Tag Archives: Kilbeggan Whiskey

Irish Rye?

Brian Nation‘s speech at the recently held Irish Whiskey Awards 2016 held in the fabulous surroundings of the Old Bonded Warehouse in Tullamore certainly piqued my interest.

A number of points were raised that particularly caught my attention.

The first was the spectacular rise of Irish Whiskey in the global market and how everyone associated with ‘BRAND’ Irish Whiskey – from producers to publicans, distributors to bloggers – had a duty of care to promote and protect the integrity of that brand.

Oh dear!

Was my first thought.

I’ve just been branded myself!

But what is Brand Irish Whiskey and who defines it?

Before I could process those thoughts another key word leapt out at me.

Innovation.

There certainly has been some wonderful innovation in the Irish Whiskey scene lately.

The new entrants into the market have been at the forefront of this in my opinion.

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A trio of Teeling c/othewhiskeynut

The multi award winning Teeling Whiskey Company use rum casks to finish their Small Batch blend and Californian wine casks to add flavour to their Single Grain. Neither casks being commonly used. Single Grain is also unusual. Before Teeling Single Grain was released Greenore – now renamed Kilbeggan Single Grain – was the sole representative in this category.

Both these Teeling expressions won Best in class awards on the evening with Kilbeggan Single Grain winning Gold.

West Cork Distillers are also new entrants and have been making spirits often under the radar of the mainstream.

Pogues whiskey
The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The bold design of their Pogues bottle together with the brand association attached to the famous/infamous group – depending on your preference – was certainly innovative.

Criticism has often been attached to the quality of the liquid inside West Cork produced offerings yet winning a Gold Award for the Galway Bay Irish Whiskey release certainly raises their game and puts them in the spotlight.

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The pour c/othewhiskeynut

Midleton themselves -the brand owners of Irish Whiskey during the years they were the only players in the field – haven’t been caught napping.

Using whiskey casks that have previously held beer for the growing Irish Craft Beer scene to mature Jameson Caskmates has certainly been a hit that is now being expanded into other markets.

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Makers Series c/othewhiskeynut

The new Makers Series offer some innovative stories to the spirit although I did find the liquid rather ‘safe’. Nonetheless 2 of the releases won Gold Awards.

The most exciting innovation of the evening however almost made me re-enact that famous scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’

MIDDLETON ARE GROWING RYE IN IRELAND!

Now it won’t be harvested until early spring 2017 and a further minimum of 3 years at least before any spirit can be released – but as a confirmed lover of rye – I can’t wait!

Luckily for me I didn’t have to.

A couple of kind gentlemen from across the pond had informed me beforehand they had brought over something special.

Whilst the Corsair Triple Smoke blew me over it could be categorised as an ‘extreme’ whiskey. I did love it however.

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The Emerald c/othewhiskeynut

The Emerald release from Ransom Spirits of Oregon was far more approachable however and much more pertinent to the Irish Whiskey brand.

Made using barley, oats and rye to an 1865 Irish Whiskey recipe uncovered by some research this stunning whiskey is satisfyingly smooth yet rich in mouthfeel coupled with a delightfully long rye spice finish.

Emerald to me have captured the PAST of Irish Whiskey in a bottle of the PRESENT.

When you know Brian Nation and his colleagues are poring over old Jameson recipes from the early 1800’s that included rye and oats – as well as currently growing rye in the fields around Enniscorthy – then couldn’t this be a representation of the FUTURE of Irish Whiskey?

I certainly hope so!

It’s innovative.

It’s traditional,

And it’s out now.

Gorgeous!

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My Whiskey Awards

The Irish Whiskey Awards 2105 were held at the fabulous new Teeling Whiskey Distillery premises in Newmarket Square, Dublin on the 15th of October.

The awards – which are now in their 3rd year – have quickly established themselves as the premier event on the Irish Whiskey scene. Most of the movers and shakers – new entrants and old stalwarts from within the industry – as well as bloggers – imbibers and whiskey fans from all round the world make a beeline for the highly enjoyable evening exploring the best that Irish Whiskey has to offer.

