Tag Archives: Celtic Whiskey Shop

Nardini Grappa Riserva, 50%

This is my 1st Grappa since returning from Lucca.

Grappa is fierce hard to get hold of in Ireland outside of specialist shops or select restaurants.

Nardini – who began distilling in 1779 – appear to be the only brand readily available here.

I enjoyed their Bianca – clear, unaged – offering previously so moved up a notch with this Riserva – aged in Slavonian oak barrels – presented at 50%.

Pale gold in colour.

Rich pungent nuttiness, dried fruit & chocolate on the nose.

Lovely smooth mouthfeel belies the high ABV.

Slowly builds intensity with those nutty flavours mixed into a growing prickly dryness on a lip-smacking finish.

A rather intense – yet invigorating – experience!

Sláinte

Nardini website here.

Lucca blog post here.

Nardini Bianca blog post here.

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In Praise of Miniatures

Up in Dublin to meet friends & family was a different style of trip to my Poitín Now adventures of last weekend.

I did however manage a quick visit to the Celtic Whiskey Shop to replenish my miniatures.

I do love miniatures.

When you have shelves groaning with around 50 opened bottles of varying spirits – not to mention a similar number waiting to be uncorked – constantly buying more is no longer an option.

There’s also the squeeze on spending by having to fork out increasing amounts for basics – let alone the luxury of drink – so miniatures it is!

There were 3 untried expressions that made my basket.

Nardini Grappa Riserva – to further explore my Grappa fascination.

Cognac Park 10yo Mizunara Cask – Mizunara seems to be all the rage right now – so why can’t Cognac get in on the act?

and

Fercullen Falls Whiskey – Powerscourt’s latest core release blend.

Expect a monologue on each in due course!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Celtic Whiskey Shop website here.

A Posse of Poitín, Hackler, 40%, Straw Boys, 46% & The Big Field, 47%

Poitín Now is happening on 20th November 2022.

Image courtesy Poitín Now

I thought a ‘warm up’ tasting of this posse of poitín before the inaugural Dublin based event would ease me in.

Hackler, 40%

I knew nothing about Hackler before purchasing this sample from Tiny Tipple. Turns out it was a late 1990’s launch by Diageo – distilled by Cooley – to build the Poitín market. On failing to meet ‘targets’ it was unceremonially dropped.

A rather shy nose, sweet & sour. Easy on the palate. A sweet warming spice on the finish.

A very pleasant easily quaffable poitín – if a tad too artificially sweet for my liking. Smacks as a bit of a crowd pleaser – not sure why it didn’t catch on?

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Straw Boys, 46%

Connacht Distillery’s venture into Poitín is presented in a very attractive bottle.

Richly pungent, offering that sour new make nose I associate with poitín. Gently oily palate. Noticeable bite on the finish, leaves with a strong tingling sensation.

A classic poitín drinking experience.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

The Big Field, 46%

Distilled using barley grown on Tipperary Distillery’s own ‘big field’ using a 50/50 mix of malted/unmalted barley it’s taken me a little while to sample this one.

A softly muted nose. Wonderfully oily palate. The finish bites with a healthy dose of spiciness.

Highly entertaining!

Thoughts

An extremely varied tasting experience from this trio!

Can’t help thinking Hackler is a toned down poitín to appeal to the masses. Certainly makes for a very easy drinker. Pity it never caught on. Perhaps Diageo were ahead of the curve?

Both Straw Boys & Big Field are a bit more challenging yet offer- to me at least – a grounded authenticity.

With the former you have malted barley alone – while the later has that malted/unmalted mix giving added spice & an enhanced appeal.

It’s hard to pick one out from this diverse & very well delivered variety of poitín styles – but for me Straw Boys does it!

Sláinte

Poitín Now event site here.

Diageo drops Hackler news report here.

Connacht Distillery website here.

Tipperary Boutique Distillery here.

A Trio Of Aged Rums From Tiny Tipple, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, 40%, Venezuela, Appleton Reserve, 40%, Jamaica & Flor De Cana 18 Year Old, 40%, Nicaragua.

I thought I’d take advantage of the last hurrah at Tiny Tipple & try out a trio of aged rums.

With the news global rum brand Bacardi are proposing to takeover Dublin whiskey distillery Teelings as well as rum now outselling whiskey in the UK – it seems a topical time to sample this trio.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, 40%, Venezuela

Diplomatico are quite big hitters in the rum world – despite a reputation for added sugar – & are generally easily available.

Out of the 3 rums Diplomatico does come out the darkest shade of golden brown giving the nose a suitable dark, rich & sweet aroma of muscovado sugar.

Very smooth, sweet & easy on the palate.

Develops a rich & complex depth on the rear finishing with a touch of tannic spice.

A very peasant easy sipper.

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend, 40%, Jamaica

This is a non-age statement – NAS – release that previously proudly displayed an 8. Whether this is due to an increase in sales depleting stocks or simply a way for the distillery to utilise a broader array of rums for the blend I don’t know. Not having tried the 8yo I can only go on what is before me.

The palest light brown of the trio.

