Tag Archives: Single Malt

Powers 15 Year Old, Garavan’s Single Cask, Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 46%

Garavan’s in Galway is the very epitome of what an Irish Whiskey Bar should be.

Leaving the bustling world outside, it is a haven of calm in a warm friendly bar adorned with a bewildering array of whiskey on wooden shelves behind the bar as well as in glass cabinets around the cozy snug areas.

It entices you in to sit down and slow down.

To take time and browse the extensive whiskey menu looking for a sample of that rare bottling, or perhaps ordering up one of Garavan’s tasting platters to explore the rich depth and variety of whiskey flavours on offer.

Garavan’s even have their own whiskey – Garavan’s Grocers Choice 10 Year Old Single Malt – and a fine whiskey it is too!

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Garavan’s Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Yet Garavan’s have raised the bar even higher.

In a nod to times past when it was common practice for bars to bottle their own whiskey bought in barrel from the distillery – Garavan’s took themselves down to Midleton Distillery in County Cork and chose a single cask of Powers Single Pot Still Whiskey to be bottled for them as an exclusive Garavan’s Single Cask Release.

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A tasty drop of Powers c/othewhiskeynut

A small gathering of whiskey fans assembled to be part of the unveiling of the Powers 15 Year Old Garavan’s Single Cask Release presented by Ger Garland, Irish Distillers Whiskey Brand Ambassador.

As a way of introduction – we were served a glass of Powers Gold Label.

It’s a blend of spicy single pot still and sweet grain whiskey.

It typifies the more characterful spirit forward, honey sweet yet peppery spiced notes which are usually associated with the Powers range of whiskeys.

It’s a style I enjoy.

The Garavan’s Single Cask Release builds on these elements.

Presented at a higher 46% ABV and being a single pot still there is no grain input. A gentle vanilla & softly burnt toast nose from the exclusively ex-bourbon cask maturation provided the sweet part.

The dry peppery spice came through more clearly & distinctively on the palate with warming notes from the charred cask which slowly faded away leaving a gorgeously dry mouthfeel.

It’s a sensation I enjoy in a whiskey – and one this Powers delivers.

Single cask offerings can vary a great deal.

I’ve tried a few of the Powers Single Cask releases and it always amazes me the differences considering they are all essentially the same distillate. The individual casks used for maturation can produce such a wide variety of results that are normally married together to produce a consistent flavour profile. It’s a treat therefore to sample from one individual cask.

The Garavan’s 15 Year Old Single Cask Release certainly highlights for me the signature sweet & spice Powers mix I find so attractive.

Congratulations to both Garavan’s Bar & Powers Whiskey for coming together to release this bottle.

It’s presented in a very attractive wrap around laser etched box with a representation of the bar itself on the front.

Get it while you can.

Sláinte

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12 Acres Single Malt Lager, 4.2%

Now we all know what the term Single Malt means when it comes to whiskey – don’t we?

The Scottish Whisky Association rules of 2009 define it as;

2.3 Single Malt Scotch Whisky means a Scotch Whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.

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Single Malt Lager c/othewhiskeynut

So what does it mean when it comes to beer?

Well – it isn’t defined – but 12 Acres Brewing Co. in Laois have come up with their own interpretation.

A lager brewed with 100% malted barley grown on one farm. Namely their own.

So what does it taste like?

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Ground to glass lager c/othewhiskeynut

Well I must confess to not being a big lager fan – too much mass produced tasteless uniformity for my liking – but 12 Acres are offering something a bit bolder.

It’s heavier, maltier and more fuller bodied than what I expected.

The earthy notes of County Laois can be experienced with every drop.

Not one to be thrown down the hatch on a session – rather one to sip & savour on a warm summer’s evening – of which we’ve had a few lately.

A worthy addition to the craft beer canon.

Sláinte.

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The Whistler 7yo & 10yo Single Malts, 46%

Standing outside the Whiskey Live Dublin event after the first session – shooting the breeze with a few fellow attendees – a gentleman passed by whistling away to himself. Only when he stopped to chat did we realise it was none other than Pat Cooney, founding father of the Boann Distillery in Drogheda, County Meath, and after whom their sourced range of single malt whiskeys are named!

It reminded me I never actually got round to sampling the 2 miniature malts I was given as part of my very enjoyable & informative tour of the distillery last summer!

At the time of my visit the Green Engineering stills were in situ and made a very impressive sight contrasting with the glass & wood of the statement building.

