Tag Archives: Blended Whiskey

Johnnie Fox’s & Henry Downes & Co No 9 Irish Whiskey, Blends, 40%

Johnnie Fox’s is a well known pub which does a roaring tourist attraction trade in the mountains just outside of Dublin.

They released a whiskey a few years ago & this is my 1st time to try it.

I’d never heard of Henry Downes before – so had to look them up. Turns out they are also a bar – situated in Waterford City – but originally started out as spirits merchants.

Nice to see some traditions last with this release!

Obviously these are both sourced whiskeys from unnamed Irish distilleries – so what did I find?

Image courtesy apoma.dk

Johnnie Fox’s, Blend, 40%

Pale straw in colour, a fruity little number with hints of darker depth, clean fresh grain palate develops some pleasing spiciness towards the rear finishing with a little spirity kick.

An attractive blend to entice you into the Johnnie Fox’s establishment!

Image courtesy Whiskey.Auction

Henry Downes No 9, Blend, 40%

Whatever happened to the other 8?

A slightly darker shade of pale straw, soft malty nose with hints of wet leather, sweet biscuity palate finishing with a dry peppery spice & slight frisson of excitement.

Grand.

Thoughts

For me Johnnie Fox’s came over as a fresher & livelier style of whiskey which instantly appealed to me.

Can’t help thinking Henry Downes was beginning to suffer from being too long in the bottle & might have been more enjoyable when originally released.

Happy however to have tasted a couple of early pioneers who paved the way for the positive explosion of Irish Whiskey brands entering the market today.

Sláinte

Johnnie Fox’s website here.

Henry Downes bar information courtesy Publication website here.

Samples purchased from Drams Delivered here.

You can’t beat a good blend, Dunville’s 1808, 40%, Irish Whiskey

I always enjoy a blind tasting.

Stripped of any clues as to what’s before you it heightens your senses to the tastes & flavours experienced on drinking the liquid.

Presented before me were 6 samples. I duly poured them into 6 identical Túath glasses & proceeded to savour the contents.

For some reason I thought this was a rum tasting – & quickly revised this theory as No 1 ‘despite having a bit of a sour nose the lack of body on the palate & high ABV kick signalled to me a poitín! Can’t say it did much for me. Nice experience – but not an approachable spirit’.

There was no No 2 so No 3 ‘proved intriguing. The pale yellow colour, soft fruity nose, easy palate with slight hints of burnt notes on the rear drew me in. I could drink this one again!’.

With No 4I experienced a slightly musty nose, indicative of long ageing, perfectly fine palate yet lacked a bit of body & very dry on the rear. Rather nonplussed by this one’.

No 5 ‘had a sherry like influence, smooth & silky on the palate with a nice touch of dryness on the rear. Could be a low ppm peater? Not quite enough to excite me if it is’.

No 6 ‘initially blew me away! Suggestive of high ABV. On a 2nd tasting it still didn’t entice me’.

No 7 ‘kinda hooked me, if only for a more pronounced smoky influence. Elegant yet challenging all at the same time’.

So that was it! My initial thoughts are in italics.

Samples 3 & 7 stood out for me in this selection.

So what were they?

Photo courtesy Irish Drink Shop

3 – Dunville’s 1808, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

What can I say? A very pleasant easy drinker with enough depth of character to keep me coming back for more.

Photo courtesy Whisky Exchange

7 – Smögen 100 Proof, 6 Year Old, Swedish Single Malt, 57.1%

A heavy peater finished in oloroso casks at a challenging high ABV. Think I’d have enjoyed this one more at 46% without the oloroso finish myself.

And the others?

1 – Black’s Single Pot New Make, 63.5%

4 – Jamesons Black Barrel Proof, Blend, 50%

5 – High Coast, Dálvve Sherry Influence, Swedish Single Malt, 48%

A light peater with 50/50 bourbon/sherry influence. A bit of a let down from the original high peater Box Dálvve I enjoyed at Gothenberg Airport here.

6 – Bushmills Causeway Collection, 2008 Muscatel Casks, Single Malt, 56.4%

Given that Smögen is a bit of a unicorn bottle – hard to get hold of, pricey & limited edition – as are some of the other bottles – I think Dunville’s 1808 performed extremely well on my palate.

I took away a few themes from this tasting. High ABV can blow away the flavours for me & make for a challenging drinking experience. Sherry cask influence isn’t my style of choice & when it comes to enjoyable, affordable drinking – you can’t beat a good blend!

What would your palate have chosen?

Sláinte

Many thanks to fellow Whiskey Blogger S for the blind samples & bottle photo.

Lough Ree Distillery Tasting in Dead Centre Brewing

It’s not everyday you come away from a whiskey tasting championing a vodka,

But then it’s not everyday you encounter such an innovative drinks producer like Lough Ree Distillery.

Mike Clancy from Lough Ree entertained us with a highly informative talk & introduction to 5 of the companies offerings.

We kicked off with Bart’s – the company’s core Irish Whiskey blend – which I’ve always found very attractive. Read my blog here.

