Category Archives: Whiskey Bars

Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve, 46%, Single Malt

I always get a frisson of excitement entering a bar & finding some rare or discontinued whiskey on the shelves.

It’s a chance to sample & taste a fleeting timepiece of the larger whiskeysphere with ever changing bottles on offer.

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Keenan’s c/othewhiskeynut

Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry – a popular dining spot on the banks of the mighty River Shannon just inside the County Roscommon border – happened to be the bar.

Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve happened to be the whiskey.

The nose was suitably rich, filled with dark fruitiness & slightly drying woody tannins.

A gorgeously smooth entry developed with sweet yet deep & dark fruity notes which gently morphed into a soft dry spiciness followed by wonderfully woody drying tannins & oaky opulence.

The dark sweetness, gentle spice & dry tannins complemented each other as they slowly ebbed away on the palate to my great satisfaction.

A fabulous find in a delightfully enjoyable establishment.

Sláinte

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Natterjack Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

I first started hearing about Natterjack Whiskey about 2 years ago.

Such are the lead in times to get a brand to market – let alone building a distillery in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford.

Keen to try out this newcomer to Irish Whiskey – but conscious I’d break the bank buying every bottle – a bar was found.

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P Mac’s in Dublin c/othewhiskeynut

P Mac’s in Dublin’s city centre suited my needs perfectly.

A tempting stock of whiskey had me wavering – but a short window of opportunity between 2 appointments meant I only had time to kiss the toad!

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Have you #kissedthetoad yet? c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve enjoyed the marketing behind this brand.

It’s fresh, it’s novel and it’s exciting.

The Natterjack toad motif on the bottle is also eye catching – but what of the liquid inside?

A distinctively ‘sweet & sour’ mix on the nose.

It’s a note new to Irish Whiskey – but one I’ve encountered before – mainly on young corn whiskeys from America. That is whiskey containing at least 80% corn in the mash bill – according to US rules.

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The bold back. c/othewhiskeynut

As Natterjack is an Irish Whiskey – US rules don’t apply – and it would be called a blend here.

It’s an easy going smooth whiskey on tasting. The ‘sweet & sour’ is less prominent – but still there – before a softly growing spiciness dries out the silky barley.

The peppery spice attractively lingers on the palate at the finish.

It’s definitely a new flavour profile for Irish Whiskey.

Natterjack is bold, innovative & enticing.

Despite not fully setting my tastebuds alight – I wholeheartedly welcome this exciting new entrant into the growing market.

I look forward to the future development of this brand – along with the distillery in Kilmacthomas – and wish the Natterjack success!

Sláinte

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Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, Port Finish, 47%

When in Manchester recently I did a quick internet search to find a suitable watering hole.

The Whiskey Jar won the day.

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Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

One of the many whiskeys on offer that took my eye  – Dad’s Hat Rye – ended up in the glass.

A satisfyingly welcoming peppery rye spice greeted my nose – although it seemed to be muted somewhat by sweet dark fruits.

Oh!

I didn’t notice the bottom line – Finished In Port Wine Barrels.

Now that’s a novel approach which does seem to add additional flavours to the standard rye offering.

The fruity notes held sway on the front before that spicy pepper hit I love kicked in towards the latter half.

A gorgeous little combination of elements to tease the palate.

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Aged for how long? c/othewhiskeynut

I was taken aback when I read the maturation times on the side label.

For only 9 months old – the virgin charred american oak quarter casks & ex-port barrels have worked their magic to create a wonderfully fresh rye with a fruity twist.

A very enjoyable baby rye!

Sláinte

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Egan’s 15 Year Old Legacy Reserve, Single Malt, 46%

Egan’s Whiskey are a 6th generation whiskey company based in the Irish Midlands town of Tullamore.

Back in their heyday of the late 1800’s Egan’s were a very successful business. The Head Office reflected the grandeur of the time – and still stands today as the Bridge House Hotel.

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The Bridge House today c/othewhiskeynut

One of P&H Egan’s many businesses was purchasing whiskey by the barrel & finishing or maturing it to their own specifications. Then bottling, branding, distributing & selling it under their own name.

