Unexpectedly coming across a Tipperary Distillery stall at Whiskey Live Melbourne brought a smile to my face and had me humming the famous song. Sung here by Count John McCormack of Athlone – who happened to have links with the Kilbeggan Distillery in Westmeath.
The ditty was still going round in my head as I entered the sumptuously wooden lined Bowes Whiskey Bar on Fleet St, Dublin for the launch of 2 new expressions from the Clonmel based whiskey company.
Having recently been decorating at home I’d found it hard to get a tin of yellow paint. Gorse, Turmeric or Coltsfoot were offered instead. Much how the paint names try to transpose you into a field of flowers – Tipperary Boutique Distillery have called their whiskeys after the beautiful scenery surrounding the farm based business. Drinking Knockmealdowns or Watershed brings you closer to a sense of place, time or feeling far more evocative than plain 10 year old or NAS – non aged statement.
The Knockmealdowns – for those that don’t know – are a fine range of mountains which divide the counties of Tipperary to the North and Waterford to the South. Having walked a few of them I can attest to their magnificent scenery and rugged beauty.
The Knockmealdowns are also a watershed for the rains that fall on the hills and flow down into River Suir in Tipperary and the Blackwater in Waterford.
So did drinking these fine whiskeys transport me to the high ground?
I was a little apprehensive. I’d wanted to like The Rising – Tipperary Boutique Distilleries first offering – but found it a bit too sweet for my tastes. It wasn’t in bad company however as I found Jura Superstition to be of a similar style.
Tipperary Boutique Distillery MD Jennifer Nickerson opened proceedings by introducing us to the 2 new whiskeys. Her Director dad Stuart Nickerson ably took us through the actual first official tasting of Watershed.
At 47% Watershed gave a lovely soft vanilla nose followed through by more vanilla, some fresh fruits and black pepper with a lovely long finish. Very nice indeed. Knowing that water from the farm had been used to cut the casks added to the appeal as Tipperary Boutique Distillery doesn’t have it’s own stills – yet – and their whiskeys are made by a third party.
Knockmealdowns proved to be a much more wholesome, heavy and far more rewarding whiskey. Very apt as the actual mountain of the same name at 794 metres is the highest top in the collective range.
Full of flavour with hints of oak and pepper coming through the soft vanilla and citrus notes, this 10 year old surpasses the disappointment I had with The Rising. Very nice indeed! I had to have a few more sips just to make sure I wasn’t just kidding myself. I also took the liberty of asking a few of the other guests at the launch what their verdicts were. Unanimously the answer was Knockmealdowns. Thumbs up all round!
Tipperary Boutique Distillery are certainly one to look out for.
The combination of the wealth of experience gained over many years in the Scottish whisky industry by Stuart Nickerson, the youthful confidence and business sense of his daughter Jennifer together with the expert barley growing finesse of her fiancee Liam make this a formidable team.
I wholeheartedly wish them future success in their exciting venture.