The Dead Centre collaborative Single Malt Whiskey duo were equally well received – with No1 just winning it for me in this 2nd tasting. Read my original thoughts here.

The limited release Bethlehem Bridge Series Single Grain Whiskey proved to be a favourite all round with it’s rich, deep & dark flavours captivating the audience.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

The final spirit was introduced blind.

I began with fresh citrus, another added smokiness, more enjoyed the smooth yet drying mouthfeel topped off with a slight spicy tingling.

Somewhat surprised to learn this was a vodka infused with Irish peat!

Such an entertaining, easy & enjoyable tipple to round up an excellent showcase for all the exciting developments at Lough Ree Distillery.

Sláinte

Lough Ree Distillery website here.

Dead Centre website here.

Kinsale Spirits Co, The Triumvirate, Blend, Single Grain & Single Malt, 40% to 43%, Irish Whiskey

I previously tried this attractive trio – blog here – but now they’ve appeared in an eye-catching miniature set complete with historical stories regarding the Earls portrayed & tasting notes on the whiskeys too – I thought I’d give them another go!

Red Earl, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

Triple casked, finished in Rioja casks. This light brown blend has a gentle aroma of soft dark fruits. The palate is quite soft yet there’s a delightful fruit bomb on the finish. An added prickly spice livens up the finish.

A very pleasant offering.

Great Earl, Single Grain Irish Whiskey, 40%

Triple casked, finished in Sangiovese casks. Not come across that wine before! Slightly paler in colour. Finding the nose more expressive than the blend – richer & more redolent. A lovely sweet grainy appeal on the palate slowly develops into a punchier finish.

Liking this one!

Spanish Earl, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 43%

Triple casked, finished in Stout casks. Upping the game with a few extra ABV! A darker shade of straw. Finding the nose a tad muted – but darker & heavier when it does appear. Very smooth & silky palate. The stout cask flavours emerge with dark toffee & burnt toast notes.

Vey attractive.

Thoughts

A terrific trio!

It’s actually hard to pick a favourite from these well presented whiskeys. All lean towards a sweet wine cask finished style with the malt introducing darker stout elements. On this occasion Spanish Earl won me over. What it lost on the nose was more than compensated by a rich finish.

Olé

Kinsale Spirits Co website here.

All images authors own.

Whiskey & Philosophy, Editors Fritz Allhoff & Marcus P Adams

Wow!

I’ve never read a whiskey book like this before.

Authors from differing disciplines were invited to submit essays on varying aspects relating to whiskey.

The results are highly entertaining, thought provoking and at times – challenging.

Can you apply Hegelian thought, Aristotle virtue, the philosophy of Dualism, Buddhism or plain old group think & social cohesion to tasting a whiskey?

It’s all in the mix of this publication.

Why do you like one whiskey over another?

Is taste malleable?

Does knowing the master blender, visiting the distillery, being part of the clan, liking the manufacturing techniques, agreeing with the sustainable policies, bottle design, price point all alter our experience of drinking whiskey?

I certainly have my views of the above – and they’ve been further enlightened by the discourse within the pages of this book.

Whiskey & Philosophy is a bold publication full of complexity & rich depth. The diverse elements combine elegantly giving creative excitement to this blended entity.

Highly recommended!

Sláinte

Musings on the Sazerac take-over of Lough Gill Distillery, Co Sligo, Ireland

Great News

Lough Gill Distillery c/oTheSpiritsBusiness

First off – Sazerac taking over Lough Gill Distillery in the wonderful scenery of County Sligo, Ireland is fantastic news for Irish Whiskey as a whole.

It shows the confidence a large international player has in the future potential of Irish Whiskey for them to lay down roots & invest in that future.

Paddy Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Celebrity Brands

I’ve read a lot of guff about Celebrity Brands – a lot of it negative – yet any company not involved in Celebrity Brands at the moment is missing out on the current zeitgeist that’s witnessing massive growth in the category.

Interestingly both Paddy & Michael Collins Irish Whiskey are Celebrity Brands.

The fact those celebrities are historic – and dead – might make them easier to market & handle over current living celebrities.

Nonetheless Sazerac have already boosted sales of Paddy Irish Whiskey since acquiring the brand from Irish Distillers & I see no reason Michael Collins Irish Whiskey cannot follow suite.

Michael Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

A sense of place?

Reams of marketing PR & fawning bloggers big up the idea a sense of place is integral to the quality & taste of whiskey.

Outside of a few micro distilleries practicing farm to glass single estate distilling – even then the taste differences can be miniscule – I just don’t buy it.

The original Paddy Irish Whisky was distilled in Cork for the Cork Distillery Company. CDC in turn was merged into Irish Distillers who continued to produce Paddy at New Midleton Distillery. Lough Gill Distillery will now fly the flag.

Will any of the growing band of consumers notice this?

I doubt it.

The brand changes & morphs through time. What it tasted like in 1877 may bear no resemblance to what it is now – or in the future – but it’s still Paddy Irish Whiskey. All that history & rich legacy is part of it – but history & legacy are not actual tasting notes that can be ascertained on drinking a whiskey.

