Tag Archives: Skibbereen

Inish Turk Beg, Single Malt, 44%

This is one expression that almost got away.

I’ve known about it’s existence for a while.

Originally released in 2010 by a flamboyant entrepreneur who had big plans for the small island off the West coast of Ireland the whiskey is named after – Inish Turk Beg. The whiskey – if nothing else – comes in a very attractive & distinctive bottle with an equally delightful back story.

By 2013 – it was all over.

Nadim Sadek’s dreams were in taters – and the island sold on.

Those lucky enough to purchase a bottle at the time are likely to see the value increase – those that didn’t – tough. Much like the ill fated Titanic – both the Atlantic liner and the whiskey brand of lottery winner Peter Lavery – this ‘Maiden Voyage’ expression is destined to be the last voyage.

Luckily for me – many bars up and down the country still have a bottle you can order a shot from. So when I encountered Inish Turk Beg in the relaxing West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen recently I had a simple choice to make.

To slightly mangle The Clash’s lyrics – should I buy a glass to see what all the fuss was about? Or should I just leave it – never to try it out?

It’s what you call a ‘no brainer’ really.

If – like me – you are curious about all whiskey – what they taste like, what the style is – irrespective as to the country of origin, manufacturer, back story or not – you try it. Preferably soon after the original release. The longer you leave it inevitably 2 things will happen;

1 – The price will go up.

2 – It will all be gone.

So I tasted it.

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Lovely & smooth. c/othewhiskeynut

A very smooth & soft caramelly nose infused with honey, toffee & a slight earthy note.

Very easy sipping. More vanilla & caramel. The earthy note develops more and gives this expression a rather unique character.

A satisfyingly lovely warm glow from the bourbon cask maturation gently fades away on the palate.

Was it worth it?

In short – yes.

The whiskey inside the bottle isn’t exactly earth shattering – but it is a decent dram. There is enough of a twist to make it interesting. Now you could possibly find a bottle of whiskey for the same price as a shot of Inish Turk Beg that would be equally as good – but it wouldn’t have been the same.

You wouldn’t have had the chat & banter with the bar staff and fellow drinkers as to the merits of whiskey, gin & craft beers.

You wouldn’t have bothered to check up the internet to discover the back story to Inish Turk Beg.

And you wouldn’t have enjoyed a dram from a very fancy bottle to satisfy your curiosity and see what it was really like for yourself.

It would have got away.

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West Cork Distillers

A  welcome addition to the exhibitors at this years Whiskey Live Dublin were West Cork Distillers.

Established in 2003 – originally at Union Hall in the stunning scenery of west Cork but now based in nearby Skibbereen since 2013 – West Cork Distillers have been quietly working away refining the art of whiskey making and releasing a very tasty portfolio of product often under the radar of the mainstream whiskey community.

West Cork Distillers have recently won Irish Whiskey Distillery Of The Year at the New York International Spirits Competition 2016 along with a Gold for their Pogues release and a Silver for the 12 year old rum cask single malt.

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The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The Galway Bay Irish Whiskey – a 3rd party release by West Cork Distillers – also won a Gold Award at the Irish Whiskey Awards held in Tullamore so their star is certainly beginning to shine.

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Galway Bay Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The bold design of The Pogues Irish Whiskey immediately attracted me and I was rewarded by a pretty tasty blended whiskey when I got it home.

The Galway Bay Irish Whiskey – a rum finished 10 year old single malt – was produced for the Galway Whiskey Trail collective of 10 bars and 1 off-licence and launched to much fanfare at a fabulous event held on the stunning surroundings of Galway Bay itself.

On the stall at Whiskey Live Dublin meanwhile were several new releases under West Cork Distillers own label which I was ably guided through by their informative ambassador Liz.

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West Cork Distillers stall c/othewhiskeynut

I went straight for the cask finished trio of 12 year old single malts which encompassed a sherry, port and rum expressions.

All 3 expressions for me were far superior to the rather sweet tasting 10 year old offering. All gave a well balanced finish with extra flavour from the relevant finish which didn’t overpower the soft single malt base spirit. The port cask would be my best pick giving a slightly more heavy and rich feel than the other 2, but that’s just my preference as all were very palatable.

Bottled at 43%, they are a welcome addition to the growing West Cork range. They clearly demonstrate the effect different wood finishes have on the original single malt which makes a tasting of all 3 an interesting experience.

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Black Cask c/othecelticwhiskeyshop

In my haste to move on and sample as much whiskey as I could I failed to sample the Black Cask release! A blend finished in heavily charred oak barrels. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s pretty good – so I’m looking forward to sampling yet more tasty whiskey from West Cork Distillers in the near future!

Slàinte

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Fairytale In The Supermarket

It’s not everyday you pop into your local supermarket for some messages and come out smiling – but that’s exactly what happened to me the other day!

When I’m out shopping – whether it’s local or not – I generally always take a look at the whiskey shelves to see what’s on offer or changed since my last visit. On this occasion I was rewarded by a selection of new whiskey expressions at my local Dunnes. What caught my eye were a couple of whiskeys from one of the very few new Irish distilleries to have been around long enough to release their own product. None other than West Cork Distillers.

Now these Distillers have a bit of a reputation of being a little “unforthcoming” when it comes to whiskey aficionados about what they are up to down in Skibbereen – at least that’s what I’ve read. I don’t know why – but I do know their very bold and striking black bottle with simple white lettering on it stood out from the crowd.

Pogues whiskey

The Pogues The Official Irish Whiskey – are the stark words emblazoned across the front of the bottle.

Marketing a whiskey after such a band – with a lead singer who has a somewhat legendary relationship with drink – too much of it perhaps – is a bit of a brave move to say the least. But the packaging style of the bottle bucks the trend of being able to see the whiskey inside. The Pogues also bucked the trend of the time when they first appeared by combining traditional Irish music with raucous punk – and look at them now – world famous!

Anyway – I couldn’t resist buying a bottle.

Price wise at 33 euro it’s a bit above your standard blend range. For around 23 euro you can have Kilbeggan – Paddy – Powers or White Bush. Add some more and for 40 euro you can have the excellent Powers 3 Swallow release in the Irish Whiskey sale at O’Briens. But hey – it’s new – it’s bold – it’s striking. I gotta have it.

Oh – did I say The Pogues Irish Whiskey was a blend? There is no mention of it on the bottle – although the website does say so.

On pouring a glass – after putting away the shopping – I was struck the rich dark brown colour. A bit too dark for such a youthful expression? Three years and a day the bottle says – but hey what’s this?

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Farven justeret med E150a

To you and me it’s added caramel.

Question. When the whiskey is in a black bottle you can’t even see it – so why bother?

Does it affect the taste?

For a full appraisal of added caramel in whiskey I suggest you read Dramming’s Blog here and make up your own mind.

Despite all the above – the aroma was very pleasing. Rich and oaky to me. This followed through into the taste together with a little spice  – which I like – and a lovely long warm finish.

I was worried that using the Pogues name as a marketing tool would cover up a substandard expression. On sampling this whiskey I think I’m sadly mistaken as this is a very enjoyable tipple.

 

It certainly brought a smile to my face;

On spotting it at the supermarket

on reading about it and most importantly

on drinking it.

Quite what Shane MacGowan makes of it will have to wait for another time.

Good on ya West Cork Distillers. I’ll have to check out your other releases on the strength of this!

 

Slainte

 

Whiskey Nut