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Worship the copper! c/othewhiskeynut

The pipework meanwhile hadn’t been connected – although I now believe it has – and I’m certainly looking forward to the start – or should that be re-start? – of distillation in Drogheda.

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Just put your lips together and Whistle! c/othewhiskeynut

In the meantime – to bridge the gap –  the current unnamed sourced range comprises of the 7  & 10 year old – my 2 samples – as well as a cask strength 7 year old. There are other expressions outside of Ireland too.

All are non chill filtered & presented naturally coloured at 46% – or a powerful 59% for the cask strength which certainly packs a punch.

The 7 year old – otherwise known as The Blue Note – comes over very subtle on the nose for me. A hit of alcohol faded to reveal gentle vanilla followed by a dry metallic sherry influence.

The 10 year old – otherwise known as How The Years Whistle By – provided a softer, smoother & more woody influence with it’s extra 3 years maturation.

The tasting continued in this vein. Both were crisp & clear expressions with orchard fruit notes merging into that dry prickly sensation I enjoy. Again the 10yo exhibited more warming vanilla & caramel from the bourbon cask maturation which elevated the flavours – cue for a song.

Both had suitably long finishes with enjoyable heat.

I found them rather safe standard bearers of bourbon cask matured, sherry finished Irish single malts exhibiting that delightful orchard fruit feeling with subtle sherry notes intertwined. A lot of people like them  – awards have been won too – but I must admit to preferring something a bit more bolder & stronger flavoured.  The softer sublime & more subtle – perhaps even more balanced notes  –  are a little lost on me.

What isn’t lost on me however is the quiet determination & hard work all the Cooney family have put into the Boann Distillery site. Behind the gleaming copper, glass & wood of the actual distillery is a large working brewery which produces some tasty beers & ciders under the Boyne Brewhouse & Cooney’s Irish Cider brand names.

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Boyne Brewhouse workings c/othewhiskeynut

There is also a very large modern bottling facility which was hard at work on the day I visited.

I also cannot fault the hospitality & warmth of the Cooney family members. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them on a number of occasions. They all display a well deserved sense of pride & passion in what they are trying to achieve & build with this combined distillery & brewery project just off the main M1 motorway north of Dublin.

I congratulate their present achievements and wish them continued future success.

Sláinte.

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West Cork Distillers, Skibbereen.

Some whiskey distilleries are shrines to copper & glass for whiskey geeks to worship at.

Other distilleries are housed in statement buildings to wow the tourists.

And then there is West Cork Distillers.

They make whiskey.

Lots of it – over 2 million litres of pure alcohol last year.

Housed in a variety of sites spread throughout the pretty West Cork town of Skibbereen the distillery is rather nondescript – hiding – as it does –  in a small industrial estate.

There is no visitors centre. The distillery isn’t exactly pretty. But by prior arrangement I was lucky enough to be shown round the operation by an enthusiastic & energetic John O’Connell who along with fellow friends Denis McCarthy & Ger McCarthy, set the business up in 2003.

After a rocky start, the team at West Cork Distillers are getting into their stride.

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The ‘Rocket’ is on the left. c/othewhiskeynut

The combination of John’s research & development background with Denis & Ger being former fishermen means they are used to relying on their on ingenuity and skills to pull themselves through. It also shows in the rather unusual ‘Rocket’ still that they made themselves – along with a lot of other rather ingenious inventions that aid in the distilling process.

But what of the actual spirit?

Well a vast amount of it goes to third parties, supermarket own labels, pub bottlings & other non distillery producers. That’s not to say it isn’t good quality. Many awards have been won for these products & I’ve chosen a few of them on a blind tasting as my best in class.

They also release under the West Cork label with some innovative & fabulous expressions – but more of that later.

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West Cork label c/othewhiskeynut

A strong sense of ambition, drive, innovation & ingenuity is evident on being shown round the various sites.

Working 24 hours a day 6 days a week means a lot of barrels to fill & a lot of warehouses to store them in. The three I saw were packed to the rafters. Luckily West Cork Distillers are currently engaged in building more warehouses on the outskirts of the town – along with plans to erect a very large Coffey still which currently looks like a giant copper jigsaw set!  I’m confident however they will put it together & fabricate it to their own requirements.

Some of these requirements are a desire to use Irish sourced malt, grain and yeast.

The malt is relatively easily obtained.

