The taste certainly reminds me of an American bourbon.
The couple behind the whiskey are American.
Yet this is an Irish Whiskey that happened to be the first I encountered at the excellent Whiskey Live Dublin 2018 show.
‘Is there any buckwheat in the mix?’ was my opener at the stall.
‘No’ was the reply – followed by an enthusiastic & open explanation of how this whiskey came about.
It’s a 10 year old sourced Irish Single Malt Whiskey that new entrants Irish Whitetail Distillery have finished in an unusually innovative & probably controversial manner.
Rather than put the malt into wood – they have put the wood into the malt!
Chunks of heavily charred African mahogany effectively free float in a vat of single malt for a period of time.
The results definitely pleased my palate!
The soft smooth barley entry was accentuated with rich warming vanilla & caramel notes reminiscent of a good bourbon. A heavier, darker element of cherry – along with a mildly drying spice rounded up the experience.
Will it catch on?
I don’t know.
I wish Irish Whitetail Distillery future success with their great tasting venture – but await discord.
Whiskey Live Dublin always throws up a surprise or two.
This years was the safely guarded release of Whiskey 21C.
This is a unique historical bottling of all the Irish Whiskey Distilleries that currently have stocks of matured whiskey in their possession.
The Celtic Whiskey Shop – not content with being the hard working organisers behind Whiskey Live Dublin – contacted all the distilleries with matured whiskey – asked for a donation of some of that precious liquid – proceeded to blend it – bottle it – sell it at the show on a strictly limited never to be repeated release – all for the Downs Syndrome Ireland charity!
Now that WAS a surprise indeed!
The 12 Irish Whiskey Distilleries who kindly donated to this project are – in the order they appear on the back label;
Bushmills Distillery – Producers of the Bushmills range + other brands.
Cooley Distillery – Producers of the Tyrconnell, Connemara, Locke’s & Kilbeggan ranges – as well as numerous other brands.
Echlinville Distillery – All current releases under the Dunvilles brand are sourced – yet Echlinville are sitting on 5 year old whiskey of their own making which has not yet been deemed ready for it’s public debut.
Kilbeggan Distillery – Producers of Kilbeggan Rye – the 1st Irish Whiskey containing rye for many a year and the 1st whiskey to be wholly produced at Kilbeggan since the micro distillery was commissioned there in 2010.
Pearse Lyons Distillery – Producers of Pearse 5 Year Old Single Malt. Some of the Pearse blends also contain malt made on the stills sited at the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin.
Teeling Whiskey Co – Producers of Teeling Single Pot Still. All other current releases are sourced.
The Shed Distillery – Producers of Gunpowder Gin & Sausage Tree Vodka – yet clearly have whiskey waiting to be released.
Tullamore DEW – All current Tullamore DEW is sourced – yet they are obviously sitting on whiskey which has been produced at the new Tullamore Distillery.
West Cork Distillers – Producers of the Glengarriff range. Some of the WCD range is sourced + they supply other brands too.
Camera Shy Cork Distillery – The only whiskey producer not mentioned is Midleton. Could this be them?
A small sample of Whiskey 21C was also offered to Whiskey Live Dublin attendees!
I found it a young, fresh & fruity blend. Approachable & easy despite it’s 54.2% strength. There was no mention if it was either a blended malt or a malt & grain mix – nor the percentages of the distilleries involved in the project. I was just extremely pleased to get a chance to taste the future of Irish Whiskey!
A big thank you to all the hard work of the team behind Whiskey Live Dublin AND Whiskey 21C.
One of the most innovative & interesting new whiskeys I managed to sample at the recent Whiskey Live Dublin event was a 10 year old grain finished in ex-Mezcal casks.
Mezcal might not be familiar to many – I only recently sampled one myself – hence I thought it timely to explore this drink.
Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant. It has Geographical Indication status and must be made in Mexico.
Mezcal has a long history & tradition involving roasting pits to process the raw agave. The addition of agave fibres to boost flavour during fermentation and distillation in pot stills made of clay – at least for the highest grade of Ancestral Mezcal.
The Monte Alban before me would be an entry level Mezcal – it’s all I could find at my local store – and is produced in Mexico for the Sazerac group.
The nose is very pungent with heavy deep earthy notes complimented by a mere wisp of smoke.
Very smooth & approachable on the palate. The earthy aromas dominate in an oily mouthfeel which slowly dries out leaving a lovely ash laden quality on the long finish.
I found this a very satisfying and intriguing spirit.
