Could be a low ppm peater? Not quite enough to excite me if it is’.
No 6‘initially blew me away! Suggestive of high ABV. On a 2nd tasting it still didn’t entice me’.
No 7 ‘kinda hooked me, if only for a more pronounced smoky influence. Elegant yet challenging all at the same time’.
So that was it! My initial thoughts are in italics.
Samples 3 & 7 stood out for me in this selection.
So what were they?
3 – Dunville’s 1808, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%
What can I say? A very pleasant easy drinker with enough depth of character to keep me coming back for more.
7 – Smögen 100 Proof, 6 Year Old, Swedish Single Malt, 57.1%
A heavy peater finished in oloroso casks at a challenging high ABV. Think I’d have enjoyed this one more at 46% without the oloroso finish myself.
And the others?
1 – Black’s Single Pot New Make, 63.5%
4 – Jamesons Black Barrel Proof, Blend, 50%
5 – High Coast, Dálvve Sherry Influence, Swedish Single Malt, 48%
A light peater with 50/50 bourbon/sherry influence. A bit of a let down from the original high peater Box Dálvve I enjoyed at Gothenberg Airport here.
Given that Smögen is a bit of a unicorn bottle – hard to get hold of, pricey & limited edition – as are some of the other bottles – I think Dunville’s 1808 performed extremely well on my palate.
I took away a few themes from this tasting. High ABV can blow away the flavours for me & make for a challenging drinking experience. Sherry cask influence isn’t my style of choice & when it comes to enjoyable, affordable drinking – you can’t beat a good blend!
What would your palate have chosen?
Many thanks to fellow Whiskey Blogger S for the blind samples & bottle photo.
But The Galtee Mountain Boy Irish Whiskey made the journey to Paeder’s Bar in Moate, County Westmeath.
Attractively packaged in a ceramic bottle proudly displaying an old photograph of young volunteers made it stand out on the spirits shelve.
A blend of single grain, single malt & single pot still Irish Whiskey matured in ex-bourbon casks & given a finish in extra charred casks The Galtee Mountain Boy displays a soft caramely nose with a touch of toffee.
Warm mouthfeel with sweet vanilla & darker, richer notes giving some body to the table.
Finishes with a flourish of spice.
An easy yet characterful little number imbued with a rich historical legacy.
I previously tried this attractive trio – blog here – but now they’ve appeared in an eye-catching miniature set complete with historical stories regarding the Earls portrayed & tasting notes on the whiskeys too – I thought I’d give them another go!
Red Earl, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%
Triple casked, finished in Rioja casks. This light brown blend has a gentle aroma of soft dark fruits. The palate is quite soft yet there’s a delightful fruit bomb on the finish. An added prickly spice livens up the finish.
A very pleasant offering.
Great Earl, Single Grain Irish Whiskey, 40%
Triple casked, finished in Sangiovese casks. Not come across that wine before! Slightly paler in colour. Finding the nose more expressive than the blend – richer & more redolent. A lovely sweet grainy appeal on the palate slowly develops into a punchier finish.
Liking this one!
Spanish Earl, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 43%
Triple casked, finished in Stout casks. Upping the game with a few extra ABV! A darker shade of straw. Finding the nose a tad muted – but darker & heavier when it does appear. Very smooth & silky palate. The stout cask flavours emerge with dark toffee & burnt toast notes.
A terrific trio!
It’s actually hard to pick a favourite from these well presented whiskeys. All lean towards a sweet wine cask finished style with the malt introducing darker stout elements. On this occasion Spanish Earl won me over. What it lost on the nose was more than compensated by a rich finish.
First off – Sazerac taking over Lough Gill Distillery in the wonderful scenery of County Sligo, Ireland is fantastic news for Irish Whiskey as a whole.
It shows the confidence a large international player has in the future potential of Irish Whiskey for them to lay down roots & invest in that future.
I’ve read a lot of guff about Celebrity Brands – a lot of it negative – yet any company not involved in Celebrity Brands at the moment is missing out on the current zeitgeist that’s witnessing massive growth in the category.
Interestingly both Paddy & Michael Collins Irish Whiskey are Celebrity Brands.
The fact those celebrities are historic – and dead – might make them easier to market & handle over current living celebrities.
Nonetheless Sazerac have already boosted sales of Paddy Irish Whiskey since acquiring the brand from Irish Distillers & I see no reason Michael Collins Irish Whiskey cannot follow suite.