The Brewery Tap in Tullamore still has P&H Egan mirrors prominently displayed in the snug of this popular hostelry.

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Egan’s advertising in The Brewery Tap c/othewhiskeynut

The current Egan family generation have recently re-entered this market with a range of sourced malts and single grain whiskey.

I happened to get an invite to a vertical tasting of their products back in the summer.

Both the Vintage Grain and 10 Year Old Single Malt I’ve covered before – and if you click on the links you will be guided to my findings.

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Egan’s Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The highlight of this particular tasting however was the Egan’s 15 Year Old Legacy Release Single Malt as introduced to us by Alison, Brand Ambassador for Intrepid Spirits who are handling the whiskey.

Aged exclusively in ex bourbon barrels – the Legacy Reserve is a marriage of several individual cask chosen by Egan family members.

It’s bottled at that magic number – 46% – which usually denotes no chill filtering.

The nose opened up with rich vanilla & caramel complimented by some deeper oaky notes from the years in american oak.

Beautifully smooth on the palate – I found the tannic flavours balanced well with the sweet vanilla – even developing into old leather notes.

Others at the tasting wondered whether there had been any sherry influence as they were picking up some fresh fruity notes too – but no – bourbon cask maturation was the sole influencer.

A complex medley of flavours danced around with a hint of prickly spice on the satisfying long finish.

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Egan’s Legacy Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

Very attractively packaged in a rectangular bottle complete with plush wooden box containing Egan’s back story in a handy booklet – this is aimed at a premium market.

The liquid inside lived up to it’s lavish presentation.

Sláinte

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Powers 15 Year Old, Garavan’s Single Cask, Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 46%

Garavan’s in Galway is the very epitome of what an Irish Whiskey Bar should be.

Leaving the bustling world outside, it is a haven of calm in a warm friendly bar adorned with a bewildering array of whiskey on wooden shelves behind the bar as well as in glass cabinets around the cozy snug areas.

It entices you in to sit down and slow down.

To take time and browse the extensive whiskey menu looking for a sample of that rare bottling, or perhaps ordering up one of Garavan’s tasting platters to explore the rich depth and variety of whiskey flavours on offer.

Garavan’s even have their own whiskey – Garavan’s Grocers Choice 10 Year Old Single Malt – and a fine whiskey it is too!

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Garavan’s Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Yet Garavan’s have raised the bar even higher.

In a nod to times past when it was common practice for bars to bottle their own whiskey bought in barrel from the distillery – Garavan’s took themselves down to Midleton Distillery in County Cork and chose a single cask of Powers Single Pot Still Whiskey to be bottled for them as an exclusive Garavan’s Single Cask Release.

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A tasty drop of Powers c/othewhiskeynut

A small gathering of whiskey fans assembled to be part of the unveiling of the Powers 15 Year Old Garavan’s Single Cask Release presented by Ger Garland, Irish Distillers Whiskey Brand Ambassador.

As a way of introduction – we were served a glass of Powers Gold Label.

It’s a blend of spicy single pot still and sweet grain whiskey.

It typifies the more characterful spirit forward, honey sweet yet peppery spiced notes which are usually associated with the Powers range of whiskeys.

It’s a style I enjoy.

The Garavan’s Single Cask Release builds on these elements.

Presented at a higher 46% ABV and being a single pot still there is no grain input. A gentle vanilla & softly burnt toast nose from the exclusively ex-bourbon cask maturation provided the sweet part.

The dry peppery spice came through more clearly & distinctively on the palate with warming notes from the charred cask which slowly faded away leaving a gorgeously dry mouthfeel.

It’s a sensation I enjoy in a whiskey – and one this Powers delivers.

Single cask offerings can vary a great deal.

I’ve tried a few of the Powers Single Cask releases and it always amazes me the differences considering they are all essentially the same distillate. The individual casks used for maturation can produce such a wide variety of results that are normally married together to produce a consistent flavour profile. It’s a treat therefore to sample from one individual cask.

