Tag Archives: Jameson

Irish Whiskey in the US.

One aspect of the growth of Irish Whiskey is the proliferation of new brands hitting the shelves of American liquor stores.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Westmeath whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Many will be familiar to drinkers in Ireland – Jameson, Bushmills & Kilbeggan – to name a few.

Others not – Kavanagh, Kilbrin & Wolfhound – for example.

2 (1 of 1)
Kilbrin floated my boat! c/othewhiskeynut

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.

2 (1 of 1)-4 (2)
3 Irish Whiskey brands in the US c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

ChapelGate’s Chosen vs McGregor’s Proper Twelve

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.

Chosen from youtube
Photo c/oYouTube

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.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Proper Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Proper No Twelve Conor McGregor
McGregor c/oProperTwelve

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.

Chosen independent.ie
Louise McGuane launches Chosen c/oindependent.ie

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.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

Arbikie Highland Rye, Aged 3 Years, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, 46%

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.

2 (1 of 1)-4
Arbikie Highland Rye Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Rye mashbills
Quotes from 1909 enquiry c/oblackwaterdistilleryblog

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?

2 (1 of 1)-3
Highland Rye in a Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

Absolutely fabulous!

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.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Rye Spirit vs Rye Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

Proper Twelve v Jameson, Irish Whiskey Blends, 40%

biff-comic-expression-vector-text_7ysr6W_thumb

Irish Whiskey is never going to be the same again.

bigstock-bang-13050143

A new player has entered the market to potentially topple the reining champion.

POW co pinterest

Welcome to Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you couldn’t have missed the phenomenom of Mixed Martial Arts star Notorious MMA Conor McGregor & his exploits both on and off the ring.

You may also be aware of his plans to market a whiskey.

Well it’s out – Right Here, Right Now in yer local Tesco.

Now Conor doesn’t do things in halves.

Notorious
thenotoriousmma instagram page

Despite the bluster around ‘his’ distillery – the money is on Bushmills as the main source of this entry level blend.

He is certainly coming in BIG.

He is certainly coming in STRONG and

He is certainly entering into a market previously dominated by Jameson as a serious contender.

What else could I do but rush to Tesco to buy my own bottle & do a back to back taste test?

2 (1 of 1)
Mission statement c/othewhiskeynut

The Bottle. It looks big, it looks chunky, it’s green & is catchy enough. Jameson by comparison looks dated.

Colour. Proper Twelve comes out a slightly darker shade of added caramel. This is standard practice for entry level blends. Proper Twelve does appear to have more viscous legs in the glass however.

Nose. Both show that standard entry level caramel nose. Yet Proper Twelve has a hint of warmth to it – some charred cask influence? – which Jameson lacks.

Taste. Both are soft & smooth – Jameson is softer & smoother – but the little bit of body & warmth Proper Twelve exhibits – along with an enjoyable sprinkling of tingling spice – adds to it’s appeal.

Overall. Jameson is yer archetypal go-to easy drinking approachable blend. Proper Twelve is of similar style – yet for me has added depth, body & a little spice which gives it more character – which is only appropriate given the larger than life character behind it.

Named after the Crumlin area of Dublin – D12 – Conor hails from – Proper Twelve has appeal far beyond the narrow confines of the whiskey world.

It opens up the Irish Whiskey segment to a mass audience – and it seriously challenges Jameson’s dominance of that market.

I wholeheartedly welcome that challenge and wish all involved with Proper Twelve future success.

Proper No Twelve Conor McGregor

Sláinte.

Good Logo

 

 

 

Where are all the Irish Brands?

Out and about on my holidays in Southern France I did as many of the locals do and took a day trip into Spain for a spot of shopping, sightseeing, Spanish sausage & chips and a cold San Miguel.

2 (1 of 1)
Pyrenees picture c/othewhiskeynut

The border is only about an hour away set in the stunning scenery of the Pyrenees mountain range.

Les is the first town you reach on the particular crossing I ventured on. What greets you on the outskirts of town is a car park full of French vehicles taking advantage of the cheaper tax regime on a variety of goods including fuel, tobacco and booze.

I eagerly browsed a couple of shops looking for some Spanish whisky – none were available.

There we’re some interesting American & Scottish offerings however.

How about some Buffalo Bill Bourbon?

2 (1 of 1) (4)
Buffalo Bill Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Or perhaps William Peel, Black Vulture & Sir Edward might please your palate?

These are only a few of the locally based brands that are widely obtainable in France or Spain – yet are rarely encountered in the country of origin.

