But The Galtee Mountain Boy Irish Whiskey made the journey to Paeder’s Bar in Moate, County Westmeath.
Attractively packaged in a ceramic bottle proudly displaying an old photograph of young volunteers made it stand out on the spirits shelve.
A blend of single grain, single malt & single pot still Irish Whiskey matured in ex-bourbon casks & given a finish in extra charred casks The Galtee Mountain Boy displays a soft caramely nose with a touch of toffee.
Warm mouthfeel with sweet vanilla & darker, richer notes giving some body to the table.
Finishes with a flourish of spice.
An easy yet characterful little number imbued with a rich historical legacy.
I previously tried this attractive trio – blog here – but now they’ve appeared in an eye-catching miniature set complete with historical stories regarding the Earls portrayed & tasting notes on the whiskeys too – I thought I’d give them another go!
Red Earl, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%
Triple casked, finished in Rioja casks. This light brown blend has a gentle aroma of soft dark fruits. The palate is quite soft yet there’s a delightful fruit bomb on the finish. An added prickly spice livens up the finish.
A very pleasant offering.
Great Earl, Single Grain Irish Whiskey, 40%
Triple casked, finished in Sangiovese casks. Not come across that wine before! Slightly paler in colour. Finding the nose more expressive than the blend – richer & more redolent. A lovely sweet grainy appeal on the palate slowly develops into a punchier finish.
Liking this one!
Spanish Earl, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 43%
Triple casked, finished in Stout casks. Upping the game with a few extra ABV! A darker shade of straw. Finding the nose a tad muted – but darker & heavier when it does appear. Very smooth & silky palate. The stout cask flavours emerge with dark toffee & burnt toast notes.
A terrific trio!
It’s actually hard to pick a favourite from these well presented whiskeys. All lean towards a sweet wine cask finished style with the malt introducing darker stout elements. On this occasion Spanish Earl won me over. What it lost on the nose was more than compensated by a rich finish.
I’ve encountered folks refusing to drink a whiskey for not divulging where it was distilled.
Are folks really that petty?
Let’s dial back a bit however & answer a few basic questions.
What got you into whiskey?
For me it was primarily taste & flavour.
The joy of exploring different whiskey using a variety of grains, distilling techniques, maturation & blending practices to produce a never ending cornucopia of brands for my palate to enjoy.
Is where the whiskey distilled important?
Starting out on my journey it wasn’t.
Initially I’d be unaware of the myriad of distilleries around the world – even if they were printed on the label – but as time progressed I’d begin to favour certain flavours & styles over others & take notice of where it came from.
Does knowing where the whiskey is distilled make a difference?
My buying & drinking experiences began to be predicated on my previous encounters. A bias or prejudice towards certain styles or distilleries formed which I’ve subsequently worked to overcome. Blind tasting & doing an WSET course worked wonders in this regard & challenged any bias – conscious or not – & helped develop an open mind about the whiskey in my glass.
Do you need to know where the whiskey is distilled?
Legally there is no jurisdiction that stipulates distillery of origin must be named. Usually they are – as it enhances brand recognition – but it’s not necessary. Knowing can automatically engender bias – so I often immerse myself in the taste & flavours of the whiskey in front of me before finding out the details.
What if there’s no information as to distillery of origin?
Enjoy the whiskey.
Blended whiskey by default do not name the distilleries the individual components came from as they are often made up of numerous malts, grains & single pot stills from a variety of changing sources to bring about a uniform flavour in the one brand.
Single Malt & Single Pot Still releases from blenders & bottlers may also be subject to legally binding ‘non disclosure agreements’ from the distilleries involved & whilst they come from a single source – this does not preclude that source changing. Distilleries are capable of replicating the style of another’s to provide consistency of flavour.
What do you want in a whiskey?
An enjoyable drinking experience that excites my palate.
