Tag Archives: Irish Whiskey

Valentia Island Vermouth, 19%

I’ve never had vermouth before.

On learning an Irish company based on Valentia Island was making some – I thought I’d give it a go!

What is Vermouth?

According to my Wine, Beer & Spirits Encyclopedia vermouth is a fortified wine – a wine strengthened with spirits – given additional flavour with various botanicals.

Valentia Island Vermouth is made with locally foraged plants.

So how does it taste?

Colour wise it looks like a golden brown whiskey.

A very sweet – but not unattractive – nose greets me. Herbal, slightly bitter & sweet

Smooth & sweet on the palate – yet possesses a decent depth of body. Quite a pleasant bouquet of flavours going on.

Enjoying the flourish of bitterness on the finish.

An entertaining alternative to my regular Irish Whiskey!


Valentia Island Vermouth website here.


Whiskey Live Dublin 2023

This was my first visit to Ireland’s Premier Whiskey Show since COVID.

I kicked off proceedings with a Roe & Co Masterclass exploring food & cocktail pairings. Well I wanted to start things lightly & the fact the Masterclass got you in early without queues was a bonus.

I wasn’t expecting TV Chef Mark Moriarty to greet us with a Roe & Co 106 cocktail paired with a lovely presented smokehouse salmon!

Mark’s flavour wheel was all food based – & certainly gave me an additional insight to the world of cocktails.

I did get a taster of Roe & Co’s Killahora Edition Whiskey neat towards the end of the session however.

The apple influence was definitely evident – yet didn’t dominate the whiskey flavours. More of a complimentary pairing. Pity it’s all sold out!

The RDS Hall was filling out nicely after the Masterclass & I wasted no time in selecting my first whiskey – O’Driscoll’s Irish Whiskey.

I did wonder how a newcomer brand had such a large stall, produced a light yet extremely pleasant blended Irish Whiskey at an attractively affordable price point too. Turns out Stafford Bonded warehousing are behind O’Driscoll. I suppose there’s some perks to the trade!

Kirker had their Shamrock Blended Irish Whiskey on show.

This blend is tag-lined Four Proud Provinces Of Ireland & uses distillate from GND, West Cork, Drumshanbo & Echlinville in it’s make up.

A lovely amalgam of the growing depth of whiskey distilling in Ireland – and a tasty tipple too!

Achill Island Distillery caught my eye next – or rather their black bottled Bodán Poitín!

I wasn’t quite expecting the 60% ABV kick myself – assuming it was a 40% offering – but hey – it’s certainly eye-catching – if a bit of an eye-watering surprise.

More pertinent was a trio of Single Malts just recently released from the distillery – all their own distillate too!

Sadly the Peated version wasn’t available – so the Bourbon Cask matured malt made my glass. That’s a thumbs up from me for Ireland’s First Island Whiskey!

Chamber Irish Whiskey were next. They offer Oloroso Cask Matured Whiskey – which isn’t my normal favourite profile to be honest – but they did a good job of it & seem to be a confident export focussed brand.

By this stage of the game my photo focus skills were waning – as you can see from this Straw Boys Single Grain image from Connacht Distillery.

I loved their Ballyhoo offering & was keen to try the ex-bourbon matured Straw Boys. Certainly delivered plenty of taste for me!

Their own Connacht Single Malt has had a slight re-design into Spirit Of The Atlantic at a 44.8% ABV from the Batch 1’s 47%. Couldn’t help thinking a little oomph has been lost in the mix.

Newcomer’s Garden County made my cut with their Devil’s Glen Blend. Using sourced product they’ve upped the stakes with a complex blend using ex-bourbon as well as ex-stout casks – adds flavour to my palate!

Another distillery using sourced whiskey to get the ball rolling are Skellig Six 18. The Small Batch Blend worked well with additional PX Cask finishing while the Single Pot Still benefited from a little ageing in ex-peat casks which delighted my senses!

I got side-balled at this stage from the Irish Whiskey by another one of my loves – Grappa.

I was extremely pleased to see Nardini Distilleria had a stall offering varieties of the grape based spirit to tempt me.

