Grace O’Malley Rum Cask, 42%, Blend

Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey burst onto the scene a few years ago with their bold imagery re-energising & modernising the Pirate Queen the whiskey is named after.

Being blenders, bonders & independent bottlers, Grace O’Malley can stock barrels from any number of Irish Whiskey Distilleries & use them to create their own unique style.

I still have remnants of their Dark Char & Rum Cask – which you can read about here – but it’s the newly released Rum Cask I’m focusing on today.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

First thing I notice is the pale colour – reassuring perhaps of no added colour?

A rich dark sweetness on the aroma – rum wine gums anyone?

Smooth, sweet & deliciously mouth coating on the palate.

A gorgeous growing frisson of warm spice – getting nutmeg & cinnamon – on the finish with just a hint of funky depth to top things off.

An engaging little number from the Grace O’Malley fleet.

Sláinte

Where is this whiskey sourced from?

It’s become an obsession.

I’ve encountered folks refusing to drink a whiskey for not divulging where it was distilled.

Are folks really that petty?

Let’s dial back a bit however & answer a few basic questions.

What got you into whiskey?

For me it was primarily taste & flavour.

The joy of exploring different whiskey using a variety of grains, distilling techniques, maturation & blending practices to produce a never ending cornucopia of brands for my palate to enjoy.

Is where the whiskey distilled important?

Starting out on my journey it wasn’t.

Initially I’d be unaware of the myriad of distilleries around the world – even if they were printed on the label – but as time progressed I’d begin to favour certain flavours & styles over others & take notice of where it came from.

Does knowing where the whiskey is distilled make a difference?

Yes.

My buying & drinking experiences began to be predicated on my previous encounters. A bias or prejudice towards certain styles or distilleries formed which I’ve subsequently worked to overcome. Blind tasting & doing an WSET course worked wonders in this regard & challenged any bias – conscious or not – & helped develop an open mind about the whiskey in my glass.

Do you need to know where the whiskey is distilled?

No.

Legally there is no jurisdiction that stipulates distillery of origin must be named. Usually they are – as it enhances brand recognition – but it’s not necessary. Knowing can automatically engender bias – so I often immerse myself in the taste & flavours of the whiskey in front of me before finding out the details.

What if there’s no information as to distillery of origin?

Enjoy the whiskey.

Blended whiskey by default do not name the distilleries the individual components came from as they are often made up of numerous malts, grains & single pot stills from a variety of changing sources to bring about a uniform flavour in the one brand.

Single Malt & Single Pot Still releases from blenders & bottlers may also be subject to legally binding ‘non disclosure agreements’ from the distilleries involved & whilst they come from a single source – this does not preclude that source changing. Distilleries are capable of replicating the style of another’s to provide consistency of flavour.

What do you want in a whiskey?

An enjoyable drinking experience that excites my palate.

While learning about where it was distilled, who made it & all the other information may enhance that experience – it’s not a prerequisite. If on the other hand knowing those details is more important to you – we’re not on the same page. Giving up the taste & flavour experience to a prescribed set of data that must be met before drinking is rather sad.

The frisson of excitement & growing sense of exploration & adventure in anticipation of tasting a new & unknown whiskey is a joy.

May I never loose it.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Uisce Beatha Irish Whiskey & Celtic FC Irish Whiskey, 40%

Continuing my exploration of recent Irish Whiskey offerings that may have slipped into history are these 2 blends.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Uisce Beatha Real Irish Whiskey, 40%

Released by ROKDrinks – a large multinational company with a varied range of branded products.

Pale in colour – which I always find reassuring. Quite light & gentle nose. Surprisingly rich depth on the palate of sweet vanilla. Lovely warmth to this one with a pleasant prickly frisson on the finish.

Very engaging.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Celtic FC Irish Whiskey, 40%

Celtic Football Club have released a number of whiskeys over the years for their fans to enjoy.

Pale golden brown. A very gentle nose that grudgingly gives up soft aromas of sweet vanilla. Mild palate that sits easily in the mouth slowly warming to a fruity sweet finish.

Grand

Thoughts

Both of these blends offer easy accessible drinking. There’s no jagged edges or bold off-putting flavours to deter. For my tastes Uisce Beatha does it with more flair & would score the goals in this round.

Sláinte

Zingibeer, Ginger Beer, 4%

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a ginger beer – especially an alcoholic one – so spotting this Dublin brewed offering had me hooked.

Very pale in colour – the label boasts natural ingredients & botanicals.

That ginger tang is evident on the nose.

Quite light & very refreshing on the palate. The ginger is more muted & balanced providing a pleasant spicy zing.

Makes for an entertaining alternative & attractive summer drinking experience.

