Tag Archives: Kentucky

Old Grand-Dad, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40%

Usually on tasting whiskey I try to avoid reading reviews or flowery PR to mitigate against any undue influence or bias in my tastings.

Everyone has their own individual & often unique palate preferences as to how they enjoy & experience their whiskey.

With Old Grand-Dad I did pick up it was part of the Beam group – no mention of Suntory on the back of this bottle.

Only Beam here. c/othewhiskeynut

Beam encompasses a worldwide brand portfolio & Old Grand-Dad has been available from the late 1800’s.

It’s also a ‘high rye’ style of bourbon.

Now ‘high rye’ isn’t legally defined. It loosely equates to a rye grain content of between 20 to 35% in the all important mash-bill – along with the 51% minimum corn to be labelled as bourbon.

The rye produces a pleasing dry spiciness over and above the candy floss sweet bourbon which adds a degree of complexity, depth & bite to my palate.

Old Grand-Dad c/othewhiskeynut

Old Grand-Dad certainly is a fine example of this style.

Slightly shy on the nose. The rye is in there – but the 40% ABV might just mute it a little.

Mild & sweet in the palate – it’s not until the finish Old Grand-Dad opens up for me.

That dry, almost biscuity ryeness kicks in above a sugary sweet candy floss leaving an enjoyable prickly tingling slowly departing.

I also read Old Grand-Dad is a ‘cult’ whiskey.

Whether that’s because it’s an old brand given a resurgence, hard to get hold of or limited release – I don’t know.

A happy dram. c/othewhiskeynut

What I do know is Old Grand-Dad offers a lot of flavour for it’s affordable price point.

It also further confirms my high rye bourbon soft spot.

Sláinte

Wild Turkey, Rare Breed, 112.8 Barrel Proof.

Reminisces of times past.

Trying to buy this lovely rich bourbon coming through JFK a while ago was a bit of an experience.

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Bold Turkey c/othewhiskeynut

You don’t get to carry your own purchases to the plane.

It’s ferried to the gate on little trollies.

When boarding begins – an amusing form of bingo starts.

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It’s a numbers game. c/othewhiskeynut

‘Pink 71 – White 24’ is shouted out by staff as harried passengers queue to collect their duty free.

Husbands deserted wifes waiting for perfume.

Wifes deserted husbands waiting for whiskey.

This pantomine slowed up the boarding process & several passengers got irate.

I just smiled – Wild Turkey Barrel Proof is worth waiting for.

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Captured Turkey c/othewhiskeynut

It ended my American travels on an entertaining footnote.

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Rebel Yell, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 40%

I can’t resist humming a few lines from Billy Idol’s 1983 hit “Rebel Yell” whenever I encounter this whiskey.

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King Rocker? c/othewhiskeynut

According to rock legend – Billy wrote the song after attending a party fueled by the aforementioned beverage.

Rock ‘n’ Roll & Whiskey – the perfect mix.

Would Rebel Yell deliver?

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Ready, Steady, Go! c/othewhiskeynut

Well the nose is sweet bourbon – full of popcorn, bubblegum & a touch of spice.

The mouthfeel is smooth, easy & pleasant.

A touch of intensity on the finish as it slowly dries out.

Not raucous rock to me – more bubblegum punk – which both Billy & Rebel Yell Whiskey excel in.

A suitable pairing.

Sláinte

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Jim Beam, Black XA, 43% v’s Signature Craft 12, 43%.

I used to fly.

Probably won’t be doing it for a while now.

One enjoyable pastime at the airport was sampling whiskey.

JFK had a pair of Beams not previously encountered.

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2 Beams c/othewhiskeynut

The Black Extra Aged sported an attractive enough bottle.

‘Black’ is often used in whiskey circles to denote a more refined, aged or even mysterious elixir.

I was happy to explore.

It came across quite soft & sweet – but with an appreciatively appealing bite too.

Not bad!

The Signature Craft 12 Year Old displayed a more rounded & smoother feel – lacking the youthful exuberance of it’s stablemate.

Black won out.

Sláinte

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, 5.9%

There has been a profusion of barrel aged beers on the market lately.

I welcome this development.

It adds a new flavour profile to both the beer industry – as well as the returning beer barrels being used to flavour new whiskeys.

The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale wouldn’t be the best example according to my tastes.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale c/othewhiskeynut

The bourbon effect is somewhat muted – perhaps not long enough in the barrel? – and the fizz is more suitable for a lager rather than the heavy ale style I enjoy.

There is no mention of who collaborated to bring about this ale.

Alltech are the importers into Europe and although they posses both breweries and distilleries in Kentucky – they haven’t put their name on the product. Yet a trip to their website here does show it as one of their own.

I picked a bottle up in my local SuperValu.

Handy when doing the shopping.

The ale reminds me of an old song.

It just lacks the flavour punch I crave.

Sláinte.

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Pearse Lyons Distillery, The Liberties, Dublin

The Pearse Lyons Distillery officially opened it’s doors to the public on August 26th 2017.

