Tag Archives: Echlinville Distillery

My Blind Tasting Irish Whiskey Awards 2019

Hot off the heels of the actual Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 are the results of my own blind tasting findings.

It certainly won’t attract as much fanfare – but it might be of interest to any readers out there interested seeing where my palate goes.

Blind tasting to me is the ultimate leveller.

It’s just you, your palate and the whiskey.

There is no information – not even the categories – and I love it!

There are simply identical bottles filled with whiskey for the judges to sample, rate and enjoy – which is exactly what I did.

This year I only managed the one tasting session – and the results were broadly similar to my previous findings.

Category B

34 entrants – average score 74.

Such a large group of entrants could only be Irish Blends Under €60 – which it was.

My scores were very tight. Ranging from 70 – there were a few – right up to 81 – of which there was only one.

Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated, 43,5%.

Dunvilles Peated CWS
Dunville’s 3 Crowns Peated c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

No contest really. The only peater in the pack. I love peat.

2nd & 3rd followed closely.

Pearse 7 Year Old Distillers Choice & Pearse 5 Year Old Original Blend.

Category D

4 entrants – average score 73.5

Correctly guessed as New Irish Whiskey.

Scores ranged from 70 to 77 and again reflected a ‘work in progress’ theme to the offerings.

My clear winner?

Dingle Single Malt Batch 4, 46.5%.

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Batch 4 at Dingle c/othewhiskeynut

Category E

4 entrants – average score 78

The power of these suggested Irish Cask Strength – and so it proved to be.

Scores ranged from 73 to 81. The winner turned out to be the biggest surprise of the session.

Wild Geese Untamed, Cask Strength, 65%.

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Wild Geese Untamed c/oTTBOnline

Didn’t see that one coming! A welcome return for Wild Geese Whiskey.

I wish all the entrants – especially all the winners – both my own personal preferences as well as the actual winners – much future success.

Sláinte

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Whiskey Live Dublin, 2017

Whiskey Live Dublin continues to grow every year. Not only in numbers attending this marvelous showcase of Irish Whiskey – but also the amount of exhibitors on display.

There are masterclasses held throughout the course of the day which provide access to the distillers, whiskey ambassadors, blenders & bottlers who are driving the current growth in Irish Whiskey. It was to one of those classes that I started my visit to this years show.

Alex Chasko – master distiller with Teeling Whiskey Co. – regaled us with the story behind the current Brabazon series of whiskeys – as well as introducing us to some choice single cask samples.

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Brabazon tasting time c/othewhiskeynut

I was particularly taken by the 2001 Port Single Cask – especially in the newly released Tuath Irish Whiskey glass which was provided to visitors at the event.

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Teeling & Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

After this highly enjoyable introduction – I joined the crowds in the main hall as I tried to sample my ‘hit list’ of whiskeys I’d either missed out on during the year – or were new releases appearing at the show for the first time.

The Glengarriff series from West Cork Distillers were on my list.

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Glorious Glengarrif whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I was highly impressed by the Peat Charred Cask single malt. The influence of the peat was clearly evident on both the nose and taste – yet there was a lovely earthy savouriness element to the expression too. Beautiful!

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Dunvilles Three Crowns Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Talking about peat – Echlinville had their Three Crowns Peated on display – very appealing to my tastes. But what surprised me was their yet to be released peated poitin – Bán Barreled & Buried at 47.2% – now that’s a tasty innovation.

Now I’d heard Kilbeggan were showcasing some of their ‘experimental’ casks – as well as the current range of freshly re-branded (and even re-recipied in some cases) favourites too – so naturally I was excited by a 6 year old Rye Pot Still!

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When will this stunner be released? c/othewhiskeynut

Rich rye on the nose & taste followed with some creamy smoothness. Stunning!

Peter Mulryan’s Blackwater Distillery – which is currently under construction in Co. Waterford – chose to reveal their Retronaut 17 year old single malt at the show – a must try.

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Retronaut Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

I can confirm the whiskey is every bit as bold & brassy as the elegantly designed label on the very attractive bottle.