Organised by The Celtic Whiskey Shop – the awards choose their winners by a blind tasting panel made up of members from both the Celtic Whiskey Club and the Irish Whiskey Society. Samples can also be packaged abroad for members overseas. As a member of the former Club – I had an opportunity to take part in the judging process – read my blog here – and add my scores – along with about 200 others – to give the final results.

Sadly I prevaricated in booking a ticket for the show so they were all sold out before I made my decision to go.

Undeterred – I decided to hold my own Whiskey Nut Awards 2015!

Now these awards are based purely on my own preferences and in no way reflect on the prestige of the official awards. As not every category was tasted – my results are somewhat shorter – but they give an insight into my tastes as well as my ability to spot – or not as the case may be – a winning dram.

On tasting day there were 13 drinks categories of which 8 pertained to whiskey. I managed to score 5 of these whiskey categories along with a beer one too. My awards are therefore based on the results of those 6 tastings.

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Single Grain Whiskey

Teeling Single Grain c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Teeling Single Grain c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Teeling Single Grain came out a winner with 83 points.

There were only 3 entrants into this category and despite being familiar with the drinks I was unable to correctly identify the Teeling Single Grain from the Glendalough Double Barrel which came in only 1 point behind. This result is inline with my preference for an additional finish to the usual bourbon barrel maturation and clearly the use of Californian wine barrel ageing helped Teeling to pip the post.

The official winner was Kilbeggan Single Grain.

Entrants;

Teeling Single Grain

Kilbeggan Single Grain

Glendalough Double Barrel

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Blended Whiskey (60 euro or less)

Kilbeggan Whiskey c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Kilbeggan Whiskey c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey came out tops in this packed field of 15 with 83 points.

There is an advert doing the rounds just now with a tagline of “Nose blind” . Halfway during this sampling I believe I became “Palate Blind”  as I failed to spot the lovely rum finish of Teeling Small Batch nor the spiciness I enjoy in Powers Gold Label and St Patrick’s Oak Aged Irish Whiskey. Despite scoring well – Tullamore Dew Cider Cask also failed to register apple notes with me. Nonetheless Kilbeggan stood out from the crowd.

Nose Blind c/o febreze
Nose Blind c/o febreze

I was a little surprised by this win – but also proud as Kilbeggan is only a half hour away from me!

I did revisit this drink after giving it top marks and can only say that it is a deserving winner. I have obviously overlooked this lovely blend in my hunt for new expressions. Ironically it was this blend that ignited my passion for whiskey. A few years ago a bottle was purchased at Dublin airport enroute for a birthday party in France. The Kilbeggan went down very well with the assembled guests who all gave it the thumbs up. So sante to Kilbeggan!

The official winner was Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old which is also a local distillery to me.

Entrants;

Tullamore DEW Original

St Patrick’s Oak Aged

Kilbeggan

Jameson Black Barrel

Jameson Caskmates

Jameson Crested 10

Writer’s Tears Copper Pot

Wild Geese Classic Blend

Teeling Small Batch

Powers Gold Labe

Wild Geese Rare

Tullamore DEW 15 Year Old Trilogy

Tullamore DEW Cider Cask

Tulamore DEW 12 Year Old

The Quiet Man

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Blended Whiskey (60 euro or more)

Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Jameson 18 Year Old came out a clear winner with 92 points.

All 5 entrants into this category started their scores level with the winner of the previous tasting reflecting that a bit more money does indeed get you a finer whiskey – at least in this example anyway.

My acquaintance with this exquisite dram started at my Jameson Dublin visit and continues here. Unlike the beer world – where new entrants are bringing in tastes and flavours far superior to those of the established brewers – Midleton – where Jameson is distilled – continues to show the new whiskey entrants the benchmark they have to attain. A fabulous whiskey indeed!

The official winner was Midleton Very Rare 2015.

Entrants;

Kilbeggan 21 Year Old

Wild Geese Ltd Edition

Jameson 18 Year Old

Midleton Very Rare 2015

Jameson Gold Reserve

The Whiskey Nut  Award 2015 for Irish Single Cask Whiskey

Celtic Cask 13 c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Celtic Cask 13 c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Celtic Cask 13

Unlucky for some – this Celtic Cask 13 stood out from a small field of 3 to come home with 83 points.