Sláinte

A Pair Of Peated Irish Whiskey From The Recent Past, Magilligan & Clonmel, 8 Year Old Peated Single Malts plus a Magilligan non peater, 40%

There’s a misconception Irish Whiskey isn’t peaty.

It has been – for a long time.

Irish Distillers released a 45 Year Old Peated Malt from the Old Midleton Distillery a while ago.

The whiskey for this tasting however came from Cooley – who have done a lot to revive the peaty category in Irish Whiskey.

Trying out a pair of 8 Year Old Peated Single Malts from the same source appealed to me – so let’s dive in!

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Magilligan Single Malt, 40%

An Irish brand dating from the 1990’s using Cooley malt bottled for Ian Macleod Distillers.

Golden brown colour with decent legs. Fusty leathery nose with a sweet fruitiness & wholesome palate. An appreciative bite on the finish.

Quite a belter!

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Magilligan 8 Year Old Peated Single Malt, 40%

Pale straw with decent legs. Gorgeous coastal iodine like smoke. An almost oily mouthfeel. The fabulous peat stacks up like a cosy warming fire on the finish.

Love this one!

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Clonmel 8 Year Old Peated Single Malt, 40%

Bottled for the Celtic Whiskey Compagnie in France.

Pale straw, decent legs. Soft gentle kiss of turf. Light palate yet smoke comes through. A more balanced well stacked glowing fire gradually fades away.

Nice

Thoughts

A tough choice!

2 gorgeous peaters – the full on Mulligan or gently cultured Clonmel?

Can depend on the mood at the time – but I’m giving it to the fabulous peaty exuberance of Mulligan 8yo.

Sláinte

The Philosophy Of Whisky, Billy Abbott

I suppose it was wishful thinking expecting some existential answers to questions like ‘Why has whisky captured the human spirit?‘ or ‘ Can drinking whisky sooth a troubled soul?‘.

The Philosophy Of Whisky is however an easy – if brief – entertaining introduction into the growing global reach of distilling, maturing & enjoyment of the brown spirit.

Chapters covering the big 5 producers – Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada & Japan – along with mentions on Sweden, Taiwan, India, Australia & Mexico to name a few – give a welcome & refreshing world view on this tasty beverage.

The author still appears to elevate Scotch above the others – even when world whisky is winning tasting awards – & fudges facts over the earliest written records for aqua vitae – the forerunner of whisky.

Yet for all that – anyone still restricting their whisky drinking to Scotch is missing out on a world of exciting tastes, flavours & growth.

Excuse me while I pour some Titanic Irish Whiskey!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Martell VS, Cognac, 40%

Martell Cognac is available in virtually every Irish supermarket.

Not too surprising – Pernod Ricard own the brand.

I picked up this miniature to give it a whirl.

The nose was quite expressive, rich, warm & inviting with a touch of nuttiness.

The nuttiness followed through on the palate which was pleasingly smooth yet offered some depth & fruity complexity.

A welcome soft tannic spice livened up the finish.

Before the phylloxera bug nearly destroyed the vineyards of the late 1800’s Cognac was the spirit of choice.

I can see why after enjoying the flavoursome delights of this Martell VS.

Worth trying.

All images authors own.

Dead Centre, Que Chido, Tequila & Lime Gose, 5.5%

I gotta hand it to Dead Centre Brewing – they sure know how to brew up some tasty beers for special occasions.

Image courtesy Dead Centre Brewing

This Tequila & Lime Gose was for Cinco De Mayo.

I popped down on a sunny Friday afternoon for a quick one – & was very pleased I did.

Quite light, very refreshing, with subtle hints of earthy agave complimented by a tart sourness.

A lovely sup by the Shannon!

Sláinte

OBrother, Opus One, Imperial Stout Aged In Fercullen Whiskey Barrels, 12.5%

OBrother Brewing have tied in with Powerscourt Distillery to use their Fercullen Whiskey Barrels to age this Imperial Stout.

It’s rare you get told the actual barrels used – Fercullen 18 Year Old Single Malt & Fercullen 8 Year Old Single Grain in this instance.

So how does it taste?

Rich, malty nose. Veering to chocolatey & coffee notes.

A wholesome solid drinking experience full of body & flavour.

Sweet rich coffee notes follow up on the finish.

A lovely collaborative brew.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart

My excuse for reading this book was being stuck in hospital.

It’s not exactly an uplifting experience.

One central character slowly descends into alcoholism & damages relations all around.

The rather sad lives portrayed give no sense of hope for a brighter future & I found it rather predictable – if a little bit voyeuristic peering in on folks struggling to cope.

Given fellow patients on my ward suffered from alcoholism & drug abuse – along with other physical ailments – I found Shuggie Bain showcasing characters I’ve met with all too often.

There is hope for alcoholics to improve their lives – but precious little of that came through in the book.

Too close to reality for me.

Sláinte

All photos authors own.

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