Herself was going to a play at the fabulous Galway International Arts Festival then on to meet mutual friends for a meal – so I tagged along.
Not being a thespian buff I thought I’d visit Mars – a sculpture on show at the former Persse Distillery – only to discover it had moved!
Ah well – time for a drink.
An Púcán provided the refreshments & as I scanned their extensive whiskey list for something I’d not tried before – Armorik Classic Single Malt fitted the bill.
It took sometime to locate the bottle as it was on show in one of the numerous display cabinets around the bar – but it did arrive.
The bottle read ‘non chill filtered, 46%‘ which is a good start. ‘caramel added’ is stated on the back – although according to Warenghem Distilley’s website they have since moved to ‘natural colour’ for their offerings.
The nose proved clean, fresh & inviting with hits of old leather.
Decent body, smooth mouthfeel displaying notes on the savoury, umami spectrum.
Finishes with a frisson of spice.
Armorik Classic comes over as a grounded whiskey showing it’s earthy agricultural roots – perhaps even a smidgen of terroir using French barley?
American Single Malt Whiskey is a growing category.
I thought a back to back with one of the new breed of American Distillery’s releases against a more established Bourbon producer was in order.
Rúa American Single Malt, 46%
Distilled at the Great Wagon Road Distillery in North Carolina & claiming Irish heritage with the Rúa name is this non chill filtered , natural colour organic, non GMO barley offering.
A lovely richness to the nose. Mild & mellow on the palate. Slowly builds developing into a very attractive & enjoyable array of flavours which dance merrily away.
A very well presented single malt.
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, 45%
Hailing from the long established & popular Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky is this Small Batch release. A blend of different bourbon mash-bills with varying degrees of rye content.
I immediately get a warm dry nose – indicative of the high rye content Four Roses is known for. A satisfying mouthfeel where the dry spiciness of the rye interplays with the smooth sweet corn influence. Leaves with that signature prickly spice.
Nice & easy.
I enjoyed both of these!
Trying to pick a winner is a bit tricky.
Do I go for the subtle yet engaging flavours of the newcomer single malt?
Or stick with the bolder rye spices of the established player?
Four Roses are relatively easy to encounter – but I do think Rúa is worth seeking out.
It’s constantly seeking new experiences that engage me on this spirit journey – so Rúa it is!
A visit to the fabulous Dead Centre Brewery in the heart of Ireland overlooking the mighty River Shannon was on my mind.
I’d heard a collaborative Irish Whiskey – whiskey barrels from Lough Ree had been loaned to Dead Centre to create a beer – Here Right Now – then given back to Lough Ree to finish a whiskey in – Dead Centre No 1 & No 2 were now available at the bar.
Known primarily for their excellent range of craft beer Dead Centre Brewing now boast a pair of Single Cask, Single Malt Irish Whiskey proudly displayed behind the bar.
A serving of each was duly ordered – & I retired to the outside decking above the Shannon to sample the results.
The Bridge Series is an apt name. For Lough Ree Distillery it denotes the journey between setting up the company using sourced whiskey – GND for Dead Centre – before their own distillate arrives.
It also marks a journey of discovery, collaboration & connection – not only with fellow drinks producers & marketeers to get the whiskey on the shelves – but also for the consumers to enjoy the variety of flavours & styles on show.
Additionally there’s the physical journey from my riverside perch overlooking Athlone town bridge at the bottom of Lough Ree itself to the bridge at Lanesborough beside Lough Ree Distillery’s site. A trip well worth doing by boat!
Today my journey however was one of taste.
Dead Centre No 1, 43%
Clean, crisp & soft aromas augmented with a touch of depth. The whiskey greats you with a warm embrace. Offers up a subtle depth complete with a long lasting slightly dry finish topped off with a sprinkling of prickly spice.
Dead Centre No 2, 46%
If anything – slightly cleaner & crisper. Found No 2 had a smoother delivery with a bigger embrace of warmth from those rich toffee like notes. The spice on the finish correspondingly was a little more subdued offering a rounder tasting appeal.
Trying to pick out the minutiae of variation between 2 single cask Irish Whiskey by the banks of the Shannon is a bit of a nerdy exercise.
Both are lovely exemplar of beer barrel finished whiskey aided by Lough Ree’s policy of presenting the liquid non chill filtered & natural colour to allow the flavours to shine.
I have to confess a certain degree of local pride in these whiskey. Knowing the players behind both of these drinks businesses & sharing their journeys as they successfully produce highly entertaining liquid as well as enjoyable destinations for visitors to the area is a joy to witness & partake in.
Why don’t you partake for yourself?
I’d recommend Dead Centre Brewing as a suitable venue – & if you message me I might be encouraged to join you savouring the liquid delights within!
An Fear Grinn – Dundalk’s Own Whiskey – have released some cracking independent bottles over the last few years.
Much appreciation to them for providing this latest pair for review.
As usual I cracked them open before reading up on what they were & my initial tasting notes are in italics.
An Fear Grinn Tide’s In, 13 Year Old, Cask Strength, Single Cask, Single Grain, 57.8%
Gentle warm caramelly nose with hints of leathery depth, lovely mouth coating experience, gorgeous complexity of flavours come through on the finish, hints of smoke, oaky wood & a prickly excitement too.
Gullion, Single Cask, Single Pot Still, 46%
Light, bright & fruity, gentle palate, mild mannered, easily accessible offering yet retains a depth of character & engaging attractiveness.
All An Fear Grinn are presented non chill filtered & natural colour. It shows in the richness of flavours & joie-de-vivre of the delivery.
I was slightly taken aback on finding Tide’s In to be a 57.8% single grain matured in ex-bourbon & finished in oloroso. Nothing silent about this one & no need for water.
Gullion turned out to be a bourbon matured, rye finished single pot still – which explained the prickly dry spice I experienced on the finish. A novel approach to presenting a single pot still – which worked for me.
Both are delightful whiskey to sip, savour & enjoy. My palate leans towards the rather-too-easy-to-enjoy-at-cask-strength delights of Tide’s In – but yours might go the other way.
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.
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.