Category Archives: Irish Whiskey

Erne Larder, Irish Whiskey Marmalade, 2%

What better way to enjoy breakfast than indulge yourself with Irish Whiskey Marmalade on yer toast?

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How could I resist? c/othewhiskeynut

Erne Larder is currently available in the Lidl chain of stores and I happily spread a liberal amount all over my sourdough toast earlier.

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Whiskey Marmalade! c/othewhiskeynut

The marmalade has a solid consistency – it doesn’t run over the toast – is fairly dark in colour and comes with orange peel in the mix to give added bite & texture.

The nose was rich & inviting, heavy with orange, a hint of malt & fresh zestiness too.

The taste was wholesome, bursting with flavour & full bodied.

If this was a whiskey I’d be saying it possessed character, depth & added flair.

A very satisfying way to start the day.

Sláinte

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NB – Please note the 2% refers to the percentage of Irish Whiskey – source not stated – in the recipe, not the ABV of the marmalade.

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Ingredients c/othewhiskeynut
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Irish American Whiskey Trio Taste-Off

I couldn’t say goodbye to my latest selection of Irish Whiskey brands only available in America without a taste challenge.

Emptying what was left of the miniatures – and a pour from the 750 ml US size bottle – the first thing I noticed was the almost identical golden colour from all 3 whiskeys.

All 3 are NAS – non age statement – offerings at 40% ABV.

All 3 are sourced brands from unspecified Irish Distilleries and

All 3 taste remarkably different from each other.

I’ll kick off with Kilbrin.

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The attractive front of Kilbrin c/othewhiskeynut

This one immediately appealed to my palate. Fresh, lively & inviting. A gorgeous spicy kick towards the end endeared this blend to me.

Kavanagh was up next.

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Kavanagh Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

More malty – biscuity even. Hardly surprising as it’s a single malt. A smoother delivery – cultured perhaps – with a gentler spiciness adding some character.

Wolfhound rounded up the trio.

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The Gentle Giant c/othewhiskeynut

Compared to the others, I found the ‘roar’ of the hound a rather dull & muted affair. The honeyed sweetness just didn’t set my palate alight.

Without a doubt my clear winner – and rather surprisingly so – was Kilbrin Irish Whiskey.

It has character & attitude in abundance.

For me it captures the beauty of a good blend.

The balance of both malt & grain whiskeys compliment each other giving complexity to the palate.

Kudos to Kilbrin!

Sláinte

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Powers Single Cask SuperValu Releases Launch Night At NCAD, Single Pot Stills, 46%

The SuperValu grocery store chain announced a new exclusive release of Powers Single Cask, Single Pot Still Whiskeys at a recent event in the NCAD (National College of Art and Design) building in Dublin recently.

The NCAD is housed on the former site of John’s Lane Distillery – the ‘spiritual’ home of Powers Whiskey – and some of the original buildings – and pot stills – are still in situ.

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Your host for the evening! c/othewhiskeynut

Arriving a little late to the proceedings I happily entered just as Ger Garland – Irish Distillers Whiskey Ambassador – presented the 2 Single Cask releases – Cask 147620 & Cask 104072 – to the gathered audience.

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Powers Cask 147620 c/othewhiskeynut

Both are 10 year old single pot stills offered at 46% and are matured in ex-bourbon casks – both 1st fill and 2nd fill casks are used.

I found both of them classic Powers Whiskey.

Warming vanilla & caramel on the nose. A honeyed creamy palate followed by that drying peppery spice I love so much.

Very enjoyable indeed!

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It wasn’t just the whiskey – the titbits were tasty too! c/othewhiskeynut

The 2 offerings did differ – rather subtly in my estimation – although others picked out more marked divergencies than me.

The consensus seemed to be on Cask 104072 as the most popular representation of a Powers Single Pot Still.

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Powers Cask 104072 c/othewhiskeynut

I found the creamy beginning and spicy end more pronounced & better balanced than the alternative cask – although it must be said both were fine whiskeys!

Both releases come complete with an attractive presentation box and will be available in SuperValu stores nationwide in October with a price tag of around €145 each.

With only 276 bottles for Cask 147620 & 216 for Cask 104072 – I doubt they will hang around for long!

Sláinte

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Kavanagh Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

My final bottle of Irish Whiskey – from my American market only trio – is Kavanagh Irish Whiskey.

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Kavanagh Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

They release a range of attractively labelled whiskeys. Namely a Blend, a Single Malt, a Single Grain and a 16 Year Old Single Malt – all at 40% ABV – or 80 Proof in America.

This NAS (non age statement) Single Malt made it back to Ireland for me to sample.

The distillery of origin is not stated and Kavanagh seem to be a store brand for Total Wine & More – from where it was purchased.

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Kavanagh’s back! c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was soft & fruity – almost orchard like – with hints of honey.

The palate started off suitably smooth – yet gradually built up with warming vanilla & caramel leaving a welcome soft tingling spice on the finish.

A very easy & approachable single malt. Relatively simple with no great complexity or depth – but for the price point it delivers an enjoyable experience.

I’d happily go on to sample the other Kavanagh Whiskeys based on my findings.

Sláinte

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Wolfhound Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

The ‘Gentle Giant’ it says on this attractive bottle of Irish Whiskey – and when it comes to the Wolfhound – they certainly are gentle giants of the dog world.

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The Gentle Giant c/othewhiskeynut

But what of the whiskey?

Another sourced brand brought back by my better half & purchased at a Total Wine store in Baltimore.

Prestige Wine And Spirits Group are the company behind this one – or so it says on the label – but Prestige Beverage Group come up on an internet search here.

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Part of the group. c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is mild, caramelly & malt biscuit like.

