Tag Archives: Bourbon Casks

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!

Sláinte

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!

Sláinte

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!

Sláinte

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.

Sláinte

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.

Sláinte

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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