Lough Gill Trio c/othewhiskeynut

Innovation

I’m not expecting much innovation at Lough Gill.

What I am expecting is building on the solidity of both Paddy & Michael Collins Irish Whiskey to expand & grow in both the local and international markets.

Athrú Irish Whiskey is a premium brand currently using sourced aged stock for their lovely product. It’s going to be a bit of a wait before any Lough Gill distillate hits the market under that brand name.

The future

The future looks bright for Irish Whiskey – even brighter for Lough Gill Distillery. Developments at the facility will be eagerly awaited.

I wish all the team at Lough Gill Distillery much future success.

Sláinte

Cork Distillery background here.

Paddy Whiskey history here.

Sazerac buys Lough Gill Distillery here.

Celebrity Brands boost sales here.

Irish Whiskey sales set to overtake Scotch here.

Sazerac Brand list here.

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.

Concannon Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

You’d be forgiven for never hearing of Concannon Irish Whiskey before if you live in Ireland – as it’s mainly sold in the USA!

Concannon is a popular seller over the pond making it into the Top 10 of the biggest brands – appearing above Powers & Black Bush – so when an opportunity arose to purchase a miniature from the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder’s new sample service – Drams Delivered – my curiosity was piqued.

Interestingly this whiskey is finished in Petite Sirah casks from the Concannon Vineyard in California – which might partly explain it’s impressive sales!

The colour was reassuringly pale for a wine cask finish.

Sweet, fruity & honeyed on the nose. Gently inviting.

Quite a light palate with an attractive freshness.

Juicy sweet grain appears before a pleasing fruitiness topped off with a touch of prickliness gently fades away.

A very pleasant easy drinker with enough depth of flavour to keep it entertaining.

Nice!

Sláinte

Concannon Vineyard website here.

Irish Whiskey Sales in America 2020 here.

Micil Inverin, Blend, 46% & Micil Earl’s Island, Single Pot Still, 46%

It’s Micil time!

Micil Distillery in Galway have been distilling tasty Poitín for a few years now.

They’ve also recently laid down their own distillate for the quiet slumber in casks to turn into whiskey.

In the meantime a pair of sourced – Great Norther Distillery – offerings came my way for appraisal.

Micil Inverin, Blend, 46%

A gentle kiss of turf greets the nose.

Clean, clear & fresh palate with more smokey notes appearing.

Gorgeously drying turf on the rear with a spicy lip smacking finish.

Sweet, spicey & smokey.

Lovin’ it!

Micil Earl’s Island, Single Pot Still, 46%

A gentle even shy nose with hints of juicy depth.

Smooth silky palate.

A touch of drying on the rear with subtle sweetness & an engaging spicy kick.

Very nice!

Thoughts

Without a doubt Inverin is my whiskey of choice here.

That warm embracing hug of turf paired with juicy fruitiness is a winner on my palate.

Roll on Micil!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Northern Exposure, An Exploration Of Northern Irish Whiskey – Mainly – Via Blind Tasting.

Northern Irish Whiskey isn’t a separate category – although shifting political structures between Ireland, UK & Europe might influence that.

Presented before me were 5 sample bottles, below are 5 impressions in italics before the reveal & the 5 bottles uncovered.

Bréifne – Hinch Single Pot Still, 43%

Pale straw. Intriguing nice deep nose. Clean, fresh, spicey & sweet. Rye like finish. Nice!

The spice was so intense & lively I could’ve mistaken this for a rye whiskey! Hinch SPS is a sourced product while their own distillate matures. Really enjoyable.

Slemish – Powers Distiller’s Cut, 43.2%

Dark straw. Clean, sweet dark fruits. Shy palate. Nice depth & spice on the finish. Yeah!

Of the 3 Midleton brands, Jameson, Paddy & Powers, Powers has always been my favourite. This blind tasting only appears to confirm this with the latest UK Distiller’s Cut edition.

Iveagh – Kirker & Greer, 10 Year Old Single Grain, 43%

Golden brown. Expressive. Wine cask influence? Warm, inviting. Soft finish. Spice on rear. Interesting.

Kirker & Greer are a Belfast based independent bottling company revitalising an old tradition. An easy going single grain offering.

Donard – Bushmills American Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Mild, mellow & sweet. Smooth easy palate. Touch of spice on rear. Grand.

I’d have to congratulate Bushmills on releasing some new bottles to market & updating their core range labels – even if I found this one rather ‘pedestrian’.

Oriel – Bushmills Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Cookie dough. Slightly muddy. Smooth, mellow & soft. Short finish. Not exciting.

Sadly this one just wasn’t for me.

Thoughts

I had an entertaining evening picking out the flavours from this quintet of whiskey.

There was a clear winner – as well as loser – on my palate with the middle 3 being somewhat closer in experience.

In terms of trends my palate appears to favour the spicey side of things – usually non chill filtered & natural colour helps too. Which partly explains the poor showing of Bushmills here.

The tasting also shows no division regarding sourced or distillery product in enjoyment of the whiskey.

The tasting is what it’s all about at Whiskey Nut.

Sláinte

Images courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop, WhiskyExchange, @_PMcDermott & authors own.