The official winner was An Pucan Teeling Whiskey.

Entrants;

Celti Cask 12

An Pucan Teeling

Celtic Cask 13

The Whiskey Nut Award 2015 for Irish Cask Strength Whiskey

Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Tullamore DEW Phoenix c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Tullamore DEW Phoenix

Before anyone says I’m biased towards distilleries in my home county of Westmeath and close neighbour Offaly – as in this Tullamore DEW  – I will again point out this was a blind tasting!

This expression won as it exhibited a bit more spice on the tongue which I like. 87 points.

It also was the official winner so I am “on trend” with this category.

Entrants;

Tullamore DEW Phoenix

Midleton Dar Ghealach

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength

The Whiskey Nut Awards 2015 for Whiskey Aged Beer

Independent Whiskey Stout c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Independent Whiskey Stout c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Independent Whiskey Stout

For years beer was my alcohol of choice. The darker – heavier and stronger the better. Independent Whiskey Stout takes me back to certain ales of my youth. It also gave the best whiff of whiskey both on the nose and palate which helped its way to be a winner with 80 points.

The official winner was O’Haras Barrel Aged Stout.

Entrants;

Jameson Stout

Independent Whiskey Stout

O’Haras Barrel Aged Stout

The Whiskey Nut Awards 2105 for Overall Irish Whiskey

Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop
Jameson 18 Year Old c/o whiskeynut/celticwhiskeyshop

Jameson 18 Year Old

Out of a total 63 whiskey samples I managed to score 32 on my judging day. This expression garnished the most points from that reduced field.

A comparison can’t be made with the official winner as it didn’t feature in my tasting categories.


So there you go.

Many thanks to all at The Celtic Whiskey Shop for organising the awards and a special thanks to all the distilleries who entered their expressions for the blind tasting.

My awards – my tastes – my preferences all laid bare.

What were your winners?

Slainte,

Whiskey Nut

A Good Blend Is Like A Good Marriage

This blog sends out congratulations to the very happy marriage and highly enjoyable ceremony of Paul and Shazan.

A uniting of two people from diverse backgrounds and countries whose combination is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

In attending the joyous event, I brought along something OLD for the occasion – and how older can you get than a specially bottled whiskey from the oldest working distillery in the world?

Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut
Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut

Like a good marriage – a good blended whiskey brings together diverse spirits – in this case single malt and single grain – that when combined bring about a happy taste experience. The flag bearing Kilbeggan Blend from the Kilbeggan/Cooley distilleries certainly does that in style!

Something NEW is the superbly redesigned Whiskey Shop at the Loop Dublin Airport. I felt like a little kid let loose in the chocolate factory! There was so much whiskey on offer I didn’t know where to begin. From what I can see all the Irish whiskey expressions currently on release were on display – along with a very impressive range of the big four – Scotland, USA, Japan and Canada. There were also some very welcome releases from World Whisky ie,, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, France and India to name a few. But what to chose?

Luckily – a representative from Walsh Whiskey Distillery was at hand with their very impressive range to sample. I spent a happy half hour sampling as well as being informed on the merits of each expression on offer.

Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Founders Reserve c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

First up was the Irishman Founders Reserve. This is the standard blend of the Irishman range but it is no ordinary blend! It is a combination of single malt and single pot still with no grain whiskey in sight that gives it a lovely spicy palate characteristic of a single pot still expression. I really enjoyed this tipple.

Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com
Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com

This was followed up by the Irishman Single Malt which is very smooth and palatable – so much so I’ve a bottle at home already.

Irishman 12 yo c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman 12 year old c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

The Irishman 12 yo Single Malt was an even smoother more complex dram,

Irishman Cask c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Cask  Strength c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

and the Irishman Cask Strength certainly knocked the socks of me.

Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

To finish off there was the delightful Writer’s Tears blend. A popular expression – again with a single malt and single pot still mix which gives it a punchy palate.

I’ve tried a few of these whiskeys before and found them very agreeable – but never back to back. I must admit the Irishman Founders Reserve impressed me the most on this occasion. Good luck to all at Walsh Whiskey in building their new distillery in Co. Carlow, based on my tasting experience – they have a bright future.

