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.
Herself had booked a 2 night stay in the fabulous new Drumhierny Woodland Hideaway lodges – only a short trip down the road from Drumshanbo.
Meeting friends in the lovely Jackalope Café of the distillery itself for a tasty meal I suggested a tour would be in order & a couple of us tagged along on the last one of the day.
An introductory video led us through the Curious Mind of PJ Rigney – leading onto an explanation of not only whiskey production – but gin & vodka too – The Shed Distillery do all.
No photos are allowed on the tour – but we did see the magnificent copper pot stills that make all the lovely spirit – separate stills for each category – with the attendant malty aromas too!
In the well presented tasting rooms we were led through our 1st sample – the delightful Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey with it’s creamy mouthfeel from the Barra Oats used in the mash-bill.
Interestingly on display were additional grains – including rye – as well as barrel staves – I spotted acacia wood – pointing to exciting future developments from The Shed Distillery.
A gin lab – full of exciting spices & botanicals – complete with replica Sausage Tree for the vodka – rounded off the highly informative & immersive tour before being led to the Honey Badger Bar for a complimentary drink.
A number of choices are available – my curious mind opted for the Sausage Tree Vodka. I can’t say vodka is my usual tipple – but there was some additional depth to the flavour of this extremely well presented offering.
Suitably sated – I had my eyes on the main event – the 2021 Galánta Single Malt release.
Introduced as a limited edition annual release Galánta is delivered non chill filtered, natural colour & 46%
Gentle warming vanilla & caramel offering clean & clear aromas on the nose. Easy gentle mouthfeel develops fuller, richer flavours as it slowly warms the palate. Finishes with a slight prickliness fading away slowly.
A very elegant & softly stated single malt.
Meanwhile an Express The Curiosity cocktail – from an exciting menu – presented with flair & panache was thoroughly enjoyed by my touring partner.
The Shed Distillery excels all round.
Set in the gorgeous Leitrim countryside – we later walked the Shannon Blueway, indulged ourselves at Beirne’s Bar in Battle Bridge & enjoyed the Gunpowder Gin, Sausage Tree Vodka & Drumshanbo Whiskey all made at The Shed Distillery.
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.
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.
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!