Tag Archives: Natural Colour

A Clan Colla Double Bill Tasting In Ballinasloe, 20 Year Old Amarone & 20 Year Old PX Finish, Single Malts, 46%

Ahead of St Patrick’s Day a gathering – or Clan – of Ahascragh Distillery friends met up at Brewery Lane in Ballinasloe for the revealing of the latest super premium releases by Ahascragh.

Clan Colla 20 Year Old Amarone & Clan Colla 20 Year Old PX are both single malts sourced by Ahascragh Distillery but finished & bottled by them at their own facility.

Presented at a pleasing 46% with no chill filtering & natural colour – as are almost all Ahascragh products – the Amarone additionally comes in a 55% single cask, cask strength limited edition.

Along with an 11 Year Old Blend & the UAIS – pronounced ‘oosh’ – core release – the tasting in Brewery Lane marked a 1st local ‘in-person’ event by Ahascragh.

It was an opportunity for folks to sample the diverse range of whiskey – and gin – on offer from Ahascragh & hear of their ambitious plans to be the first carbon neutral distillery in Ireland.

Having previously enjoyed both the 11yo Blend & 19yo Oloroso Single Malt in Katie Daly’s – I was interested to see what another year & different cask finishes brought to the single malt whiskey.

Clan Colla 20 Year Old Amarone, 46%

For a 20yo ex-bourbon matured single malt I found the nose rather light yet imbued by a rich fruity sweetness from the Italian Amarone cask finish.

The palate followed through with darker vanilla & hints of woodiness interplaying over summer fruits.

A nice nuttiness appeared on the finish which dried out leaving a long & pleasant prickliness dancing away.

Clan Colla 20 Year Old PX, 46%

I was greeted by a lovely malty nose augmented by a dark nuttiness.

The palate displayed more warm autumnal stone fruits rather than the lighter summer feel of the Amarone.

Again a drying finish rounded the whiskey off but with a juicier appeal.

Thoughts

For my tastes the 20yo PX brought a darker warmth to the proceeding which suited me better.

Both are lovely whiskeys which hopefully showcase future releases from Ahascragh Distillery’s own spirit – when ready.

The evening was a welcome return to live tastings with congenial company in the hospitable venue of Brewery Lane.

I wasn’t going to add to my growing whiskey bottles – but as a percentage of sales were being donated to the UNHCR relief fund for Ukraine – herself got the Xin Gin & in-keeping with my spending limit I went home with the UAIS whiskey.

Many thanks to the warm welcome of Ahascragh Distillery & all the team.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Bart’s Blended Irish Whiskey, 46%

My 1st encounter with Bart’s Whiskey – a core release blend for Lough Ree Distillery in advance of their own distillate – was in the comfort & warmth of Skelly’s Bar Ballymahon.

Sitting by an open turf fire I found Bart’s to be clean & fresh with a lively citrusy nose.

A smooth silky mouthfeel with touches of oiliness warmed to me.

Delightful soft kisses of smoky turf on the finish left an engaging dry spiciness melting away.

A highly entertaining & complex whiskey!

The following week found me in possession of a bottle with the chance to explore further.

Meeting Bart’s in Skelly’s had already won me over – but the additional information only confirmed this.

Complete with QR code for all the geeks out there – a lovely passage honoured the memory of Lough Ree Distillery’s founders father Bart.

A component breakdown of the blend explained my brief tasting notes.

Clean & fresh’ equates to non chill filtered & natural colour.

The high – & probably youthful – grain percentage explains ‘lively’.

The pot still ‘oiliness’ is evident.

But the crowning glory – for my palate anyway – is undoubtedly the rye cask & peated malt giving those ‘smoky kisses’ & ‘dry spice’ on the gorgeous finish.

Some demand such information on the bottle.

For me it’s an optional extra & an additional selling point.

Even if all the label stated was ‘Bart’s Irish Whiskey’ – my palate told me this is a damn fine whiskey!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Fear, Paranoia & Tasting By Numbers In The Spirits Category.

There appears to be a palpable fear within the spirits drinking community.

Fear of being ‘gouged’ or ‘ripped off’ by rogue producers.

Paranoia that brands aren’t being ‘honest and transparent’ in refusing to disclose every conceivable nugget of information.