The BORROWED element came in the form of the wedding venue – The London Irish Centre in Camden Square, London. During the course of the festivities I acquainted myself with the fine array of Irish whiskey behind the bar and introduced a fellow guest to the delights therein. It’s a pity the range of Irish craft beer on offer wasn’t also represented at the venue.

Two sampling trays together with tasting notes were duly despatched to our table which included;

Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Connemara Peated Single Malt. An Irish peated whiskey that has picked up many awards in it’s time and another fine  Kilbeggan/Cooley expression.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Green Spot. An historical Single Pot Still whiskey that is at the forefront of the rise in interest in Irish whiskey as well as being a survivor of a period when independent wine merchants bottled a distilleries spirit under their own label and specifications. A fine dram indeed.

Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Redbreast 12 yo. A smooth, oloroso finished single pot still that clearly shows why it has won awards upon sampling a dram and,

Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Crested Ten. A favourite tipple of mine at home. Crested Ten has the honour of being the first whiskey Jameson sold under it’s own label in 1963 as opposed to the route of selling to independent bottlers as shown by Green Spot above, It’s a blend of single pot still and grain whiskey with some ageing in sherry casks which give it a more complex finish than the standard Jameson blend. Well worth looking for.

In this taste off – Redbreast clearly shone through with it’s smooth and complex taste with a long finish.

Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

During the speeches a toast was raised to those absent from the ceremony. This constituted my BLUE element and what better to toast those departed than a shot of Wild Geese – a whiskey named after The Flight Of The Earls in 1607 but also to represent the long history of Irish emigration. Over 150 years ago the boats carrying people would have been the Irish fleeing famine across the Atlantic rather than Africans fleeing conflict in the Mediterranean today. I just wish that the compassion, care and help that Irish emigrants received then would be replicated for the modern day emigrants.

Wild Geese is another range coming out of the Kilbeggan/Cooley distillery and the dram I had proved to be a very smooth balanced dram. It’s a pity I don’t remember which expression it was but it came in a rectangular bottle so I’m guessing it was the Rare Blend release.

The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut
The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut

To wrap this blog up – what better than to toast the happy couple with a glass of Amrut Fusion whisky. A perfect blend of Indian and Scottish malts married together to create a very enjoyable and tasty dram.

Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut
Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut

Although Shazan is originally from India – the analogy falls with Paul as he isn’t from Scotland (although one of the guests was) – but nonetheless – their marriage is a perfect blend of two cultures coming together in unity.

To borrow from an Irish descendant, “May the road rise with you“.

Sláinte

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Irish Distilleries Number 1 (and 2) part 1

Well, you have to start somewhere, so I’ll start with my nearest.

Kilbeggan Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut
Kilbeggan Distillery c/o Whiskey Nut

The Kilbeggan Distilling Company as it is currently known, is situated on the River Brosna in County Westmeath, Ireland. It has the distinction of being the oldest distillery in Ireland by having a continuous license to distill whiskey in the same building from 1757.

Bushmills Distillery c/o Discover Northern Irelad
Bushmills Distillery c/o Discover Northern Irelad

This is hotly contested by Bushmills who proclaim 1608 on their bottles. Alas that license does not pertain to the building that still produces spirit today so on a technicality, Kilbeggan wins!

Kilbeggan Distillery has a long history over it’s 250+ years and is presently owned by the Beam/Suntory Group. They currently concentrate on 3 to 4 core brands.

Kilbeggan Whiskey

Kilbeggan Whiskey
Kilbeggan Whiskey

The original Kilbeggan blend is a pleasant smooth tasting introduction to Irish Whiskey. I took a bottle to France with me as a present and all at an outside dinner rated it very highly.   B

Kilbeggan 21 year old
Kilbeggan 21 year old

There is a 21 year old blend available if you have the money. It’s a stunning drink. Smooth yet spicy with complex flavours.  A

Kilbeggan Single Grain
Kilbeggan Single Grain

What used to be called the Greenore range (which is more appropriate as that is the town closest to the distillery at Cooley which makes the bulk of the spirit for Kilbeggan. Beam/Suntory actually got 2 facilities) has now been relabeled as Kilbeggan. They are a range of single grain whiskeys with the 8 year old being the flag bearer.  B

Tyrconnel Single Malt
Tyrconnel Single Malt

Tyrconnel is a single malt offering. It too is lovely and smooth. It also comes in a range of finishes; Port, Sherry and Madeira which if done right add lovely flavours to the mix. I’ve yet to sample them so can only comment on the original single.  B

Connemara is an award winning peated single malt which comes in a variety of ages as well as peat content for those who like it. It’s not my thing so I’ve not rated it.

