Picked up this older looking Jameson on my travels.
Honeyed, mild & mellow.
Inoffesivity defines the experience.
Picked up this older looking Jameson on my travels.
Honeyed, mild & mellow.
Inoffesivity defines the experience.
Continuing my exploration of the fantastically affordable Dundalgan range from Lidl is their Charred Cask Blend.
Not being a blind tasting does somewhat colour the experience – but this is what I found.
Dundalgan Charred Cask, Blend, 40%
Such an expressive nose!
Those rich vanillas & caramels I expect from a decent bourbon cask matured whiskey were clearly evident.
Fairly mild & mellow on the palate – the vanillas giving a touch of grainy sweetness – before a hearty prickliness is experienced on the rear.
This charred cask is better than I remember it!
Perhaps it’s not only the label that’s had an update?
Jameson Caskmates, Stout Edition, Blend, 40%
You could say this is the original beer barrel aged whiskey – and it’s certainly been a big success – as well as spawning many others.
The colour was noticeably darker than the other 2 stouts & on par with the Charred Cask – a deep golden brown.
A honeyed rich caramel nose.
Well rounded mouthfeel – definitely smooth – with entertaining notes from the stout influence coming through towards the finish.
No sharp edges here – nice easy drinking with added flavour.
Dundalgan Stout Edition, Single Malt, 42%
As well as being lighter in colour – I found the nose cleaner & fresher.
The palate is single malt mellow – with a touch of sharpness leaving lip smacking flavours dancing off the tongue.
I believe this offering benefits from non chill filtering, natural colouring & a slightly higher ABV.
Teeling Galway Bay Stout Cask, Blend, 46%
The extra ABV kicks in with a spirity nose.
A lovely interaction of coffee like stout notes interplay with fresh sweet grain on the palate.
There’s a bit of a punch on the finish – but the flavours still delight.
So how to pick a winner?
I’m gonna discount the Teeling as it’s twice the price & the extra ABV could be challenging.
‘Tis enjoyable though!
Jameson is dropped too – the richness & smoothness appeals to many – but I’m looking for a tad more oomph.
So it’s down to the Dundalgans.
For sheer affordability, simplicity of flavour & entertaining delivery – I think the Dundalgan Charred Cask wins the day!
A recent twitter spat got me thinking.
It centred on Rum – but applies to all categories.
One train of thought is the more information the better.
But every time the issue arises a chorus of similar phrases crop up.
‘Lying’, ‘cheating’ & ‘out to gouge us’.
Paints a rather paranoid & fearful picture of those big bad spirit manufactures & regulatory regimes that conspire to outwit us – into buying a liquid we enjoy drinking??
Just don’t buy the stuff if you’re that worried.
Spirit manufacturing is a highly regulated, highly legislated industry – regardless of country of origin.
A whole raft of rules & standards have to be adhered to before any product reaches market – one of the most important being that it’s fit for human consumption – and anyone who doubts that clearly has no faith in those measures – nor the manufacturers.
So why would additional labelling provided by those very same bodies make any difference if you don’t trust them anyway?
The other train of thought is simply the taste test.
It’s called blind tasting – & I’m a fierce big proponent of it.
Many spirit competitions are conducted using this method and it’s the most honest & transparent system there is.
You are presented with a line of identical bottles stripped of branding, fancy presentation & flowery prose extolling the virtues of the liquid within.
I trust my palate to decide in such situations whether I enjoy the spirit or not.
And I also trust the regulatory systems in place that the spirit before me is safe to consume & is what it says it is.
If you want more information then buy from manufacturers that provide it – but don’t make out those that show the minimum legal requirements are somehow ‘cheating’ you. They will taste just as good – or bad – as those with with the complete works of Shakespeare attached.
There is one proviso though.
Make sure any information provided is accurate.
Unlike the manufacturer below.
Bow St Distillery closed in 1971.
It’s a stout.
It’s aged in Jameson Whiskey Casks.
It’s treacly & rich,
And it packs a punch.
Can you pot the Black Ball?
A random tweet got me thinking.
Obviously I checked on the link & was blown away by Lidl offering a cask of new make whisky to it’s customers!
My inquisitive mind led me to checking out what else they had.
Let’s put it like this – the depth & spread of whiskies on offer would qualify the shop as being a specialist whiskey outlet in Ireland!
