Category Archives: Irish Whiskey

The Brollach, Single Malt, 46.45%

There was a highly unexpected & very pleasant surprise entry into the Irish Whiskey Awards 2021.

The Brollach.

Tasted blind in the Cask Strength category The Brollach scored well on my palate.

It shared joint 2nd – along with 2 other offerings.

Perhaps it’s 46.45% presentation gave it an advantage over higher strength whiskey where I often find the flavours blown away.

As it is the only thing that blew me away was the price – €5,500!

Sláinte

All images courtesy Craft Irish Whiskey Co

Irish Whiskey Awards 2021, My Blind Judging Results

The Irish Whiskey Awards 2021 were held – in person – at the wonderful Powerscourt Distillery.

Limited capacity excluded my attendance – but I did contribute my blind judging results for the awards.

Blind judging is a great leveller.

Presented before you are identical vials – codes are used to identify the whiskey inside.

Blind judging c/othewhiskeynut

No logos, no back stories, no information as to distillery of origin or casks used, no fancy bottle or labelling, not even whether you’re tasting single malt, grain or blended whiskey.

Just the vials, a glass & your palate.

It’s the most transparent & honest way to explore the flavours of the whiskey before you.

For 2021 I received 3 packs of whiskey for scoring – I, L & B – & didn’t attempt to guess the category or whiskey sampled so as to concentrate on the flavours & differences between each offering.

The reveal – always after the awards evening – gives an insight into my palate preferences.

Category I – Single Malts 12 to 15 Years

Consisting of 12 entrants my average score was 72.5 with a difference of 6.

I found these to be variations of a common theme – not surprising as only 3 or 4 distilleries were producing back in 2009 or earlier – with very tight scoring.

There was a winner,

Jack Ryan Founder’s Touch

With 4 sharing 2nd spot only 1 point behind – Tullamore DEW 12, Gelson’s 12, Pearse 12 Founder’s Reserve & Lough Ree Bridge Series Elfleet Bay.

The actual Award winner was Gelston’s 15 – which came below average in my scores.

Category L – Cask Strength

8 entrants, average score 73.8, difference 6.

Again a lack of diversity with tight scoring.

My winner was,

Dark Silkie Cask Strength

I didn’t detect the peat influence yet it obviously mattered as Dark Silkie was 2 points ahead of the trio that came 2nd – Natterjack CS, Teeling Fill Your Own SPS & a surprise entrant, The Brollach.

Award winner Dunville’s PX 12 CS again was below average.

Category B – Blended, Limited Release

12 entrants, average score 75.9, difference 12.

This category pleased me no end! A more diverse & entertaining array of whiskey resulted in higher overall scores.

A clear winning podium produced,

The Whistler, Calvados Cask

As winner with stablemate Whistler Imperial Stout 2nd & Pearse Marriage Of Malts 3rd.

Award winner was Writer’s Tears Ice Wine Cask.

Thoughts

Congratulations to all the IWA 2021 winners.

They have captured the popular tasting profiles of the judges participating & are clearly crowd pleasers.

They are however not my palate choices. None of the winners broke beyond my averages scores.

By presenting my winners I’m being honest & transparent as to what tickles my tastebuds.

The blended limited release category offered me a far greater diversity & heightened enjoyment all round.

Given too that almost all my winners used sourced product it suggests to me more attention is given to the blending & maturation process over distillation techniques by the brands involved.

These scoring results are also reflected in the content of my blog.

Everyone’s palate is unique & one person’s winners might be another’s losers.

Enjoy what pleases your palate & don’t be afraid to say so.

I enjoy blended whiskey best!

Sláinte

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop & Sliabh Liag Distillers.

Foxes Bow Irish Whiskey , 43%, Blend

There’s a bright new shiny brand of Irish Whiskey from Limerick creating a few waves.

Using artwork designed by a local illustrator Foxes Bow strikes a bold, fresh & contemporary pose – and that’s only the bottle label!

So what of the liquid?

Positively sparkles on my palate!

A light, clean & fresh nose offers up hints of peppery spice.

Smooth mouth coating palate.

Dries out towards the finish but leaves a fruity juiciness gently fading away too.

The bourbon cask maturation with Oloroso & Rye barrel finishing has created a highly entertaining blend with an engaging array of flavours to tease out.

Very enjoyable!

Sláinte

All images courtesy Foxes Bow website & social media.

Púca Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 40%

The mischievous spirits of Púca Irish Whiskey made a welcome return to the shelves of Aldi.

In addition to the original blend, a single pot still variety has appeared.

Light golden brown in colour, I found a sweet malt biscuity aroma greeting me.

