Back in 2007 Kilbeggan released a 15 Year Old Finest Irish Whiskey complete with stylish bottle & packaging to commemorate 250 years of distilling history at the Kilbeggan Distillery in County Westmeath.
It was very well received at the time & went on to win many awards.
Being a rather limited release it attracted a lot of buyers who stored it for intended resale, for a special occasion or just collecting.
Luckily I knew someone who’d actually opened it to enjoy the delights within.
Very generously – I managed a sample!
Now there are always dangers when storing whiskey – and this became evident on the nose with a slight fustiness going on among an otherwise attractive nuttiness.
The palate was soft, smooth & easy with a touch of woody spice going on in the rear.
A gorgeous juiciness finished up the proceedings.
A lovely little drop indeed – although that slight fusty note on the nose suggests it’s not ageing well.
If you enjoy your whiskey – perhaps drinking it soon after purchase is recommended.
“About a week ago I saw a post on Twitter by a whiskey reviewer, @2DramsofWhiskey of Westmeath Whiskey World, in which he showed a picture of some vials of whiskey and informing us that he was going to be doing a blind whiskey tasting. I replied to his tweet asking what was a blind whiskey tasting and how does one go about doing it. Not really expecting an answer, I was more than pleasantly surprised when I got a reply telling me that it could easily be arranged!
This was followed with some private messages in which I then had to admit that I know next to nothing about whiskey (which may surprise some of you, considering I sell whiskey stones but how and ever…)
That didn’t put the reviewer off and before I knew it, here I was with 3 samples of whiskey to try out.
I have to admit, it took me a few days to get around to doing it and a certain amount of mental preparation (don’t know why but I was quite daunted by this task!).
Anyway, today was the day. I got out the samples, I found three glasses, got a spittoon glass at the ready and a bottle of water to clean my palate between tasting.
I got a pen and paper out ready to make some notes and cracked open Sample D. I poured some into a glass and first took note of the aroma, which struck me as quite sweet. I sipped and let it rest in my mouth, closed my eyes and thought for a moment about the flavours. The two flavours that struck me the most was citrus and wood. I then added a wee drop of water to see what flavours this would release and the sweetness became more intense. I found this sweetness too much for my liking to be honest.
I washed my mouth out with some water and proceeded to try out Sample E. Again, the first thing I noted was the aroma. This time I could almost detect the freshness of the sea. (probably not remotely a technical whiskey tasting term but it fits for me). This whiskey had a very pure taste and I found it very pleasant indeed.
On to Sample F I went. As soon as I opened the bottle, I could catch a hint of peatiness. I like peat but not too much of it so I was wary. However, this was not overbearing at all. I tasted. Wow, what an explosion of flavour in my mouth. There was an almost orange tang of it but it was a little sharp for me. Having said that, I think this would be an amazing after-dinner tipple.
I gathered my notes and what you have just read is my semi-coherent interpretation of them.
So, there you go. My first whiskey tasting. I actually really enjoyed it and it was a good challenge to write about it too!”
Many thanks to Irish Whiskey Stone Company for sharing their thoughts.
I’m working my way through a rather large lockdown purchase of miniatures.
They were chosen to try out spirits I’d not encountered before & have proved very entertaining.
These 2 whiskies are English based.
Raisthorpe Manor are a fine food & drinks company operating from a farm in Yorkshire. Their Game Keepers Tipple is a sourced Scottish blend & comes in a handy flask shaped bottle to match the humorous character on the label.
Light brown in colour.
Displays a very mild honeyed nose.
The palate is sweet & mellow with a good mouthfeel & pleasing depth of flavour. It reminded me of a Highland style.
Even before Teeling Whiskey Distillery opened in 2015, I eagerly attended a guided tour of the nascent facility by none other than master distiller & blender Alex Chasko himself.
I’ve been avidly watching the rebuilding of Irish Whiskey – especially the role Teeling plays in that growth – ever since.
Teeling’s 5th Anniversary took place during COVID – and like many events – moved online.
So instead of a lavish party inside the fabulous distillery itself – it was me, my computer & 5 samples of Teeling Whiskey made in that very distillery.
