Tag Archives: Bourbon Casks

Waterford, Ballykilcavan 1.2, 50%, Single Malt

The thing about terroir is you have to try at least 2 bottles made the same way with the only variable being where the barley was grown.

This posed a little problem.

Feeling like an eegit for forking out 70 yo-yos for a bottle of young malt – gotta admire the marketing capabilities of Waterford Distillery – I’d no intentions of buying another.

Ballykilcavan 1.2 c/othewhiskeynut

Step forward a fellow whiskey fan who had the alternative offering!

An exchange was duly arranged – as an aside, if you want to swap samples from my 60+ list of opened bottles, drop me a message.

Then I learned of another problem.

Bannow Island & Ballykilcavan are aged in different cask!

I checked the codes!

Up Laois! c/othewhiskeynut

Both had ex-bourbon & French casks – but only Bannow had virgin oak – which may account for the extreme dryness I experienced.

Kind of negates the whole terroir experiment – which is a big part of the sell!

Ah well – I got my chance to sample Ballykilcavan.

Is it any different?

In a word – yes!

The absence of virgin oak allows more of those rich & juicy notes from the French oak & ex-bourbon casks to come through.

It’s a more balanced & accessible malt with some of that aggressive youth tempered.

I’d still say it’s a work in progress however.

At the moment, Ballykilcavan would be my favourite, but how they develop in the next few years could all change with those cask influences working off that youthful exuberance & raw edges.

As for the terroir?

That will have to wait for another day.

Sláinte

Proclamation, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40.7%

It’s always a delight to encounter a new Irish Whiskey brand on the shelves of my local SuperValu.

Wrapped in an attractive tin proudly displaying a period portrayal of O’Connell Street in Dublin, including the General Post Office from where the original proclamation was read, starting the founding of the Irish State in 1916.

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The GPO on O’Connell St c/othewhiskeynut

Proclamation Irish Whiskey certainly stood out among the other brands sharing it’s keen price point.

‘Matured in bourbon casks & blended with a touch of sherry finished malt.’ is the information given – along with extensive tasting notes on the back – as to the contents of this bottle.

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Tasting notes c/othewhiskeynut

A light golden brown colour complete with viscous legs.

Aromas of soft warm caramel, a touch of sherry sweetness & a hint of nuttiness to add some depth & complexity.

Very inviting.

Suitably smooth on the palate – but entertainingly so.

The nuttiness follows through into a softly drying sweetness with an added flourish of some oaky spice too.

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Raising my spirits! c/othewhiskeynut

The finish was rather brief – but Proclamation certainly lifted my spirits!

A very pleasant easy going sipper with a touch of character – and a long pedigree.

Definitely one to have on the shelve at home!

Sláinte

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Teeling Distillery 5th Anniversary Whiskey Tasting

Even before Teeling Whiskey Distillery opened in 2015, I eagerly attended a guided tour of the nascent facility by none other than master distiller & blender Alex Chasko himself.

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Careful now! c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve been avidly watching the rebuilding of Irish Whiskey – especially the role Teeling plays in that growth – ever since.

Teeling’s 5th Anniversary took place during COVID – and like many events – moved online.

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Online tasting c/othewhiskeynut

So instead of a lavish party inside the fabulous distillery itself – it was me, my computer & 5 samples of Teeling Whiskey made in that very distillery.

Alex Chasko was again present – along with brand ambassador Robert Caldwell – to regale us with tales of those 5 years. From a dream to reality, a building site to a fully functioning whiskey distillery and from brewing beer in Oregon to distilling whiskey in Dublin.

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Welcome to the Bang Bang bar & Distillery Shop! c/othewhiskeynut

To date most of the Teeling bottles on the shelves are sourced product – and very good they are too!

Alex is responsible for maturing that stock, choosing the casks, finishing, blending and releasing a wide variety of styles & flavours.

Now before me are 5 differing samples drawn from casks distilled at Teeling’s Distillery in Dublin itself.

