Category Archives: Single Malt

Dingle Single Malt, Batch 2, 46.5%

I stumbled on a little bit of whiskey joy recently.

After an early evening walk in the sunny autumnal weather Mrs Whiskey suggested a meal in the local bar – only to find it fully booked.

So another establishment was found.

An establishment that happened to have a bottle of Dingle Whiskey on the shelf.

It would be rude not to have a glass!

Spirity & powerful on the nose – yet containing some rich notes of dark fruits.

Very fresh on the taste – this is a young malt – an explosion of flavours filled the palate.

The dark fruity notes & vanilla from the bourbon cask maturation gently faded away with a soft prickly tingling.

I thought it came over a lot stronger than it’s 46.5% strength – and in the dimly lit bar area it wasn’t until I enlarged the photo that I discovered it was a Batch 2 Single Malt.

I think I’ll be returning to this establishment for further refreshments!

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A Whiskey Cruise On The Shannon

The connections with whiskey and the mighty River Shannon go back a long way.

You could say the Shannon provided the route into Europe for whiskey around 500 to 600AD when Irish Monks brought back the art of distillation from it’s Middle Eastern birthplace.

The earliest written record of whiskey – or aqua vitae as the original clear distilled liquid was known as – is found in the Annals Of Clonmacnoise – that great seat of learning situated on a bend in the Shannon just South of Athlone – written in 1405.

In the Annuls it mentions a certain ‘Richard MacGrannell Chieftain of Moyntyrealas’ who died at Christmas from a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’.

It seems Ireland’s – or the world’s – troubled relationship with alcohol is nothing new!

Whiskey distilleries sprung up all round the Midlands area of Ireland in the late 1700’s early 1800’s.  Athlone, Tullamore & Kilbeggan all had 2 whilst Birr managed 4! The proximity to a ready supply of power – the River Shannon & it’s tributaries – as well as waterborne transport of raw materials & produce and good farming ground were no doubt factors.

The recently held Shannon Festival in Athlone re-enacted those glory days with a delivery of kegs of porter & barrels of whiskey brought to the quayside door of Seans Bar by a pair of original Shannon Barges – 45M built in 1928 & 92E built in 1905 originally as Horse Boat 66.

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45M bringing home the whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

Further whiskey related events were held by Midlands Whiskey Experiences in the town.

A Whiskey Tasting in The Malt House bar had the lovely Kilbeggan Single Grain paired with a milk chocolate made by  Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate which went down a treat.

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A tasty trio in The Malt House c/othewhiskeynut

A Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old Special Reserve – triple casked, triple distilled & triple blended – was heightened by some dark chocolate.

The surprise of the day however was a Kilbeggan distilled 10 Year Old bourbon cask matured Single Malt drawn straight from the barrel by Global Brand Ambassador John Cashman himself as part of the Connoisseur Tour which is held occasionally. Fabulous stuff! Full of flavour with a powerful punch from the 58% ABV. A drop of water accentuated the richness within.

The highlight of the weekend however was a whiskey cruise on the Viking Boat up the Shannon itself.

The Vikings were regular marauders up the Shannon. Clonmacnoise was regularly a target and it’s suggested the Vikings used nearby Rindoon as a base on Lough Ree to conduct their raids from.

Our boat party meanwhile were more interested in some whiskey.

Egan’s Vintage Grain started the session off paired with more of that lovely chocolate. Egan’s is a family concern with deep roots in the Tullamore area. The Bridge House Hotel in the town was built for P&H Egan – and is proudly displayed on the bottle label – who did good business in the area finishing whiskey sourced from several distilleries to their own requirements. The current generation are resurrecting that tradition with tasty results.

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Egan’s Vintage Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Kilbeggan Whiskey is a lovely soft, slightly sweet easy drinking blend which contains a measure of malt from the boutique distillery at Kilbeggan – only a half hour away from Athlone.