At this stage in the proceedings – with a few samples onboard – chatting away with fellow attendees & stall holders began to divert me away from my ‘hit list’ as I was tempted into trying some surprising expressions.

Cork Whiskey Society had assembled a fine display of whiskeys from times gone by.

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A bevy of beauties! c/othewhiskeynut

The Bushmills 5 year old single malt took my fancy and a sample was procured. Was it just me or did this bottle taste more bold & robust in flavour than some current releases?

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A tasty blend c/othewhiskeynut

The Irish Whiskey Society’s excellent private bottling range continued to impress with a delightful blended offering sourced from the Teeling Whiskey Company.

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A Single Cask Powers c/othewhiskeynut

The Powers range of single cask releases surprised me with the fine creamy single pot still character on this Celtic Whiskey Shop‘s 16 year old exclusive. I did miss the signature spice kick though.

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Powerful bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

I also couldn’t resist a powerful Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel Bourbon at 65.4% – my sole American sample at the show.

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Campbeltown’s Longrow Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Longrow‘s  Peated Single Malt didn’t disappoint either – being my only Scottish dram on the day.

Apologies to all those I didn’t get round to sample, visit or even chat to – there is simply too much to cover in one session – which is part of the fun.

There were a few that got away – but the one I missed the most was the return of the indulgent donuts on the Dublin Liberties Whiskey stall!

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Donuts! c/o@AlanWhiskey

Sláinte.

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Coleraine Irish Whiskey, 40%, Brexit in a Bottle

As I sit tasting a whiskey, relishing it’s flavours & relaxing in the warmth of the brown spirit – my mind often wanders to the stories contained within the glass.

You could say it’s the ‘Message in a Bottle’ that often excites me.

Coleraine Distillery used to produce first class whiskey. Opened in the early 1800’s – Coleraine made triple distilled malts of distinction before struggling during the two world wars eventually coming under the ownership of nearby neighbour Bushmills. It was converted to a grain distillery in it’s latter years before falling victim to Irish Distillers rationalising plans in the 1970’s when grain production was moved to the New Midleton Distillery & Coleraine closed for good.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took a sip.

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Comes with an E & House of Commons logo c/othewhiskeynut

The current incarnation of Coleraine is a budget priced blend trading off it’s past glory. The nose has that e150 caramel characteristic of an entry blend – the taste is rather muted but approachable – the finish is slightly harsh but not unwelcoming – overall no strong flavours, no surprises, but for the price point – it’s grand.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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There is no distillery by the name of Coleraine anymore. c/othewhiskeynut

Brexit – for those that don’t know – is the name given to the process by which Britain will leave the European Union after the historic vote in 2016.

Northern Ireland is part of Britain – along with Scotland, England and Wales.

Depending on how the talks go – Northern Ireland will be out of the European Union (EU) by 2019.

As ‘Irish Whiskey’ is an EU definition – Regulation 110/2008 – I’d argue that definition no longer applies post Brexit. I cannot see how a non EU country will be allowed to label itself the same as an EU country.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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Neck detail c/othewhiskeynut

Now initially this means whiskey collectors will have a field day. Just think – all the whiskey producers in Northern Ireland will no longer be able to label their produce as ‘Irish Whiskey’.

At present these producers are;

Bushmills,  Echlinville,  Quiet Man,  Boatyard  &  Rademon Distillery 

To the best of my knowledge they are all engaged in making, planning or building a whiskey distillery. After 2019 they will all be out of the EU – and if you click on the names you will be guided to their websites.

Do you think the 27 remaining member states will allow a non-member state to trade under an EU registered label?

I think you will get a resounding non, nein, nie, ne ………… and so on.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I continued to sip and ponder.

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Post Brexit is Bushmills non-Irish? c/othewhiskeynut

But it gets more complicated.

There is no grain distillery in Northern Ireland.

At one fell swoop all blends produced there will now become whiskey made in an EU country – Ireland – as well as a non EU country – Northern Ireland.

That will go down well with the Brussels bureaucrats!

It was beginning to wreck my head too!

This is the Message in a Bottle.

