There’s been a lot of interest in the new design for Paddy’s Irish Whiskey.
Sazerac have recently taken ownership of the brand from Pernod Ricard – it is still made in the New Midleton Distillery in Ireland – and are injecting some money & life into the marketing & labeling of this historic whiskey.
Die hard fans are not exactly enamoured by the rebrand.
The additional ‘s in Paddy, the additional ‘e’ in whiskey, the altered image of Paddy himself with bowler hat, clover and smile has all caused a degree of ire.
I see it as the onward development & change inherent within the whiskey industry.
Spotting some bottles in my local Dunnes store when out shopping – also with the extra ‘e’ – I thought it opportune to revisit this blend.
The nose has that sweet caramelly aroma common to many an entry level blend. It’s relatively grainy neutral otherwise.
The taste is soft & sweet, but develops into a noticeable heat with warming vanilla & caramel dominating.
It’s a robust little dram with a short finish & uncomplicated appeal.
What Paddy Flaherty was dishing out in his legendary sales adventures is in all probability nothing like today’s offering.
To begin with it wouldn’t have been chill filtered. That practice didn’t become common until after the 1940’s or 50’s.
The barley and/or corn raw ingredients were probably organic – as were all grains in a pre-petro chemical agri business environment.
The whiskey Paddy was plying would likely have been a pot still whiskey – a mix of malted & unmalted barley – and not a blend at all. Irish distillers were reluctant to embrace the new technology of the Coffey Still which kick started the modern whisky industry.
It also wasn’t until the 1920’s or 30’s that bottling Irish whiskey became the norm. Usually it was sold in barrels to pubs, bars & hotels who dispensed it straight from the cask – a large variation in quality could then ensue.
Even if Carol Quinn – Archivist at Irish Distillers – is sitting on an original Paddy Whisky recipe – it would be difficult to recreate.
The soils would be different, the water would be different, the air would be different, the processes have been altered, the wood for maturation would be different – all factors that in a myriad of ways would alter the taste, texture and flavour of the resulting whiskey.
But we can sit down today and enjoy a glass of Paddy’s Irish Whiskey.
I raise a toast to his memory and the fabulous tales therein of the original brand ambassador.
I was supposed to be revising for an exam – but the Teeling Small Batch on the Aer Lingus flight only reacquainted myself with this lovely little blend & provided a taster for what was unknowingly to come.
After checking into the city centre hotel – a quick read over the course book – it was out for a wander to visit the Whiskey Jar pub.
The promise of 400+ whiskies to whet my appetite accompanied by a tasty pie for the late Sunday afternoon lunch sounded too good to miss.
On entering I was taken aback!
Gathered in the pub were a clutch of whiskey companies displaying their wares.
A small cover charge – along with a tasting glass – had me at the first stall.
What better occasion to celebrate by tasting a few Australian whiskies?
Now I must admit to downing these whiskies a wee while ago – but the memories of them and the great times I enjoyed on my visit down under still linger.
The Aussie whisky scene is built mainly around small batch runs of single cask single malt offerings which change on a regular basis. What I tasted may no longer be available – but the quality I found will undoubtedly continue.
Bad Frankie’s bar in Melbourne specializes in Aussie whisky. I was taken aback by the variety of styles, tastes & flavours of whisky on offer. I had to return for a 2nd visit the day before my flight home. The experience was Out The Window – cue for a song.
Again I availed of the 5 samples for $40 – it was 2016 – and chose the following.
Bakery Hill Classic Malt, 46%
A fine sweet bourbon cask influenced single malt with a good smooth well balanced delivery.
Bakery Hill are one of the larger whisky distilleries operating out of Melbourne. They produce a core range of malts and have gained much appreciation. This whisky stands up very well with any comparisons worldwide.
Belgrove Rye Pinot Noir Cask, 63.4%
Just wow! Spicy rye softened by dark fruits in a powerful full strength mouthfeel. A wonderful experience.
Belgrove are a micro distillery in Tasmania using all home grown rye & barley distilled in home made kit by Peter Bignell. Out of this world.