While learning about where it was distilled, who made it & all the other information may enhance that experience – it’s not a prerequisite. If on the other hand knowing those details is more important to you – we’re not on the same page. Giving up the taste & flavour experience to a prescribed set of data that must be met before drinking is rather sad.
The frisson of excitement & growing sense of exploration & adventure in anticipation of tasting a new & unknown whiskey is a joy.
When Red Earl first appeared with it’s cartoon like imagery it was somewhat overlooked.
Now available in 4 differing styles. – with varying images too – The Flight of the Earls make for a striking posse of whiskey.
It’s about time I discovered the flavours behind the brand – so ordered up a tasting pack from Tiny Tipple.
Red Earl, 40%
A blend aged in bourbon, sherry & rioja casks.
Warm, inviting & fruity sweet nose. Juicy mouthfeel with a lip smacking finish.
A lovely well balanced flavoursome blend.
Great Earl, 40%
A single grain aged in recharred & virgin oak barrels, finished in Sangiovese casks.
A dry, clean & clear nose. The wine influence makes it’s presence felt on the palate followed by a lovely frisson of oaky spice on the rear.
Spanish Earl, 43%
A single malt matured in bourbon casks & finished in rum & stout casks.
Yum yum – a juicy depth to this one! Rich maltiness on the palate with a solid backbone of darker delights. Opens up further on the finish with a spicy prickle, soft hints of roastiness & an engaging dryness.
Red Earl, Cask Strength, 63.48%
A cask strength version of the Red Earl blend.
Despite the high ABV the nose is still inviting – with just a suggestion of high alcohol presence. The triple cask maturation notes roll over each other in a wonderful flourish of flavour – before a drying hit of alcohol kicks in with an explosion of power.
I don’t subscribe to the notion cask strength is automatically superior to 40% – but Red Earl CS wears it well.
The Flight of Earls impressed me.
Full of flavour, full of style & a hearty bunch of characters too.
The pale colour of the quartet also points to a lack of added caramel.
It’s a delight to taste them all back to back to explore both the differences – & similarities – that run through the collection.
It’s hard to pick a winner from this flight of beauties – but for me the ease of drinking, clarity of flavours & enjoyable flair on the finish – I’m giving it to Great Earl.
Ever since the split between Walsh Whiskey & Illva Saronno over the direction of produce distilled at Royal Oak Distillery – premiumisation vs mass market in my estimation – I’ve noticed far more glowing coverage of Walsh Whiskey – now a sourced brand – over and above Royal Oak – who are one of only a few Irish Whiskey Distilleries able to distill all 4 styles of Irish Whiskey – Blend, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still – under one roof.
Normally there’s a ‘hoorah’ over a new distillery’s first offerings – but for Royal Oak it was a mere whimper.
The Busker range is widely available in the US.
For now in Ireland it remains in specialist shops.
I was waiting for it to appear in my local supermarket – but opted for a sampler pack from Dick Mac’s Bar instead.
The Busker range is entirely Royal Oak’s own distillate – which I’ve yet to witness on the shelves – and is a marvelous milestone in the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.
The livery of the bottle is bold, striking & contemporary – a refreshing modern look.
The Busker range is available for the attractive price of €40 for the singles & €30 for the blend.
So how did I find them?
Triple Cask Blend, 40%
Triple distilled, triple cask – bourbon , sherry & marsala – a blend of Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still.
Quite a rich & fruity aroma. The sherry influence appears to dominate. Juicy fruitiness on the palate – like wine gums. An enjoyable tingling spice on the finish which gradually dries out.
Lovely complexity at a pleasing price.
Single Grain, 44.3%
Bourbon & Marsala cask matured.
Gentle & subtle. Hints of woodiness. Clean & fresh palate. Dries out on the finish with a frisson of spice.
A characterful & engaging single grain.
Single Malt, 44.3%
Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.
Smooth maltiness. Lovely sweet juicines on the palate. A delightful drying spice on the finish.
