Blacks of Kinsale are currently building their own distillery. In the meantime they have released this core rage sourced Irish Whiskey trio to entice you in.
Presented in attractively liveried bottles bearing their trademark flying crow emblem the names allure to the beer brewing background of Blacks.
I was fortunate enough to be sent a sample pack from Blacks to taste.
All thoughts on the whiskey – as always – are my own.
Triple Threat, 40%
As the name suggests, this Irish Blended Whiskey is aged in a triple cask trio of bourbon, sherry & virgin oak casks.
Light brown in colour. The nose wasn’t giving much away, sweet grainy vanillas. A silky mouthfeel. Honeyed. Drying spiciness on the rear enlivens this solid starter of a blend.
Maple Mayhem, 43%
An unusual one this – aged in maple bourbon casks!
Wasn’t sure what to expect – yet the nose offered up a rich dark sweetness that pulled me in. Smooth palate grows into a surprisingly complex dark honey yet spicy & tingly finalé.
Black Smoke, 43%
A more conventional heavily peated offering.
Have you ever noticed heavy peaters tend to be the palest whiskey out there?
Black Smoke is no exception!
That coastal, iodiney peat is evident on the nose – yet doesn’t overpower. Very engaging on the palate. It’s the finish that excites me. The warming hug of a turf fire heats up & pulls me in with it’s comforting embrace.
A solid sod of turf to please the palate!
This trio of Blacks Irish Whiskey are currently available (Oct ’22) in the sub €50 category level – prices subject to upward pressure in the ongoing economic climate.
They offer a solid & surprisingly complexity of flavour.
Black Smoke would be my whiskey of choice here – but Maple Mayhem engaged me more than I expected with a heavy sweetness that enticed. Triple Threat meanwhile isn’t threatening at all – just a good solid blended Irish Whiskey!
Fabulous to taste the growing array of Irish Whiskey out there – which one would please your palate?
There’s some whiskey launches I didn’t get round to writing up – Michter’s being one of them.
It’s nothing to do with the quality of the product – nor the hospitality shown on the day – which were both outstanding I must say – other things & life just got in the way.
So in February 2019 a packed crowd of whiskey fans gathered in a Dublin venue to sample the delights of Michter’s Whiskey. Oh those heady days of pre-COVID freedom!
I was already convinced of the marvels of Michter’s having sampled the core range at Whisky Birmingham.
A brief history of Michter’s served as an introduction.
Originally founded in 1753 & incorporating the Shenk’s & Bomberger’s families too, Michter’s – along with many others – collapsed during the lean years of the 70’s & 80’s.
A couple of entrepreneurs bought the brand names in the 90’s, selected choice casks from distilleries & proceeded to build up a reputation for fine bourbon & rye. This was Phase 1.
Phase 2 started in the early 2000’s. With dwindling stocks of barrels & increased sales a more steady supply was needed. Contract distilling in Kentucky began with specific mashbills, filling percentages, maturation policy & filtration standards all being controlled by Michter’s exacting standards.
Phase 3 is Michter’s producing their own whiskey in their own distilleries. That is currently in play right now – so for the moment – the whiskeys presented to us at the event were from Phase 2.
Michter’s Straight Rye, 42.4%
Distinctive rye nose, candy sweet & spicy dry. Smooth & easy palate. Decent complexity with long dry peppery spice on the finish.
A solid rye to start the proceedings.
Michter’s Straight Bourbon, 45.7%
Sweet & surprisingly spicy nose. The rye content isn’t too high – the exact ratios weren’t revealed – & it was suggested the spice emanates from the char 3 level virgin oak casks used. Whatever the method – it resulted in a warmth of flavour rounded up by a long peppery spice finish.
Michter’s Sour Mash, 43%
Being neither 51% corn or rye – Sour Mash has a mixed mashbill offering an intriguing sweet & sour nose. Lovely mouthfeel with soft spices & quite a dry finish.
Michter’s American Whiskey, 41%
Using 2nd fill barrels for maturation & a corn, rye & barley mashbill – American Whiskey cannot be called Bourbon or Rye. Lighter on the palate than the others, there was still a richness of flavour & slight spice which reeled me in.
The above 4 made up the core range – & very engaging they were too! In a divergence from my love of rye – I have to say the combination of rich warm flavours along with a peppery dry spiciness of Straight Bourbon won me over in this group.
Part of a limited release range, Toasted Barrel benefits from extra ageing in – no surprises – toasted barrels which impart a slight smokiness to the bourbon. Not a peatiness nor BBQ style however – more a gentle wood fire vibe going on.
Then a couple of age statement whiskeys – rare enough for America!
10 Year Old Straight Rye, 47.2%
Great classic rye nose – boosted with more depth & warmth – which flowed through into the palate. Smoother, richer & more complex than before.