Their very attractively presented ExtraFina clear grappa caught my eye.

Offered at 43% this is a special blend of the smoothest most fragrant grappa & certainly delivered a rich – almost sumptuous – drinking experience.

Offered something else from the varied array of Grappa I thought I’d push the boat out with a sample of the Nardini 22 Anni flagship Grappa.

Now often when spirits reach an advanced age there’s a tendency for the wood to dominate. In Grappa however the casks used – or should that be vats? – are of an extremely big size. This resulted in the 22 Anni having a rich, juicy grappa beginning followed by a complex tannic oakyness on the rear. Pure delight!

Normandy Calvados makers Chateau Du Breuil have expanded into whisky making & their Tourbé Blended Malt caught my eye. Tourbé for those interested is smoked – just my style.

They actually had 2 smoked offerings – a blended malt at 40% & a single malt at 46%. Both sizzled my senses with a combination of gentle smoke contrasting with the more bolder turf fire from the single malt. Trés bon!

Back to the Irish offerings – a poitín & 2 rums all distilled by Fore Distillery in Westmeath!

The poitín had a mixed mash-bill of malted & un-malted barley along with some oats – the basis for Fore’s yet to mature single pot still whiskey – & delivered a smooth creaminess over the prickly spices.

The White Rum was a nice easy sipper while their Golden Rum upped the stakes a bit with additional warmth from the cask ageing.

Staying with rum the unusually packaged Plantation Rums attracted me. The straw strapping is a nod to the days when it was used to protect the bottle in transit. Perhaps in these eco-conscious days it ought to make a return!

Their Stiggin’s Fancy collaboration with Teeling’s caught my eye – and a few other punters who came to the stall purely on that connection. Despite being classed as a spiced rum because of the added pineapple juice Stiggin’s Fancy was extremely well balanced. The pineapple was there – but didn’t dominate – and the rich Caribbean rum flavours shone through.

A Single Cask Rum in the shape of the Australia 2009 bottle created with the Celtic Whiskey Shop was a sheer delight to experience. The complex maturation regime had allowed a rich cornucopia of flavours to flow through my palate. Fabulous!

I also got the opportunity of a snifter of a superb dunder & muck distilled rum. Fantastic!

But then there’s fantasy – & expensive prices – but the bulk of Irish Whiskey sold around the world is of the blended variety. Lír’s Green Crest blend from the Glens Of Antrim is another newcomer offering a classic interpretation of a light & fruity Irish Whiskey.

I couldn’t pass by Brian Nation’s latest venture of Keeper’s Heart without tasting the Irish + American Whiskey. Now it could just be me or the cumulative effects of the drinks already consumed – but I found the rye element in this blend dominated & I couldn’t pick up the Irish influence. One to try another day!

A quick palate quencher of MacIvor’s Juicy Cider – there was a craft beer stall at Whiskey Live too! – before my last whiskey of the day.

I know nothing about Dead Island 2 – but was interested enough to try this celebrity tie-in. Very nice I must say – as all things are from Echlinville – even when this one glows in the dark!

And then the bells tolled to announce the end of the session!

What a delight to sample such a wide array of spirits. Not only the Irish Whiskey newcomers – the established brands too – along with an exciting sprinkling of rum & grappa as well.

How did you enjoy Whiskey Live Dublin this year?

Feel free to comment below.


All images authors own.

Quarter Hoop, Irish Whiskey & Cola, 5%

RTD – Ready To Drink – offerings seem to be everywhere.

Quarter Hoop was available in my local Aldi.

I found the can visually attractive & thought ‘Why not?

Now I don’t normally add coke to my whiskey – I tend to find it ‘drowns out’ the whiskey flavours.

Perhaps that’s the whole point of RTD’s?

As it is Quarter Hoop provides a richer, wholesome & fuller style of coke drinking experience.

Still wouldn’t leave it lying around for my young teenage grand-daughter to consume though!


The Egans of Moate and Tullamore, Maurice Egan & David Egan

It’s not everyday you read a book so rooted in the historical & current fabric of affairs in the Midland’s of Ireland.