One that pulls me in.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what Mezcal flavours come through in the final mix of the retail version Mezcal finished Irish Whiskey from JJ Corry.
Whiskey Live Dublin continues to grow every year. Not only in numbers attending this marvelous showcase of Irish Whiskey – but also the amount of exhibitors on display.
There are masterclasses held throughout the course of the day which provide access to the distillers, whiskey ambassadors, blenders & bottlers who are driving the current growth in Irish Whiskey. It was to one of those classes that I started my visit to this years show.
Alex Chasko – master distiller with Teeling Whiskey Co. – regaled us with the story behind the current Brabazon series of whiskeys – as well as introducing us to some choice single cask samples.
I was particularly taken by the 2001 Port Single Cask – especially in the newly released Tuath Irish Whiskey glass which was provided to visitors at the event.
After this highly enjoyable introduction – I joined the crowds in the main hall as I tried to sample my ‘hit list’ of whiskeys I’d either missed out on during the year – or were new releases appearing at the show for the first time.
The Glengarriff series from West Cork Distillers were on my list.
I was highly impressed by the Peat Charred Cask single malt. The influence of the peat was clearly evident on both the nose and taste – yet there was a lovely earthy savouriness element to the expression too. Beautiful!
Talking about peat – Echlinville had their Three Crowns Peated on display – very appealing to my tastes. But what surprised me was their yet to be released peated poitin – Bán Barreled & Buried at 47.2% – now that’s a tasty innovation.
Now I’d heard Kilbeggan were showcasing some of their ‘experimental’ casks – as well as the current range of freshly re-branded (and even re-recipied in some cases) favourites too – so naturally I was excited by a 6 year old Rye Pot Still!
Rich rye on the nose & taste followed with some creamy smoothness. Stunning!
Peter Mulryan’s Blackwater Distillery – which is currently under construction in Co. Waterford – chose to reveal their Retronaut 17 year old single malt at the show – a must try.
I can confirm the whiskey is every bit as bold & brassy as the elegantly designed label on the very attractive bottle.
At this stage in the proceedings – with a few samples onboard – chatting away with fellow attendees & stall holders began to divert me away from my ‘hit list’ as I was tempted into trying some surprising expressions.
Real whiskey geeks across the world are already booking their holidays & planning trips to coincide with an array of whiskey events that take place throughout the year globally.
I’ve been to a few of these events – and thoroughly recommend them.
A room full of whiskey for you to sample. Often staffed by the people that make it. Whiskies you’ve never even heard of or can’t afford to buy.
A room full of fellow whiskey enthusiasts. Chat, compare, contrast. Conversation is easy with like-minded folks.
A room full of tasty food pairings & bottled water. It’s bad form to get too drunk so keep well fed & hydrated.
And a room full of whiskey knowledge, whiskey talks & whiskey tales that would take a lifetime to amass on your own steam.
Need any more reasons?
Below is a short itinerary of shows around the world I’ve either been to – or would like to attend.
Looking forward to bumping into you at one of them!
Well it’s a bit late now – but Burns Night on 25th January is an annual celebration of the Scottish Poet accompanied with whiskey & haggis! There are many local events held throughout the world. Check press for details.
Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair kicks off Dublin’s events. Although mainly craft beer – there are a smattering of distilleries showing. The main item this year will be the imminent opening of The Pearse Lyons Distillery in the Liberties. By the way – Pearse Lyons is a Dublin born business man who happens to be the founder & president of Alltech.
With low-cost airlines making a trip across to the UK affordable – I’m tempted by Whisky Birmingham. It’s only a stones throw away but from previous knowledge the range of whisky on offer is often different from that available in Ireland. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway – as well as an opportunity to see how a whisky club manages to put on a big show!
Whisky Live bills itself as ‘The Worlds Premier Whisky Tasting Show’ and is a global event taking place in prestigious venues across the globe throughout the year.
The Whisky Live roadshow continues it’s global reach down under in Sydney on 5th to 6th May and Canberra on 26th to 27th May. I managed to catch the Melbourne show last year.
Bloom is all about gardening – but there was a fabulous beer & whiskey tent last year!
Whiskey In Summer is a new event to Dublin on 30th June. I’ve teamed up with them to secure 3 Whiskey & Food tickets for only 13 euro each. Contact me if you would like to join myself & others in attending this new show.
If you want fabulous whisky in a fabulous setting – Whisky Live Hobart is the place to be! Award winning whiskies & stunning scenery.
Glassware was also on display at the Neat stand with their friendly crew of attendants who had a cool way of promoting the Neat whisky glass.