Alex Chasko was again present – along with brand ambassador Robert Caldwell – to regale us with tales of those 5 years. From a dream to reality, a building site to a fully functioning whiskey distillery and from brewing beer in Oregon to distilling whiskey in Dublin.
To date most of the Teeling bottles on the shelves are sourced product – and very good they are too!
Alex is responsible for maturing that stock, choosing the casks, finishing, blending and releasing a wide variety of styles & flavours.
Now before me are 5 differing samples drawn from casks distilled at Teeling’s Distillery in Dublin itself.
This is the dawning of a new age in Irish Whiskey.
So what does it taste like?
A trio of Single Pot Stills started the show. All triple distilled using a 50/50 malted/unmalted mashbill presented at 46%, non chill filtered & natural colour.
SPS Bourbon Cask
The combination of rich vanillas, bourbon sweetness with a joyful youthfulness followed by an attractive prickly spice just won me over.
SPS Virgin Cask
A more tannic, sawdusty element with a sharper spice came through. Still enjoyable – if less balanced.
SPS Sherry Cask
Milder, mellower & more subtle & sweeter than the other 2. Not my favourite.
The 3 casks demonstrate the influence wood has on the whiskey. They also show the building blocks Alex uses to blend together to achieve a relatively consistent product for the Single Pot Still release which can iron out any excesses within the individual components.
A wonderful insight into the world of the blender.
Next came a duo of single malts – Crystal & Peated – which demonstrate the role raw ingredients play in developing flavour.
Crystal Single Malt
Crystal malt is commonly used in craft beer circles to boost flavour, depth & colour. A throwback to Alex’s brewing days.
Crystal malt has been roasted for longer – allowing richer, darker flavours to come through.
I found a farmhousey saison type of nose, rich vanilla on the palate with a gorgeous spice on the finish.
Peated Single Malt
Well anything with peat in it is a winner for me – and Teeling’s didn’t disappoint!
Very well balanced from start to finish.
A sheer delight!
A wonderful way to celebrate Teeling’s 5th Anniversary with such delicious whiskeys.
Having followed their growth along every step of the way it reassures me no end – the quality & diversity of whiskey being produced at Newmarket is a joy to experience.
Hats off to Teeling Whiskey – and all the team involved – Happy 5th Anniversary!
The long anticipated release of Irish Whiskey from the Royal Oak Distillery in Co Carlow finally seems to be over.
Bottle & label designs have been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in America.
The Busker range appears to consist of a Single Grain, 44.3%.
Single Malt, 44.3%.
Single Pot Still, 44.3%,
and a Blend, 40%.
As yet the only information available is from these labels – which may differ from the actual releases in various regions.
I find the bold design quite refreshingly striking – and can’t wait to have the actual bottle in my hands.
Especially as it will allow me to taste the all important Irish Whiskey inside!
After the parting of waves between Walsh Distillery founders Bernard & Rosemary Walsh and Royal Oak owners Illva Saronno– it appears the division was between a ‘premiumisation’ strategy versus a more mass market approach.
This is played out in the Irish Whiskey community too.
In an expanding & more diverse Irish Whiskey market both strategies are possible.
I’m certainly looking forward to sampling the fruits of Royal Oak’s labours – at a hopefully palatable price!
GlenAllachie 12 was an immediate improvement. Cleaner, fresher & more pronounced flavours. Perhaps the 46% ABV, non chill-filtered & natural colour presentation helps. A nice little bite at the end & longer lasting bourbony notes too.
This raised my hopes for the GlenAllachie 10 Cask Strength.
The nose was inviting – but not overpowering.
The palate was just – well – empty!
I struggled to get anything here before the 54.8% ABV kicked in giving an alcoholic rush to the proceedings.
Even though I was disappointed with the Cask Strength – sampling this trio solidified 3 truisms of mine.
1 – Speyside doesn’t suit my palate.
2 – Anything without e150 & chill filtering is automatically more agreeable.
3 – If Cask Strength is your only character – something else is missing.
Laid out before me were 7 whiskeys – 7 identical glasses – & some water to cleanse the palate between each sample.
Oh! They weren’t completely blind.