The Garavan’s 15 Year Old Single Cask Release certainly highlights for me the signature sweet & spice Powers mix I find so attractive.

Congratulations to both Garavan’s Bar & Powers Whiskey for coming together to release this bottle.

It’s presented in a very attractive wrap around laser etched box with a representation of the bar itself on the front.

Get it while you can.

Sláinte

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Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, Blend, 44%

Some whiskeys are just released quietly.

Others come with a blaze of publicity & flare.

And then there’s the Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey.

As the late great Phil sang – Are You Ready?

Well I – and a host of others – eagerly awaited the Irish launch of this much anticipated whiskey in the fine surroundings of The Rag Trader bar in Dublin’s fair city.

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The Rag Trader c/othewhiskeynut

The actual Dead Rabbit bar is in New York. It’s the creation of founders Sean & Jack from Northern Ireland. Despite being only a stones throw from the mighty Hudson River, when you enter, it’s like being transported back to a local watering hole by the banks of the River Shannon.

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The Dead Rabbit NYC c/othewhiskeynut

Awards have been won, there are queues to get in, there is some slick & clever marketing & it’s a very enjoyable experience drinking and dining inside the friendly establishment.

And then there’s the rabbit.

Dead Rabbit 1
c/o DeadRabbitWhiskey

To celebrate their 5 years in business the Dead Rabbit have launched their own whiskey. Not surprisingly it’s a 5 year old sourced blend. This follows a long tradition of pubs & grocers releasing their own distinctive whiskeys which are a mixture of spirits from a variety of sources blended to their own requirements.

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The Dead Rabbit family photo c/othewhiskeymut

So does it match the hype?

In one word – yes!

Now there were plenty of cocktails around – but I’m an old fashioned – ahem – kind of guy – so neat Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey it was for me.

A lovely woody nose enticed me in. The virgin oak finish had worked it’s charms.

The palate began softly. Gentle fruity notes developed into more robust woody tannins with a lovely rich spice which tingled on the tongue as it slowly faded away.

Suitably robust yet soft & spicy all at the same time.

Decidedly distinctive.

The Dead Rabbit’s done good.

Sláinte.

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Many thanks to Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey for the invite & use of the Rabbit image for the blog.

 

 

Drinking Australian Whisky @ Bad Frankie, Melbourne.

Australian whisky has come a long way.

Not only in the physical distance it has to travel to reach outside markets – but also in terms of taste, flavour and style.

Fortunately for me an invitation to a wedding in Melbourne (a Tullamore lad & a Melbourne lassie no less) allowed me the opportunity to sample a few of these marvelous malts.

The option of bringing home some of these usually quite expensive bottlings wasn’t really on the cards – so a venue that had a large selection of the local distillate was in order.

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A wall of Aussie whisky & gin @ Bad Frankie c/othewhiskeynut

Bad Frankie – off Smith St in the bohemian suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne – was recommended to me by the very helpful Pilgrim Bar. It didn’t disappoint.

The 86 tram does pass by – but another young couple kindly drove us there. A Melbourne lad & an Athlonian lassie who happened to be a next door neighbour & whose wedding we had attended back in Ireland. It’s a small world!

Bad Frankie is a popular spot. On the night we visited we only just managed to get a table. The atmosphere was very friendly & inviting. Bad Frankie specializes in Australian food, Australian Gin & the main reason it attracted me – Australian Whisky.  Lots of it!

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Which 2 to leave out? c/othewhiskeynut

Handily for me they did a tasting platter of any 5 whiskies of your choice for 40 dollars. (Prices in July 2016) Seb – the owner – & his staff were very attentive and allowed me to pick the ones I wanted.

I narrowed it down to 7 bottles initially. Despite doing my homework before I came to Oz there were still distilleries I hadn’t heard off! Yet here they were – all tempting me.

The final 5 that won my attention on the night were brought to my table. The samples poured and the back story to each bottle in terms of style, flavour, distillery & even the distillation method were explained by the knowledgeable staff.