This is the dawning of a new age in Irish Whiskey.

So what does it taste like?

A trio of Single Pot Stills started the show. All triple distilled using a 50/50 malted/unmalted mashbill presented at 46%, non chill filtered & natural colour.

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SPS Bourbon Cask c/othewhiskeynut

SPS Bourbon Cask

Immediately captivating!

The combination of rich vanillas, bourbon sweetness with a joyful youthfulness followed by an attractive prickly spice just won me over.

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SPS Virgin c/othewhiskeynut

SPS Virgin Cask

A more tannic, sawdusty element with a sharper spice came through. Still enjoyable – if less balanced.

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SPS Sherry c/othewhiskeynut

SPS Sherry Cask

Milder, mellower & more subtle & sweeter than the other 2. Not my favourite.

The 3 casks demonstrate the influence wood has on the whiskey. They also show the building blocks Alex uses to blend together to achieve a relatively consistent product for the Single Pot Still release which can iron out any excesses within the individual components.

A wonderful insight into the world of the blender.

Next came a duo of single malts – Crystal & Peated – which demonstrate the role raw ingredients play in developing flavour.

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Crystal SM c/othewhiskeynut

Crystal Single Malt

Crystal malt is commonly used in craft beer circles to boost flavour, depth & colour. A throwback to Alex’s brewing days.

Crystal malt has been roasted for longer – allowing richer, darker flavours to come through.

I found a farmhousey saison type of nose, rich vanilla on the palate with a gorgeous spice on the finish.

Very attractive!

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Peated SM c/othewhiskeynut

Peated Single Malt

Well anything with peat in it is a winner for me – and Teeling’s didn’t disappoint!

Very well balanced from start to finish.

A sheer delight!

A wonderful way to celebrate Teeling’s 5th Anniversary with such delicious whiskeys.

Having followed their growth along every step of the way it reassures me no end – the quality & diversity of whiskey being produced at Newmarket is a joy to experience.

Hats off to Teeling Whiskey – and all the team involved – Happy 5th Anniversary!

Sláinte

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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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Porterhouse Celebration Stout, 4th Barrel Aged Release, 12%

An unexpected serve at Dingle Distillery for the Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 event was this Celebration Stout from Porterhouse Brewery.

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It’s dark and it’s heavy. c/othewhiskeynut

I say unexpected as I’d not come across this one before – and obviously missed the previous 3 offerings.

Rich & dark, the sweet malty notes on the nose from the ex bourbon barrels used to mature this beer pulled me in.

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Drinking beer in the distillery. c/othewhiskeynut

The palate had a dark fruitiness to it – ex port casks (a favourite of Dingle Whiskey) contributed to this element – and the carbonation being light suited my tastes.

Full bodied & bursting with flavour this isn’t a shy stout – I certainly warmed to it’s delights.

Clearly the judges thought so too – as Celebration Stout went on to win the Best Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer category .

A worthy winner!

Sláinte

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SMWS 35.194, A Composition In Wood, 16 Year Old Single Malt

There’s an old saying,

‘You don’t want to start from here.’

And when it came to this Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) bottling – it was probably true.

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The words were better than the content. c/othewhiskeynut

Even at 59.8% the nose was rather soft & sweet. It didn’t give much away.

The palate was more forthcoming.

Vanilla & caramel from the bourbon cask maturation with darker sweeter notes which dried out pleasingly from the Oloroso influence.

Standard Speyside stuff.

The promise of oaky tannins from the wood never developed to the extent I expected given the name – and ultimately I was left rather disappointed.

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SMWS back label c/othewhiskeynut

Given Speyside Malts aren’t my favourite flavour profile – the best excitement I gained from this bottle was my own eager anticipation prior to the tasting.

The eloquent writing on the label proved far more attractive than the actual contents.

I shouldn’t have started my exploration of SMWS from here.

Sláinte

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O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

It seems every time I shop in my local Dunnes store there’s a new Irish Whiskey out!