Soft hints of funk on the nose – I’d be disappointed if I hadn’t found funk in a Jamaican rum!

The palate didn’t give much away – smooth, easy & fresh.

A flourishing finalé of engaging spiciness interspersed with juicy fruitiness lifted the drinking experience.

Nice!

Flor De Cana 18 Year Old, 40%. Nicaragua.

I’ve not tried any Flor De Cana before – so this big 18yo age statement carrier is a bit of a leap into their Ultra Premium Collection.

Light brown colour.

Quite a shy nose only giving away a gentle fruity sweetness.

Found the palate a trifle non-descript & unforthcoming of flavour.

The long ageing in wood dominated the finish providing a drying tannic spiciness which tingled merrily away.

Left me a little underwhelmed.

Thoughts

These 3 rums can easily be appreciated by whiskey drinkers. All have been aged in wooden barrels – ex-bourbon are predominately used – although I must admit to finding the wood influence begins to dominate from the core rum flavours which can counterpose as an alternative to drinking whiskey.

All 3 demonstrate a rich sweetness not typically found in whiskey – with only the Appleton exhibiting a fruity funk – even if it was quite mild in this Reserve – giving it a lead above the other 2.

Perhaps my palate would have preferred the younger rums from these distilleries? They tend to showcase the flavours from the raw ingredients used to a higher degree.

Sláinte

Diplomatico webpage here.

Appleton Estate webpage here.

Flor De Cana webpage here.

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Renegade Rum, Dunfermline Column Still & Pot Still Pre Cask Rums, 50%

Mark Reynier has made a big play of terroir in the whiskey trade with his Waterford Distillery.

Renegade Distillery in Grenada shaping up to do the same with rum.

I did purchase one of his whiskies.

Waterford Bannow 1.2 c/othewhiskeynut

Can’t say all the transparency, honesty & information won me over.

All I tasted was quite a young, feisty & very fresh whiskey that needed more time in the barrel.

Haven’t bought another.

I am curious enough however to try out a couple of his rums – the Dunfermline Column & Pot Still varieties.

Renegade use the term ‘pre cask’ – but essentially it’s unaged or white rum in normal parlance.

Unaged rum is a category I really enjoy.

The combination of raw ingredients, fermentation times & distilling techniques can produce exceedingly aromatic & richly tasting spirits that can captivate the senses.

My expectation is the Pot Still variety will be the more flavourful version – but it all depends on the skill of the distiller – so complying with custom I start with the Column Still.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Renegade Rum Dunfermline Column Still, Pre-Cask, 50%

A lovely sweet pungency of sugar cane with a touch of sourness peeking through.

Smooth mouthfeel slowly grows in heat with more fruitiness coming through – but not much else.

Fades rather quickly with a serving of prickliness rounding off the show.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Renegade Rum Dunfermline Pot Still, Pre-Cask, 50%

There’s an ever so slightly warmer embrace of pungent fruitiness from the pot still.

Definitely an oiliness on the palate of this one!

It’s just an overall fuller & fatter tasting experience for me & leaves with a warmer – even rounder – embrace.

Thoughts

I think Mr Reynier is onto a roll with his distilleries.

Attracting a loyal gathering of fans to snap up his offerings & extoll the virtues of terroir to all & sundry.

No doubt he’ll convince some whiskey drinkers into rum imbibing – which is no bad thing.

Both of these rums are enjoyable & engaging to sip, sample & explore the differences between column & pot still distillation & what they bring to the palate.

I’m just not convinced a single estate, pre-cask single variety trumps a well blended offering from multiple countries, columns & pots, sugar cane & molasses that can be produced time & again at an affordable price.

The art of blending is something Mr Reynier has written out of his agenda.

Sláinte

Waterford Distillery website here.

Renegade Rum website here.

My blog on Waterford Whiskey here.

The samples were purchased via Tiny Tipple here.

2 Controversial Whiskey Blends, John L Sullivan, 40% & Celtic Nations, 46%

Both these whiskeys attracted a degree of controversy when originally released.

Most of it centred around the interpretation of ‘rules’ – but I was curious to taste the results.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey, 40%

Named after a famous Irish/American boxer of the late 1800’s – which attracted initial upset – an original bottling of John L Sullivan displayed the legend ‘Irish Bourbon’.

Image courtesy Whiskey Jug

Attempting to celebrate the Irish/American heritage with a blend of Irish & Bourbon whiskeys fell foul of labelling laws & the bottle was withdrawn.

Before me is a sample from a bottle labelled John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey – aged in bourbon casks.

Pale straw in colour, shy nose, not giving much away, smooth easy palate, gentle growing warmth with a hug of sweet vanilla & caramel, flourish of mild spice on the rear.

An easy going entry level offering.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Celtic Nations, 46%

A collaboration between the Irish Teeling Whiskey Co & Scotch Bruichladdich Distillery to create a harmonious blend of single malts to celebrate the 2 nations spirits.

Didn’t meet the approval of the SWA & was banned.

Pale straw colour, gorgeous expressive nose of gentle peat coming through, the palate displays more soft Irish notes before the embers of a peat fire warms up the finish.

An entertaining soft peater.

