W.D. O’Connell, Bill Phil Peated Series, 47.5% vs 17 Year Old PX Series, 46%, Single Malts.

W.D. O’Connell are part of the next generation of Irish Whiskey brands/bottlers/bonders and distillers that have exploded onto the scene.

Labelling themselves as ‘Whiskey Merchants’, W.D. O’Connell source their spirit from existing distilleries – and have it finished to their own requirements.

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Bill on the left, PX to right c/othewhiskeynut

Showcased for the first time at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019– where I had a quick sample – as well as a tweet tasting I missed – I did get a couple of sample bottles for my tasting pleasure.

Bill Phil, Peated Series, 47.5%

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Peated Series c/othewhiskeynut

Peat – or turf in Ireland – is a flavour profile that has been absent in Irish Whiskey for too long. It’s a style I enjoy & I celebrate with open arms any newcomer’s reinterpretation of this distinctive character.

That lovely warm smokiness just captivated me straight away. Clear, crisp & slightly meaty. A joy to behold.

Delightfully young & fresh on the palate. The ashy peat smoke develops into an all embracing toastiness that wraps you heartily like a turf fueled fire.

A frisson of nutmegy spice dances merrily on the finish.

A stunner of a malt.

17 Year Old PX Series, 46%

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PX Series c/othewhiskeynut

A much more ‘traditional’ Irish style.

Cooley malt matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in Pedro Ximenez barrels for 6 months.

A dark cherry sweetness on the nose.

Lucious fruitiness on the palate – more stone fruits than orchard apples – with a gentle spiciness to enliven the whiskey – finished off by a softly drying prickliness.

Classic stuff indeed – and very well done.

Preference?

Without a doubt – Bill Phil.

It’s young, it’s fresh, it’s exciting.

It marks the welcome return of peat to the Irish Whiskey cannon.

W.D. O’Connell sourced this one from the Great Northern Distillery. Hopefully it will be the first of many interpretations using peated malt from this distillery.

What would make it even more outstanding was if Irish turf was used to dry the barley.

But that’s for another day.

Slàinte

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Kilbeggan, Single Pot Still, Irish Whiskey, 43%

There has been a positive explosion of Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey on the market.

It’s marvelous to witness the revival of this historic style of whiskey.

Originally created as a tax dodge – malted barley attracted duty, unmalted did not – so distillers used unmalted barley in the mix to avoid the burden and created a well loved flavour profile in the process.

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Westmeath whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Distilled & matured at the old Kilbeggan Distillery itself – which has maintained a continuous licence since 1757. This whiskey marks another milestone in the long – and often chequered – history of this esteemed distillery.

Living – as I do – only half an hour away, I popped down to purchase a bottle.

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In the glass! c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm.

This is on the more soft, caramelly sweet, subtle & safe side of single pot still.

It didn’t reach out and grab me.

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Front c/othewhiskeynut

A delicate creaminess at the start – a small percentage of oats are used in the mix – gave way to a smooth honeyed middle – followed by a lovely dry prickly spice on the finale.

It’ll probably please many.

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Back c/othewhiskeynut

Just lacked a certain pzazz & flair for my palate.

Sláinte

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Rascals, Barrel Aged Old Fashioned, Blonde Ale, 6.3%

This is a barrel aged beer with a bit of a twist.

To begin with – it’s a blonde ale.

Most barrel aged beers tend to be porters, dark ales or otherwise ‘heavies’.

But the real twist of this Rascals brewed ale in collaboration with Dubliner Irish Whiskey is – well – it’s orange!

Both in colour,

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An orange twist! c/othewhiskeynut

And taste.

A bright, refreshingly zesty blood orange aroma greeted me on first acquaintance – shortly followed by a biscuity malty base on the palate – all wrapped up in a delightfully lagery mouthfeel.

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Beer info c/othewhiskeynut

It’s a twist I really enjoyed.

Best served lightly chilled.

Slàinte

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Bell’s 21 Year Old Royal Reserve, Blend, 40%

I picked up this unusual bottle of Bell’s in a job lot auction win of miniatures.

Having tasted a few that had clearly ‘turned‘, I’d resisted opening this one as the fill level seemed low – a sure sign things were not good inside.

Only when the magnifying glass picked out 3cl on the rather sparse label – total 15 words – did I get my hopes up.

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Bell’s 21yo Royal Resreve c/othewhiskeynut

Could I be in for a treat?

Sadly – my nose said not!

Like opening a long closed cupboard – an intense rank foostiness assaulted me.

Undeterred – I ploughed on.

The palate started off dull – but a richness of depth, warming vanilla, oaky woodiness & a solid alcoholic kick greeted me.

Oh to have enjoyed this one in it’s prime!

Even on the turn there’s an attractiveness to the flavours within this Bell’s.

A joyous prickly heat danced off the palate on the satisfyingly long finish.

This must have been a belter in it’s day!

Hells Bells!