I happened to be in Dublin myself that day – but as I (and a few other whiskey heads too) were busily judging the blended whiskey category for the upcoming Irish Whiskey Awards in another part of town – the alcohol took it’s toll on me and I was in no fit state for any distillery visit.

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Blind whiskey tasting in progress c/othewhiskeynut

Luckily for me the next week provided a further opportunity in the single grain, single pot still & cask strength category judging at which I paced myself rather better with adequate water & food intake.

So by 4pm I happily had the chance to be shown round the week old distillery by the friendly & informative guide – sorry – storyteller – Bernard.

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Now let’s go inside & have a whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

The distillery is highly unusual in that it is housed in an old church – complete with graveyard dating from the 1100’s!

Bernard himself did a sterling job exploring some of the many stories that make up both the past, present and future of the current whiskey distillery.

The stories continued inside the distillery building that had the wonderfully gleaming copper pot stills placed in the old alter area surrounded with stunning stained glass windows.

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The whiskey window c/othewhiskeynut

The pot stills themselves are a rather unusual design for Irish whiskey. To begin with there are only 2. Mighty Molly – the larger wash still and Little Lizzie – the spirit still – which along with the familiar bulbous pot also has a rectifying column on top.

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Mighty Mollie & Little Lizzie c/othewhiskeynut

Both were manufactured by Vendome in Louisville, Kentucky, where Pearse Lyons has his Town Branch Distillery. Interestingly, these stills were previously used in County Carlow to produce some of the whiskey that ended up in Pearse Whiskey blends –  which we got to taste later in the all important sampling – where all good distillery tours finish – in tasting the actual produce.

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The tasting trio c/othewhiskeynut

Pearse Irish Whiskey comes in 4 styles & flavours – all presented at 42%

There are 3 blends. Blends are whiskeys that contain both grain whiskey and malt whiskey.  2 of the Pearse blends contain malt that has been made using the stills now situated in the former church.

The Original started off our introduction to the Pearse family whiskeys.

Aged in bourbon barrels for 3 to 5 years this light whiskey came across crisp & clear to me – very enjoyable & approachable – even after the single pot stills I’d enjoyed earlier in the day.

The Distiller’s Choice is also a blend using slightly older malt & grain components with final maturation in sherry casks. This gives the whiskey a slightly sweeter taste which I must admit didn’t wow me as much as The Original.

The final offering was the Founder’s Choice. A 12 year old single malt from an un-named source. This also  had the fairly soft, light & approachable character of an Irish bourbon cask matured single malt.

By now I was chatting with fellow distillery tourists to find out which expressions they enjoyed. We did ask about the last bottle – the Cooper’s Select – and despite being on sale in the distillery – it wasn’t offered for tasting.

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Cooper’s Select c/othewhiskeynut

Would it be available in the nearby McCann’s Bar?

‘Probably’ came the reply.

A plan was hatched. My new whiskey buddies – a young American & an English couple would meet there after our distillery purchases.

Now McCann’s is currently hidden behind scaffolding & hoardings as the whole block is undergoing renovation as part of the Pearse Lyons Distillery project – I can’t wait to see the final result of the refurbishment to this fine old bar,

Inside were a large crowd of regulars enjoying the craic & watching the late afternoon sport on the telly. My new american friend was already enjoying a Guinness – well the brewery is just next door! – but I insisted on ordering some Cooper’s Choice.

Cooper’s Choice is an aged blend matured in bourbon barrels with final maturation in sherry casks. It’s also a sourced whiskey while Pearse Lyons own distillate is quietly resting in wooden barrels.

I really enjoyed this one. As did my friend who was now joined by the English couple.

Spotting the bar also stocked the output from Pearse’s Town Branch Distillery I couldn’t resist the Town Branch Rye.

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Town Branch Rye c/othewhiskeynut

At 50% it delivers that powerful peppery spice kick on both the nose & mouth that I simply can’t get enough of – big, bad, beautiful & bold. Lovely!

Meanwhile one of the chatty locals insisted we had some traditional Irish whiskey – so a glass of Paddy’s it was.

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Paddy Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Oh dear.

Yes it was smooth & easy – but it lacked the full blown character & hit of the rye we just tried previously.

I could have stayed longer – but I had a train to catch – so made my way to the station with just enough time to grab an Iarnród Éireann cup of tea & sandwich to sober up.

Whiskey for me is a journey of discovery.

I discovered a lovely new Irish whiskey distillery along with some beautiful new expressions – and hopefully led others to discover more too.

My thanks to the Celtic Whiskey Club & Pearse Lyons Distillery for  a wonderful day out in Dublin.

Sláinte.

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Dr. Gearóid Cahill, an interview.

The Alltech Craft Brews And Food Fair continues to open the annual round of large drink themed shows in Ireland.

Now in it’s 5th year, the numbers attending are still growing. This reflects the increasing awareness and appreciation of craft beer, food and distilled spirits among the discerning drinking public.

Being my 3rd visit, I’m always amazed at the growing number of Irish Craft Beer breweries, cider makers & distilleries producing a bewildering array of fine tasting alcoholic beverage.

