Tag Archives: Irish Single Grain Whiskey

My Whiskey Awards

The Irish Whiskey Awards 2105 were held at the fabulous new Teeling Whiskey Distillery premises in Newmarket Square, Dublin on the 15th of October.

The awards – which are now in their 3rd year – have quickly established themselves as the premier event on the Irish Whiskey scene. Most of the movers and shakers – new entrants and old stalwarts from within the industry – as well as bloggers – imbibers and whiskey fans from all round the world make a beeline for the highly enjoyable evening exploring the best that Irish Whiskey has to offer.

Organised by The Celtic Whiskey Shop – the awards choose their winners by a blind tasting panel made up of members from both the Celtic Whiskey Club and the Irish Whiskey Society. Samples can also be packaged abroad for members overseas. As a member of the former Club – I had an opportunity to take part in the judging process – read my blog here – and add my scores – along with about 200 others – to give the final results.

Sadly I prevaricated in booking a ticket for the show so they were all sold out before I made my decision to go.

Undeterred – I decided to hold my own Whiskey Nut Awards 2015!

Now these awards are based purely on my own preferences and in no way reflect on the prestige of the official awards. As not every category was tasted – my results are somewhat shorter – but they give an insight into my tastes as well as my ability to spot – or not as the case may be – a winning dram.

On tasting day there were 13 drinks categories of which 8 pertained to whiskey. I managed to score 5 of these whiskey categories along with a beer one too. My awards are therefore based on the results of those 6 tastings.

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Single Grain Whiskey

Teeling Single Grain c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Teeling Single Grain c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Teeling Single Grain came out a winner with 83 points.

There were only 3 entrants into this category and despite being familiar with the drinks I was unable to correctly identify the Teeling Single Grain from the Glendalough Double Barrel which came in only 1 point behind. This result is inline with my preference for an additional finish to the usual bourbon barrel maturation and clearly the use of Californian wine barrel ageing helped Teeling to pip the post.

The official winner was Kilbeggan Single Grain.

Entrants;

Teeling Single Grain

Kilbeggan Single Grain

Glendalough Double Barrel

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Blended Whiskey (60 euro or less)

Kilbeggan Whiskey c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Kilbeggan Whiskey c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey came out tops in this packed field of 15 with 83 points.

There is an advert doing the rounds just now with a tagline of “Nose blind” . Halfway during this sampling I believe I became “Palate Blind”  as I failed to spot the lovely rum finish of Teeling Small Batch nor the spiciness I enjoy in Powers Gold Label and St Patrick’s Oak Aged Irish Whiskey. Despite scoring well – Tullamore Dew Cider Cask also failed to register apple notes with me. Nonetheless Kilbeggan stood out from the crowd.

Nose Blind c/o febreze
Nose Blind c/o febreze

I was a little surprised by this win – but also proud as Kilbeggan is only a half hour away from me!

I did revisit this drink after giving it top marks and can only say that it is a deserving winner. I have obviously overlooked this lovely blend in my hunt for new expressions. Ironically it was this blend that ignited my passion for whiskey. A few years ago a bottle was purchased at Dublin airport enroute for a birthday party in France. The Kilbeggan went down very well with the assembled guests who all gave it the thumbs up. So sante to Kilbeggan!

The official winner was Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old which is also a local distillery to me.

Entrants;

Tullamore DEW Original

St Patrick’s Oak Aged

Kilbeggan

Jameson Black Barrel

Jameson Caskmates

Jameson Crested 10

Writer’s Tears Copper Pot

Wild Geese Classic Blend

Teeling Small Batch

Powers Gold Labe

Wild Geese Rare

Tullamore DEW 15 Year Old Trilogy

Tullamore DEW Cider Cask

Tulamore DEW 12 Year Old

The Quiet Man

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Blended Whiskey (60 euro or more)

Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Jameson 18 Year Old came out a clear winner with 92 points.

All 5 entrants into this category started their scores level with the winner of the previous tasting reflecting that a bit more money does indeed get you a finer whiskey – at least in this example anyway.

My acquaintance with this exquisite dram started at my Jameson Dublin visit and continues here. Unlike the beer world – where new entrants are bringing in tastes and flavours far superior to those of the established brewers – Midleton – where Jameson is distilled – continues to show the new whiskey entrants the benchmark they have to attain. A fabulous whiskey indeed!

The official winner was Midleton Very Rare 2015.

Entrants;

Kilbeggan 21 Year Old

Wild Geese Ltd Edition

Jameson 18 Year Old

Midleton Very Rare 2015

Jameson Gold Reserve

The Whiskey Nut  Award 2015 for Irish Single Cask Whiskey

Celtic Cask 13 c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Celtic Cask 13 c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Celtic Cask 13

Unlucky for some – this Celtic Cask 13 stood out from a small field of 3 to come home with 83 points.