Southern Coast PX Cask, 65.5%
A rich dark fruits tasting single malt of character & strength.
Southern Coast is a private bottling for the Odd Whisky Coy in Adelaide. There’s a bit of a story here. A story of money – or lack of it – whisky, fame, fortune & law courts. You can read more here. All I can say is the whisky tastes fab.
Iniquity Batch 004, 46%
A calmer smoother more balanced fruity & fresh whisky.
Iniquity are what came out of the court case above. Nice whisky – but lacked the power of the former cask strength expression.
Redlands The Old Stable, 46%
A rich inviting nose had an odd taste in the middle but left a lovely spicy finish.
Redlands are another Tasmanian whisky distillery offering limited batch releases of fine quality. This one just didn’t sit right with me.
Having enjoyed the above selection – a full portion of Southern Coast Port Cask at 50% was ordered as the PX cask was such a winner.
This came with an unbelievably dark colour – all natural I was told – and an equally lovely dark & rich tasting experience. Just wonderful.
We also indulged in a Bad Frankie speciality – Lamington jaffles – but these proved a little too dry – unlike the juicy whisky!
A.D. Rattray are an independent bottler of fine standing in Scotland.
They happen to have a lovely Whisky Shop on the main access route – A77 – to & from the Irish ferry terminals at Stranraer & Cairnryan that I often use to cross the water.
Oddly enough on my last trip – January 2018 – it was the first time in well over a decade using this route I encountered armed police, a passport check, a personal check as well as a vehicle check – all for an internal crossing?
Brexit changes indeed.
The Whisky Shop itself is a treasure trove of whisky, some gins & local beers too. Predominately Scotch it has to be said – although there is a sprinkling of world whisky. There are also tasting classes, rare single casks to be had, a small museum and more to attract you in and delay your journey.
But as I was driving – I made do with an elegantly packaged & well presented 5 pack A.D. Rattray miniature selection.
Nearly a year later I eventually managed to sample them if only to mark Rabbie Burns Night – who happened to live nearby.
The standard Bank Note 5 Year Old Blend at 43% struck me as just being that – standard. Pleasant enough with it – but no stand out qualities to pull me in. I do like the label however.
Next up was the Stronachie Highland Single Malt 10 Year Old – also at 43%. With this A.D. Rattray branded malt you actually get the distillery of origin – Benrinnes in this case – unlike the blended offering.
Now 10 year old malts these days are often considered entry level – and I’m afraid my tasting experience only concurred with this hypothesis.
Smooth, easy drinking, well balanced butterscotch, honey & vanilla – just not enough character or oomph for my tastes.
Meanwhile the Stronachie 18 – also Benrinnes sourced but with a slightly higher 46% ABV – gained some lovely dry woody tannins from the extra years in maturation. I was pulled in with it’s suitably more complex , characterful & to my palate anyway – a much more appealing dram.
The next bottle – at least from the label – promised something special.
A single grain whisky from a closed distillery – Cambus – matured for no less than 26 years & presented at 59.9% with no chill filtering nor added colouring. – kind of suggests the other bottlings perhaps had added e150 or chill filtering as it wasn’t stated on their labels?
Part of the A.D. Rattray Cask Collection – which changes regularly – I was very happy to try this single grain.
It’s a category of whisky many people dismiss – which is fine – all the more for me to enjoy!
It’s fresh, it’s lively, it’s full of flavour, it’s got character, it’s got strength, it’s got lucious drying tannins & velvety vanilla which just explode in the mouth.
A wonderful whisky.
The final miniature was Cask Islay – an non aged statement (NAS) non disclosed distillery single malt presented at 46%.
Now normally an Islay influenced dram floats my boat – but not this sweet peat. I think I prefer dry ashiness myself.
Perhaps the cask strength offering of earlier had influenced my findings. But I had cleansed my palate after each sample, left a gap in-between & then re-sampled later. All to no avail.
The Single Grain Cambus 26 Year Old is clearly my top of the pile – a stunning drop.