But then it’s not everyday a thoroughly researched & entertainingly presented publication charts the almost 200 year history of the Egans of Moate and Tullamore.

P & H Egans of Tullamore may have folded in the late 1960’s – but the legacy of their large commercial enterprises are evident to this day.

Their former Tullamore Brewery is now the Brewery Tap bar.

Their large headquarters, merchants shop & seed store is now the Bridge House Hotel.

Many artifacts, memorabilia & perhaps stories can still be found in these buildings – especially over a glass or two of Egan’s Irish Whiskey.

Descendants of this prominent business & political family have resurrected one of the enterprises that made them so famous – whiskey bonding, blending & selling.

I had a fabulous day celebrating the launch of Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey – along with many members of the Egan family – being shown round numerous historic buildings & making them come alive with tales & stories from the past.

The book adds so much colour, depth, complexity & character to a glass of Egan’s Irish Whiskey.

Liquid history.

For my original Egan’s Centenary Whiskey blog click here.

Egan’s Irish Whiskey website here.

You can’t beat a good blend, Dunville’s 1808, 40%, Irish Whiskey

I always enjoy a blind tasting.

Stripped of any clues as to what’s before you it heightens your senses to the tastes & flavours experienced on drinking the liquid.

Presented before me were 6 samples. I duly poured them into 6 identical Túath glasses & proceeded to savour the contents.

For some reason I thought this was a rum tasting – & quickly revised this theory as No 1 ‘despite having a bit of a sour nose the lack of body on the palate & high ABV kick signalled to me a poitín! Can’t say it did much for me. Nice experience – but not an approachable spirit’.

There was no No 2 so No 3 ‘proved intriguing. The pale yellow colour, soft fruity nose, easy palate with slight hints of burnt notes on the rear drew me in. I could drink this one again!’.

With No 4I experienced a slightly musty nose, indicative of long ageing, perfectly fine palate yet lacked a bit of body & very dry on the rear. Rather nonplussed by this one’.

No 5 ‘had a sherry like influence, smooth & silky on the palate with a nice touch of dryness on the rear. Could be a low ppm peater? Not quite enough to excite me if it is’.

No 6 ‘initially blew me away! Suggestive of high ABV. On a 2nd tasting it still didn’t entice me’.

No 7 ‘kinda hooked me, if only for a more pronounced smoky influence. Elegant yet challenging all at the same time’.

So that was it! My initial thoughts are in italics.

Samples 3 & 7 stood out for me in this selection.

So what were they?

Photo courtesy Irish Drink Shop

3 – Dunville’s 1808, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

What can I say? A very pleasant easy drinker with enough depth of character to keep me coming back for more.

Photo courtesy Whisky Exchange

7 – Smögen 100 Proof, 6 Year Old, Swedish Single Malt, 57.1%

A heavy peater finished in oloroso casks at a challenging high ABV. Think I’d have enjoyed this one more at 46% without the oloroso finish myself.

And the others?

1 – Black’s Single Pot New Make, 63.5%

4 – Jamesons Black Barrel Proof, Blend, 50%

5 – High Coast, Dálvve Sherry Influence, Swedish Single Malt, 48%

A light peater with 50/50 bourbon/sherry influence. A bit of a let down from the original high peater Box Dálvve I enjoyed at Gothenberg Airport here.

6 – Bushmills Causeway Collection, 2008 Muscatel Casks, Single Malt, 56.4%

Given that Smögen is a bit of a unicorn bottle – hard to get hold of, pricey & limited edition – as are some of the other bottles – I think Dunville’s 1808 performed extremely well on my palate.

I took away a few themes from this tasting. High ABV can blow away the flavours for me & make for a challenging drinking experience. Sherry cask influence isn’t my style of choice & when it comes to enjoyable, affordable drinking – you can’t beat a good blend!

What would your palate have chosen?


Many thanks to fellow Whiskey Blogger S for the blind samples & bottle photo.