An identical sample of a whisky – in this case a Scottish blend by the name of Big Peat – was proffered in 2 whisky glasses for the discerning drinker to nose and compare.
It certainly helped that Big Peat is a blended malt from some of Islay’s finest distilleries including Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen so a hefty waft of peat smoke was to be expected.
Now I’ve used the Neat Glass for a few years at the Irish Whiskey Awards judging sessions and I have a few at home – but I can’t say I’m a convert.
The thistle shaped glass is made to concentrate the aromas at the centre of the opening without giving that alcohol burn often associated with a strong ABV percentage. So far so good. Big Peat certainly smelled like my kind of whisky.
The second glass was a more traditional tulip shaped offering as in the Glencairn – other brands with a similar style are available. This would be my ‘go to’ glass when at home and in this demonstration I’m afraid to say I got more of that lovely Islay smoke sensation using this receptacle.
I even did some research at home with another whisky and got a similar result.
What glassware you drink your whiskey out of is almost as hotly debated as what whiskey you actually put in the glass to begin with. It took me a few years to appreciate some of the smoky drams out there so it may take me a similar period of time to appreciate the Neat Glass.
Undeterred I asked for a cheeky sample of the wonderfully labelled Big Peat for a tasting.
I’ve actually bought a few bottles of this Douglas Laing brand as presents over the years – especially their Xmas Specials – but by the time I visited the recipient the bottles were empty! – which says something about the quality of the liquid within.
Rather than being hit on the head by a lump of turf – as portrayed on the bottle – I was gently caressed by a short sweet note before being immersed in a beautiful peaty smoke which tantalised the tastebuds.
The finish was long and satisfying and would have tempted me for more if there wasn’t so many other drams waiting to be sampled at the show.
I’d like to wish good luck to all the Neat Glass crew. It can’t be easy converting die-hard tulip shaped glass fans like me to Neat – and many thanks for the Big Peat.
With Guns N’ Roses performing a headline gig at Slane Castle in 2017 – surely it would be an opportune time to launch a whiskey – especially one from Slane Castle itself!
Brown Forman – owners of Jack Daniels – are currently building a distillery at the castle.
Maybe the band would prefer Slane Irish Whiskey than the Jack?
Some reports suggest the band are off the booze however.
So at the recent Whiskey Live Dublin I accepted a pre-release sample of Slane Irish Whiskey.
It’s a sweet child o’ malt and grain whiskey blended in virgin, seasoned and sherry oak casks – according to the great looking mock bottle poster – to produce a lovely smooth & mellow tasting experience.
Established in 2003 – originally at Union Hall in the stunning scenery of west Cork but now based in nearby Skibbereen since 2013 – West Cork Distillers have been quietly working away refining the art of whiskey making and releasing a very tasty portfolio of product often under the radar of the mainstream whiskey community.
West Cork Distillers have recently won Irish Whiskey Distillery Of The Year at the New York International Spirits Competition 2016 along with a Gold for their Pogues release and a Silver for the 12 year old rum cask single malt.
The Galway Bay Irish Whiskey – a 3rd party release by West Cork Distillers – also won a Gold Award at the Irish Whiskey Awards held in Tullamore so their star is certainly beginning to shine.
The bold design of The Pogues Irish Whiskey immediately attracted me and I was rewarded by a pretty tasty blended whiskey when I got it home.
The Galway Bay Irish Whiskey – a rum finished 10 year old single malt – was produced for the Galway Whiskey Trail collective of 10 bars and 1 off-licence and launched to much fanfare at a fabulous event held on the stunning surroundings of Galway Bay itself.
On the stall at Whiskey Live Dublin meanwhile were several new releases under West Cork Distillers own label which I was ably guided through by their informative ambassador Liz.
I went straight for the cask finished trio of 12 year old single malts which encompassed a sherry, port and rum expressions.
All 3 expressions for me were far superior to the rather sweet tasting 10 year old offering. All gave a well balanced finish with extra flavour from the relevant finish which didn’t overpower the soft single malt base spirit. The port cask would be my best pick giving a slightly more heavy and rich feel than the other 2, but that’s just my preference as all were very palatable.
Bottled at 43%, they are a welcome addition to the growing West Cork range. They clearly demonstrate the effect different wood finishes have on the original single malt which makes a tasting of all 3 an interesting experience.