I needed another sip at this stage.

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Ring ring, Brexit calling! c/othewhiskeynut

But wait a minute. Doesn’t Bushmills export some of it’s liquid South for other bottlers & blenders to use?

Won’t that be subject to import taxes & customs control?

Won’t the resultant whiskey become a non EU product or a hybrid whiskey at least?

This is the Message in a Bottle.

And it was all getting a bit too much for me – and another song popped into my head.

What is the message in your bottle?

Sláinte.

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The Road North – Day 1

After weeks – nay months – spent pored over maps, contacting distilleries & working out routes & times – the day finally arrived when it all came together – to borrow a Beatles track.

With a fresh set of – rented – wheels the inaugural Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour finally hit the road – North!

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Boann Distillery Drogheda c/othewhiskeynut

Using Dublin as the start & finish point – a small party of dedicated whiskey fans took the short trip up the M1 motorway to our first port of call – Boann Distillery in Drogheda.

Boann is one of those new breed of whiskey distilleries that are currently still being built. Tours are not yet officially permitted but we were kindly shown round this wonderful looking site by Peter Cooney – one of the family members who own this growing drinks business.

When fully complete – a 2018 timescale – Boann will be producing single malt, single pot still & blended whiskeys – along with a tasty award winning range of craft beers already being brewed from it’s neighbouring brewery – and all complimented by a very attractive copper pot stills hall overlooking a field of barley – well, what else could it be?

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The Whistler 5yo Double Oaked c/othewhiskeynut

The Whistler is Boann’s range of award winning single malts from a sourced distillery that are on the market in advance of their own stock.  They comprise of a 7 & 10 Year old Single Malt and a 7 Year Old Cask Strength. We kindly had a tasting in the boardroom where Peter pulled out a new 5 Year Old Double Oaked bottle. It’s not yet released – but tastes lovely.

Slane Distillery is the dream of Alex & Henry Conyngham who along with Brown-Forman – owners of the Jack Daniels bourbon brand – will soon open this magnificent distillery set in the Slane Castle grounds on the banks of the Boyne River.

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Slane Distillery under construction July 2017 c/othewhiskeynut

Sadly construction works were still in progress on the day we arrived so a quick photo of the ongoing works sufficed. For a review of the lovely sourced Slane Irish Whiskey blend read a previous blog of mine here.

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GND Dundalk c/othewhiskeynut

Great Northern Distillery (GND) in Dundalk is the new powerhouse of John Teeling who ploughed back in the money made from the sale of his Cooley/Kilbeggan business to Beam in 2011. The GND operation can produce grain, single malt and single pot still whiskey & will mainly sell that whiskey to 3rd parties – although a limited release own brand Burke’s Single Malt has just been marketed.

Handily the nearby Kennedy’s Bar happened to have a bottle to sample over our lunch stop. Burke’s is a reassuringly strong bourbon cask matured single malt which coats your mouth & leaves a long warm tingling.

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Burke’s Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

At present GND has no visitors centre – that may change in the future – but the former Harp Lager Brewery is an impressively large facility that will be able to produce a phenomenal amount of Irish whiskey in the years to come.

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Cooley Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Cooley Distillery nestled on the picturesque Cooley Peninsular is also not open to visitors. This distillery was originally opened by John Teeling back in 1987 & kick-started the revival of Irish whiskey which continues to this day. Now owned by the Beam/Suntory group who use their sister Kilbeggan Distillery as the visitors centre. Another quick photo stop sufficed in the now rainy weather.

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Echlinville Distillery entrance sign c/othewhiskeynut

Our last port of call was the only distillery open & actually accepting tours – Echlinville Distillery on the picturesque Ards Peninsular. Sadly there wasn’t anyone available to show us round at the time we passed by on our way up to Belfast.

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Bittles Bar Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

We did however call in on the wonderful whiskey emporium that is the Bittles Bar who stock the Echlinville range of whiskeys. At present these are also sourced spirits – but the finishes they add to Dunville VR single malt, Three Crowns blend & Bán Poitin certainly make this distillery one to look out for in the future.