Maybe you’d feel safer with more familiar brands like Jack Daniels, William Lawson’s or Ballantines.

2 (1 of 1)-2 (3)
4.5ltr selection c/othewhiskeynut

Amidst all this liquid there was only one Irish representative – Jameson.

Where are all the new Irish Brands?

Where are all the locally branded & marketed French based Irish Whiskeys with fancy names like Green Dragon, Seamus Shaughnessey or even Shamrock Sile?

Now I realise this market is more about quantity rather than quality.

There are no pretentions to provenance and terroir is trodden underfoot with trollies laden with 4.5 litre bottles of your favourite whisky bound for a celebratory social occasion or party.

Yet even within this segment there are a variety of styles, tastes and prices.

I know Irish Whiskey is capable of producing a decent tipple at a bargain basement price – Irish Reserve 4 Year Old springs to mind – so why not here?

I have nothing against Jameson – but by my purely anecdotal browsings you’d be forgiven for being unaware of the explosive growth of Irish Whiskeys on the market.

Irish Whiskey is seriously under represented in this segment.

Apart from Jameson – it’s not even in the market.

I was a customer in that market. I bought a Scotch I hadn’t tried before. That’s a missed Irish opportunity.

How many more missed sales are there?

Slàinte.

Good Logo

 

Notorious AKA Conor McGregor Whiskey Expected Soon

Conor McGregor.

Love him or loathe him – his expected entry into the Irish Whiskey market will certainly stir things up.

I look forward to tasting his new whiskey – as I do all new entrants – and see it as a marvelous marketing opportunity to push the entire category forward.

It’s interesting to note there were 2 whiskey related articles in the tabloid press recently. One concerned Slane Whiskey filling the first barrels from their own distillery at Slane Castle – famous for rock concerts.

Slane fill RTE
Slane first fill c/oRTE

The other concerned Conor McGregor’s recent instagram photo of himself in ‘his’ distillery. I say ‘his’ as it’s probably where he is sourcing the whiskey from. I’m not sure if even his pockets are deep enough to purchase a fully functioning whiskey distillery.

Notorious
thenotoriousmma instagram page

Both are pushing the segment forward and both ‘go beyond Irish Whiskey’ – to use a phrase coined by Jameson’s new boss Conor McQuaid. Both also have the potential to reach a far bigger audience than most new entrants.

Conor McGregor certainly has drive, ambition, passion and a great sales patter. Attributes necessary in launching  a whiskey brand.

He’s also capable of dreaming big – and delivering on those dreams.

You couldn’t get much bigger than outselling Jameson Whiskey.

I won’t be watching the McGregor vs Khabib fight  – but I’ll certainly be following the McGregor vs Jameson clash – and despite all the odds – I hope he succeeds.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

Header photo courtesy of Irish Mirror

The Ship Tavern, Anstruther, Scotland.

When over in Scotland earlier this year I popped into a few bars to see what whiskies were on offer.

The very attractive Ship Tavern – which appropriately sits only a stones throw from the picturesque harbour in the fishing village of Anstruther on the East Neuk of Fife – didn’t disappoint.

DSCF2888 email
Ship Tavern whiskey selections c/othewhiskeynut

A pleasing variety of Scottish blends & single malts adorned the shelves – as well as a sprinkling of Irish blends,

Being in Fife – which has a few new distilleries waiting for their own spirit to mature – I was keen to sample a sourced blend for the local Eden Mill distillery near St Andrews.

And being in Scotland – you have to have a bit of tartan!

The Art Of The Blend is a trio – a 4th bottle was released later – of very attractively presented blended Scottish whiskies from unnamed sources that Eden Mill are using to showcase & practice their maturing and blending skills on.

DSCF1517 email
Art Of The Blend c/othewhiskeynut

No 1 is a bourbon cask matured blend of malts & grain. It didn’t really do much for me. A fairly soft, sweet standard entry level offering with subtle tones. Approachable I suppose.

No 2 was far more entertaining. Mainly as smoke had been introduced with the use of ex-Ardbeg casks in it’s maturation. This raised the whole character of the blend with distinctive peaty notes I enjoy very much that balanced the sweeter tones.

No 3 offered an even more powerful peat influence and was the most attractive – at least on paper – expression I was keen to taste. Clearly this corresponded with many other whiskey drinkers  thoughts as the bartender informed me the bottle they did have sold out almost immediately!

Whilst chatting – I asked how the Irish whiskey was going down.