Refusing to taste a spirit until the correct check list;

Trusted distillery – check.

Non chill filtered – check.

Single Malt – check.

Cask Strength – check.

Distillery release – check.

Or whatever criteria you choose has been adhered to.

It’s all so reductionist.

Taste is not defined by what is – or isn’t – written on the side of a bottle.

Taste isn’t made by engaging tweets or larger than life characters.

Taste is the complex interplay of the individual drinkers palate with the fruits of the raw ingredients, distilling process, blending & maturation regimes of the liquid before them.

Someone’s ‘amber nectar’ is another’s ‘gnat’s piss’.

What if all that extraneous information was removed?

What if all bottles of spirits simply stated the legal minimum?

No branding, no advertising, no stories?

Would the spirit taste the same?

Well – yes and no.

Yes in that the liquid – and your palate – remains the same.

Having blind tasted whiskey for the Irish Whiskey Awards over a number of years a familiar pattern of brands & styles consistently rise to the top.

On the other hand slick advertising, where & whom with you taste the liquid as well as your mood on the day can all sway the results.

But is there another fear at play?

Fear of enjoying a drink that is deemed unpopular?

Fear of enjoying a spirit that hasn’t matched your check list?

Or simply a fear of not conforming?

You don’t have to like the popular brands or top sellers.

Just enjoy what works for your individual palate.

Above all – enjoy the journey.

Sample & taste as far and wide as possible – you’ll quickly find your own sweet spot.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Clan Colla, 11 Year Old Blend & 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Ahascragh Distillery in County Galway is beginning to take shape.

Conversion of the Old Mill – situated in the heart of the pretty village – into a modern Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitors Centre is ongoing.

The new café is already welcoming customers & offers branded gifts alongside light refreshments.

For the harder stuff – a visit to one of the local hostelries is suggested. Nearby Katie Daly’s Bar was open the day I visited.

In advance of their own whiskey being produced Ahascragh Distillery have released a trio of sourced spirits – Xin Gin, Clan Colla 11yo Blend & Clan Colla 19yo Single Malt.

Clan Colla 11 Year Old Blend

A lovely rich, warm glow of dark vanilla & deep inviting leather notes signifies to my tastes a classic ex-bourbon cask matured whiskey.

Hints of juiciness & stone fruit succulence on the palate.

The finish gradually dries out & I was left with an attractive bite giving added character & flair to this very attractive blend.

Clan Colla 19 Year Old Single Malt, 46%

Like slipping down into the warm embrace & comforting hug of a generously padded old leather armchair!

The bourbon cask has worked it’s charms on this silky smooth yet wholesome & juicy malt.

Delightful.

Thoughts

A stupendous & stunning duo to launch the McAllister family’s adventure into the whiskey business.

For my palate the 11yo offered that extra oomph with being finished in peated casks additional to the oloroso featured across both whiskey.

I didn’t detect any smokiness but that dryness & attractive frisson of bite on the finish won me over.

Best wishes to Ahascragh Distillery!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

An Fear Grinn, Móinteach, Single Malt, 46%

Having moved house during the pandemic this generous sample from the good people at An Fear Grinn almost went missing.

Móinteach time! c/othewhiskeynut

Luckily the new owners of my old abode kindly informed me of the package & it duly graced my happy hands.

What a delight it proved to be!

Móinteach – roughly translates as peaty – exhibited those lovely rich smokey aromas I adore.

Clean & clear – yet not overpowering.

The palate was milder & sweeter than nosing suggested.

Móinteach came alive on the finish for me.

A gorgeous drying out, tingling sensation – reminding me of the warm glow from the fading embers of a hearty fire wrapping me in it’s comforting embrace.

c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Móinteach – my kinda whiskey!

Lough Ree Distillery, The Bridge Series, Barley Harbour, Single Malt, Single Cask, 46%

Barley Harbour is the latest release from Lough Ree Distillery’s Bridge Series.

Barley Harbour c/othewhiskeynut

Named after an actual berthing point on Lough Ree itself, The Bridge Series tides the distillery over until their own whiskey is ready.

I happily encountered Barley Harbour at the wonderfully reconvened ‘live’ Midlands Craft Beer Festival at Don’s Bar in Moate.