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Duke Of York Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

The Duke of York provided our last dram of the evening. Another fabulous whiskey bar in the heart of Belfast.

Our dram of the day?

Boann’s The Whistler 5 Year Old Double Oaked. A lovely rich sherry on the nose follows through on tasting combined with sweet bourbon cask maturation notes into a long finish.

Sláinte

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Whiskey Live Dublin – My First Visit

Whiskey Live Dublin was held in the lovely premises of Dublin Castle Printworks. Whisky Live events are organised throughout the major cities of the world and bill themselves as;

The World’s Premier Whisky Tasting Show

After attending the Dublin show for the first time – I’d certainly recommend any budding whiskey fans to get down to a show wherever you are in the world. The amount of whiskey stands on display – let alone the range of expressions available – and many of the movers and shakers within the industry – are all there to sample – chat and entertain – it’s an event not to be missed.

I’d defy anyone to get round  all the stands in one of the sessions allocated to guests – so much so that I met a few people who had booked for both the afternoon as well as evening session simply to ensure they visited every exhibitor!

After having read Whisky And Wisdom’s excellent blog to surviving a whiskey show – I felt ready to handle what Whiskey Live Dublin had to throw at me.

I had my target list,

I had my bottle of water,

I had my notebook – pen and camera and –

I had a suitable pre-event feed in a nearby cafe.

My plan was to walk round the displays without visiting any of them so I could ascertain where the ones I wanted to visit were – as well as seeing if there were any surprises I’d missed on the pre-publicity information.

This went well until I rounded the Celtic Whiskey Shop stand where one of the friendly staff that had been at the judging event of last month welcomed me over for a chat and before I could refuse – offered me a taster of a whisky that wasn’t even on my hit list! What else could I do?

Now Campbeltown whiskies are renowned for their peat – and as I’m not a massive peat fan I prefer a more balanced approach so the Longrow on offer was gently rebuffed. Springbank I’ve tried before and enjoyed – which left the Kilkerran Sherry Wood to duly sniff and slurp.

Kilkerran Sherry Wood c/o masterofmalt.com
Kilkerran Sherry Wood c/o masterofmalt.com

This proved to be a perfectly balanced mildly peated single malt of some distinction. My goodness – if his was an indication of quality of whisky at the show then it was very high indeed.

Heading on after gathering more info regards the history of Kilkerran I stumbled upon one of the food pairing stands. L Mulligan Grocers tempted me with a tasty morsel twinned with a smooth Glenmorangie. Lovely. But here I was 2 whiskies down and I’d not even started on my list!

Time to get a grip!  Oh!  What time is it?  Time I was in that Powers Masterclass I’d booked for!

Powers Single Pot Still expressions c/o whiskeynut
Powers Single Pot Still expressions c/o whiskeynut

Ger Garland – Ambassador for Powers whiskey – guided us whiskey geeks through a history of Powers whiskey from it’s days in Dublin to the current location in Midleton. This led to a tasting of the 3 single pot still releases available under the newly repackaged Powers label namely – Three Swallow – Signature and John’s Lane releases.Sitting there being guided through the taste profiles of these fine whiskeys by Ger whilst gazing across to Dublin Castle outside the room certainly mellowed my initial rush so that I savoured the nuances of the expressions.

Suitably refocused I emerged from the masterclass to head for one of the new Irish distilleries opening up in Drogheda. Boann Distillery’s stills are enroute from Italy as I write this. I assumed they would be from Frilli but no – they hail from Green Engineering – a new name for me.Regardless of who manufactured the stills – as a taster of things to come they have The Whistler.

The Whistler c/o whiskeynut
The Whistler c/o whiskeynut

A rather unusual named blend from Boann but distilled elsewhere – this rather rich and heavy blend pleased me very much and I certainly wish all at Boann well with their venture. I for one will be eager to visit the combined distillery – brewery – eatery and visitors centre when it opens!

Mossfield Organic Cheese had a stall closeby and being a fan of their Slieve Bloom Cheddar I Paid them a visit to be rewarded by a sample of their tasty cheese paired with an equally tasty Machrie Moor Single Malt from the lovely Arran Distillery in Scotland.

