El Jimador – part of Brown-Forman who do Slane Whiskey – also get a look in & more rarely 1800 – also Proximo – & Don Julio – part of Diageo linked with Roe & Co – appear.
Casamigos is therefore a newcomer to the scene.
Originally founded in 2013 by George Clooney & friends, the brand benefitted hugely from his celebrity status attracting a lot of interest. Diageo bought the brand in 2017 and are capitalising on that celebrity link by promoting Casamigos worldwide.
The Old Bank in Dungarvan have an extensive array of spirits on offer – Casamigos quickly stood out for me.
Reposado – rested in American Oak for 7 months – was my choice for this 100% Blue Agave Tequila.
Displaying a dark straw colour in the glass Casamigos Reposado enticed with rich, earthy agave notes & an additional heavy dark sweetness.
Silky smooth on the palate with more of that butterscotch like sweetness.
The signature peppery agave spice shone through on the finish with those butterscotch notes taking me back to childhood days making bowls of Instant Whip Butterscotch flavoured dessert.
Wasn’t expecting that in a tequila!
Good auld George – expanding the tequila scene in Ireland with some gorgeous memory inducing flavours!
This revealing book by James Morrissey focuses on the remarkable turn of events culminating in the Pernod-Ricard takeover of Irish Distillers.
The most sobering chapters however expose the dismal performance & inability of Irish Distillers to drive the category forward – the very reasons a speculative takeover war started.
Irish Whiskey was a monopoly in 1987.
Irish Distillers owned all the distilleries – 2, Midleton & Bushmills – & all the brands – 15 – & was losing sales.
Cooley Distillery in County Louth was just being founded & had yet to mature any whiskey.
Irish Distillers main sales in 1987 were the domestic market followed by bulk sales to places like Japan – whose blending practices have a long history of using non-Japanese stock.
Sales in the lucrative American market dwindled down to a low of around 250,000 cases – about the same as Conor MacGregor’s Proper Twelve sold alone in 2021 – yet Irish Distillers marketing strategies were effectively underfunded & ineffective.
Without the takeover of Pernod-Ricard & increased competition from Cooley who knows where Irish Whiskey would have ended up.
Irish Whiskey today is in a far more healthier situation.
New brands, new bottles & new distilleries are being announced on an almost weekly basis.
I welcome each and every single one of them as they collectively strive to rebuild Irish Whiskey.
A read of Hot Whiskey sobers you up as to how grim things were a mere 35 years ago.
Olmeca Tequila is found in pretty much every Irish supermarket & is often the only tequila offered at many bars & hotels.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise given Pernod Ricard own the brand & possibly use the Jameson distribution network for Olmeca too.
I’ve enjoyed a few glasses of Olmeca in various bars.
The nose portrays that signature agave pungency with hints of peppery spice.
The smooth palate lacks a little flair with an accentuated black peppery spice on the finish.
Olmeca Reposado ticks all the tequila taste boxes – but not being 100% agave it does miss out a tad on the flavour front.
Often listed as Olmeca Gold – denoting a mixto tequila where only 51% has to be agave based & Gold possibly being coloured – Olmeca Reposado – also mixto but with barrel ageing – appears to be the bottle supermarkets stock.
In the absence of any alternatives – it does the trick.
What excites me about entering a bar for the first time is discovering the whiskey selection on their shelves.
What excites me even more is discovering a few new whiskeys to try out!
The Blackbird Bar in Ballycotton happened to be that bar – and 100 Pipers was the first new discovery.
This big volume Scottish blend has been around since the late 60’s. Now part of the Pernod Ricard empire – the bottle still displays Seagram’s on it from the original brand owners.
A rather dark blend – added caramel is expected for this category – there is that sweet vanilla & caramel going on. Towards the end a pleasing touch of peat smoke gives 100 Pipers a bit of character. An easy going softly smoked blend.
Next up was a Japanese Single Malt – Hakushu Distillers Reserve.
My drinking buddy ordered the Dingle Single Malt Batch 2 at the same time to compare & contrast.
I found the Hakushu clean & fresh. A lovely deep vanilla from bourbon cask maturation which then slowly morphed into a gorgeously drying soft ashy peaty spice which danced off the palate.
Really enjoyed this one.
The Dingle Single Malt Batch 2 was more rich with dark fruitiness from the added Oloroso & PX cask maturation – and made for an interesting taste comparison.
The bar recommended the final offering – Auchentoshan 12.
Now Auchentoshan are an anomaly in Scottish Whisky – they triple distill!
This bourbon & Oloroso cask matured Single Malt was a fine example of that style.
Smooth delivery, good depth of flavours with a touch of oakiness too – and an enjoyably long finish.
The Blackbird Bar also stock an extensive array of Midleton Distillery output – as befits a bar less than half an hour away from the distillery itself.
Having had them all before – I chose to go for a delightful trio of new acquaintances.
Out of the 3 – Hakushu would come out on top.
The combination of a clean, almost herbal yet fruity start growing into a drying soft spicy peat hit definitely had me hooked.
Just like the warm hospitality & great whiskey selection of the Blackbird Bar reeled me in.
Big shout out to Mossie & all the crew – a fabulous spot.