The bare figures are pretty outstanding;
Total bottle selection…………………………..127.
Japan & Taiwan………………………………………….4 each
Wales & Austria…………………………………………2 each
Canada & South Africa………………………………1 each
At only 8% of the market – Irish Whiskey clearly has a long way to go!
But who was flying the Irish flag?
First off – in order of appearance here – Lidl own brand Dundalgan.
Next up – the ubiquitous Jameson in Original, Black Barrel & Caskmates varieties.
Irishman Single Malt made an appearance.
Kinahan’s popped up with their tasty Kasc Project.
With Paddy being the last whiskey.
A couple of liqueurs wrapped up the Irish contingent.
I’d definitely be like a kid in a sweet shop drooling over the extensive choice!
Aldi Sud meanwhile had only 8 whisky on offer – 5 Scotch & 1 each from Japan, Canada & Germany. Ireland didn’t even feature!
Header image c/oextra.ie
Tullamore Dew is in the spotlight for announcing the closure of their Visitors Centre at the Old Bonded Warehouse situated by the banks of the Grand Canal in the Midlands town of Tullamore.
What the headlines failed to say is they will be opening a new state of the art visitors attraction at their €35 million Tullamore Distillery built only 6 years ago on the town’s bypass.
In whiskey terms it’s a step forward.
Most fans wish to visit a working distillery where they can not only learn about whiskey – but they can also see, feel, hear and smell the actual process of making that whiskey.
The Old Bonded Warehouse served Tullamore DEW well during the years when there was no distilling in the town and the whiskey for the brand was sourced from elsewhere.
The original distillery – of which many reminders still exist around the town – ran from 1829 to 1954.
Irish Distillers took over the brand & built it up to become the 2nd biggest selling Irish Whiskey in the world.
William Grants in turn acquired the brand & brought back distilling to Tullamore after a 60 year absence.
Having a visitors centre separate from the distillery is fraught with contention & is a bit of an anomaly. There is still one left in Ireland – Jameson Visitors Experience in Dublin – but that’s for another day.
I’ve dug out my only bottle of Tully to celebrate this move – Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old Single Malt Sherry Cask – bought at the Old Bonded Warehouse itself.
I toast to the great leap forward Irish Whiskey & Tullamore DEW has taken in these last few years.
From being a sourced brand celebrated in a museum – to being a fully fledged distillery situated in it’s home town with a brand new attraction to showcase that distillery to it’s best.
Here’s to the next 200 years of whiskey distilling in Tullamore!
Despite the 1000 Years title – Malachy believes the term Whiskey was coined by King Henry II’s soldiers who invaded Ireland in the 12th Century – the 1st half of the book deals with a rather troubling invention – the Coffey Still – that continues to influence Irish Whiskey today.
The big question of how a world leading industry in it’s prime lost it’s title is answered very succinctly in this 1980 publication – blending.
The dominant 4 whiskey houses of Dublin – J Jameson, Wm Jameson, J Powers & G Roe – rejected the efficient distilling equipment of A Coffey with his patent still.
They also rejected the growing art of blending whereby a large amount of ‘silent spirit’ produced in those Coffey Stills are mixed with more flavoursome spirit obtained from traditional pot stills.
In doing so Irish Whiskey stagnated & collapsed for over 100 years.
When Malachy wrote his book there was only 1 surviving Irish Whiskey company – Irish Distillers – operating out of 2 distilleries – New Midleton & Old Bushmills.
What changed the demise was the final embracement of the Coffey Still in revising & marketing the Jameson, Powers & Paddy brands as blends to the world.
The category has gone from strength to strength ever since.
There are now up to 63 aspiring & established whiskey distilleries looking to invest, plan, build & market their own Irish Whiskey – creating a much more broad & diverse category.
It’s a fabulous time to witness the rebirth of Irish Whiskey – and give a nod of appreciation to A Coffey & his world changing still.
One aspect of the growth of Irish Whiskey is the proliferation of new brands hitting the shelves of American liquor stores.
Many will be familiar to drinkers in Ireland – Jameson, Bushmills & Kilbeggan – to name a few.
Others not – Kavanagh, Kilbrin & Wolfhound – for example.
Generally the 2nd list are non distillery producers selecting sourced Irish Whiskey then labelling & marketing it under their own brand names.
For the last few years this has been a growing business.