Soft & smooth mouthfeel leading to a flourish of signature single pot still spice livening up the finish.

Very pleasant.

You’ll have to move fast to catch these elusive spirits however.

Only 2 were left on the shelf of my local Aldi!

Sláinte

All images taken by Whiskey Nut in the local Aldi.

Flight Of The Earls, Irish Whiskey, 40% to 63.48%

When Red Earl first appeared with it’s cartoon like imagery it was somewhat overlooked.

c/o TinyTipple

Now available in 4 differing styles. – with varying images too – The Flight of the Earls make for a striking posse of whiskey.

It’s about time I discovered the flavours behind the brand – so ordered up a tasting pack from Tiny Tipple.

Red Earl, 40%

A blend aged in bourbon, sherry & rioja casks.

Warm, inviting & fruity sweet nose. Juicy mouthfeel with a lip smacking finish.

A lovely well balanced flavoursome blend.

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Great Earl, 40%

A single grain aged in recharred & virgin oak barrels, finished in Sangiovese casks.

A dry, clean & clear nose. The wine influence makes it’s presence felt on the palate followed by a lovely frisson of oaky spice on the rear.

Nice!

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Spanish Earl, 43%

A single malt matured in bourbon casks & finished in rum & stout casks.

Yum yum – a juicy depth to this one! Rich maltiness on the palate with a solid backbone of darker delights. Opens up further on the finish with a spicy prickle, soft hints of roastiness & an engaging dryness.

Red Earl, Cask Strength, 63.48%

A cask strength version of the Red Earl blend.

Despite the high ABV the nose is still inviting – with just a suggestion of high alcohol presence. The triple cask maturation notes roll over each other in a wonderful flourish of flavour – before a drying hit of alcohol kicks in with an explosion of power.

I don’t subscribe to the notion cask strength is automatically superior to 40% – but Red Earl CS wears it well.

Thoughts

The Flight of Earls impressed me.

Full of flavour, full of style & a hearty bunch of characters too.

The pale colour of the quartet also points to a lack of added caramel.

It’s a delight to taste them all back to back to explore both the differences – & similarities – that run through the collection.

It’s hard to pick a winner from this flight of beauties – but for me the ease of drinking, clarity of flavours & enjoyable flair on the finish – I’m giving it to Great Earl.

What would you choose?

Sláinte

Images authors own unless stated.

The Dublin Liberties Distillery Miniature Pack, Blends, 40% to 46%

I do love miniature packs.

They’re a great way to sample a selection of whiskeys & hone down your tasting preferences.

This Dublin Liberties Distillery box has been lying round my house for a while – so long in fact the label design on The Dubliner still boasts the old – & rather outdated I must say – frontage!

So how do they stack up?

The Dubliner, Blend, 40%

A bourbon casked NAS – non age statement – blended Irish Whiskey.

Soft vanilla & caramel on the nose, pleasant easy palate, a flourish of sweet grain & richer maltiness on the finish.

A nice easy drinker.

Oak Devil, 5 Year Old, Blend, 46%

Oak Devil first appeared as an NAS.

I’ve always liked this one.

There’s a noticeable tannic spiciness which just works on my palate & the connections, connotations & playful attractiveness of the name is very engaging.

Suits me!

The Dead Rabbit, Blend, 44%

A great collaboration with the Dead Rabbit bar in New York.

At 44% & using first fill American Oak finishing Dead Rabbit is just – richer!

The vanilla aromas are boosted, a heavier mouthfeel leads into a lip smacking almost succulent finish.

Nice!

Thoughts

The Dublin Liberties Distillery are a dynamic operation.

Not afraid to rework their offerings, engage in collaborations & rebrand when required. They’ve also released an innovative beer cask range & are involved in head distiller Darryl McNally’s Limavady Single Cask outing.

Yet to release their own distillate – this entertaining trio displays careful cask choices & clever blending & maturation regimes to bring about a diversity of flavours.

The Dubliner’s new packaging is a winner for me – but it’s a close call between the richness of Dead Rabbit & clean simplicity of Oak Devil for tasting enjoyment.

It boils down to personal choice, memories, connections & joie-de-vivre.

Oak Devil has it!

Sláinte

All photos authors own

Galway Irish Whiskey, 40%

A range of miniature Irish Whiskey labelled up in Irish County colours make for an entertaining gift.

I picked mine up at the Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Galway is pale straw in colour.

Has a soft honeyed aroma.

Smooth & mellow in the mouth.

With an engaging hint of spice on the finish.

No mention regards source – but reminds me of the best blended Cooley used to offer.