The commonly used grain for distillation in Ireland however is corn. Ireland unfortunately doesn’t have the climate to grow distilling grade corn. The bulk of it is imported. West Cork Distillers have therefore bucked the trend and are using Irish grown wheat.

This has posed problems for the master distiller Patrick Harnedy. Wheat is a more ‘lively’ grain to work with which has resulted in an overflow of froth on a number of occasions. But they are soldiering on and honing their skills.

On the yeast front they were looking forward to developing a strain sourced from the wonderful West Cork countryside that would be unique to West Cork Distillers yet still allow them to produce award winning whiskey.

Any tour wouldn’t be complete without the all important tasting.

Many familiar brands & supermarket releases were on show. A lot of them I’d already enjoyed.  I was drawn to to those I hadn’t tried before or enjoyed only fleetingly.

The West Cork Distillers Glengarriff range was one that stood out.

They are single malts matured in casks that have been charred – by West Cork Distillers home made charring machine – with either Irish Peat or Irish Bog Oak.

I’m all for the return of peat to Irish Whiskey and what West Cork Distillers have produced here is rather unique.

It’s the first modern Irish Whiskey to use Irish Peat in it’s manufacture!

Most other peated Irish expressions have to use malted grain imported from Scotland as the process to dry out the barley with peat smoke has died out in Ireland.

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Glorious Glengarriff whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I was rather surprised by how much of a peat influence there was on the nose of this youthful & fresh malt just by the barrel being charred with Irish peat as the fuel source.

It followed through to the very enjoyable taste too. A mellow malt start with hints of vanilla from the charred cask evolved into the softly glowing embers of a peat fire.

Nothing in your face, just the warmth of an open hearth gently warming the palate. I should add it’s non chill filtered and natural colour too.

Fabulous stuff.

And it won’t break the bank to get your hands on one either. O’Briens are stocking it around the €40 mark.

A final mouth pleaser was in order.

Asked to sample a poitín I gladly took a sip. Yes it was strong, but possessed a clear fresh taste & satisfying appeal.

Only then did John laughingly reveal the bottle.

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Powerful Poitin c/othewhiskeynut

John O’Connell’s Poitín bottled at 72%!

It was one of the marketeers mad ideas.

Did I say West Cork Distillers don’t have a marketing department?

That is left to the many third parties that buy their spirit. Parties like Halewood International that are behind both The Pogues Irish Whiskey as well as Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey.

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Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Both of which I’ve  bought & enjoyed previously.

Knowing the source & meeting the team that made the spirit just makes it all the better.

West Cork Distillers are one of the most dynamic & innovative whiskey distilleries in Ireland.

I wish them continued future success.

Slàinte.

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I’d like to thank John for the generous amount of time & enthusiasm he displayed showing me around the distillery sites.

Many thanks too for the poitín – a fun drink indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

World Whisky Day 2018

A toast to World Whisky Day.

A toast to whatever type of glassware you use, Túath, Glencairn, tumbler or tall.

A toast to whoever you are. regardless of class, creed, colour or country.

A toast to whatever style of whiskey is in your glass, single malt, single cask, grain, blended, bourbon, rye or hybrid from whatever country’s output you happen to have access to.

A toast to all the farmers, distillers, blenders, bottlers & distributors out there throughout the world that ensure the whiskey we love reaches our lips.

A toast to you – and all fellow whiskey drinkers everywhere.

Remember – the best whiskey is the one in your glass.

Thank you for the day.

Enjoy it.

Sláinte.

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W for Welsh Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is W for Wales.

For a lot of folks Wales would be better known for Tom Jones, Daffodils, coal and towns with long names like Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch!

It also happens to do some lovely whisky.

And there’s enough to ‘Burn Down The House’! Cue Tom Jones.

Penderyn Whisky was launched in 2004. It has grown to produce a wide variety of single malts which have gathered much acclaim.

My entry into Penderyn was via their initial Icons Of Wales offering – Red Flag.

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A good whisky doesn’t last for long! c/othewhiskeynut

Naming a bottle remembering the first time a red flag was raised in social protest – which happened to be in Wales – I found a rather brave move. Many whiskies celebrate royalty – so Penderyn Red Flag was a break from the normal and attracted my attention.

Bottled at 41%, non chill-filtered with no added caramel is a bonus to begin with.

Matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in madeira barrels this single malt was a very easy & pleasant drinker.  Some sweetness from the madeira mixed well with the slight spice & vanilla from the charred bourbon casks.

I was keen to try more from Penderyn.