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Pearse Lyons Distillery, Dublin c/othewhiskeynut

The other reason for attending the show this year was an opportunity to interview the Head Distiller of Dublin’s soon to be opened Pearse Lyons Distillery in the historic Liberties area.

Dr. Gearóid Cahill.

Whiskey Nut (WN) Is the timetable for the distillery opening going according to plan?

Gearóid Cahill (GC) We’re fairly confident in the proposed July opening. But we’re already a full year behind our original plans. At the start of the project the former St James’s Church wasn’t a listed building. A Protected Structure was subsequently applied to the site which we were happy to comply with but this understandably slowed down our schedule. Being a former church surrounded by a graveyard also meant that everytime we wanted to dig a trench for cabling or pipework human remains were unearthed. These had to be treated with respect. All of them were carefully catalogued, analysed for historical data and then reinterred at the graveyard. We have cooperated with the relevant authorities over these and many other issues which have arisen during the construction and done our utmost to comply with all the conditions.

WN Will there be a visitors centre?

GC  There will be a visitors centre adjacent to the church inside which the actual distillery is situated. We want to take visitors into the working distillery to feel the heat, experience the noise and smell the aromas of a working distillery, as well as showing them the entire whiskey making process from grain to glass.

WN  What style of Irish whiskey are you intending to produce?

GC  Dr. Pearse Lyons, the Founder & President of Alltech has a vision and passion to produce a malted barley Irish whiskey in his home town of Dublin. I’m thrilled and equally passionate to be charged with making sure that vision becomes a reality.

WN  I’m very excited by the return of rye as an ingredient in Irish whiskey manufacture. There is already a rye cask finished Irish whiskey on the market. Midleton have planted fields of rye near Enniscorthy and Kilbeggan/Cooley are currently maturing a rye single pot. Are there any plans for this style of whiskey at St James’s?

GC  The design of the distillery and the dynamism of Alltech allow for a high degree of flexibility & innovation. We can produce beer at the distillery, over and above that required for distillation. We can access any type of grain we require through the Alltech agricultural division and we will be using the best casks from our Lexington distillery in Kentucky. Together with the relatively small size of the, what you can call a boutique distillery we are about to open, we can respond & react to any change in style or vision we wish in the coming years.

WN  You come with a very impressive career both academically and practically mainly founded on brewing. Has distilling always been a dream for you?

GC  I’ve worked for many years in the brewing industry and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I love working for Alltech as the passion and enthusiasm Dr Pearse Lyons has for brewing & distilling is something I share. It’s that enthusiasm that drives our team to hold the Alltech Craft Brews And Food Fair every year to showcase the growing rise of craft beer, cider and spirit making in Ireland. A lot of our staff give freely of their time to help organise & run the event and we see it as showcasing the best that is out there. There is also a growing blurring of lines in the types & styles of beer now available. Just when does a heavily hopped dark porter stop being a porter & become an IPA? It’s a question I often have to adjudicate on being a judge at the show. Those blurred lines are also entering the whiskey market with stout aged whiskey, IPA aged whisky and other variations. This also feeds back into the growth of barrel aged beers. These are exciting times.

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Town Branch Rye c/othewhiskeynut

I’m very confident and comfortable in the field of brewing which is the first step in whiskey production. I’m also very comfortable with the science and technique of distilling. The whole process of maturation in wood is a much less understood area and still a bit of a mystery – although I’m getting much valuable advice & experience from the team over in Lexington.

WN  There are some who say up to 70% of the flavour in a whiskey comes from the influence of wood maturation. Would you agree with that?

GC  I wouldn’t go that high. It’s true wood plays a yet not totally understood role in the final  flavour profile – but the spirit you put into the barrel in the first instance has to be of good quality. No matter how long you age a bad distillate it simply won’t become a stunning whiskey. Understanding the variables of wood maturation, temperature fluctuations, types of wood, charring levels and previous contents all play their part in the final whiskey. They will all become a major part of my – and my teams work – over the next few years.

WN  When you get time to relax at home,

and at this a wry smile suggested this wasn’t a common experience

What would be your drink of choice?

GC  Erm, well when I get the time, I like to sit down with a good bourbon, usually over ice. I enjoy a malted Irish too but I wouldn’t be a fan of a heavily peated Scotch.

At this point I finished my interview by thanking Gearóid for giving me the time out from his busy schedule for the talk and fired off a couple of photos for the blog.

During the small talk I discovered he’s originally from Collinstown in Westmeath!

Whoa!

Westmeath gains another notch in the wonderful world of whiskey!

And talking about Westmeath, why not finish with another of Westmeath’s finest – Joe Dolan – here singing a song titled Sister Mary. Chosen by me for Gearóid Cahill building the Pearse Lyons Distillery in a former church!

I wish all the team at Alltech future success with the Pearse Lyons Distillery – and eagerly await the opening.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can worship at the shrine of whiskey and celebrate the mystery of wood.

Sláinte.

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