A gorgeous rye.
10 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 47.2%
Again this bourbon impressed! A winning combination that just dialled up the overall experience a big notch.
Yet the goodies kept on coming!
I was particularly looking forward to the next pair from the Legacy Series.
Shenk’s Homestead, 2018, 45.6%
Finished in French Oak Barrels – there was more of a rounded dark fruity sweetness on this one. Very chewy – although the finish fell away a bit quickly.
Bomberger’s Declaration, 2018, 54%
Finished in Chinquapin Oak – a gorgeous dry tannic spice gave wonderful richness & depth to this bottle which immediately propelled it to my top spot!
Such a fabulous showcasing of the Michter’s range & generous hospitality of the brand!
There was much milling around & happy chatting afterwards & I managed a cheeky sampling of the 20 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 57.1%
Despite being such a rare opportunity – I must admit to finding the dryness & high strength combo being too much for me & obliterating the welcome warmth & engaging flavours of it’s younger stablemates.
So what did I take away from it all?
Well I really enjoyed Michter’s!
Their attention to detail certainly comes through in the fabulous flavours of the range.
For my part, age, high ABV & rye aren’t automatic winners. A combination of elements & ingredients along with careful maturation in varied cask regimes can bring about stunning whiskey.
I wish Michter’s future success with their own distilleries!
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!
In what felt like the ‘last hurrah’ before impending restrictions increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Sonny Molloy’s Bar in Galway held an impressive evening celebrating the launch of the highly esteemed Redbreast Whiskey range’s latest addition – the 27 Year Old.
The numbers attending were slightly reduced from previous events – and a certain awkwardness regards hand shaking & social distancing were always in the background – yet the company, the whiskey and the gorgeous food won out!
There were 3 whiskeys on offer. All introduced by the Irish Distillers Brand Ambassador – Ger Garland.
The first one was a bit of a mystery.
Very sweet on the nose – almost liqueur territory here – quite light on the palate – someone suggested cream soda – before the cask strength made it’s presence felt – leaving the pleasant softer flavours dancing away on the finish.
I was very pleased to hear it was an oat whiskey!
Oats were formerly a common ingredient in Irish Whiskey and it’s marvelous to see it’s return into offerings such as Kilbeggan SPS, Drumshanbo Inaugural – as well as experimentation at Killowen Distillery – and quite clearly at Midleton too!
Just how the results of this experimentation will end up in an actual final product are yet to be decided – but clearly exciting times indeed!
The second offering – also at cask strength – was a much more contemporary affair.
Midleton Dair Ghaelach, Knockrath Wood, Tree 3, 56.6%.
The use of virgin Irish Oak casks – as well as ex-bourbon casks – had accentuated the dry tannic spiciness over and above the initial rich warming vanilla notes to the front capped off by a prickly tingling from the high ABV.
I really enjoyed this one.
The grand finalé?
Redbreast 27 Year Old, 54.6%.
Unlike other Redbreasts – the 27 has seen maturation in ruby port casks.
This has given it a darker, even richer fruitiness. I’m thinking plums, figs & raisins here. The high ABV kicked in at this point & I’d need the addition of water to calm things down a touch.
To be honest – I wasn’t bowled over.
I didn’t find it an easy whiskey to appreciate – and I’m not just talking about it’s €495 price tag. I found it a bit of a challenge.
Redbreast 27 – not for me.
I’d like to thank all at Sonny Molloy’s for the warm hospitality on the evening.
Well, if your gonna do Burns Night you might as well open something special.
This Burns Day 2017 Spirit from the Eden Mill Distillery in Fife, Scotland, was part of a trilogy marking the coming of age of their own distillate.
I picked it up whilst visiting the distillery in Guardbridge a few years ago.
It has a number of things going for it.
The use of different malt varieties – Crystal & Brown malts have had additional roasting to boost flavour – as well as virgin oak maturation – would suggest this is an eminently quaffable & flavoursome spirit.
In other jurisdictions – America – this is whiskey. Just as it would have been in Burns day before the advent of age rules. So I cracked it open to sample the delights within.
First off – the colour.
In keeping with Eden Mill’s ethos, I’m banking this is natural colour from both the toasted malt & virgin oak barrel.
Second off – it’s young, it’s fresh & it’s very engaging!
A lovely strong vanilla from the virgin oak casks comes through with a bit of bourbony toastiness – and a spirity kick.
On the palate it starts off smoothly. There’s not much body or depth – but the flavours are clean, fresh & lively!
There’s a slight tannic spiciness on the finish leaving a pleasant prickly tingling.
For a 2yo – there is no new make aroma – this possesses the rudiments of a lovely young malt.
Looking forward to future releases from Eden Mill.