Connemara Peated Whiskey
Connemara Peated Whiskey

The final expression is only available in the US so if anyone is coming over I’d love to get a bottle!

2 Gingers
2 Gingers

2 Gingers is one that almost got away! Kieran Folliard arranged this blend with the distillery’s previous owners and it looked likely to be dropped (as others were) but his dynamic sales saved the day.

Kilbeggan Distillery is a wonderful place to visit with the museum showing original machinery from bygone days including a working water wheel and steam engine. There is also a well stocked shop , a boutique working distillery,  the all important tasting bar and a lovely restaurant. It’s the public face of Kilbeggan Whiskey as opposed to the manufacturing plant at Cooley.

Get yourselves down there if you haven’t been already!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

Tasting Notes

There are as many expressions of whiskey as there are people that drink and enjoy it, let alone the myriad of ways that it can be drunk.

Being a bit of a purist, I like to drink my whiskey neat – or at best with a little dash of water to bring out the aromas and flavours – especially so with ABV above 46%.

My ability to detect smells and taste isn’t as refined as what it could be – but I’m learning! Therefore I can’t profess to be an expert or give an unbiased assessment of the whiskeys I drink as others do. My personal preferences will no doubt shine through so I’ll explain my whiskey rating table – and show some examples too.

Whiskey Nut Ratings

A+ – Astounding

A –   Awesome

B+ – Above average

B –   Average

C –   Awful

Knappogue 2000A+ This Knappogue Castle 2000 Single Malt Marsala Cask is a fine example of a dream whiskey. Rich strong spicy aroma followed through on the taste, with a long finish. At 46% a dash of water opens up the flavours even more. A delight.

Penderyn-Icons-of-Wales-Red-Flag-Madeira-Finish-Welsh-Single-Malt-WhiskyA  Penderyn Red Flag. A lovely story. A lovely whisky. Another fine example of a single malt finished in madeira casks.

michael-collins-irish-whiskey-blend-750mlB+  Now the B category by default will contain the bulk of blended whiskeys, single malts of no stunning distinction and any other combination of basically a decent drop of the good stuff. B+, as with this hard to get hold of Michael Collins Blend, a now discontinued Cooley product, is a very fine blend with a slight spicy aroma and taste. This raises it above the bar to gain a + symbol. Worth tracking down!

B  As tasted at the Irish Whiskey Museum in a previous blog. Irishman Founders Reserve is a fine smooth, well balanced blend. Nothing wrong with it, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com

Clan Campbell

C Now this is where it gets a little rough. Despite Clan Campbell being a very popular whisky in the European market, it’s not sold in Scotland. Ever wondered why? I tried it on a visit to France along with a few other whiskies. Label_5_Classic_Black_Blended_Scotch_Whisky_1176088The tasting panel of 2 rated this one least favorite. Now there were other similar blends on the panel. Label 5 actually scored a B, but then it’s main ingredient malt is from Glen Moray – which I like.

uigedail

I have got a bit of a problem rating peated whiskey. I generally don’t like it. At the Irish Whiskey Awards 2014, Kilbeggan released a 22 year old single Connemara peated whiskey and a 21 year old Kilbeggan blend. I loved the 21 year old but the 22 was lost on me. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail came as a bit of a surprise when I sampled it at an airport recently therefore. Ardbeg is considered a heavily peated distillery, but despite having a heavy peaty aroma, the Uigeadail taste was pleasantly spicy and fruity. I may have just been converted!

If you find yourself enjoying the same expressions as me, and sharing my dislikes, we’ll get along just fine. Just remember my bias when I post a review!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut