Tag Archives: The Pogues

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.

Pogues whiskey
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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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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Irish Rye?

Brian Nation‘s speech at the recently held Irish Whiskey Awards 2016 held in the fabulous surroundings of the Old Bonded Warehouse in Tullamore certainly piqued my interest.

A number of points were raised that particularly caught my attention.

The first was the spectacular rise of Irish Whiskey in the global market and how everyone associated with ‘BRAND’ Irish Whiskey – from producers to publicans, distributors to bloggers – had a duty of care to promote and protect the integrity of that brand.

Oh dear!

Was my first thought.

I’ve just been branded myself!

But what is Brand Irish Whiskey and who defines it?

Before I could process those thoughts another key word leapt out at me.

Innovation.

There certainly has been some wonderful innovation in the Irish Whiskey scene lately.

The new entrants into the market have been at the forefront of this in my opinion.

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A trio of Teeling c/othewhiskeynut

The multi award winning Teeling Whiskey Company use rum casks to finish their Small Batch blend and Californian wine casks to add flavour to their Single Grain. Neither casks being commonly used. Single Grain is also unusual. Before Teeling Single Grain was released Greenore – now renamed Kilbeggan Single Grain – was the sole representative in this category.

Both these Teeling expressions won Best in class awards on the evening with Kilbeggan Single Grain winning Gold.

West Cork Distillers are also new entrants and have been making spirits often under the radar of the mainstream.

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The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The bold design of their Pogues bottle together with the brand association attached to the famous/infamous group – depending on your preference – was certainly innovative.

Criticism has often been attached to the quality of the liquid inside West Cork produced offerings yet winning a Gold Award for the Galway Bay Irish Whiskey release certainly raises their game and puts them in the spotlight.

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Midleton themselves -the brand owners of Irish Whiskey during the years they were the only players in the field – haven’t been caught napping.

Using whiskey casks that have previously held beer for the growing Irish Craft Beer scene to mature Jameson Caskmates has certainly been a hit that is now being expanded into other markets.

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Makers Series c/othewhiskeynut

The new Makers Series offer some innovative stories to the spirit although I did find the liquid rather ‘safe’. Nonetheless 2 of the releases won Gold Awards.

The most exciting innovation of the evening however almost made me re-enact that famous scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’

MIDDLETON ARE GROWING RYE IN IRELAND!

Now it won’t be harvested until early spring 2017 and a further minimum of 3 years at least before any spirit can be released – but as a confirmed lover of rye – I can’t wait!

Luckily for me I didn’t have to.

A couple of kind gentlemen from across the pond had informed me beforehand they had brought over something special.

Whilst the Corsair Triple Smoke blew me over it could be categorised as an ‘extreme’ whiskey. I did love it however.

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The Emerald c/othewhiskeynut

The Emerald release from Ransom Spirits of Oregon was far more approachable however and much more pertinent to the Irish Whiskey brand.

Made using barley, oats and rye to an 1865 Irish Whiskey recipe uncovered by some research this stunning whiskey is satisfyingly smooth yet rich in mouthfeel coupled with a delightfully long rye spice finish.

Emerald to me have captured the PAST of Irish Whiskey in a bottle of the PRESENT.

When you know Brian Nation and his colleagues are poring over old Jameson recipes from the early 1800’s that included rye and oats – as well as currently growing rye in the fields around Enniscorthy – then couldn’t this be a representation of the FUTURE of Irish Whiskey?

I certainly hope so!

It’s innovative.

It’s traditional,

And it’s out now.

Gorgeous!

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808 Whisky 808 Film 808 Music

Ever since the invention of the electric guitar in the 1930’s there has been a close relationship between the world of music – as originally played by black bluesmen like John Lee Hooker – and the world of whiskey

Right through to the Jack Daniel’s fueled tales of the recently  deceased Lemmy – though I would prefer the Mackmyra produced whisky bearing the Motorhead name,

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Motorhead Whisky c/oMackmyra

And the alcoholic excesses of Irish band The Pogues who have also entered the Whiskey Hall Of Fame by having a tasty Irish blend named after them from West Cork Distillers,

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The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey is associated with rock ‘n’ roll.

Meanwhile back in the 80’s a new musical phenomenon exploded on the scene inspired by a plastic box of electronic wizardry and a different type of drug.

The Roland 808 became a central plank in the development of dance music. So much so it has become an iconic instrument almost as revered as Lemmy’s Rickenbacker bass.

There is even a new film released featuring many of the famous artists who used the 808 in making their music.

The ever changing styles of music and drugs means there is an opening for the more traditional forms of intoxication – as the lyrics of The Far East Movement’s hit ‘Like A G6’ show.

A drinking culture obviously exists in the electronically inspired music scene too. A culture that needs to forge a new identity with new brands for it’s own fulfilment.

One company that’s trying to fill that need is 808drinks.

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808 Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Now to many people – electronic music is soulless and lacks character.

Grain whisky – when it first appeared in the late 1800’s after the invention of the Coffey Still by  Irishman Aeneas Coffey – was also similarly derided as ‘The Silent Spirit’ by the dominant distilleries of the time.

Oh how history is cruel on those who don’t adapt.

Grain whisky is the main ingredient in blended whisky which make sales of up to 90% of the market.

The overarching genre of dance music hasn’t reached that dominance over rock – but is did cross over into mainstream as shown by the 1986 Run DMC / Aerosmith hit collaboration.

808 Whisky is also a collaboration between established icons of Scottish Whisky like Jonathan Driver – formerly of Diageo but now at Whyte & Mackay – the massive North British Distillery in Edinburgh and long standing DJ Tommy D who helped create the sounds for many a famous artist.

Being made for a different audience 808 Whisky bucks the trend.

It’s a blended grain whisky.

It’s 40%.

It has ‘Chill Filtered For Purity’ emblazoned on it’s trendy designer label.

So can it live up to the ‘808 BOOM’ much loved by musicians?

Depends.

To start with it’s a light straw colour. This is good in my book as there’s no obvious signs of added caramel.

For me – there wasn’t much going on in the nose however – apart from a subtle sweetness and that grainy smell. Again – no real surprise there.

The taste was rather soft – mellow – and surprisingly smooth. I’ve had many a cheap blend that burns your palate on the first mouthful. Not so with 808 Whisky. A delicate well balanced grain taste.

I actually enjoyed the warm feeling as it slid down.

This grain whisky is an easy to drink – inoffensive – light dram.

Many a distilleries standard blend would also fit this description – and they sell in their thousands – so it’s in good company here.

Personally I’d like something a bit more – well – ‘In Yer Face’ to allow me to showcase yet another 808 inspired tune.

But then I’m not part of the core customer profile this whisky is aiming at – which is possibly younger and more experimental than me.

808 Whisky would make an excellent mixer drink due to it’s soft mellow profile.

It would also make an excellent easy to drink shot to fuel your funkiest moves on the dance floor.

808 Whisky may not yet have the iconic status of it’s namesake synthesiser Roland 808 -but it does combine my passion for music and my passion for whiskey in a wonderful way.

I wish 808 Whisky all the best for it’s bold combination and unusual style resulting in an easy to drink smooth and satisfying blended grain whisky.

Now that’s ‘Something Good’ as Utah Saints used to say.

Slainte

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PS I’d just like to thank The Whisky Lady for bringing my attention to 808 Whisky and allowing me to indulge in my musical mayhem whilst enjoying a whisky or two.

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.

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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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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