 

Sláinte

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Crossbones Premium Dark Rum, 40%

Ahoy mateys!

Shiver me timbers & splice the mainsail.

The Jolly Roger is back with this strikingly designed bottle of rum.

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Shiver me timbers! c/othewhiskeynut

I couldn’t resist.

A rich ruby red glow lured me in.

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Ruby ruby ruby! c/othewhiskeynut

A smoky funk on the nose.

Blended Jamaican Rum from both pot and column stills

Dark sweet caramel – almost treacly liqourice to begin with.

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Set sail for Aldi! c/othewhiskeynut

Softly smooth mid palate.

A warming oaky spice on the long finish.

Yo ho ho an’ blow the man down.

A gem of a rum to raise the sails!

Slàinte

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21C Whiskey, 2nd Edition, Blend, 54.3%

Irish Whiskey continues to grow.

There are now 16 working distilleries that have matured stocks of spirit old enough to be called whiskey.

All of them contributed to create this special limited edition 21C blend unveiled at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019.

Luckily I managed a taster.

A fabulously rich & complex nose. Full bodied on the palate. A long lasting satisfying finish.

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21C Whiskey 1st Edition contributors. c/othewhiskeynut

From my recollections of 21C 1st Edition – blog here – this was a vast improvement. Perhaps reflecting the growing maturity of Irish Whiskey in general – a better blend of ingredients – older stocks added – or a combination of all factors.

Whatever – it made a great whiskey.

The new additional distilleries to have matured whiskey are below – taken in left to right, top to bottom order as printed on the back label.

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21C Whiskey 2nd Edition contributors. c/othewhiskeynut

Shortcross Distillery have yet to release their 1st whiskey – a single pot still by all accounts – but have built up a strong following with their Shortcross Gins.

Connacht Distillery are also waiting for their own whiskey to age further before release. In the meantime they have some tasty & innovative sourced whiskey under the Spade & Bushel, Ballyhoo & Brothership labels.

Waterford Distillery are following the above 2 in waiting for their own stock to age before committing to market. Unlike the others – they have not sourced any whiskey prior to that release.

Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow have not released their own whiskey. Previously called Walsh Distillery – a split with the 2 companies involved means Irishman & Writer’s Tears will remain as sourced brands.

In addition to last years 21C – some distilleries have recently entered the market with their own stock.

Shed Distillery’s wonderful Inaugural Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Whiskey is now in the shops.

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105 Years waiting! c/othewhiskeynut

Tullamore Distillery’s malt is now being used as a component in their blended Tullamore DEW range.

A big congratulations to all those who contributed to this fantastic 21C Whiskey. Much credit to Celtic Whiskey Shop for bringing this fabulous project to fruition.

Already looking forward to the next installment of Irish Whiskey to mature in the coming year!

Sláinte

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The Snow Grouse, Blended Grain, 40%

As it’s St Andrew’s Day – a Scotch review is in order.

The UK is on the cusp of change. Brexit raises the possibility of a split with Europe – a big chunk of the whisky market – and Independence for Scotland.

Changes are also occurring in the whisky world. New brands, new countries and new styles are pressurising the pole position enjoyed by Scotch.

That position was achieved back in  the early 1900’s by the adoption of new technology allowing a new style of whisky to rise to the fore – blended whisky.

One brand that has had immense success with that style is Famous Grouse.

The Snow Grouse is one of their newer releases.

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Seriously chilled Snow Grouse c/othewhiskeynut

A blended grain – rarely encountered – much like the proud bird on the attractive label – a Ptarmigan.

This species of Grouse inhabits the higher & often snow covered ground of the Scottish Mountains.

The clever marketing suggests ‘freezing’ the whisky – much like the birds habitat – which goes against the – ahem – grain of allowing the whisky to sit at room temperature to enjoy the aromas.

So I did.

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Deep frozen. c/othewhiskeynut

Bad move.

The nose was decidedly silent – apart from a healthy dose of added caramel.

Ice cool on the palate – unnaturally sweet – oily & viscous on the mouth.

No warmth here for me.

I enjoy the marketing and the added theatrics of freezing – but the overall experience just leaves me cold.

Any soft or delicate notes exhibited by the grain have been frozen out & drowned by added caramel.

At room temperature it was far more palatable.

Slàinte

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Drumshanbo, Inaugural Release, Single Pot Still, 46%

It’s been a long time coming.

105 years according to the label of this beautifully designed bottle.

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105 Years waiting! c/othewhiskeynut

But whiskey distilling has returned to Connacht – legally!

The Inaugural Release from The Shed Distillery has a lot to live up to.

Their Gunpowder Gin & Sausage Tree Vodka won many awards, accolades and adoring fans.

What will their whiskey be like?

I jumped straight in!

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Shedelicious! c/othewhiskeynut

Even the act of pouring a measure allowed a rich sweet warming vanilla aroma to caress my nose & tempt me in.

No chill filtration or added caramel here.