Now there were only 3 offerings on the shelf from the Emerald Isle – the ubiquitous Jameson Original – which effectively is the brand on which the entire rise of the modern Irish whiskey revival started with – The Pogues Irish Whiskey by up and coming West Cork Distillers in partnership with Halewood Wine & Spirits and West Cork’s Bourbon Cask.

Pogues whiskey
The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

‘Och The Pogues is a great wee dram, canny get enough o’ the stuff.’

If that’s not a testament to the resounding success of the new breed of Irish whiskey companies, blenders, bottlers & distilleries – I don’t know what is.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

Paddy Centenary, Single Pot Still, 43%

Paddy – to my tastes anyway – is my least favourite of the standard entry level trio of blends produced by Irish Distillers.

The other 2 being the flagship Jameson Original & Powers Gold Label. All of these blends contain pot still whiskey in their respective recipes which result in varying degrees of that signature spice flavour associated with single pot still.

I’ve still to sample all 3 blends back to back yet for the ultimate taste comparison though.

Despite Jameson & Powers coming in an increasing array of offerings – Paddy was left floundering with only one – that is if you exclude the honey & apple liqueurs available in other markets.

paddy-irish-whiskey-family
Paddy Collection c/oGoogle

However in 2013 – to celebrate 100 years of the famous brand – this special single pot still bottling was released.

DSCF3295 email
What’s inside the box? c/othewhiskeynut

Packaged in a lovely wooden case – complete with a photo of the legendary Cork Distiller’s salesman Paddy Flaherty – after whom the brand was named – together with an attractively labelled bottle – the overall effect is very attractive.

DSCF3298 email
I’ll have an ‘E’ please Bob c/othewhiskeynut

The liquid inside is also very enticing!

The rich nose & taste of orchard fruits instantly won me over to the joys of this wonderful single pot still in some select whiskey bars where this limited edition bottle can still be found.

Limited being the key word here.

As at nearly 5 years done the line from the original release – the availability of this whiskey is becoming increasingly scarce & hard to find.

It’s falling into that category of whiskey people buy not to drink – which is a pity – but to collect.

I managed to get my hands on one of these beauties for less than 80 euro.

At that price it won’t be around for long. Especially as the Paddy brand has now been bought by American drinks company Sazerac.

I wonder what Paddy Flaherty would have made of that?

Sláinte.

Good Logo

A Drink With The Neighbours

Over the course of the festive season it’s customary in our little street to exchange Christmas cards with the neighbours.

Unlike the Aussie soap of the same name – we do not have affairs with each other nor bicker nor fight – we actually get along just fine and look out for each other.

I was despatched by the better half to drop round some cards one evening. I popped the first few through the letterboxes and was about to do the same with the last one when the door opened.

” Ah hello there, Merry Xmas to ya, I’m just dropping off a card for you.”

” Many thanks, Merry Xmas to yerself, you’ll be having a drink?”

And so I was invited in for a bit of the hard stuff.

DSCF9642
Jameson from Midleton c/o thewhiskeynut

We started off on the ubiquitous Jameson.

A light, smooth mellow blend which is the biggest selling Irish whiskey by far. I learned that this was the drink of choice for some neighbours who always have a bottle at hand.

Conversation flowed as smoothly as the whiskey and on we chatted.

Further whiskeys were produced.

DSCF5720 email
Clontarf 10 yo Signature Release from Castle Brands c/o thewhiskeynut

A Clontarf 10 Year Old blend care of the local Aldi was politely refused – after all I’d only just finished mine a few weeks before mainly through the medium of hot whiskeys to fend of a cold I’d picked up!

“There is another bottle I have somewhere the lads enjoy drinking”

A well drunk bottle of Dark Rum Finish BenRiach was produced.

BenRiach Dark Rum
BenRiach Drak Rum Finish c/o almada-vini.com

46% non-chill filtered 15 year old single malt – from a well respected Speyside distillery who produce a wide array of wood finished expressions – now this was something to get to grips with.

On the nose the rum was fairly soft – but recognisably there.

On drinking a little – the lovely smooth liquid warmed the mouth leading to a  long gently lingering finish heavily accented by the rum.

Beautiful

” No wonder the lads nearly finished off  this bottle”

We were all set to beat the lads to it when my phone went.

” Where are ya?  2 hours to drop off some cards?  There’s more to be done yet.”

Ah well – it was an enjoyable time. My neighbour also had other engagements to make.

So we had another dram.

Marvelled at the fine taste of the whisky.

