Welcome to their Dha Chasca Single Malt – exclusively released for the Musgrave Group of groceries.
It’s a sherry cask matured single malt finished in heavily charred bourbon casks – and it’s all West Cork Distillers liquid.
Originally founded in Union Hall & now based in Skibbereen – it should come as no surprise that a couple of the original West Cork team came from a fishing background. There is an emblem of a trawler proudly displayed on the simple yet attractively designed bottle labels to denote this.
Fishermen are a hardy lot. They have to be resourceful, adaptable & highly self-reliant on the open seas.
Couple those skills with a friend grounded in food research & development and you have the kernel of West Cork Distillers.
There was no fancy Frilli stills from Italy for these lads – nor a lengthy order time for Forsyth’s finest from Scotland.
These lads largely built their own kit! It may not be pretty – but it is effective.
West Cork Distillers have been quietly and industriously honing their distilling skills over the last few years. They have also invented & fabricated their own barrel burner to char the casks to their own specifications. And if you want to see it in action read the Whiskey Experts excellent blog on West Cork here.
Dha Chasca is one of a few recent expressions that only contain their own distillate – which attests to the journey they have taken in becoming a fully fledged Irish whiskey distillery.
There is a strong sherry note on the first sniff – mellowed by sweet bourbony notes of vanilla & caramel from the charring.
On tasting the warm notes of vanilla dominate to begin with. The dry sherry slowly makes it’s presence felt before a welcome hint of spiciness.
The bourbony notes fade to quite a dry mouthfeel with the spices tantalising & teasing the tongue as it slowly fades.
Unlike some of their earlier releases, Dha Chasca has no added caramel. This seems to mirrored in later West Cork expressions and could almost be a defining feature of the new generation of Irish distillers & bottlers. Teeling, Hyde, Pearse Lyons & JJ Corry have all eschewed the common practice of putting e150 in their offerings – unlike most of the multi-nationally owned established distillers.
Whether this trend will be the start of something more seismic – like the introduction of the Coffey Still in establishing blended whiskey – remains to be seen. It’s a move I’d be pleased to see growing & I welcome West Cork Distillers embrace it.
Despite what the industry says – I believe you can taste the difference.
The Dha Chasca is clean, crisp & fresh.
I suggest you get down to your local SuperValu or Centra to try it out for yourself.
He’s missed his train & is looking for a spot to while away the hour – preferably with a whiskey.
Nancy Hands on Dublin’s Parkgate St is only a short walk from Hueston Railway Station and his train home. The pub has a large & welcoming facade. He walks in.
The front bar has the usual array of whiskeys on display – nothing that attracts his eyes – but there seems to be a back bar. He hasn’t been here before & only chose it at random. He investigates.
He’s hit the jackpot!
Loads of Scotch. Many old looking bottles with gently faded fawn labels – no fancy colours here – and loads of Irish too with a slightly more colourful collection.
But what to sample?
As I was that man I decided to continue my exploration of peat.
A Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old caught my eye. Having previously enjoyed the Darach Ur NAS (Non Age Statement) Travel Retail release I thought it would be a good comparison.
The satisfying rich peat on the nose from this Islay distillery single malt reassured me of what was to follow. I found the taste a tad harsh & rather monosyllabic however. Just the one note of pure peat – and a bit too burnt at that. The NAS release wins out on this challenge.
Only when I Googled the bottle did it become apparent that this was an old release prior to a redesign of the label. Maybe some of the subtleties of the whisky had been lost due to the length of time the bottle had been opened? It’s recommended 2 to 3 years is the maximum before the spirit begins to degrade due to oxidation & other chemical reactions that occur & can then spoil the taste. Perhaps this was happening here?
I moved on to the Irish section.
Slieve na cGloc stood out for me.
It’s a peated single malt made at Cooley Distillery from when John Teeling was still at the helm. I’ve read it was an own-label-bottling for the Oddbins off-licence chain in the UK – but I cannot confirm this.
Again that lovely pungent peat on the nose warmly greeted me. The taste this time was smoother – yet the peat punch was still reassuringly intense. A more balanced feel to the malt sang a delightful harmony & had me wondering why there wasn’t more lovely peated Irish expressions.
Slieve na cGloc – named after the mountain below which the Cooley Distillery sits – is an excellent whiskey & much more appropriately named than it’s equally appealing peated stablemate Connemara whiskey that is also made at Cooley.
There is a lovely walk up the hill here – which I did on a crisp winter’s day when last on the wonderful Carlingford Peninsula.
But that was then and this was now.
I could have stayed for more – but the night train was calling.
And being the last one home I didn’t want to miss it.
Nancy Hands is a treasure trove of whiskey.
I know where I’ll be enjoying a bite to eat & a whiskey or two before catching my next train home from Dublin!
The immense bulk of Mount Gable looms over the picturesque town of Clonbur as you approach from the East. It’s a popular destination for the fishing fraternity due to being sandwiched by Lough Mask to the North and the mighty Lough Corrib to the South.
Straddling the Galway/Mayo border Clonbur also provides easy access to a range of stunning mountain scenery including the Maumturks, The Twelve Bens, Maumtransa and the Partry/Joyce Mountains – which conveniently leads me to the musical interlude provided by local lads The Saw Doctors.
Having just got down from scaling one of the minor Joyce hills to stretch my legs and enjoy the views – I was in need of some sustenance. I knew Eddie’s sported some whiskey from a previous visit I’d made but now I had the opportunity to actually enjoy one!
Suitably seated at the bar I ordered up a hot toasted ham sandwich. My choice of whiskey was a bit more difficult to make with a bewildering array of over 170 bottles on offer. Luckily a whiskey menu was at hand.
I eventually settled on an Islay release from the Bunnahabhain distillery seeing as I was in a gealtacht area.
Originally destined for the travel retail market – the Durach Ur bottling is a 46.2% non-chill filtered – non age statement single malt. Unlike some of it’s near neighbours – Durach Ur is a lighly peated well balanced whisky with a full bodied malty taste oozing flavour. Just the right pick-me-up after my sorte out in the rather cold and windy spring weather.
The bar shelves groaned with an impressive display of whiskeys. Irish releases were well represented but Scottish expressions seemed to match – if not outnumber – the local varieties. A few token bourbons and a lone Japanese brought up the remainder.
Whiskey tasting platters can be arranged and there is plenty of memorabilia scattered throughout the welcoming bar. An outside seating area catches the sun – when it shines – and is where I enjoyed a hearty al fresco meal on my previous visit watching the comings and goings of this popular little spot.
Eddie’s Bar together with the adjoining Fairhill House Hotel have won awards for their tasty meals so there should be no surprise in finding an empty tourbus or two clogging up the carpark whilst their passengers enjoy the refreshments inside.
I’m certainly planning my next hill-walking adventure as an excuse to call in on Eddie’s again for yet another lovely dram and tasty snack.
Apart from the fact that Islay is visible from the Antrim coast – and depending on which way the wind blows – pleasant smells may also be experienced.
And in Connemara, Ireland has it’s own award winning peated whiskey to challenge those of Islay.
That was until now.
Would it excite you if I said the former CEO of Bruichladdich was opening a distillery in Waterford?
After Mark Reynier’s successful turn around in the fortunes of that Islay distillery – the sale of Bruichladdich to Remy Cointreau – and the continued rise of whisky sales – is it any wonder he was on the lookout for a new venture?
Following on from the Scottish acquisition of Tullamore DEW – Waterford now seems to be the happy recipient of the rise in Scottish whisky popularity.