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Penderyn Rich Oak c/othewhiskeynut

A chance encounter with Penderyn Rich Oak Limited Edition at a whisky show didn’t stand out for me at the event. Perhaps being swamped with great tasting whiskies means only the strongest flavours stand out & maybe a more muted beauty gets lost in the mix.

Who knows.

What I do know is I’ll be looking forward to trying out more expressions from this expanding Welsh distillery.

Sláinte.

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C For Czech Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is C for Czech Republic

First posted February 2017

THE CASK MAGAZINE & HAMMERHEAD SINGLE MALT 40.7%

Tasting a whiskey is all about the story.

The journey you make to find it.

The occasion of the first encounter.

And the totality of the whole experience.

What better way to engage with a new whisky than at the launch of a new whiskey magazine called The Cask.

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The Cask launch c/othewhiskeynut

The Cask Magazine is proudly based in Ireland – but has a global outlook when it comes to a passion for whiskey.

An eclectic mix of whiskey fans, bloggers, celebrities, imbibers and industry giants gathered in the wonderful surroundings of the Irish Whiskey Museum to raise a toast to the success of this brave new venture.

In the midst of all the media rush to tweet, post, photo & record the event I spotted a bottle that screamed out to me to

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STOP Hammer time! c/othewhiskeynut

Distilled in the former Czechoslovakia before the fall of The Berlin Wall  and the subsequent collapse of communism. Who remembers the joyous occasion of the tearing down of walls rather than the building of them?

Left to mature under the distillery in Pradlo for 23 years before it’s ‘re-discovery’ and release into the marketplace to a changed world. This whisky certainly has a story to tell.

So what is it like?

Soft, smooth & very refreshing with a lovely malty note that pleased me no end. Hammerhead delivered a delightful blow to my tastebuds.

Almost as silky & smooth as the beautiful glossy pages of The Cask Magazine!

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Silk & smooth c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey for me is a journey of discovery and enjoyment.

Cask Magazine certainly added to that enjoyment with their fabulous launch night.

They also added to my journey by unexpectedly increasing my world whisky count to 19 countries with a wonderful single malt from Czechoslovakia. Still a few more to go to match their Around The World In 24 Drams article!

I’d like to wish all the team at The Cask Magazine a long & productive publishing future.

Sláinte.

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My Whiskey Release Of 2017

I usually shy away from picking a release of the year, especially when there has been a bumper crop of new & exciting Irish Whiskeys to choose from, let alone the rest of the world.

But when push comes to shove – there could only be one for me.

It’s not just down to the wonderfully satisfying taste – although that is important – it’s also about the whole package.

The anticipation.

The hunt to find a bottle.

The internet flurry.

And the eventual sampling.

My whiskey release of 2107 is;

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26yo Irish Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

Aldi 26 Year Old Irish Reserve.

From the first hints that Aldi were going to release a 26yo Irish Single Malt for 50 euro the internet was awash with incredulation, surprise & speculation as to who was behind it.

The release date arrived & many punters queued up to get a bottle.

But not all the shops had it in stock!

From Aberdeen to Aberystwyth, Bangor to Ballincollig whiskey fans went on a chase to find their prey. The chat sites lit up with where the whiskey was found. Success stories abounded & commiserations given to failed hunts.

Having previously commentated in a blog entitled ‘Irish Whiskey – Which Way Forward?‘ regarding the Irish Whiskey Industry essentially leaving this area of the marketplace free for Scotch – my question was firmly & positively answered in the affirmative.

Not only that.

When the reviews came in, many rated the Irish offering better than the 29yo Scotch.

To me the Aldi Irish Reserve represents the growing interest in Irish whiskey.

It’s taking Irish Whiskey into new markets.

New ways of releasing whiskey.

And gaining new customers.

It’s malt for the masses.

My only wish is there will be more in the pipeline.

For those that managed to track down a bottle – enjoy.

For those that failed – it’s already being advertised on the secondary market.

Congratulations to all involved in it’s release – whoever you may be.

Sláinte.

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My thanks to PoorMan’sWhiskyJournal for the inspiration behind this blog.

 

Dingle Single Malt, Port And Bourbon Cask, 46.5%

There are so many new expressions bursting forth from the renaissance of Irish whiskey it’s hard to keep up.

Popping down to my local SuperValu store to do a bit of essentials shopping – milk & bread in my case – I always scan the spirits shelves to see whats new.

The Dingle Single Malt has arrived!

