Produced by West Cork Distillers for a 3rd party – this whiskey is a blend of Irish single malts & grain whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in ex-rye casks from Tamworth Distilling, NH.
An American rye whiskey made with predominately american rye grain in charred virgin oak barrels by the FEW Distillery, Evanstown, Chicago.
I like to see a variation in the colour of the whiskeys I drink. It foretells of the different smells, flavours & overall drinking experiences to be enjoyed.
FEW came out the darkest – reflecting the use of charred virgin oak casks. There was a jump down then to the paler duo of PrizeFight & Brothership with Sunken Still coming in with an almost pale yellowy hue.
Brothership kicks off with a soft barley sweetness before developing muted rye spice. PrizeFight comes across with a more fresher, clearer nose & an equally enjoyable spice. Sunken Still has a wonderfully aromatic floral bouquet whilst FEW delivers a classic peppery rye punch.
The soft smooth delivery of Brothership quickly develops into a lovely rich dry spice. PrizeFight has a cleaner palate with a slightly less intense rye spice.
Meanwhile the Sunken Still’s fragrant bouquet flows through into a wonderful cornucopia of taste on the tongue with a rich dry spice that is simply divine. Beautiful.
The FEW doesn’t disappoint either. To start there is that caramel/vanilla bourbon like feel followed by an almost classic rich peppery spice that tingles & teases as it drys the palate.
PrizeFight’s lovely spice fades slowly, only marginally beaten by the warmer, drier spice of Brothership. FEW lasts the longest whilst Sunken Still manages that dry floral spice right to the end.
What stands out to me is that whilst having no rye grain in the original mix – the rich dry spicy notes of a decent rye whiskey still come through in the PrizeFight whiskey simply by it’s time in the ex-rye casks. It may lack the overall dry mouthfeel of a true rye – but it certainly makes a worthy addition to the rye cannon.
Brothership benefits by the addition of a real rye whiskey in the mix which heightens the rich dry rye spiciness on both the taste & finish which is not initially apparent on the sweet barely nose.
The FEW could almost set the benchmark of what a good rye whiskey should be. A straight forward crisp peppery spice with a marvelously long dry finish. Superb.
Sunken Still adds something extra to that dry spice by giving it a floral display of flavours.
For taking rye whiskey the extra mile – Sunken Still from Belgium comes out tops in this taste-off.
FEW from America comes in a close second
The Irish-American hybrid that is Brothership follows closely behind – leaving Ireland’s PrizeFight bringing up the rear.
I would commend PrizeFight for being able to hold it’s own among such worthy competition in that they all contain rye in their original mix.
It just goes to prove the powerful influence the maturation in wood has to the overall taste.
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.
Something was clearly amiss when the bartender replied;
‘We don’t have that one.’
Even after I’d spotted the distinctly garish – even kitsch – labelled bottle on a shelve of whiskeys.
A little game of,
‘Left a bit, right a bit, down one, BINGO!’
ensued to retrieve said bottle – whereupon the same bartender proceeded to shovel loads of ice into a tall glass.
The ice was duly discarded – after I asked for my whisky neat – and a shot promptly poured in.
‘Oh dear’, I thought, before common sense prevailed and the drink was decanted into a more suitable – if not ideal – tumbler.
Forget ‘A Horse With No Name’ – this was the pub with no name!
It transpires the pub formerly known as ‘Whiskey Fair‘ – and which I’d chosen as a suitable watering hole to meet a friend whilst in Dun Laoghaire for the day – had recently changed hands. We even had trouble finding it as although the old name had been removed from the front facade – no new title proudly embellished the now empty display.
With Irish Whiskey experiencing growing sales figures – I did ponder the managements decision to forgo the whiskey snug as the previous owners had obviously attempted to make a go of it. The premises were in a state of transition to something else – something not including a whiskey bar. Clearly I’d timed my visit during this change and been served by staff who obviously had no real knowledge or appreciation of the remaining whiskey stocks still evident behind the bar.
So what about Stewart’s Cream Of The Barley?
Well it’s an old standard Scottish blend dating from the 1830’s & currently owned by Pernod Ricard after their buyout of Allied Domecq back in 2005.
A rich golden brown colour smacks of added caramel – common in entry level blends.
The nose was sweet with a hint of malt.
The rich velvety malt on taste surprised me – although it soon diminished with an overly sweet overture & a short finish.
Very pleasant, very smooth, very aptly named & actually quite a decent blend for an afternoon chat.