The official winner was An Pucan Teeling Whiskey.

Entrants;

Celti Cask 12

An Pucan Teeling

Celtic Cask 13

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Cask Strength Whiskey

Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Tullamore DEW Phoenix

Before anyone says I’m biased towards distilleries in my home county of Westmeath and close neighbour Offaly – as in this Tullamore DEW  – I will again point out this was a blind tasting!

This expression won as it exhibited a bit more spice on the tongue which I like. 87 points.

It also was the official winner so I am “on trend” with this category.

Entrants;

Tullamore DEW Phoenix

Midleton Dar Ghealach

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength

The Whiskey Nut Awards 2015 for Whiskey Aged Beer

Independent Whiskey Stout c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Independent Whiskey Stout c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Independent Whiskey Stout

For years beer was my alcohol of choice. The darker – heavier and stronger the better. Independent Whiskey Stout takes me back to certain ales of my youth. It also gave the best whiff of whiskey both on the nose and palate which helped its way to be a winner with 80 points.

The official winner was O’Haras Barrel Aged Stout.

Entrants;

Jameson Stout

Independent Whiskey Stout

O’Haras Barrel Aged Stout

The Whiskey Nut Awards 2105 for Overall Irish Whiskey

Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Jameson 18 Year Old

Out of a total 63 whiskey samples I managed to score 32 on my judging day. This expression garnished the most points from that reduced field.

A comparison can’t be made with the official winner as it didn’t feature in my tasting categories.


So there you go.

Many thanks to all at The Celtic Whiskey Shop for organising the awards and a special thanks to all the distilleries who entered their expressions for the blind tasting.

My awards – my tastes – my preferences all laid bare.

What were your winners?

Slainte,

Whiskey Nut

Irish Single Grain Set Piece

Irish Single Grain Whiskey is a bit of a rare breed. Malted barley in pot stills is the norm and has been for centuries – even after fellow Irishman Aeneas Coffey invented his new continuous still around 1830 which sparked the rise of Scottish blended whisky. He did offer it to his fellow countrymen first – but so tied to their superior product they declined – so Aeneas went abroad and the rest is history.

Blended whiskey – a mixture of both malted pot still and grain continuous still spirits – accounts for about 90% of whisky sales worldwide – so is nothing to be scoffed.

Grain Whiskey is generally seen as the inferior spirit in a blend and only a few offerings are available in Ireland or even Scotland.

Ireland had to wait until the 1990’s before it’s first single grain offering was released from the Cooley Distillery in Louth when it opened in 1987.

Kilbeggan Single Grain
Kilbeggan Single Grain

Released as an 8 year old – Greenore Single Grain has recently been re-branded as Kilbeggan Single Grain by the current owners of Cooley, Beam/Suntory. Other age statements are available; 6, 10, 15, 18, 19 and 21 but may be hard to find and/or limited release.

Grain generally needs longer in the barrel to absorb the flavours than malt. Greenore reflects that by being a mild tasting approachable whiskey not unlike The Glenlivet but very enjoyable nonetheless. Bottled at 40% ,mainly made from maize.  B

Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Teeling Single Grain follows on from Greenore in more ways than one. Also produced at Cooley by the former owners under John Teeling, many of the team at that plant are now the main force behind the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. Innovation is almost part of the Teeling culture and finishing this single grain in Californian Wine Casks certainly does that in raising the aroma and taste of this lovely smooth whiskey. Bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered, no age statement  – it’s no surprise that World’s Best Single Grain 2104 went to this expression. B+

Glendalough Double Barrel c/o Glendalough Distillery
Glendalough Double Barrel c/o Glendalough Distillery

Glendalough Double Barrel is another new player in the Irish Whiskey market. They certainly hit the mark with this expression. As with many new entrants waiting for their spirit to mature – Glendalough has sourced this product from a third party. I originally thought Cooley – but with a malted barley and corn mash I’m not so certain. The malted barley certainly adds a bit more depth to the taste and the olorosso finish only adds to the experience. One to keep Teeling on their toes! Bottled at 42%, no age statement.   B+ 

Single Grain Selection c/o Whiskey Nut
Single Grain Selection c/o Whiskey Nut

A delightful trio of Single Grain Whiskeys to tempt you with their individual take on the silent spirit. All very good whiskeys too for a gentle evening drink. I’m finding it hard to decide between the Teeling or Glendalough as my favorite but think the latter just wins out with the fuller body – probably imparted by the barley content.

If you haven’t tried a single grain yet – now is the time!

Slainte

The Whiskey Nut