Presented in an elegantly elongate bottle bearing the striking Lough Ree Distillery logo, Barley Harbour is offered at 46%, non chill filtered & natural colour – as are all The Bridge series.

Gone fishing c/othewhiskeynut

Sourced from a certain Northern distillery which usually presents it’s whiskey at 40%, chill filtered & added caramel – Lough Ree – as independent bottlers – provide a marvelous opportunity to taste the full potential of this ex-bourbon matured six & a half year old.

Lovely clarity of flavour.

Rich & engaging mouthfeel.

A gorgeously long lasting finish.

Chatting to one of the founders – inbetween a few tasty beers! – it appears there will be some very exciting developments from Lough Ree Distillery shortly.

As it is, Barley Harbour is an excellent single malt Irish whiskey to savour & enjoy.

Catch it while you can!

Sláinte

Lough Ree, The Bridge Series, St Mel’s No 1, Single Cask, Single Malt, 43%

The Bridge is an apt name for this series of limited release whiskey from the yet to be built Lough Ree Distillery.

St Mel’s No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

Not only does it bridge the gap for their own whiskey to mature, it also takes you on a journey of discovery.

Lough Ree are also on a journey by bridging links with local craft brewery St Mel’s for the Brown Ale casks used to finish this ex-bourbon cask matured single malt.

Back label story c/othewhiskeynut

A welcoming rich, warm & inviting nose of toffee & butterscotch pulls you in.

Silky smooth on the palate, St Mel’s has a luxurious mouthfeel with characterful depth & complexity.

A gorgeous gently drying spiciness wraps up this delightful whiskey.

The Bridge whiskey series tend to sell out – so grab one while you can.

This St Mel’s release took me on a particularly enjoyable journey.

Sláinte

Two Tastings of Two Stacks, The First Cut, Blend, 43%

My first encounter with Two Stacks was in a blind tasting.

Devoid of any prior knowledge my brief assessment of this ‘Complex Blend’ was as follows;

Complex Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Neutral on the nose, soft & subtle.

Not giving much away on the palate, mellow easy drinking.

Nice flavours on the finish, intriguing.

I was surprised to find out it was Two Stacks, The First Cut. Mainly as I’d heard the blend contained a peated element – which I’d failed to detect.

My second encounter with Two Stacks was from an actual bottle.

On the back label is the blending mix & yes – peat does feature, but at only 2% – it clearly wasn’t enough to grab my palate.

Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

Having all the information & a longer time to engage with the whiskey did slightly alter the experience.

A mere hint of smoke just pushed through on the nose – although the mild mellow softness still dominated.

The finish left me with a dry tingling – often a reaction I get from peated whiskey. At only 2% however it was a gentle suggestion & I’d probably be happier with a 20% hit.

Two Stacks in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

Interestingly another drinker had a heightened reaction against the peat – even at such a low concentration it was still overpowering.

Others I know detect sulphur from sherry casks in small amounts too.

My palate seems to be the opposite in that I need bigger percentages & bolder flavours to grab my attention.

As it is, The First Cut is a well put together blend.

Nice easy drinking – & while the peated element does add some character – it’s just not enough to excite my palate.

Sláinte

Copeland Merchants Quay, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

Copeland Distillery are one of a growing collection of new Irish Whiskey Distilleries making inroads to market.

Copeland Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Despite having laid down their own stocks – they have yet to mature – Copeland have taken the route of releasing a sourced blend to build awareness of the brand, gain valuable practice & knowledge regarding marketing, packaging, blending as well as cultivating relationships.

I think it’s a commendable exercise – especially when I get the opportunity to try out a sample bottle!

Story time c/othewhiskeynut

The presentation is very attractive.

The story plays up the rich maritime history of Copeland Distillery’s home town of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland – which I’m immediately drawn to having been a seafarer in the past.

But it all comes down to the liquid – so a sample was poured.

Copeland in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is rich & inviting. A satisfying display of depth coupled with an attractive bite & hints of wood.

Silky & smooth on the palate. Waves of flavour ebb & flow on a gentle tide.

A delightful spiciness opens up on the finish with succulent fruit juiciness fading to a dry tingling.

Info c/othewhiskeynut

A very engaging & entertaining little number.

I wish Copeland Distillery much future success.

Sláinte

The sample bottle was kindly supplied by Copeland.

All views – as always – are my own.