Tullamore DEW were represented by their entry bottling – triple distilled, triple casked & triple blended – which was paired with a slice of green apple. This was a new experience for myself and I found it surprisingly enjoyable.

The final pour of the day was a personal favourite of mine – Locke’s 8 Year Old Single Malt. Named after the well respected distillery manager – John Locke – who ran the business for many years and after whom Locke’s Distillery was known as.

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Whiskey on the Viking Boat c/othewhiskeynut

This modern malt is now made at Cooley Distillery – the sister distillery to Kilbeggan – is double distilled & contains 10% peated malt. This adds a very pleasant soft smoke to the gentle oaky notes & leaves a wonderful dry mouthfeel at the end. Beautiful stuff.

With all this whiskey on board we rounded the cruise up with an impromptu ‘dance-off’ in a Father Ted caravan holiday style session to much hilarity & delight.

Spot prizes were awarded to the best performers – and it certainly was a performance at that!

If you’re looking for  a bit of whiskey history – some excellent whiskey & food pairings – as well as having a bit of craic too – a cruise up the Shannon with Midland Whiskey Experiences is a must.

And after sampling whiskey from the oldest continuously licenced distillery in the World – Kilbeggan 1757 – why not continue the fun with a drink in Sean’s Bar – the Oldest Pub In Ireland circa 900AD – just across the road!

Sláinte.

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‘Let’s Go Aldi Way’ Tipperary Watershed, Single Malt 47%

With prices for whiskey going ever upwards – and punters bidding for bottles at eye-watering figures – I can’t but draw similarities to the Dublin housing market.

A market that is excluding the ordinary buyer who is effectively being priced out by speculators with larger pockets who appear to neither live in – nor drink their purchases.

Thank goodness for Aldi entering the market like a breath of fresh air!

Let’s go Aldi Way – to rehash a song.

Aldi have released a quality Irish Single Malt at an affordable price – throughout their Irish stores at least.

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Tipperary Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

It’s not just any old malt either.

It’s from one of the new breed of Irish whiskey companies that are throwing up new faces, new flavours & new styles into the market.

I eagerly queued up to purchase my bottle of Tipperary Watershed Single Malt.

It’s a sourced malt – whilst Tipperary Boutique Distillery plough on with plans to build a distillery on their own farm that provides the water to cut this whiskey down to a pleasing 47% ABV – and will provide the barley for future releases.

The colour is a pale gold with decent legs on show.

A fresh, lively, slightly metallic nose with hints of vanilla greets you.

A lovely warming mouthfeel pulls you in with more vanilla & caramel from the bourbon cask maturation.

There’s some enjoyable warming heat towards the finish which goes a pleasingly long way with the higher ABV presentation delivering a satisfying prickly sensation on the palate.

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A glass of Watershed c/othewhiskeynut

A great introductory malt from the Tipperary Boutique Distillery.

And a great single malt to pick up whilst doing your weekly shopping.

I commend both Tipperary Boutique Distillery and Aldi for pushing the Irish Whiskey category forward.

Long may it last.

Sláinte.

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Pearse 5 Year Old Cask Strength 59.3% & Single Malt 46%

My recent travels through Dublin Airport happily coincided with the much heralded release of the Pearse 5 Year Old Cask Strength bottling.

It’s much heralded as it’s the first release from any of the new young bucks of Irish Whiskey Distilleries to hold such an age statement & to have been distilled by their own pot stills – even if in this case the pot stills were originally fired up in County Carlow before being moved into the marvelous surroundings of the magnificent Pearse Lyons Distillery in St James Church, Dublin.

That’s right – a church.

All praise be to whiskey.

The 12th Century church & graveyard was closed for worshipers in 1963 and subsequently fell into decay. It has been wonderfully & painstakingly restored by the Peasre Lyons Distillery team and you can read all about it here.

But back to the whiskey.

Despite being early in the morning – I accepted the sample proffered by the ambassador.

Oh!

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Pearse Cask Strength c/othewhiskeynut

A big hit of cask strength whiskey to blow the old cobwebs away!

Plenty of spirit in this one – but not much going on in the flavour department for me.

Definitely one to be watered down a touch.

Thankfully on my return there was a little package waiting for me.

Many thanks to all at Pearse Lyons for the pretty sample bottle of Pearse 5 Year Old Single Malt at 46%.

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Pearse 5 Year Old Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Suitably pale in colour – there is no added caramel nor chill filtering in this ex-bourbon cask matured whiskey.

The nose is light, citrusy & fresh. I’d go so far to say a hint of lemon in here.

Soft malty freshness continued in the taste department with a slight spiciness & long mellow finish bringing up the finish.

This isn’t a whiskey that slaps you around the cheeks on first tasting.  It’s a gentle, quieter introduction that smooths & caresses as it goes down.

You could say the subtlety and freshness is it’s strength.

Pity it’s a bit lost on me – I’m more a fan of big, bad & bold flavours.

If subtlety is your thing – there are only 1000 bottles of the Cask Strength & 4000 of the Single Malt out there. The Cask Strength is an Airport Exclusive – but happily the Single Malt is already available in the SuperValu chain of stores around the country.

Get them while you can.

Sláinte,

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Bushmills Steamship Bourbon Cask, Single Malt, 40%

It’s always a pleasure to fly away somewhere.

Especially when Dublin is the departing airport with it’s marvelous display of Irish Whiskey – and other countries whiskies too.

A bonus is to try out some of the latest new releases and travel retail exclusives.

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Bushmills Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

By good fortune Bushmills were showcasing their Steamship Collection – including the latest and what seems to be the last bottling of the trilogy.

Named after the SS Bushmills steamhip which supplied the thirsty American market back in the late 1800’s – the trio are all triple distilled single malts presented at 40%.

The first Sherry Cask release didn’t seem to be well received at the time. I felt it lacked a flavour punch myself – but was otherwise a decent sherry bomb style of whiskey and despite initial criticism – seems to be selling well.

The Port Cask release was much more suited to my tastes. Rich sweet dark cherry notes. Nice!

I would have predicted the Port Cask to be my favourite – but then I tried the Bourbon Cask.

The enticingly fruity warm vanilla & caramel notes associated with re-charred casks instantly won me over. There was added depth & flavour to this expression. A lovely warm glow enveloped my palate.

The results of re-charring the casks may not be to everyone’s tastes – but the boosted notes certainly work on me.

Were Bushmills saving the best till last?

Yummy.

Sláinte.

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Bastille 1789 Whisky, Single Malt, 43%

Bonjour á mes vieux.

Aujourd’hui I’m covering un whisky francais et peppering le blog avec mon mal French.

Pourquoi?  You might ask.

Well on 14th July 1798 a certain building was besieged by a crowd demanding liberté, égalitié et fraternité. All very noble aspirations that I like to bring to my whisky tastings.

Liberté in that any country is free to fabriqué whisky in any style and manner they wish.

Égalitié, I like to taste all whiskies from wherever and whomever they hail from in an unbiased & non prejudiced way as possible et

Fraternitié in that whisky brings people together & is enjoyed on a worldwide basis 

Je vous donne;

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Bastille Whiskey in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

Bastille 1789 Single Malt.

Fabriqué dans Angoulême by Jean-Marc Daucourt – le fils of une mère Irlandais et père Francais – I’d like to think some of that celtic heritage came through in the whisky.

Maison Daucourt use French barley mixed with local water for the distillation. This is then combined avec Limousin oak that has previously held a variety of the finest French wines for the maturation to give le whisky a unique terroir & taste magnifique all of it’s own.

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L’information du whisky c/othewhiskeynut

A deep, dark almost earthy malt nose – as if from la sol francais  – starts the experience off.

On first sipping a delicious mouth coating erupts in a frisson of flavours which roll around the palate. Fresh & floral yet earthy & rich. There is a certain depth & gravitas to this malt that just pulls you in.

The long finish leaves a lovely drying prickly heat with a soupçon of spice at the end.

Incroyable – as they say.

This whisky may mark a revolutionary event of the past where the old order was overturned. But for me it marks a revolutionary event of the present where the current accepted order of world whisky is being challenged by new entrants.

French whisky is growing très vite – there are up to 50 distillerie listed in a blog francais ici.

If Bastille 1789 Whisky is anything to go by – the old order needs to worry.

Santé.

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A Dingle Duel, SuperValu Release v Batch 3, Single Malts, 46.5%.

Dingle have been the darlings of the new breed of Irish Whiskey Distilleries.

Their initial limited release batches marked the beginnings of a rebirth in Irish whiskey and fetched both high acclaim – as well as high prices.

Not being a collector – I prefer to enjoy the contents of the bottle – I did not get involved in entering a lottery to purchase an expression at extravagant cost. Nor auctions to acquire the first bottle off the line.

I generally taste at whiskey shows, media events and bars.

If I’m impressed with what I’ve experienced – and when the cost is more affordable & easier to obtain – I might be tempted to purchase.

The initial bourbon cask matured Dingle’s did not tempt me.

They were young, fresh – even exuberant – single malts from a new company. But taste wise they followed a well worn path.

The PX finished single pot still did impress however. I gave it top spot in a blind tasting event over and above all the Middleton releases at the time. It was new, innovative and grabbed my palate’s attention long before it’s identity was revealed to me.

So when a port cask limited release for supermarket chain SuperValu hit the stores I hungrily hunted down a bottle to savour the contents.

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Dingle SuperValu Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

No flipping for me.

Subsequent to that – a 3rd Batch release was announced. The Cask Strength offering is as rare as hens teeth, yet the Single Malt – again including port casks – was available in my local O’Brien’s and SuperValu stores.

Was this expression just a relabelled SV release?

I had to find out.

So the Dingle Duel was born.

In the left corner, the SV release, limited to 678 bottles. ‘A Marriage Of Port And Bourbon Casks’. As it says on the tin.

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A marriage indeed! c/othewhiskeynut

On the right. Batch 3 Single Malt. A far healthier release number & ‘A Marriage Of Bourbon And Port Casks‘.

Mmmmm. Not much to go on there then.

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Batch 3 back label c/othewhiskeynut

There is a slight difference in colour though.

Now Dingle don’t do added caramel nor chilled filtration – so what you see is what you get – and the SV release was noticeably darker.

On the nose it’s clear these are 2 unique & individual bottlings. The port influence on the SV release is just more pronounced.

It seems Dingle fully mature in the respective casks to begin with and marry the results at a later stage. There must be more Port cask used in the SV release and for me at least – it is more enjoyable for it.

The port influence smoothed over the young bourbon cask matured spirit giving a rather warmer, richer feel. A lovely dry, prickly heat came through at the end too – which suited my palate just fine.

The youthfulness of Batch 3 shone through both on the nose and taste. That’s not to say it’s a bad whiskey – it is want it is – a young fresh even lively whiskey with a decent port cask dressing showing itself in a more balanced, subdued kind of way.. Others may prefer this expression.

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A duo of Dingle’s c/othewhiskeynut

Having both back to back was a very enjoyable way to taste two lovely new Irish Whiskeys.

I look forward to future releases and further developments from this fabulous distillery.

Sláinte.

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Oh! Dingle  may be moving away from the cult collector status that has sustained it’s earlier sales and transitioning into more general purchases. This may not be plain sailing judging from the discounted Batch 3’s in my local store.

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Come and get it! c/othewhiskeynut

 

Brexit Whiskey, No Single Malt, 43.3%

Brexit is more of an aspirational idea rather than a clearly thought out plan for Britain to leave the European Union.

No one knows what the future will be like in this new Europe – with or without the UK.

Meanwhile in Austria – Gölles Distillery had a clearly thought out plan.

They grew and harvested 5 types of grain in fields around their distillery. Barley, wheat, rye, corn and spelt.

