Tag Archives: Bourbon Casks

Connacht Batch 1 Single Malt, 47%

I’ve gotta hand it to Connacht Whiskey.

Their Batch 1 Single Malt made me smile.

Given a number of releases from new distilleries – possibly due to commercial demand – were to my tastes at least offered a tad fresh – Batch 1 displayed a richness of flavour & welcome complexity in the emerging distillery category.

Presented at 47% the nose was initially a touch spirity but a lovely rich bourbony warmth of sweet vanillas & a touch of nuttiness captured me.

A silky mouth coating feel on the palate further opened up those gorgeous notes.

An entertaining bite on the finish furnished with a dry nutty prickliness – a combination of the high ABV & Oloroso finishing no doubt – danced merrily away.

An impressive debut from the Ballina based distillery.

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Connacht Whiskey website here.

Rye River, The Herd, Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadrupel, 13%

This is the kind of beer best drunk with friends.

Coming in a 750ml bottle like a whiskey – but unlike whiskey in that when opened it has to be downed in one session!

I found a rich maltiness on the nose.

A lovely dark cherry fruitiness to the palate with a carbonation that doesn’t overpower.

Unlike a whiskey however – the finish is over all too quickly.

A heavy style of ale usually found for sale around the festive season.

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All photos authors own.

May Lóag Oriel & Bordeaux Smoked, Blends, 40%

The rise of Irish Whiskey continues at an unprecedented pace & anything that gets you noticed in an ever increasing marketplace is a bonus.

May Lóag Irish Whiskey’s attractively designed bottles crowned with distinctive ‘Bull Horns’ evoking tales of Táin Bó Cúailnge – Cattle Raid Of Cooley – certainly stand out from the crowd.

But what do they taste like?

A recent gathering of the Athlone Whiskey Tasting Society provided the answer.

Oriel was first up.

The core blend comprises of ‘malt and grain Irish Whiskey aged in bourbon, red wine and sherry casks’ as stated on the label.

A very expressive & engaging sweet nose enticed me in.

Quite light on the palate yet subtle notes of dark fruitiness provided welcome depth.

A gently pleasing spice rounded this very well balanced & delightful blend up.

Bordeaux Smoked – also a blend – came ‘Lightly Peated’ with a 2 cask maturation of ‘bourbon and red wine’.

The soft sweet peat on the nose was a delight.

A fresh lightness on the palate gave clarity to the interplay of vanilla, dark fruits & an enjoyable smokiness.

The smoke gently faded away on a prickly drying finish.

A gorgeous & gentle sweet peater with subtle depth.

May Lóag have released a very tasty pair of attractive blends in distinctive packaging at an extremely competitive price to boot.

Here’s hoping May Lóag gain the popularity they deserve.

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May Lóag Irish Whiskey is a brand from Old Carrick Mill, Carrickmacross, website here.

Clan Colla, 11 Year Old Blend & 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Ahascragh Distillery in County Galway is beginning to take shape.

Conversion of the Old Mill – situated in the heart of the pretty village – into a modern Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitors Centre is ongoing.

The new café is already welcoming customers & offers branded gifts alongside light refreshments.

For the harder stuff – a visit to one of the local hostelries is suggested. Nearby Katie Daly’s Bar was open the day I visited.

In advance of their own whiskey being produced Ahascragh Distillery have released a trio of sourced spirits – Xin Gin, Clan Colla 11yo Blend & Clan Colla 19yo Single Malt.

Clan Colla 11 Year Old Blend

A lovely rich, warm glow of dark vanilla & deep inviting leather notes signifies to my tastes a classic ex-bourbon cask matured whiskey.

Hints of juiciness & stone fruit succulence on the palate.

The finish gradually dries out & I was left with an attractive bite giving added character & flair to this very attractive blend.

Clan Colla 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Like slipping down into the warm embrace & comforting hug of a generously padded old leather armchair!

The bourbon cask has worked it’s charms on this silky smooth yet wholesome & juicy malt.

Delightful.

Thoughts

A stupendous & stunning duo to launch the McAllister family’s adventure into the whiskey business.

For my palate the 11yo offered that extra oomph with being finished in peated casks additional to the oloroso featured across both whiskey.

I didn’t detect any smokiness but that dryness & attractive frisson of bite on the finish won me over.

Best wishes to Ahascragh Distillery!

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All images authors own.

Stokerij De Molenberg, 3rd Anniversary Edition 2016, Sola Jerez, 46%, Blend.

I don’t know why I left it so long to open this bottle.

Belgian beauty c/othewhiskeynut

All the Belgian whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of encountering before were very enjoyable – and this one is no exception.

Elegantly presented in a striking box replete with information as to the make up of this blend – a uniquely attractive bottle sits inside.

Info c/othewhiskeynut

Regardless of packaging or cask details however – a tasting is what counts – 2016 Sola Jerez is a delight!

Rich sherry aromas rise from the glass on pouring.

The mouthfeel is warm, flavourful & engaging – with an appreciable bite on the finish which only adds to the appeal.

A complex interplay of the differing maturation casks used.

If only I could travel to Belgium to enjoy more of De Molenberg’s output!

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Dundalgan Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

The recently released diverse range from Dundalgan Whiskey have benefited from a fresh restyle – especially their standard blend.