An easy drinking Irish Whskey.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

With the spirits industry embracing premium – I’m enjoying budget!

I used to have a bottle ceiling price of 100 – euro or sterling – but with escalating costs & criticism of rising bottle prices I’m revising that down to 50.

Rather than simply moan about the situation – I’ll take action.

At first you might think my choices would be limited – but when you begin to look – there’s a surprising amount of highly entertaining & enjoyable spirits to be had.

In the sub €20 white rum category I found surprising variety. Liberté from Lidl won out here. Press on the highlighted links to be diverted to my reviews.

Dunnes do a highly engaging sub €20 whisky by the name of JG Kinsey.

Single Pot Still c/oTTB/Colasonline

All of Royal Oak Distillery’s output – blend, single grain, single malt & single pot still – is below €50 & thoroughly decent they are too.

However – most of the above attract little attention & appear to be looked down on by the blogging community.

Budget doesn’t mean a lack of taste, flair or character. It might mean a lack of bragging rights & exclusivity and it certainly involves a degree of exploration to find the one that suits your palate – which is part of the fun.

But looking down on such offerings & the folks that drink them is nothing but snobbery – which is never attractive.

To me this is evident in the almost total rejection of Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve brand within Ireland – despite it becoming the 4th biggest selling Irish Whiskey in the world after only a few years.

It’s also behind the lack of reviews for the correctly labelled Kyasuku World Whisky.

For €30 you get an attractively presented Mizunara casked whisky blended & matured in Japan.

Only fools would turn their noses up at such an opportunity given the clamour over inflated prices for similar product.

The companies – as far as my basic economics goes – are after all doing what they’re meant to – boosting profits for the shareholders.

And no – I won’t be missing out on high end stuff.

There’s been a positive explosion of on-line tastings, bottle swaps & exchanges, clubs & societies as well as good old fashioned pubs & whiskey shows where opportunities arise to taste the delights – or disappointments – beyond reach.

My nearly 120 bottle selection is always open for exchange – Irish based only – so get in touch to try out something new.

For me, tasting & exploring is far more important than owning.

Sláinte

All images authors own unless stated.

Clan Colla, 11 Year Old Blend & 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Ahascragh Distillery in County Galway is beginning to take shape.

Conversion of the Old Mill – situated in the heart of the pretty village – into a modern Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitors Centre is ongoing.

The new café is already welcoming customers & offers branded gifts alongside light refreshments.

For the harder stuff – a visit to one of the local hostelries is suggested. Nearby Katie Daly’s Bar was open the day I visited.

In advance of their own whiskey being produced Ahascragh Distillery have released a trio of sourced spirits – Xin Gin, Clan Colla 11yo Blend & Clan Colla 19yo Single Malt.

Clan Colla 11 Year Old Blend

A lovely rich, warm glow of dark vanilla & deep inviting leather notes signifies to my tastes a classic ex-bourbon cask matured whiskey.

Hints of juiciness & stone fruit succulence on the palate.

The finish gradually dries out & I was left with an attractive bite giving added character & flair to this very attractive blend.

Clan Colla 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Like slipping down into the warm embrace & comforting hug of a generously padded old leather armchair!

The bourbon cask has worked it’s charms on this silky smooth yet wholesome & juicy malt.

Delightful.

Thoughts

A stupendous & stunning duo to launch the McAllister family’s adventure into the whiskey business.

For my palate the 11yo offered that extra oomph with being finished in peated casks additional to the oloroso featured across both whiskey.

I didn’t detect any smokiness but that dryness & attractive frisson of bite on the finish won me over.

Best wishes to Ahascragh Distillery!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Jatt Life, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

There are Irish Whiskey brands existing catering soley for markets outside of Ireland.

Jatt Life in Tuath

That’s Jatt Life.

I picked this bottle up on a recent UK visit.

That’s Jatt Life.

The publicity is slick, contemporary, very active on social media & appears to target a demographic & culture of bling that wouldn’t include myself.

That’s Jatt Life.

Jatt Life info

There’s little information on the bottle – but tasting & enjoying the contents is my motivation.

That’s Jatt Life.

A lovely rich nose redolent of succulent dark fruits complemented by hints of woody oak.

The mouthfeel is deep & luxurious.

More woody spice comes through leaving a dry tingling on the long finish.

That’s Jatt Life.

Often virgin oak maturation can be quite aggressive – but additional finishing with sherry oak has introduced a wonderful luscious rich fruity interplay.

That’s Jatt Life.

Enjoying Jatt Life

A very engaging & characterful blend.

Congratulations to Jatt Life – expanding the Irish Whiskey category.

Sláinte

All images courtesy Whiskey Nut