A varied round of Bad Frankie jaffles were also served up. I went for the ‘Bangers & Mash’. Basically it’s a sealed toasted sandwich filled with a fabulous concoction of tasty fillings. It certainly made a great whisky food pairing!

So what did I sample?

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The final selection. c/othewhiskeynut

Bakery Hill Peated Single Malt 46%

In Australian terms Bakery Hill is quite a large concern. Based in Bayswater on the outskirts of Melbourne this is a local whisky. I found it a very easy going & attractive softly peated single malt.

Limeburners Single Malt Port Cask, 43%

With a name like Limeburners I couldn’t let this one pass me by.  Western Australia’s first single malt whisky distillery had me hooked! A lovely rich fruity number that only confirmed my prediliction to port finishes.

Cradle Mountain 17 Year Old Single Malt, 43%.

Said to be Australia’s oldest single malt from the fabulous island of Tasmania, this one just blew me away with it’s rich complex depth of character & flavours. Stunning stuff!

Mackey Single Malt, 49%

Another Tasmanian malt. After the full on flavour of Cradle Mountain this triple distilled offering came over rather softer & more subtle.

And finally.

Belgrove Peated Rye Whisky, 42%

Yes – that’s right – peated rye. The world’s first. Not only that. It uses rye grown on the distiller’s – Peter Bignell – farm as well as Tasmanian peat to give a truly unique taste. There is a gorgeous soft smoke with the merest hint of rye spice too. Fabulous!

I must admit the above selection truly stunned me. The quality & diversity of Australian whisky is simply amazing. I love it – just like these Aussie rockers!

I should also point out that these bottles were available when I visited. Many Australian distilleries release small batches or single runs in limited numbers. What is available now is probably very different. One thing that will not be different is the fabulous taste offered by the new releases – whether they are new expressions from the above distilleries or new expressions from new distilleries that hadn’t appeared when I was down under.

As is true in many countries – the range of whiskies available in the home market is usually far larger than that on sale outside that country.

If you really want to taste Australian whisky – you have to go there.

And Bad Frankie for me at least – is the prime spot to do that tasting.

Sláinte.

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Masonic Arms, Anstruther, & Cameron Brig, Single Grain, 40%

When out and about I enjoy popping into bars I’ve not previously visited on the off-chance of finding a gem.

The Masonic Arms in the picturesque East Neuk village of Anstruther sits at the end of the West Pier and is more of a rough diamond.

It’s easy to get sucked into conversation in this character driven pub – both from behind the bar as well as in front of it – but the main attraction for me – aside from the gently warming fire – is a great selection of whiskies.

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Some Masonic whiskeys. c/othewhiskeynut

A plethora of single malt Scotch, the usual big brand blends, assorted Irish & some bourbons adorn the back wall.

My tipple of choice however was a local offering – Cameron Brig Single Grain.

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The local whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Cameronbridge Grain Distillery was among the first to utilise the new technology of the Coffey Still back in the 1830’s.

Irishman Aeneas Coffey failed to find many backers in his native land for his controversial invention – yet the Lowland Scottish distillers took to it with gusto. They effectively kick started the rise of blended whisky which went on to ensure Scotch as the biggest selling whisky in the world.

Over 180 years later, Cameronbridge is still pumping out 120 million lpa (litres of pure alcohol) per annum – making it the both the largest and oldest grain distillery in Europe.

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Cameronbridge Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

George Roe used to have the largest distillery in Europe – but he (and other Dublin distillers) campaigned against grain whisky calling it ‘silent spirit’.

It’s rather ironic George & his friends are no more – yet Diageo – who own Cameronbridge – are currently resurrecting whiskey distilling on the old George Roe distillery site in Dublin.

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The new Roe & Co distillery. c/othewhiskeynut

So what does this ‘silent spirit’ taste like?

Well being a bourbon cask matured single grain it has that sweet vanilla & caramel nose going on. I wouldn’t rule out added caramel too.

A soft smooth inviting palate with a pleasant depth left a gentle warm glow in the mouth.