Sporting what I’d describe as a classic green bottle topped with a red screw cap & traditional looking label – O’Neill’s appears to be a no nonsense style of whiskey.

Proclaiming to be of ‘Fine Spirit’ & ‘Smooth Blended’ the label has minimal information.

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Alfresco whiskey tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

Double Cask Matured is stated – with no mention of which casks – and produced by West Cork Distillers for what I assume is a Dunnes store brand – it made my basket.

And then my Túath glass.

Quite a rich golden hued colour for what I take is a young whiskey.

The nose is rather soft, sweet & honeyed.

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Minimal info c/othewhiskeynut

More engaging on the palate. The sweetness suggests a sherry cask influence – along with bourbon cask maturation – giving a bit of depth & body to the blend.

The grain element gradually kicks in with a little heat & soft prickliness.

A gentle spice rounds off the finish.

O’Neill’s delivers a decent straight down the line blended whiskey experience at an affordable price.

On a back to back with it’s Ardfallen sister, I found O’Neill’s a more sherried & rounded whiskey – making it worth the extra few euro.

Hats off to West Cork!Good Logo

Dubliner Whiskey, Beer Cask Series, Blends, 40%

The recently opened Dublin Liberties Distillery launched a trio of beer cask finished whiskeys at a highly enjoyable & entertaining event held in the fabulous bar at the distillery itself.

Based on the original bourbon cask matured Dubliner Whiskey the limited edition Beer Cask Series have been finished in casks formerly maturing a variety of Irish Craft Beers.

I managed a small taster of those beers.

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O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Irish Stout c/othewhiskeynut

O’Haras Leann Folláin Irish Stout at 8.1% is a full on bourbon cask matured belter of a brew. Full of heavy dark chocolate & molasses this appealed to my tastes.

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5 Lamps Brewdolf c/othewhiskeynut

5 Lamps Brewdolf at 9% is a worthy contender too. Based on an amber barley wine finished in bourbon casks there were sweet fruity notes balancing the darker & heavier elements.

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Rascals Irish Coffee Stout c/othewhiskeynut

Rascals Irish Coffee Stout at 4.8% has a wonderful coffee aroma on the nose that doesn’t quite follow through on the palate. Having said that – I’m not a big fan of coffee – so this offering isn’t to my palate.

A variety of cocktails were served on the evening – some tasty titbits – a compered introduction to the whiskeys (and the collaborative beers) by none other than Darryl McNally, Master Distiller of Dublin Liberties Distillery himself – as well as the folks behind the craft beers too – all seamlessly guided along by the dulcet tones of Today FM DJ Ed Smith of Ed’s Songs Of Praise fame.

Rebels, Rascals and Raconteurs indeed!

Sampling the whiskey had to wait for later as I was driving – but this is what I found.

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Samples at the ready! c/othewhiskeynut

Oh, my test bottles were kindly filled by Dublin Liberties Distillery on the evening.

Dubliner Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey

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The blue one c/othewhiskeynut

Lovely warm bourbon cask notes with a subtle depth & clean fresh grainy sweetness. Bit spirity but enjoying the clarity with underlying warmth. Soft prickly spice on a long finish.

Dubliner Irish Stout Whiskey

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The golden one c/othewhiskeynut

Deeper, darker & more malty nose. A heavier mouthfeel. The malt has been accentuated & grain mellowed. Long smooth finish.

Dubliner Irish Red Ale Whiskey

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The red one c/othewhiskeynut

Slight sweet fruit off the nose which follows through on the palate. The malt comes through cleanly. Long lasting flavoursome finish.

Well well well!

In a reversal of my findings on the beer from which they came – I think I’d go for the Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey as my favourite!

The combination of the clear sweet grain with a nice depth on the malt & just a hint of coffee in the background proved a winning combination over the smoother & darker elements of the others.

All were very enjoyable blends & quite distinctively different in the ways they presented on the palate.

Just goes to show what a few months in wood can achieve!

What is your favourite?

Sláinte

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