Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Northern Exposure, An Exploration Of Northern Irish Whiskey – Mainly – Via Blind Tasting.

Northern Irish Whiskey isn’t a separate category – although shifting political structures between Ireland, UK & Europe might influence that.

Presented before me were 5 sample bottles, below are 5 impressions in italics before the reveal & the 5 bottles uncovered.

Bréifne – Hinch Single Pot Still, 43%

Pale straw. Intriguing nice deep nose. Clean, fresh, spicey & sweet. Rye like finish. Nice!

The spice was so intense & lively I could’ve mistaken this for a rye whiskey! Hinch SPS is a sourced product while their own distillate matures. Really enjoyable.

Slemish – Powers Distiller’s Cut, 43.2%

Dark straw. Clean, sweet dark fruits. Shy palate. Nice depth & spice on the finish. Yeah!

Of the 3 Midleton brands, Jameson, Paddy & Powers, Powers has always been my favourite. This blind tasting only appears to confirm this with the latest UK Distiller’s Cut edition.

Iveagh – Kirker & Greer, 10 Year Old Single Grain, 43%

Golden brown. Expressive. Wine cask influence? Warm, inviting. Soft finish. Spice on rear. Interesting.

Kirker & Greer are a Belfast based independent bottling company revitalising an old tradition. An easy going single grain offering.

Donard – Bushmills American Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Mild, mellow & sweet. Smooth easy palate. Touch of spice on rear. Grand.

I’d have to congratulate Bushmills on releasing some new bottles to market & updating their core range labels – even if I found this one rather ‘pedestrian’.

Oriel – Bushmills Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Cookie dough. Slightly muddy. Smooth, mellow & soft. Short finish. Not exciting.

Sadly this one just wasn’t for me.

Thoughts

I had an entertaining evening picking out the flavours from this quintet of whiskey.

There was a clear winner – as well as loser – on my palate with the middle 3 being somewhat closer in experience.

In terms of trends my palate appears to favour the spicey side of things – usually non chill filtered & natural colour helps too. Which partly explains the poor showing of Bushmills here.

The tasting also shows no division regarding sourced or distillery product in enjoyment of the whiskey.

The tasting is what it’s all about at Whiskey Nut.

Sláinte

Images courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop, WhiskyExchange, @_PMcDermott & authors own.

Copeland Smugglers Reserve Overproof Rum, 57.2%, Barbados & Northern Ireland.

Nestled a stones throw from the picturesque harbour of Donaghadee sits Copeland Distillery.

Pretty Harbour, Pretty Distillery!

Part of a growing resurgence in spirits distilling popping up all over Ireland, Copeland don’t restrict themselves to whiskey – exploration of gin & rum is also ongoing.

Using rum from Barbados along with some distilled in Donaghadee itself – Copeland have released this very attractively presented Overproof Rum.

Now Barbadian Rums tend to display a rather sweet tooth on my palate – but I did notice the long fermentation time used. This generally boosts the richness of the flavours.

Information

I was also intrigued by the French Pinot Noir barrel ageing – along with the Overproof strength!

Despite not being able to purchase at the actual distillery when I visited – a local off-licence satisfied my curiosity.

There is a sweetness to the nose – but it’s augmented by a richness of depth & a welcoming hint of soft fruity funk.

Very enticing!

Initially smooth & mouth coating – the intensity of the high ABV gradually kicks in with a melange of prickly heat & bold flavours in an entertaining explosion!

The rich dark juicy fruitiness is complemented by a dry oaky spice – all pleasingly topped off by a decent & well balanced frisson of funk!

Powerful & bold – yet packed full of flavour – Copeland Overproof Rum is certainly worth exploring!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

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.

Coleraine Irish Whiskey, 40%, Brexit in a Bottle

As I sit tasting a whiskey, relishing it’s flavours & relaxing in the warmth of the brown spirit – my mind often wanders to the stories contained within the glass.

You could say it’s the ‘Message in a Bottle’ that often excites me.

Coleraine Distillery used to produce first class whiskey. Opened in the early 1800’s – Coleraine made triple distilled malts of distinction before struggling during the two world wars eventually coming under the ownership of nearby neighbour Bushmills. It was converted to a grain distillery in it’s latter years before falling victim to Irish Distillers rationalising plans in the 1970’s when grain production was moved to the New Midleton Distillery & Coleraine closed for good.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took a sip.

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Comes with an E & House of Commons logo c/othewhiskeynut

The current incarnation of Coleraine is a budget priced blend trading off it’s past glory. The nose has that e150 caramel characteristic of an entry blend – the taste is rather muted but approachable – the finish is slightly harsh but not unwelcoming – overall no strong flavours, no surprises, but for the price point – it’s grand.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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There is no distillery by the name of Coleraine anymore. c/othewhiskeynut

Brexit – for those that don’t know – is the name given to the process by which Britain will leave the European Union after the historic vote in 2016.

Northern Ireland is part of Britain – along with Scotland, England and Wales.

Depending on how the talks go – Northern Ireland will be out of the European Union (EU) by 2019.

As ‘Irish Whiskey’ is an EU definition – Regulation 110/2008 – I’d argue that definition no longer applies post Brexit. I cannot see how a non EU country will be allowed to label itself the same as an EU country.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I took another sip.

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Neck detail c/othewhiskeynut

Now initially this means whiskey collectors will have a field day. Just think – all the whiskey producers in Northern Ireland will no longer be able to label their produce as ‘Irish Whiskey’.

At present these producers are;

Bushmills,  Echlinville,  Quiet Man,  Boatyard  &  Rademon Distillery 

To the best of my knowledge they are all engaged in making, planning or building a whiskey distillery. After 2019 they will all be out of the EU – and if you click on the names you will be guided to their websites.

Do you think the 27 remaining member states will allow a non-member state to trade under an EU registered label?

I think you will get a resounding non, nein, nie, ne ………… and so on.

This is the Message in a Bottle.

So I continued to sip and ponder.

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Post Brexit is Bushmills non-Irish? c/othewhiskeynut

But it gets more complicated.

There is no grain distillery in Northern Ireland.

At one fell swoop all blends produced there will now become whiskey made in an EU country – Ireland – as well as a non EU country – Northern Ireland.

That will go down well with the Brussels bureaucrats!

It was beginning to wreck my head too!

This is the Message in a Bottle.

I needed another sip at this stage.

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Ring ring, Brexit calling! c/othewhiskeynut

But wait a minute. Doesn’t Bushmills export some of it’s liquid South for other bottlers & blenders to use?

Won’t that be subject to import taxes & customs control?

Won’t the resultant whiskey become a non EU product or a hybrid whiskey at least?

This is the Message in a Bottle.

And it was all getting a bit too much for me – and another song popped into my head.

What is the message in your bottle?

Sláinte.

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