Wished each other good health,

and went on our ways.

Slainte

Good Logo

The Wonderful World Of Whiskey Advertising

An impulse buy at my local supermarket of a whisky I hadn’t yet tried before – nor knew anything about – led me to a rather pleasing drink as well as very entertaining advertising.

William Lawson’s Blended Scotch Whisky is one of those rather plain bottles of whisky that adorn drinks shelves all over the place and I had avoided it – up until now – but as it was on offer – and I’m always on the lookout for a new taste experience – I thought I’d give it a go.

Now I believe behind every bottle of whiskey is a story waiting to be told – and this bottle certainly didn’t disappoint!

To start the whole show off I poured myself a glass – left it to breathe – and consulted my rather old edition of the Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guides to Scotch Whisky compiled by none other than the esteemed Charles MacLean. It’s an encyclopedic source of information on all things related to Scotch whisky – the distilleries, their single malt releases, the blended scotch expressions, owners and bottlers as well as some associated data on sales and distribution pertaining to the year of publication – the most recent edition on amazon was 2006.

From this publication I gleaned that a bottler and blender by the name of William Lawson first created this blend in 1849. Over the years it’s base moved around a bit before settling in Coatbridge near Glasgow. To secure malt for blending the Macduff Distillery was purchased and the whole operation is under ownership of  Bacardi. So far this history resembles that of many of the other classic scotch blends which originated in the mid 19th century and are still around today – via many changes of home base and ownership.

Charles gave no tasting notes so I consulted the computer and garnished many positive remarks for William Lawson’s. At this point I gave in to temptation and had a sip. I was rather surprised by the fresh light fruity taste with no peat element at all. Very unexpected to the slightly harsh grainy/peaty flavour profile I’m accustomed to with entry level blended scotch. Mmmmmm, not bad – really rather good indeed!

Further investigation led me to a very enjoyable discovery.

Fun – frivolous – full of cliches, stereotypes and innuendo – but laugh out loud funny. Drinking this whisky was a good experience – but watching their adverts takes it to another level!

Ever wondered what was under a Scotsman’s kilt? Let William Lawson show you.

There are even different expressions of the standard blend available – sadly not at my local store – but the adverts sure are hilarious and so refreshing.

I was hooked and kept searching for more whilst tasting more of this lovely little blend.

William Lawson’s advertising department certainly don’t hold back – even to the extent of using flash mobs of finely buffed Brazilians in kilts riding horses parading down Recife dispensing whisky shots to stunned passers by. The music track used was also pretty cool – Louis XIV with their eponymous song Louis XIV.

This led me down another path – that of cool music used in whiskey promotion. Teeling used Kid Karate‘s track Louder about a minute in on their video of the pot stills arriving at Dublin for the new distillery – Teeling’s whiskey certainly tastes louder to me!

Johnnie Walker also entered the cool music charts with their Plastic Bertrand backing track hailing from Belgium whose Belgian Owl Single Malt is a very cool whisky. Johnnie Walker Black Label is a descent example of a lightly peated blend from Scotland.

In contrast – Tullamore DEW from only down the road to where I’m based have taken a more traditional theme to their ads.

Whilst Jameson from Cork have also gone down the comic route with a series funny sketches in their promotional videos.

We then get into the realm of slightly odd with this one from Canadian Club.

 

Whilst the videos from Japan dispense with the sexualisation for a more minimalist approach.

Very refreshing, and even a mythical approach?

It seems as if there is no end to the permutations the ad folks can come up with to promote your drink of choice.

To round up my peek at the wonderful and wacky world of whiskey advertising I’ll finish with a seemingly sombre and severe ad for Whyte And Mackay – another fine scottish blend if you haven’t already tried it.

So there you go.

You’ll notice all of the ads are for blends. It’s not surprising. 90% of all whiskey sold is in the form of a blend. Simply chasing the money.

You’ll also notice that most of the ads imply that drinking whiskey improves your “manliness”. Apart from the Japanese, the only other brand to show a female tasting whisky was my new friend William Lawson’s. Ironically – they also showed the male of the species as the sexualised object.

Read into them what you want – but I for one;

greatly enjoyed my glass of William Lawson’s’

found their videos absolutely hilarious and,

loved the cool music they chose as backing tracks.

Whisky dosen’t come better than that. A true smorgasbord of a sensory feast – taste – smell – mouth feel – visual delight – auditory pleasure.

Well done William Lawson’s.

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

PS

What’s your favourite whiskey video?

Send me your best shot!