Nothing special really. An easy drinking dram ‘hard to find outside of Fife‘ my fellow barmate informed me – along with the anecdote he often enjoyed it mixed with Scotland’s other national drink – Irn Bru.

I didn’t check the veracity of either statement – but did enjoy a quiet half hour out of the wet & miserable weather to raise a glass to Aeneas Coffey & the Irishman’s contribution to the rise of Scotch.

Sláinte.

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Puni Alba, Italian Single Malt, 43%

One of the joys about entering the An Pucan bar – just off Galway’s Eyre Square in the West of Ireland – is the wide array of whiskey available. Not only do they stock a marvelous selection of Irish – there is a healthy amount of other countries output too.

Italy is one of those countries. They also happen to be one of the Six Nations rugby teams that do battle every year – and as An Pucan is a sports bar – they show the game – as well as having the whiskey!

Puni is the first whisky distillery in Italy – and I was keen to sample one of their expressions.

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Puni Alba c/othewhiskeynut

This Puni Alba release is one of their earlier incarnations. An Pucan’s bottle is the original design – a very attractive & distinctive rectangular bottle at that. Later editions come in a more traditional – yet still very stylish – round shape which is used across the whole range. For me however – it’s the contents that count – so a glass was duly poured.

The nose came over with a rather unique profile. Soft & sweet with a lovely floral touch – yet slightly citric all at the same time. Very intriguing.

The taste started off suitably mellow, followed by a lovely growing heat with a little spicy kick. The floral sweetness developed into a cornucopia of flavour sensations that rolled around in the palate.

Very nice!

The finish was rather short – but left me wanting more!

Why had it taken me so long to try this gorgeous whisky?

On the side of the bottle some interesting information – which became clearer when enlarged – explained why I loved this expression so much.

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Fantastico! c/othewhiskeynut

Turns out it’s triple distilled using a mash of barley, wheat and – my pet love – rye! So that’s where the delightful spice comes from. The combination of these grains works extremely well in producing  a phalanx of beautiful flavours which just exploded in my mouth.

Heaven in a bottle!

Much like Linea 77 singing about La nuova musica Italiana – I want more nuova whisky Italiana!

It should go without saying this original bottling came non chill filtered with no added caramel – which raises the freshness, clarity & strength of the engaging flavours within.

Puni Whisky – a force to be reckoned with.

Sláinte.

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Pikesville Supreme, Straight Rye Whiskey, 40%

Pikesville was a small neighbourhood in Maryland USA. It is now consumed into Baltimore County and happens to be where some of my in-laws live.

Despite visiting last year – I never did get the chance to try the locally named brand.

Pikesville  – as well as Maryland in general – had a thriving rye whiskey business before prohibition. Only now is there a bit of a resurgence of that proud history with new distilleries entering the market.

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Pikesville Supreme Rye c/othewhiskeynut

This bottle in the meantime is made in Kentucky at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown – and when I spotted it on the shelves in Garavan’s – I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

Now ‘straight’ in American terms means aged for at least 2 years. ‘Rye’ means at least 51% rye is used in the all important mash bill  – the other 49% can be commonly made up of corn, wheat or barley. Added caramel is not permitted.

Rye is a style of whiskey I love.

I like the hit of spicy cinnamon & nutmeg followed through by a rich peppery dryness combined with some softer warming vanilla & caramel notes.

Pikesville Supreme only just had that rye kick. I found it very much muted by the other ingredients – which I suspected as being corn. This resulted in a warm vanilla led nose & taste with only a tingling of rye at the end.

An easy drinking approachable rye yes – but not what I’m craving.

My suspicions on the corn content were confirmed later by an internet search. The mash bill makes all the difference to the taste. In this instance Pikesville appears to have a mix of rye 51%, corn 37%, and barley 12% – which explains why it didn’t light up my life.

That’s not to say it’s a bad rye. In fact many are lamenting the loss of this particular bottling which has been replaced by a 6 year old 110 proof – 55% ABV – expression that might be more up my street. The Washington Post even covered the story here! 

So if you’re missing a taste of Maryland – head for Garavan’s in Galway!

Sláinte.

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