The palate is soft easy drinking.

Nothing really exciting – but it slowly grows with grainy heat to a bit of a spirity bite at the end – which doesn’t last long.

The spirity bite was the part I enjoyed the most – as otherwise Wolfhound lacks character & depth.

A bargain basement blend.

Sláinte

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Kilbrin Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

Mrs Whiskey brought back a selection of Irish Whiskeys from America after a recent trip.

They aren’t available in Ireland – and I was keen to check them out.

Kilbrin is an actual place in Ireland. A parish in County Cork with a GAA club, a school and a church. But no whiskey distillery.

Kilbrin Irish Whiskey is a sourced brand – I’ve no problem with that.

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The attractive front of Kilbrin c/othewhiskeynut

A search of their website here – leads you onto Quality Spirits International here – who specialise in Own Brand and Private Label products.

Quality Spirits International are in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of ‘the largest independent Scotch Whisky Company’ – which to you and me is William Grant & Sons – owners of Tullamore DEW, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and others.

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Kilbrin back c/othewhiskeynut

What interested me though was how the whiskey tasted.

The nose was caramelly sweet, honeyed & slightly fruity.

This followed through on the palate – which opened up into a decent sweet grainy feel with a lovely prickly spice developing.

The finish was sadly short – but the overall effect was rather appealing.

I quite enjoyed this one.

A pleasant easy going entry level blend with a bit of character & spice towards the end.

Nice one Kilbrin!

Sláinte

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Havana Club, Anejo Especial, Cuban Rum, 40%

It’s International Rum Day today – 16th August.

I’ve just found out – which was a bit of a surprise – as I’d only been down my local Tesco & picked up a bottle of Havana Especial to continue my exploration of all things rum.

Already my limited tastings are taking me down the barrel aged dark rum route.

The contrast of sweet caramels or darker molasses contrasting with spicy oaky tannins appeals to my palate – which is just what I found with this Cuban Rum.

Double matured in ‘old oak barrels’ & ‘ex-whiskey casks’ it says on the label – ex Irish Whiskey casks I later found out on Havana Club’s website – certainly piqued my interest.

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Especial back label c/othewhiskeynut

Described as ‘amber coloured’ I found the nose caramelly sweet – with no real depth to it.

The palate started off very smooth & sweet too – but gradually built up a nice oaky spice as it warmed up.

Most of the flavour I found on the finish.

A prickly spiciness contrasting with a dark, almost burnt molassey note just rescued it from the overt sweetness at the start.

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Garantia Cuba! c/othewhiskeynut

Overall an easy drinking everyday rum with just enough character & depth to enjoy of a balmy summer evening.

Happy Rum Day!

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Hyde #8, 1640, Stout Cask Finished Irish Whiskey, 46%

There’s been an explosion of Irish Whiskeys finished in a growing variety of Irish Beer Casks.

I welcome the diversity & exploration of flavours emanating from these collaborations – especially when the beers in question tend to be locally produced craft beers such as the Cotton Ball Stout used in this new Hyde #8 release.

Now I usually like to taste the donor beer – but in this instance the closest I got was this lágar from Cotton Ball Brewing.

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Pride in locality c/othewhiskeynut

Rather than picking up the bitter or slightly burnt notes often found in a stout – Hyde #8 has a noticeable sweet caramel nose together with a smooth & rich honeyed palate rounded up with a darker & heavier biscuity malt feel.

I must admit to already being a fan of Hyde Whiskey.

Their offerings consistently score highly in my blind tasting sessions for the Irish Whiskey Awards.

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Hyde No 8 Heritage Cask c/othewhiskeynut

I put it down to the 46% non chill filtered presentation across the range which to my palate at least, seems to draw out a depth of character & stronger flavours in the whiskey.

I really enjoyed the balance between the sweet start & heavier malt mid palate combined with a pleasant peppery spice leading into a lovely prickly finish with hints of sweet stone fruitiness.

Great to see Hyde Whiskey expand their range with yet another tasty tipple!

Sláinte

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Many thanks to Conor Hyde for supplying the sample bottle for this blog.

O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

It seems every time I shop in my local Dunnes store there’s a new Irish Whiskey out!

Sporting what I’d describe as a classic green bottle topped with a red screw cap & traditional looking label – O’Neill’s appears to be a no nonsense style of whiskey.

Proclaiming to be of ‘Fine Spirit’ & ‘Smooth Blended’ the label has minimal information.

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Alfresco whiskey tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

Double Cask Matured is stated – with no mention of which casks – and produced by West Cork Distillers for what I assume is a Dunnes store brand – it made my basket.

And then my Túath glass.

Quite a rich golden hued colour for what I take is a young whiskey.

The nose is rather soft, sweet & honeyed.

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Minimal info c/othewhiskeynut

More engaging on the palate. The sweetness suggests a sherry cask influence – along with bourbon cask maturation – giving a bit of depth & body to the blend.

The grain element gradually kicks in with a little heat & soft prickliness.

A gentle spice rounds off the finish.

O’Neill’s delivers a decent straight down the line blended whiskey experience at an affordable price.

On a back to back with it’s Ardfallen sister, I found O’Neill’s a more sherried & rounded whiskey – making it worth the extra few euro.

Hats off to West Cork!Good Logo

Irish Whiskey Awards – Blind Tasting

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.

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Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

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 .

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Connemara Single Malt c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

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.

Single Grains

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.

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Teeling Single Grain c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Cask Strength

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.

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The Whistler & Year Old Cask Strength c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Joint 2nd winners were; Hyde 8 Year Old Single Grain Cask Strength & Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength.

New Distilleries

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

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Dingle Single Malt Batch 3 c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

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!

Sláinte

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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.