Thoughts

Both of these whiskeys had great potential.

The pugilist inspired John L Sullivan pre-dated the global success of Proper Twelve & there’s been subsequent Irish/American Whiskey/Bourbon collaborations on the market since.

Cross nation blends have been a staple earning for both Scotch & Irish distilleries over the years – mainly for the lower end of the market. Perhaps this high profile open & transparent offering was just too much for the SWA?

Whatever the reasons – controversy is not a tasting note I encountered in either of these blends.

Sláinte

A Rum Blind Tasting – 2 Killowens & a Copeland on reveal.

Well – I assumed they were rums!

Having previously arranged sample swaps from a number of sources – by the time of arrival I’ve often forgotten what’s been chosen from whom – rather than look up past correspondence I simply pour, taste & enjoy.

This frees me from any undue bias towards particular brands or styles.

Nor do I sit with them for long.

The samples are poured – 3 in this instance – viewed to compare colour – no noticeable difference here – sniffed, swallowed & immediate tasting notes scribbled.

A few minutes later Sample C was the clear winner.

Notes in italics were written before the reveal.

Copeland Bordeaux Grand Cru Rum, 42% – Sample C

Image courtesy Master Of Malt

Super bad, super funky! Rich & smooth tasting treacly palate. Gorgeous funky finish. Bit of prickly spice.

Nice one!

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Killowen Peated Dark Rum, 58.1% – Sample B

More depth & more funk – than Sample A. I tasted A to C – Smooth delivery, nice mouthfeel. Opens up on rear, prickly finish. Good depth of flavours.

Enjoyable!

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Killowen Dark Rum, 55% – Sample A

Nice nose, soft, sweet, rum like, slight funk. Bit sharp. Bite on finish, prickly spice. High strength?

Bit of an experience!

Thoughts

Well that was an enjoyable tasting – 3 lovely rums with a clear winner!

The smooth delivery, rich flavours & gorgeous funkiness of Copeland’s Grand Cru instantly won me over.

The 2 Killowen’s funk just didn’t shine in comparison & sadly – I have to admit – the high strength of Dark Rum was a bigger defining feature than the subtle flavours within.

Their Peated Dark Rum however – despite being stronger at 58.1% – did excite & while I didn’t detect the peat presence it clearly influenced my choice. Nor did the high ABV deter.

Where would your palate have taken you?

Donaghadee is where I’m going to replenish my rums!

Grace O’Malley Rum Cask, 42%, Blend

Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey burst onto the scene a few years ago with their bold imagery re-energising & modernising the Pirate Queen the whiskey is named after.

Being blenders, bonders & independent bottlers, Grace O’Malley can stock barrels from any number of Irish Whiskey Distilleries & use them to create their own unique style.

I still have remnants of their Dark Char & Rum Cask – which you can read about here – but it’s the newly released Rum Cask I’m focusing on today.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

First thing I notice is the pale colour – reassuring perhaps of no added colour?

A rich dark sweetness on the aroma – rum wine gums anyone?

Smooth, sweet & deliciously mouth coating on the palate.

A gorgeous growing frisson of warm spice – getting nutmeg & cinnamon – on the finish with just a hint of funky depth to top things off.

An engaging little number from the Grace O’Malley fleet.

Sláinte

Uisce Beatha Irish Whiskey & Celtic FC Irish Whiskey, 40%

Continuing my exploration of recent Irish Whiskey offerings that may have slipped into history are these 2 blends.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Uisce Beatha Real Irish Whiskey, 40%

Released by ROKDrinks – a large multinational company with a varied range of branded products.

Pale in colour – which I always find reassuring. Quite light & gentle nose. Surprisingly rich depth on the palate of sweet vanilla. Lovely warmth to this one with a pleasant prickly frisson on the finish.

Very engaging.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Celtic FC Irish Whiskey, 40%

Celtic Football Club have released a number of whiskeys over the years for their fans to enjoy.

Pale golden brown. A very gentle nose that grudgingly gives up soft aromas of sweet vanilla. Mild palate that sits easily in the mouth slowly warming to a fruity sweet finish.

Grand

Thoughts

Both of these blends offer easy accessible drinking. There’s no jagged edges or bold off-putting flavours to deter. For my tastes Uisce Beatha does it with more flair & would score the goals in this round.

Sláinte

Paddy’s Share Irish Whiskey, Blend, 47%

Being a judge in the blind whiskey tastings for the Irish Whiskey Awards 2021 did reveal a few surprises.

One of them was an entrant named Paddy’s Share in the Blended Limited Release category.

Photo Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

I gave it an above average score with brief tasting notes of

very soft smoke, soft palate, drying finish, pale colour’.

Searching the internet failed to uncover what Paddy’s Share was – until now!

Sazerac -Paddy brand owners – have just unveiled Paddy’s Share to the public.

A sherry finished triple distilled blend presented at 47% offering bold & nutty flavours.

Blind Whiskey Judging courtesy Whiskey Nut

Paddy’s Share is a welcome addition to the long established brand & one that stood out for me in the blind tasting.

Looking forward to enjoying more of Paddy’s Share!

Sláinte