A stone fruitiness from the oloroso casks followed suit. Plenty of thick viscous legs on my favourite Túath Glass. Did I mention Irish Oats were used in the mashbill?

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Curious? c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely enveloping creaminess on the palate – the flavours grew into a delightful crescendo; dark cherries, rich plums, sweet vanillas all milling around.

A satisfying dry prickly spice turned the drinking experience into an event.

The fabulous flavours continued partying away on the lovely long luscious finish.

Whiskey as it should be.

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A name to be reckoned with. c/othewhiskeynut

Well worth the wait!

Sláinte

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Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey, 42.5% & Straight Rye, 47%

You never know what you might find at Whiskey Live Dublin.

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c/othewhiskeynut

I had intended to try some Scotch – but an amadán had decided to vape in the toilets & set off the fire alarms.

No joy there.

I missed out on Japanese too

Beam Suntory’s Toki offering had vanished – but I did try their soon to be released Kilbeggan Single Pot Still with 3% oats in the mix. Creamy & spicy all at the same time. Although I did struggle to fully appreciate what the oats brought to the whiskey in such a brief encounter.

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McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

The parent company behind Belfast’s McConnell’s release had an interesting trio of American Whiskeys however. Attractively presented & branded as Clyde May’s the Alabama Style Whiskey caught my eye.

What is Alabama Style?

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Alabama Style Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Turns out something to do with adding dried apples to the barrel. A look online provided a better insight here. I did get a fresh fruitiness on the nose.

Offered at 42.5% this was a decent full bodied whiskey I’d like to enjoy more off.

The Straight Rye also pleased me. A good balance of dry peppery spice with a wholesome body to boot.

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Clyde May’s Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Both are sourced from Kentucky – but brand owners Conecuh are building a distillery of their own in Alabama.

Now that is a joy!

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Whiskey Live Dublin 2019

This years Whiskey Live Dublin show marked a quantitative shift in the fortunes of Irish Whiskey.

The number of new releases on display for the first time was breathtaking – and a bit of a challenge to appreciate in only one session.

Not only new releases though.

New whiskey companies were also in attendance. Companies previously inhabiting websites with ‘under construction’ on the display page were now in full flow offering tangible products to taste.

My game plan was clear – try as many of them as time – and my well being – permitted.

In no particular order – this is what I found.

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21C Edition 2 c/othewhiskeynut

The Celtic Whiskey Shop had again done a marvelous job collating all 16 Irish Whiskey Distilleries with mature stock into this fabulous blend. More flavoursome & complex than last years.

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Hinch core range c/othewhiskeynut

I did a Hinch vertical – one of the new companies currently building their distillery. The peated piqued my palate – but the Small Batch pleased too.

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Irish Proud Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Another new company – Proud Irish – had 2 offerings of a rather easy entry market style. Perhaps more for the tourists?

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Killowen Rum Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Killowen impressed with this Dark Rum Cask Blend. Their new make wasn’t bad either!

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A pair of Gelston’s c/othewhiskeynut

The Gelston’s range from Halewood was far too extensive for a vertical tasting so the 5yo Sherry Cask sufficed. Word of a new distillery too!

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A Smokey Silkie! c/othewhiskeynut

Yes! The return of smoky dry peat to Irish Whiskey was greatly appreciated.

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The Bridge c/othewhiskeynut

As was this sweet yet nuanced single grain single cask first whiskey offering from Lough Ree in Longford.

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Lough Gill Trio c/othewhiskeynut

Lough Gill in Sligo displayed their trio of exquisitely aged single malts showing varying finishing styles.

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Welcome to the Renaissance! c/othewhiskeynut

Irish Whiskey has moved on from simply revival – the renaissance is here – courtesy of Teeling’s new 18yo offering.

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Sade & Bushell 5yo c/othewhiskeynut

Connacht’s new 5yo was a bit too sweet for my palate – but the 12yo version in the background hit the spot.

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W.D.O’Connell c/othewhiskeynut

Despite the depth & complexity of the 17yo – the peat of Bill Phil won out on these fabulous whiskeys from W.D.O’Connell.

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Celtic Cask 25 c/othewhiskeynut

Staying on a peated path – Celtic Cask 25 didn’t disappoint.

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Egan’s Legacy c/othewhiskeynut

The latest 16yo Egan’s Legacy was more of a traditional style.

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The Liberator c/othewhiskeynut

While newcomers Wayward Spirits offered their dark & brooding port cask finished Liberator Blend.

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McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut 

I was pleased to hear the Crumlin Gaol Distillery is still in the mix with this very well presented blended whisky – minus the ‘e’.

It also marked my final tasting at the show. Although on the train home I did crack open a miniature & sang away to myself!

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Pogues Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

 

‘I am going, I am going, Where the streams of whiskey are flowing.’

Well the streams of whiskey are certainly flowing from the stills of Irish Whiskey Distilleries!

Slàinte

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