A sense of place?
Reams of marketing PR & fawning bloggers big up the idea a sense of place is integral to the quality & taste of whiskey.
Outside of a few micro distilleries practicing farm to glass single estate distilling – even then the taste differences can be miniscule – I just don’t buy it.
The original Paddy Irish Whisky was distilled in Cork for the Cork Distillery Company. CDC in turn was merged into Irish Distillers who continued to produce Paddy at New Midleton Distillery. Lough Gill Distillery will now fly the flag.
Will any of the growing band of consumers notice this?
I doubt it.
The brand changes & morphs through time. What it tasted like in 1877 may bear no resemblance to what it is now – or in the future – but it’s still Paddy Irish Whiskey. All that history & rich legacy is part of it – but history & legacy are not actual tasting notes that can be ascertained on drinking a whiskey.
I’m not expecting much innovation at Lough Gill.
What I am expecting is building on the solidity of both Paddy & Michael Collins Irish Whiskey to expand & grow in both the local and international markets.
Athrú Irish Whiskey is a premium brand currently using sourced aged stock for their lovely product. It’s going to be a bit of a wait before any Lough Gill distillate hits the market under that brand name.
The future looks bright for Irish Whiskey – even brighter for Lough Gill Distillery. Developments at the facility will be eagerly awaited.
I wish all the team at Lough Gill Distillery much future success.
A visit to the fabulous Dead Centre Brewery in the heart of Ireland overlooking the mighty River Shannon was on my mind.
I’d heard a collaborative Irish Whiskey – whiskey barrels from Lough Ree had been loaned to Dead Centre to create a beer – Here Right Now – then given back to Lough Ree to finish a whiskey in – Dead Centre No 1 & No 2 were now available at the bar.
Known primarily for their excellent range of craft beer Dead Centre Brewing now boast a pair of Single Cask, Single Malt Irish Whiskey proudly displayed behind the bar.
A serving of each was duly ordered – & I retired to the outside decking above the Shannon to sample the results.
The Bridge Series is an apt name. For Lough Ree Distillery it denotes the journey between setting up the company using sourced whiskey – GND for Dead Centre – before their own distillate arrives.
It also marks a journey of discovery, collaboration & connection – not only with fellow drinks producers & marketeers to get the whiskey on the shelves – but also for the consumers to enjoy the variety of flavours & styles on show.
Additionally there’s the physical journey from my riverside perch overlooking Athlone town bridge at the bottom of Lough Ree itself to the bridge at Lanesborough beside Lough Ree Distillery’s site. A trip well worth doing by boat!
Today my journey however was one of taste.
Dead Centre No 1, 43%
Clean, crisp & soft aromas augmented with a touch of depth. The whiskey greats you with a warm embrace. Offers up a subtle depth complete with a long lasting slightly dry finish topped off with a sprinkling of prickly spice.
Dead Centre No 2, 46%
If anything – slightly cleaner & crisper. Found No 2 had a smoother delivery with a bigger embrace of warmth from those rich toffee like notes. The spice on the finish correspondingly was a little more subdued offering a rounder tasting appeal.
Trying to pick out the minutiae of variation between 2 single cask Irish Whiskey by the banks of the Shannon is a bit of a nerdy exercise.
Both are lovely exemplar of beer barrel finished whiskey aided by Lough Ree’s policy of presenting the liquid non chill filtered & natural colour to allow the flavours to shine.
I have to confess a certain degree of local pride in these whiskey. Knowing the players behind both of these drinks businesses & sharing their journeys as they successfully produce highly entertaining liquid as well as enjoyable destinations for visitors to the area is a joy to witness & partake in.
Why don’t you partake for yourself?
I’d recommend Dead Centre Brewing as a suitable venue – & if you message me I might be encouraged to join you savouring the liquid delights within!
Given a number of releases from new distilleries – possibly due to commercial demand – were to my tastes at least offered a tad fresh – Batch 1 displayed a richness of flavour & welcome complexity in the emerging distillery category.
Presented at 47% the nose was initially a touch spirity but a lovely rich bourbony warmth of sweet vanillas & a touch of nuttiness captured me.
A silky mouth coating feel on the palate further opened up those gorgeous notes.
An entertaining bite on the finish furnished with a dry nutty prickliness – a combination of the high ABV & Oloroso finishing no doubt – danced merrily away.
An impressive debut from the Ballina based distillery.