The number of Irish Whiskeys seeking approval from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has risen from 120 in the 2016-17 period to 204 in the 2019-20 time frame. Data courtesy TTB Online search page available here.
Clearly this reflects an increased appreciation of Irish Whiskey – as well as a ready supply of Irish Whiskey Distilleries willing to cater for this demand.
It’s marvelous to witness the growing marketability of Irish Whiskey.
I welcome each and every one of these new brands into the ever increasing & more diversified Irish Whiskey category.
There is however still a long way to go.
Scottish Whisky registered 1188 labels in the same 2019-20 period.
It may seem an incongruous pair of whiskeys to compare – but in my opinion – the two offerings above represent the growing maturity, complexity and coming of age of Irish Whiskey.
On the one hand you have ChapelGate’s ultra premium exquisitely packaged and presented Chosen,
On the other, McGregor’s mass market blend Proper Twelve.
Both have delivered a product that satisfies the demands of their specific target audiences,
And both are excelling within their respective categories.
My blog welcoming the arrival of Proper Twelve to the market stated;
‘Irish Whiskey will never be the same again’
Has certainly been proven true.
For a newly released brand to be seriously challenging the dominance of Jameson – as in an Irish Times article – is truly outstanding. Despite the recent deplorable antics – perhaps even because of? – there seems to be no slowing down of Proper Twelve’s growth trajectory.
It is opening the market to a new generation of Irish Whiskey drinkers around the world and recently expanded into Poland & South Africa.
ChapelGate’s Chosen is also taking Irish Whiskey into new – and to many unthinkable – territory, the ultra premium luxury market. I highly commend founder Louise McGuane for her courage in doing so.
The dedication, careful selection of stock and variety of quality casks at her bonded warehouse in County Clare was outstanding. I chanced a visit over two and a half years ago – even before her first release – which you can read about here.
To chart the growing success of ChapelGate since then – as well as tasting JJ Corry’s fabulous whiskey releases – has been a wonderful journey.
The reaction to Chosen and Proper Twelve has been immense – and divisive.
Both have taken Irish Whiskey out of the narrowly defined one dimensional stereotypes of the past.
They represent a multi dimensional & complex Irish Whiskey scene that can be double distilled, peated, flavourful, rough round the edges, brash & youthful, aged & nuanced all at the same time.
Both dreamed big and played far beyond the boundaries.
Meet the new trendsetters of Irish Whiskey.
Meet Chosen & Proper Twelve.
Putting dreams into action.
It’s not everyday you get a whisky sample sent through the post – especially one as outstanding as Highland Rye Single Grain Whisky from Arbikie Distillery in Arbroath, Scotland.
To begin with, this is a farm to bottle operation.
The grains used – barley, rye & wheat in this instance – are grown in the fields around the distillery.
There is also no chill filtration nor added colouring to mute the fabulous flavours within.
And it’s a rye.
The first for many a year Scotland has produced.
Rye at one stage was a common grain used in a mixed mashbill distillation by both Scottish and Irish distillers as testified by a certain Mr Jameson at the 1909 ‘What is Whisky’ enquiry.
It happens to be a grain I’m very attracted to.
It adds a bit of bite, a dash of dry peppery spice, a certain boldness, a touch of character and a degree of complexity to any whiskey.
Rye has no legal definition in either Scotland nor Ireland. Yet in America – often seen as the home of rye – it must have a mashbill content of at least 51% rye to gain the title – which this Highland Rye does.
So what’s it like to drink?
The nose captures the classic dry peppery spice augmented by elements of cherry sweetness from the PX cask finish.
The barley & wheat bring a silky smoothness to begin with, coating the palate in a warm snug of dark fruitiness before the rye makes itself known.
The palate gradually dries off into a wonderfully prickly peppery spice with hints of cherries dancing around on the enjoyably long finish.
The PX finish adds another layer of depth & complexity to this rye.
On a back to back tasting with its 2 year old sibling – which I purchased on first hearing Scotland had produced a rye – the youthful exuberance & freshness resulted in a cleaner, more classic peppery spice experience balanced with a barley smoothness.
The PX finish of the 3 year old – which is still a relatively unusual style of rye even in America – boosts that joyful youthfulness with richer, darker elements.
Arbroath – more famous for stovies & smokies – can now add rye to the culinary & quaffable delights on offer.
My thanks to all at Arbikie for the opportunity to taste this gorgeous rye whisky.
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