Classic! c/othewhiskeynut

Sporting a classic red topped green bottle livery – the labelling proudly displays it’s West Cork Distillers origins & establishes an attractive uniformity to the series.

info c/othewhiskeynut

After being impressed by the IPA cask finished Dundalgan Single Malt – I thought I’d get back to basics with this ex-bourbon matured blend. Well – over 95% of Irish Whiskeys are blends – so says the Irish Whiskey 2010-2020 report.

Dundalgan in the Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

Golden brown in colour – a soft light honeyed nose greeted me.

Very easy on the palate – gentle vanillas & richer darker caramels gradually made their presence felt.

A frisson of tingly spice on the finish gave a lift to this elegantly simple sipper.

Punches beyond it’s pleasing price point!

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Drumshanbo Single Pot Still, 43%

Popping into Tesco for a spot of groceries – I couldn’t help noticing the Drumshanbo Single Pot Still on the shelves.

Handily I’d a few vouchers to use – so it made my basket – along with the usual items.

Drumshanbo SPS & Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

Elegantly presented in an opulent box with a fabulously designed chunky bottle inside – this is the slightly less powerful – 43% – version of the 46% Inaugural release I so enjoyed previously.

Lovely rich honeyed vanilla nose.

A silky sweet oily mouthfeel with malt biscuity overtones.

A gorgeously peppery single pot still spice on the finish.

Rich & extravagant c/othewhiskeynut

Having been spoilt by the intensity & ‘joie de vivre’ of Inaugural – this well balanced, easily accessible & complex Single Pot Still felt just a little less luxurious.

But then it’s not everyday you can pick up a Lovely Leitrim Whiskey doing the groceries!

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A Paul John Whisky Miniature Tasting

My first encounter with Paul John was back in 2016 at Whisky Live Melbourne.

The quality of flavours impressed me back then – but there’s been a lot of whiskey since – so a revisit seemed in order.

The pleasures reside within. c/othewhiskeynut

A gorgeously presented miniature pack showcasing their core range happened my way – so I got stuck in!

To be honest – I was blown away!

To paraphrase an old hit – Everyone’s A Winner.

They had me question my preference for peat – as well as the attraction for cask strength.

Brilliance 46%

A gorgeously clean & fresh ex-bourbon cask matured malt.

Edited 46%

A straightforward peat smoke stonker.

Bold 46%

Dials the peat – and the flavours – up a notch.

Classic 55.2%

A cask strength crusader.

Peated 55.5%

The peat fire is getting seriously hot.

Enjoying these whiskies again was a fabulous treat.

Were the joys of a flavoursome ex-bourbon cask malt able to trounce a pleasing peater?

Was the cask strength power curtailed by the 46% sweet spot?

Ready & waiting. c/othewhiskeynut

Let’s just say Bold won the day!

Hat’s off to Paul John – seriously satisfying whisky.

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Kurayoshi Whisky Tasting

Japanese Whisky gets a bad rap for it’s perceived lack of rules – yet that doesn’t seem to deter growing sales & increasing appeal.

My personal problem with Japanese Whisky tends to be lack of availability – and when it is – the price tag.

So when the Celtic Whiskey Shop in association with European Distributors BBC Spirits offered a Zoom whisky tasting – I was in like Flynn!

During the course of the event I gathered Kurayoshi is a range of blended malts from a variety of unnamed Japanese distilleries bottled by the Kurayoshi/Matsui Distillery. They are presented non chill filtered & natural colour.

Sherry Cask c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Kurayoshi Sherry Cask 43%

An NAS – non age statement – offered at just over 3 years, matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in sherry casks. There was no new make feel of this richly flavoured whisky. It was noted maturation times in Japan can be shorter than Scotland or Ireland due to the extremes of temperature experienced. Many tasters enjoyed fruity notes with this easy going malt, a discernible sherry influence, long lasting finish & enjoyable prickly bite.

8yo c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Kurayoshi 8 Year Old, 43%

A clean & fresh ex-bourbon cask matured malt. The use of toasted barrels brought out warm vanilla & caramel notes, along with a certain depth & pleasant peppery spice on the finish – which some compared to that of Powers. Nice!

12yo c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Kurayoshi 12 Year Old, 43%

More subtle, balanced & rounded with similar maturation to the 8. The peppery spice on the finish was more pronounced. A favourite of many on the tasting.

18yo c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Kurayoshi 18 Year Old, 50%

A much more intriguing nose, touches of leathery wood, a slight smokiness from the barrels, greater depth & complexity. The higher ABV left a powerful impression & was a delight to enjoy.

The panel was split between the 12 & the 18 as to most well received so far. I must admit to being an 18 fan – although I did enjoy the 8 too!

The final offering was a little different!

Matsui Mizunara c/oDekanta

Matsui Single Malt, Mizunara Cask, 48%

One of the first releases from the Matsui Distillery itself & aged in Japanese Mizunara Casks – this malt displays some rather unusual & attractive flavours showcasing it’s Japanese manufacture – which is what I’m after! Earthy woody notes combine with a slight sweetness. A clean & fresh palate offering orchard fruits & a lovely balanced peppery spice on the finish. The complexity of flavour belies it’s youthfulness. The Matsui quickly became the pick of the best!

The Celtic Whiskey Shop are currently running weekly whiskey tastings. The opportunity to explore bottles possibly ‘out of reach’ & to virtually chat with fellow whiskey fans in a relaxed manner makes for an enjoyable evening.

I’d highly recommend joining in.

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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.

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