Connacht Batch 1 Single Malt, 47%

I’ve gotta hand it to Connacht Whiskey.

Their Batch 1 Single Malt made me smile.

Given a number of releases from new distilleries – possibly due to commercial demand – were to my tastes at least offered a tad fresh – Batch 1 displayed a richness of flavour & welcome complexity in the emerging distillery category.

Presented at 47% the nose was initially a touch spirity but a lovely rich bourbony warmth of sweet vanillas & a touch of nuttiness captured me.

A silky mouth coating feel on the palate further opened up those gorgeous notes.

An entertaining bite on the finish furnished with a dry nutty prickliness – a combination of the high ABV & Oloroso finishing no doubt – danced merrily away.

An impressive debut from the Ballina based distillery.


Connacht Whiskey website here.

Spirit Of The Age, The Story Of Old Bushmills, Alf McCreary

I always find it fascinating looking back into the history of Irish Whiskey.

This 1983 publication on Old Bushmills catalogues the rich tapestry of the distillery through it’s folklore, scenery, politics, changing fortunes, characters & calamities.

The book clearly displays there’s a lot more to simply enjoying the glass of whiskey in front of you – there’s always a whole back story.

Illustrated with many photographs & tales of the people involved – both from the boardroom as well as the distillery floor – Spirit Of The Age is a testament to the longevity of Irish Whiskey.

At the time of publication Old Bushmills was owned by Irish Distillers – but history is ongoing & Tequila makers Jose Cuervo are now in control.

Ironically one of Bushmills biggest sellers no longer bares it’s name – Proper Twelve has now overtaken the lead sales position Bushmills used to enjoy – and marks yet another chapter in the changing faces of Irish Whiskey.

I found this highly informative & entertaining publication through Libraries Ireland – well worth reading.

Long may Old Bushmills continue producing Irish Whiskey!


Old Bushmills website here.

Jose Cuervo buys Bushmills here.

Irish Distillers website here.

Proper Twelve sales growth here.

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.


The Philosophy Of Whisky, Billy Abbott

I suppose it was wishful thinking expecting some existential answers to questions like ‘Why has whisky captured the human spirit?‘ or ‘ Can drinking whisky sooth a troubled soul?‘.

The Philosophy Of Whisky is however an easy – if brief – entertaining introduction into the growing global reach of distilling, maturing & enjoyment of the brown spirit.

Chapters covering the big 5 producers – Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada & Japan – along with mentions on Sweden, Taiwan, India, Australia & Mexico to name a few – give a welcome & refreshing world view on this tasty beverage.

The author still appears to elevate Scotch above the others – even when world whisky is winning tasting awards – & fudges facts over the earliest written records for aqua vitae – the forerunner of whisky.

Yet for all that – anyone still restricting their whisky drinking to Scotch is missing out on a world of exciting tastes, flavours & growth.

Excuse me while I pour some Titanic Irish Whiskey!


All images authors own.

Limavady Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 46%

There’s been a lot of publicity around Limavady Whiskey.

Not too surprising really – as Whistle Pig are partners in the venture.

Having said that – any liquid I’ve tasted from the Whistle Pig stable has been top notch – so I’m expecting similar high standards from Limavady Whiskey.

The bottle certainly stands out.

Embossed with ‘1750’ – the date of the original Limavady Distillery formerly ran by master distiller Darryl McNally’s ancestors – crowned with a leaping dog logo below an unusual bulbous top & a natty glass stopper.

The label displays Barrel & Bottle Numbers too.

Bodes well – so how does it taste?

A very appealing deep golden brown colour – no mention of added caramel or chill filtering.

A dark, richly inviting aroma of stone fruits, slight nuttiness & warm maltiness.

Clean, crisp & refreshing on the palate.

The finish comes alive displaying sweet juicy fruitiness contrasting with a lively & enjoyable prickliness dancing merrily around. Leaves a lovely drying sensation slowly fading away.

Well that’s one leaping dog having leapt on my palate to great effect!

Lovely Limavady!


All images authors own.

This bottle of Limavady was provided by their PR company.

All views are – as always – my own.