Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all Irish Pubs are closed for St Patrick’s Day!
That didn’t stop a gathering of Irish Whiskey Fans over on the #SundayNightSup twitter site from gathering online to partake of the world’s first seaweed charred whiskey!
Yes – you heard that right – seaweed!
Irish Atlantic Kombu Kelp is a natural resource harvested, dried & then used to char virgin oak casks at the West Cork Distillers premises. Their triple distilled single malt is then finished in these casks for three months.
The results are simply fantastic!
The nose had an intriguing earthy, almost savoury appeal.
The palate started off soft & malty smooth – very approachable – as those meaty umami flavours grew to coat the mouth in a creamy silkiness.
A drying white peppery spice added a final flourish to this fabulously engaging whiskey.
Congratulations to all the team at both West Cork Distillers and Origin Spirits for putting this highly innovative Irish Whiskey together.
Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt Irish Whiskey does this in bundles.
A short boat ride down the mighty River Shannon from just outside Sean’s Bar’s beer garden in Athlone – is the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise
The art of distillation is often attributed to monks bringing back the knowledge from the middle east. The route they would have traveled into the heart of Ireland is the very same River Shannon.
The earliest written record of aqua vitae, or uisce beatha, or whiskey as we now know it – was written in the Annuls Of Clonmacnoise in 1405. It regales the story of an unfortunate local chieftain who died of a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’ during festivities.
Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to receive an advance bottle of Clonmacnoise by Sean’s for appraisal – & more sensible drinking.
Now I’m a fan of pubs releasing their own whiskey brands. It harks back to the days when licensed premises would have had a barrel of whiskey propped up at the bar from which they would have dispensed the spirits inside.
The degree of individuality, diversity & tastes experienced when going from bar to bar would have been vast – and to a certain extent bars releasing their own brands today reflects that history.
Nowadays the whiskey is usually sourced from a number of distilleries and bottled for the bar.
Sean’s happens to have been sourced at West Cork Distillers (WCD) – and I must admit to being a fan of this slightly unconventional distillery founded by three friends who were mainly previously involved in the fishing industry.
So how did I find Clonmacnoise Whiskey?
Well the colour is a lovely dark amber. Suggestive of charred casks – which WCD do a lot of – or perhaps a sherry finish.
The nose is quite youthful & invigorating – with a warm & inviting depth to it. There’s some dark fruity notes & an intriguing soft hint of smoke.
It starts off light & easy. Very accessible & gently warming – but then it takes you on a journey – slowly developing layers of enjoyable flavours & complexity before a lovely dry spiciness with subtle hints of smoke finishes of this characterful little number.
Sean’s Clonmacnoise captures both the modern rebirth of Irish Whiskey with it’s youthful vitality & modern style – as well as remembering the long historic legacy of Irish Whiskey that has journeyed so far from it’s original birthplace.
Especially when Dublin is the departing airport with it’s marvelous display of Irish Whiskey – and other countries whiskies too.
A bonus is to try out some of the latest new releases and travel retail exclusives.
By good fortune Bushmills were showcasing their Steamship Collection – including the latest and what seems to be the last bottling of the trilogy.
Named after the SS Bushmills steamhip which supplied the thirsty American market back in the late 1800’s – the trio are all triple distilled single malts presented at 40%.
The first Sherry Cask release didn’t seem to be well received at the time. I felt it lacked a flavour punch myself – but was otherwise a decent sherry bomb style of whiskey and despite initial criticism – seems to be selling well.
The Port Cask release was much more suited to my tastes. Rich sweet dark cherry notes. Nice!
I would have predicted the Port Cask to be my favourite – but then I tried the Bourbon Cask.
The enticingly fruity warm vanilla & caramel notes associated with re-charred casks instantly won me over. There was added depth & flavour to this expression. A lovely warm glow enveloped my palate.
The results of re-charring the casks may not be to everyone’s tastes – but the boosted notes certainly work on me.
Every now and then the attractiveness of a whiskey bottle – the wittiness of it’s mission statement – or even the name of the expression alone – is enough to tempt me to try a bottle – or at least sample a glass or two.
Fortunately with Flaming Pig Black Cask Irish Whiskey – I managed to acquire a promotional bottle to sample. Many thanks to Flor Prendergast – the entrepreneur behind the brand.
I first encountered the wonderfully named Flaming Pig brand a while ago with their Spiced Irish release.
And the spirit had a wonderfully rich christmassy cinnamon & clove spice finish which despite the sweet start – well it is a 33% liqueur – had a healthy warming whiskey bite too.
The Flaming Pig Black Cask is produced at the West Cork Distillers plant down in Skibbereen who release a fine range of expressions that often break the mould of what an Irish whiskey should be. This one is no exception.
Aged in heavily charred ex-bourbon barrels, this non-aged statement blend has been imbued with the strong sweetness & flavour of bourbon – yet with an Irish twist.
You could say it’s flavoured with fire!
The rich dark golden colour would imply added caramel in my book – there is no mention of it on the label – although the charred casks would also darken the spirit & add a sweet body to the mix. At 40% strength I assume it’s chill filtered too.
The rich sweet notes build a certain depth at the start- very bourbony with vanilla & caramel – but the delightful hint of warming spices at the end lifts this whiskey for me.
Flaming Pig Black Cask isn’t going to set the world on fire – but it lights up a cold winters evening by the hearth. It also opens up Irish whiskey to new flavours emboldened by the charred barrel ageing.