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Dingle Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

I chat to the off-licence manager who informs me it’s a SuperValu exclusive. Each shop has had their allocation & there won’t be any more coming. I seem to remember she said this store received 7 bottles – and a couple have gone already.

Mmmm…..   Decision time.

Now Dingle Distillery is seen as the cream of the crop of the new Irish whiskey scene. It’s releases are always highly sought after & well received. Before their first release you were invited to put your name into a draw to be chosen for an opportunity to purchase their 3 year old single malt for a three figure sum. Lots of people did.

I chose not to.

I saw it as plain marketeering to inflate the price & generate an air of exclusivity & premiumisation – which is all the rage right now.

Those same bottles sold out and are now collectables fetching even higher prices.

I’m not into whiskey for investment options or to build a collection. I’m in it to drink it – and when I got round to tasting some of those first editions at 46% and cask strength – I found them rather spirity & fiery – as would befit a young malt – but not possessed of any characteristics that would stand out in the crowd.

I’m glad I resisted.

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The mission statement. c/othewhiskeynut

But at a recent blind tasting a certain Single Pot Still got my top marks for being ‘different’ – such was the sum totality of my tasting notes as it became a ‘speed tasting’ exercise. You sniff, sample, score & move on. First impression count. This particular single pot still happened to be from Dingle Distillery & happened to have been double casked in bourbon and Pedro Ximenez barrels.

My thought processes were churning.

Now this Dingle Single Malt also happens to be double casked. Bourbon and Port it says on the label. So that immediately appeals to my palate – if I don’t purchase it now it will all be gone & I’ll never get to taste it – the wife is in Brazil so she’ll not have a go at me for buying yet more whiskey – and on and on.

I also like the fact it’s available in your local SuperValu store – much more egalitarian – although on a first come first served basis – and even if the price is a bit steep at 78 euro for a young single malt – sod it – buy it!

I wasn’t disappointed.

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Ruby red anyone? c/othewhiskeynut

The liquid inside the very attractively designed chunky bottle is almost ruby red.

The nose is quite soft & infused with the rich aromas of the port cask – gone is the fiery element of solo bourbon cask maturation.

The taste  – at least for an Irish single malt – is unusual & different – both qualities I like. The port influence seems to dominate giving a biscuity dryness to the proceedings.

That lovely dryness further develops in the mouth – not dis-similar to a good rye – which leaves some subtle spiciness & long lasting tingles on the finish.

Wonderful!

Now this is very much my initial reaction. I will have time to allow this bottle to grow on me – as well as some friend – over the next few months – but this Dingle certainly ticks all the right boxes for me!

Sláinte.

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The Temple Bar Whiskey, 40% x 4

There has been an explosion of new Irish whiskeys in recent years. A trend that is likely to increase as the next generation of Irish whiskey distilleries begin to release their own produce.

Another phenomenon of the re-birth of the Irish whiskey scene is the growing number of whiskey bars releasing their own bottlings.

Local to myself in the Midlands, Hugh Lynch’s Bar in Tullamore & Sean’s Bar in Athlone have both released approachable & enjoyable blended Irish whiskey offerings under their own label – both produced for them by West Cork Distillers.

Generally these releases are only available in their bar of origin. Which makes a good excuse for a journey to sample them in their natural habitat – in the pub full of ceol agus craic. Always a bonus in my book!

However when passing through Dublin Airport a while ago I did notice a quartet of whiskeys under the Temple Bar logo.

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I’ll have the 12 please! c/othewhiskeynut

Not content with releasing the obligatory blended offering – Temple Bar have taken it a step further and are offering a trio of age statement single malts at 10, 12 & 15 years old.

I didn’t ascertain where they were sourced from – there are only a few choices at this age – but they were all what I’d call standard bourbon matured Irish whiskeys.

That’s not to say they weren’t good – all of them are far better than the blend offering a richer, smoother & more flavoursome experience for the discerning drinker.

There were subtle differences between all 3 – but for me the 12 year old proved to be the sweet spot.

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Temple Bar 15yo Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The combination of rich vanilla & caramel notes from the bourbon cask combined with some woody tannin notes from the oak barrel won me over.

Having a taster in the airport lounge before a long flight wouldn’t be the ideal spot to really savour these malts. That will have to wait for a visit to the actual Temple Bar in Dublin where a flight of all 4 whiskeys in the comfortable lounge area can be truly appreciated.

Maybe I’ll meet you there for one!

Sláinte.

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