In my haste to move on and sample as much whiskey as I could I failed to sample the Black Cask release! A blend finished in heavily charred oak barrels. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s pretty good – so I’m looking forward to sampling yet more tasty whiskey from West Cork Distillers in the near future!
a) A mythological creature of many coastal communities along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe. Said to live as seals offshore but shed their skin and appear as humans on land – usually female.
b) A pretty tasty entry blend from the Sliabh Liag Distillery in Donegal who are currently planning & building a distillery in the beautiful countryside near the famous sea cliffs of the same name on the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way.
c) The subject matter of a lovely film by Neil Jordan starring Colin Farrell as a fisherman who lands a silkie in his nets – or is she?
Choose one of the above.
Choose a combination of all three.
I choose to believe in silkies.
I choose to relax and enjoy the smooth taste of Silkie whilst watching a modern interpretation of the silkie story set in stunning scenery.
One of the joys of attending a masterclass at Whiskey Live Dublin is gaining access to some of the movers & shakers and characters of the Irish Whiskey scene.
Darryl McNally – master distiller at the Dublin Whiskey Company – is certainly an engaging as well as entertaining character who led a highly enjoyable talk about his new Irish whiskey adventure.
Darryl regaled us with stories from his time at Bushmills. Originally with Irish Distillers, then Diageo and now Jose Cuervo before he decided to go his own way with the Quintessential Brands owned Dublin Whiskey Company.
Being a new player in the market doesn’t mean bringing a lack of knowledge or experience to the table. Darryl has an abundance of those qualities – as well as a knack of casually throwing in some whiskey stories from his many years in the industry.
In his early days at Bushmills he was intrigued by a tap marked 2D and 3D. Eventually plucking up the courage to ask someone, it turned out to be a flow valve for double distilled or triple distilled spirit. The distillery could – and probably still does – have the ability to produce either.
During the Diageo owned days the 2D was switched off to concentrate on the production of 3D spirit to fit in with the marketing strategy at the time.
The 2D stock that had accumulated beforehand no longer fitted the ‘core brand story’ and was subsequently off loaded.
Jack Teeling happened to have some ready cash from the Cooley sale to Beam and – as the story goes – 10 million worth of 2D stock now forms the bulk of current Teeling whiskey expressions having been selected and finished to Alex Chasko’s exacting standards.
Ironically the site chosen for the soon to be developed Dublin Whiskey Distillery is Mill Street in the Liberties area of Dublin – right behind the award winning Teeling Distillery!
The Liberties is once again gaining it’s former glory – or notoriety – of being the major whiskey production area of Ireland with the Pearse Lyons Distillery in nearby James’s Street almost complete.
The Dublin Liberties Irish Whiskey also happens to be the family brand name for a range of attractively designed expressions that cleverly combine the rich historical heritage of the Liberties area with a modern image and story.
My eye was immediately drawn to the bottle of Oak Devil I encountered last year in the lovely Dingle Whiskey Bar on Nassau Street. A glass duly sat in front of me for my pleasure – and it certainly was pleasing.
It had a rich malty, almost woody note to begin with followed by some lovely spices and a warming finish. It struck me as being a little bit different to the standard offerings of other blends out there and it struck a chord with me – just like the old Cult classic tune did as I quietly hummed it to myself whilst savouring the whiskey.
In the masterclass this 46% non-chill filtered blend was paired with some lovely salmon sushi from Yamamori – did I mention we were provided with some lovely food to compliment the tasty whiskey? – and Oak Devil only reaffirmed my enjoyable original tasting experience.
Copper Alley is the new release. Also at 46% non-chill filtered but this time a 10 year old single malt finished in 30 year old sherry casks. It’s a more refined smooth tasting whiskey than Oak Devil which despite the sherry influence still retains the lovely maltiness and spice I like. Lovely.
The Dubliner brand is also part of the portfolio and will make up the bulk of the Dublin Whiskey Company core sales.
The Dubliner Blend at 40% chill filtered proved to be a pretty decent standard entry expression with just enough spice to keep it entertaining. But I was blown away by the extremely tasty food pairing of a chocolate donut infused with Dubliner whiskey!
Still munching on the donut the Dubliner 10 year old single malt at 42% chill filtered matured in bourbon casks also went down very well. This release was paired with some beautiful tariyaki beef strips and concluded the session.
Asked for a favourite – I was about to shout out ‘The donut’ when Darryl joked that anyone who did so would be ejected from the show!
Oak Devil still won me over however with that blend of malt, spice and grain combined in a cool bottle wrapped up with a pleasing story.
I just can’t wait for the distillery in Mill St to be up and running so I can enjoy more donuts – sorry, whiskey! – whilst relaxing in the proposed visitors lounge overlooking the still room floor where all the action is.