They were from a list I’d selected from a fellow whiskey fan as part of an exchange and it included;
1792 Single Barrel, Ballantine’s 17, Chita Single Grain, Dingle 4 Single Malt, Evan William’s Bottled In Bond, Hellyers Road Roaring Forty, Jack Daniel’s Bottled In Bond, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100, Kilkerran 12, Miltonduff 9, Naked Grouse, North Star Campbeltown 4, Stagg Jr, & a Surprise.
A Immediately impressed me. Strong spirit, good clean flavours, rich in the mouth. Nice.
B Wasn’t as enjoyable.
C A bourbon – but with a welcome spice.
D Nice easy drinker.
E Another bourbon – strong, opened up on the finish.
F Didn’t enamour me.
G Very intriguing.
I initially went through them trying to match my experiences to the expressions above. It was really guesswork – as I hadn’t encountered them before this session.
On a second round – I scored them.
Then the reveal!
A North Star 80 B Hellyers Rd 72
C 1792 SB 77 D Dingle 4 73
E Stagg Jr 79 F Kilkerran 12 70
G Glenglassaugh Evolution 78
Congratulations to North Star Campbeltown 4 Year Old Blended Malt!
An independent bottle from undisclosed distilleries presented non chill filtered & with natural colour at a hefty 57% ABV.
Obviously my kinda whiskey!
There’s a clear division between the top 4 – bigger, badder, bolder – and the bottom 3 – softer, subtler, smoother.
My only surprise was the poor showing of Kilkerran 12 – normally a distillery I enjoy.
But then that’s the whole point of blind tasting.
To try and eradicate – as far as possible – any bias you may hold,
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting Clonakilty Distillery.
Unlike the building site of my previous visit – Feb 2018 blog here – this time the gleaming copper pot stills were in full working order & the rich smells of distillation were ever present during the highly informative & enjoyable tour.
Clonakilty Minke Gin is already available – but it will be a while for their own whiskey to mature.
In the meantime a varied range of sourced whiskeys – with added maturation & finishing at Clonakilty Distillery’s own warehouses on the Wild Atlantic Way – are available at the distillery shop.
I bought a couple of miniatures – part of their core range – as well as taking away some extra samples – I was driving – to enjoy later.
Clonakilty, Single Grain, Bordeaux Cask, 43.6%
A clean, sweet & delicate fruity little number that lulls you in with gentle flavours before delivering a healthy spirity kick by way of entertainment leaving a soft fruit finish on the rear.
Clonakilty, Small Batch, Double Oak, 43.6%
Warming, more malt biscuity. There’s a fruity sweetness from the recharred ex-wine casks which give this blend a juiciness followed with a dry prickly spice from the virgin oak casks too.
Clonakilty, Cognac Cask, 43,6%
A limited edition at the distillery.
Rich warm dark fruits with a touch of nuttiness to boot. Dries out towards the finish with a pleasant spiciness.
Clonakilty, Single Malt, Single Cask, Distillery Exclusive, 43.6%
If you ever need an excuse to visit a distillery – the chance to sample an exclusive bottling is always a bonus.
Warming vanilla enticed me in. A gentle rich maltiness tinged with dry tannic spice caressed my palate. A wonderfully balanced & elegant bourbon cask matured malt.
Clonakilty, Single Pot Still New Make, unknown ABV.
A rare treat indeed!
Using the traditional – as in malted & unmalted barley only mash bill – that signature oily & slightly sour new make nose was evident. A clean & fresh feel was enjoyed before the high ABV kicked in leaving a prickly heat with a touch of spice on the finish.
A well crafted spirit for the wood to work it’s magic on.
Interestingly this new make has already won awards.
All bodes well for Clonakilty Distillery.
The stunning signature building, the lovely cafe, the enjoyable tour and the increasing use of barley from their own farm in future distillations yet to come.
Now I can’t say I’ve ever tasted the whiskey, but having sampled a few of the casks maturing at J.J. Corry’s bonded warehouse in Co Clare, I can appreciate the high quality of spirits being nurtured there.
Presented in a stunning handmade cut crystal decanter – along with an ultra deluxe hand carved ash cabinet too – The Chosen set the whiskey internet buzzing.
It puts Irish Whiskey centre stage – where it belongs.