They double distilled the mash in copper pot stills which they have been using since the 1980’s.

And they matured the spirit in a variety of  casks for 4 to 13 years.

They brought their plan to fruition and delivered.

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Brexit Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I give you Brexit Whiskey.

They make no bones this isn’t a copycat Scottish style of single malt.

They make a big play of the differences. This is a European whiskey. Scottish Whisky Association rules do not apply here.

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No Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

This whiskey has provenance & terroir in abundance. There is no chill filtration and no added caramel. Something sadly lacking in many big brands.

So what does it taste  like?

Well – Austria really.

It’s very earthy.  There is a complex mix of aromas from the grains used – but for me a soft rye spice rises from the sweet corn & wheat base to entice me in.

A barley smoothness greats you on tasting – where again that dry rye presence makes itself known. Quite what the spelt adds to the mix I don’t know – I’ve never encountered it before in a whiskey – but there is an earthy almost grounded quality to the taste.

A lot of time can be spent musing over the nose, taste & finish of this delightfully complex whiskey trying to figure out which grains adds their own distinctive notes to the final mix.

Kind of sums up what the European Union project was all about. Trying to harmonise together variety & difference in an enjoyable mix.

That’s an admirable idea which certainly has been captured in this bottle of Brexit Whiskey.

Some people might see Britain’s Brexit as a rejection of the European Union – they in turn might also reject Scottish Whisky.

If Brexit Whiskey is anything to go by – I’ll be saying Goodbye Johnny!

 

Sláinte.

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Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt, 40%.

As part of their Father’s Day promotions Aldi have brought to the Irish market the award winning Glen Marnoch range of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

I’ve tried the Islay expression before here. The peat just managed to break through the caramelly sludge to make it a worthwhile bargain purchase – and the Highland bottle interested me next – but all that was on the shelves of my local Athlone store happened to be the Speyside Single Malt.

Now Speyside whiskies are among the biggest selling single malts in the world. They have universal appeal. They are approachable easy drinking & relatively mild. That equates to a lack of any bold flavours in my book and I wouldn’t be a fan.

With that caveat in mind – what did I find?

Caramel. Lots of it. The dominant note I got reminded me of a corn based blend – yet this is a 100% barley malt. Added caramel – or e150 if you like – is often made with dehydrated corn – so maybe that’s what I’m picking up.

It certainly is soft & approachable – no rough edges here – with a smidgen of fruity notes appearing towards the end.  A pleasing warm burn gently caresses the palate on the finish.

For the price – added caramel & chill filtration are the norm – the name of the distillery is also not stated either – you get what you pay for.

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Supermarket whiskeys c/othewhiskeynut

Having said that – over in rivals Lidl – the Dundalgan Charred Cask Irish Whiskey sells for the same price.

It’s also soft & approachable. It has a far more warming – even inviting – bourbon vanilla & caramel nose  – and packs more flavour too. All this from a blend.

For a fiver more you get the Dundalgan 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey.

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All you need to know. c/othewhiskeynut

Compared to the Speyside this is in a different league.

It’s cleaner, crisper, packs more flavour, more fruit & has a far more balanced appeal about it altogether.

Even in the bargain basement range there are enjoyable drinking experiences.

Not something I can say about the Glen Marnoch Speyside.

Slàinte.

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P For Pakistani Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is P for Pakistani Whisky.

Established in 1860 to mainly cater for the British troops stationed in the area, Murree Brewery also expanded into distilling.

It is now the longest standing business in Pakistan which you can read about here. Despite being mainly a Muslim country that prohibits alcohol consumption Murree are allowed to sell to non-Muslims and foreigners.

An interesting article here highlights some of the issues.

They have a range of beers as well as selected whiskies, gins & vodka.

Murree whisky
Millennium Reserve c/oMureeBrewery

 

I can’t vouch for availability outside of Pakistan.

But a decent age statement at 43% is worthy of a try.

Sláinte.

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