Easy & engaging.
Single Pot Still, 44.3%
Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.
Captivating sweet spiciness. More of those wine gums. More body & woody depth showing through. Lip smacking finish.
There’s a common sherry influenced theme running through all these whiskey. A pleasing sweet juiciness followed by a drying spiciness – but for me the added complexity of the single pot still wins out on the day.
A very welcome addition to the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.
Honesty & Transparency are current buzzwords in the whiskey world.
The implication being there are dishonest & cloudy whiskeys out there.
But how does this alter the all important factor – taste?
Having always taken these buzzwords as the latest marketing ploy of whichever brands use them – or whiskey fans extolling the virtues of their choice over another – in choosing to blind taste that ‘honesty & transparency’ is turned on it’s head.
What whiskey does your palate enjoy?
It’s no longer about what’s written on the label, the limited edition, attractive bottle or price.
It’s simply 4 vials of whiskey, glassware of choice – and your palate.
Despite the early controversy over labelling – their whiskey has always rated highly with me winning 2 blind tasting categories in the 2017 Irish Whiskey Awards judging sessions I attended.
Perhaps it’s #allaboutthewood – as their slogan goes.
Or could it be the non chill filtration & no added caramel?
The ‘no added caramel’ isn’t actually stated on the labels – but a perusal of whisky.de – where it’s a requirement to say if caramel is added- reveals none.
Whatever the reasons – my palate enjoys Hyde Whiskey & an opportunity to sample 6 of their current range is a delight.
Many thanks to Hyde Whiskey for providing the samples. My thoughts – as always – are my own.
Rather than going by release numbers or dates – all Hyde Whiskey carry significant years in Douglas Hyde’s history as well as release numbers – I’m following perceived wisdom in tasting Blends, Single Grain & Single Malt.
All are presented at a pleasing 46%.
No 6, 1938, President’s Reserve, Sherry Cask Finish
Honeyed vanilla, smooth & easy, clean finish with lovely prickliness.
Having given this top rating in the 2017 blind judging it was great to encounter this one again. It didn’t disappoint.
No 8, 1640, Heritage Cask, Stout Cask Finish
Crisp & clean, lovely mouth coating, flavours develop on a long finish.
A recent newcomer to the range entering the exciting beer cask finished craze. I found it a very engaging offering.
No 3, 1916, The Áras Cask, Single Grain
Rich vanillas, lightness yet full on flavour, classic ex-bourbon cask notes.
I’ve always found this one an attractive whiskey. Love the simplicity & cleanliness of the ex-bourbon maturation which 1916 has in spades.
No 5, 1860, The Áras Cask, Burgundy Cask Finish
Dark fruits, easy sweet mellowness, almost like fruit pastels on the finish.
I do find wine finished whiskey a tad too sweet for my palate – but they’re a winner for others. This is a good example.
No 7, 1893, President’s Cask, Sherry Cask Matured
Rich sweet fruitiness, silky mouthfeel, notes of sweet plums.
Originally released as a 10 year old, now non age statemented, the sweet tooth flavours still come through very well.
No 4, 1922, President’s Cask, Rum Cask Finish
Dark fruitiness, heavier appeal, rich juiciness, touch of spice.
Despite being sweet, the rum finish added depth & body which suited my palate. Very nice!
Trying to choose a favourite among this excellent selection is really down to personal preference with such fine whiskeys.
To narrow it down my winners for each category were;
1938 for the blends,
1916 for single grain &
1922 for single malt.
These whiskey are all winners in my book – but for overall appeal, lovely engaging flavours & attractive bite on the finish – I’m giving top spot to 1938!
I must admit to not being too surprised by the reveal. It sort of confirms my palate preferences.
The easy peater won out over and above the intriguing flavours of Goldly’s – which despite being a single grain was most definitely not silent. Cask strength in and of itself is not enough and Speysiders –at least the non-peated variety – don’t do it for me.