Echlinville Distillery on the Ards Peninsula are currently laying down their own spirit for maturation and I was lucky to get a taster of a 2 yo new fill cask which despite it’s youth had some lovely flavours which will only grow with further ageing. Graeme Millar proved to be a very passionate distiller and ambassador for Echlinville as he guided me through the lovely award winning Dunville’s PX 10 yo Single malt – the surprisingly good Feckin Irish Whiskey blend and the unusual Feckin Spiced liqueur. I certainly think this is a distillery to look out for in the future given that passion combined with great tasting expressions!

Dunville's PX 10 yo c/o CelticWhiskeyShop
Dunville’s PX 10 yo c/o CelticWhiskeyShop

Now the Hyde 10 yo single malt Oloroso release I bought when it first came out and I have to admit – it didn’t light my fire – unlike The Doors track – but I was intrigued to taste their No. 2 release finished in Rum casks.

I mentioned this to the rep and he proffered me a sample of both the releases. The first remained exactly as how I remembered it – lacking something – but the second made up for that with a healthy rum aroma and taste which to my mind gives the spirit a fuller – richer body with a more rounded – mellow – if sweeter taste. Much more to my liking! Perhaps I should have saved my cash for this expression!

Hyde 10 Year Old Rum Cask c/o whiskeynut
Hyde 10 Year Old Rum Cask c/o whiskeynut

Now I was on a roll!

I stopped at Jack Ryan’s stand for a brief chat to congratulate him on his excellent whiskey then moved over to The Palace Bar who also have a whiskey available at their premises – much like how all pubs would do in times gone by. The sample I had was simply – there is no other way to describe it  – gorgeous!

John Teeling was engaged by a small crowd at his Great Northern Distillery stand so I got talking to a very informed engineer who had helped design and install all the pipework at the Dundalk plant. There were samples of clear white new spirit to try but at 80% proof and above I decided to let it mature a bit more before I’ll give it a go – at least for another 3 years!

Dingle Distillery will shortly be releasing their first whiskey expression. Exclusivity is the buzzword here. If you want a bottle – give them your details. They contact you and offer you a bottle from the first cask for 350 euro. They also offer personalised barrel options too. I think I’ll have to wait a bit before I can get a taster of this expression.

Nomad whisky stand c/o whiskeynut
Nomad whisky stand c/o whiskeynut

Nomad however were freely dispensing their lovey sherry cask finished blend created by the collaborative efforts of Richard Patterson and Gonzales Byass. It’s distilled in Scotland then shipped to Jerez for ageing so falls to be called a Scotch by the rules of definition.Breaking the rules never tasted so good in my book!

As the afternoon session was coming close to it’s finale – I tried Makers Mark from the Beam/Suntory  range as I’d been informed this was a classic bourbon. Having yet to develop a taste for bourbon I thought I’d give this one a go. Sadly it didn’t do much for me.

A quick venison hot pot from Koh with another Dunville’s PX were my penultimate tasty pairing followed by an amiable chat with the Gaelic Whisky crew over the teaching methods of both Scotland and Ireland’s native language – led me to a taster of their rather fine Te Bheag blend.

Te Bheag blend from Gaelic Whisky c/o whiskeynut
Te Bheag blend from Gaelic Whisky c/o whiskeynut

I have a soft spot for Skye – where this tasty dram comes from – having cycled across the island back in the late 90’s. My grandfather also earned his living in a boat not dis-similar to the one used as a logo by the distillery. So sampling this fine blend and chatting to the lovely people behind it only warmed my affections even more.

So there you go.

What a lovely way to end my day at Whiskey Live Dublin.

Congratulations to Al Higgins and all the staff at the Celtic Whiskey Shop for arranging – promoting and organising this wonderful event. I’ll definitely be back next year!

Oh – I managed to get the train home OK and even bought my cup of tea with a snack before boarding to ensure I arrived home in a fit state – not parched dry like my last visit to Dublin!

Slainte,

Whiskey Nut