Given that both Whyte & MacKay
have brought out ‘light’ versions of their whisky
is Drombeg the 1st Irish version of this lower ABV trend?
I’d put off trying out the last of the attractively priced Dundalgan Whiskey range mainly as sherry cask finishes are not my top pick.
I found all the others; Blend, Charred Cask, IPA & Stout Edition Single Malts to be highly enjoyable & flavourful.
The Sherry Edition followed suit with a lovely depth of warmth.
An engaging bite to enliven the experience.
All wrapped up with a lovely long lasting succulent finish.
Recently available for the bargain price of €20 – I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging this whiskey is.
A cracker of a malt.
This very well researched & easily readable book traces the origins of the Peaky Blinders – or rather peaky blinders – a generic term attributed to street thugs operating in Birmingham from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
As in a lot of popular culture – the facts paint a different picture to the highly stylised fictional tales of the Shelby family.
Those looking for historical authenticity would do well to read this book – it doesn’t preclude you from enjoying the show – & may even add to the experience.
Another way of heightening the enjoyment might be pouring a glass of Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey!
Halewood International have played a – ahem – blinder in releasing a range of spirits to accompany the success of the show.
So much so they’ve announced the building of a new distillery in Birmingham to satisfy the demand!
Fact, fiction & reality all wrapped up in one!
There’s been a sprinkling of articles questioning the price of whiskey.
If cost is an issue – look around!
There are an increasing amount of attractively affordable alternatives available.
The Dundalgan range from Lidl is one example.
Comprising of 5 bottles – none above €26 – displaying a broad array of styles & finishes, I’d suggest there’s something to suit all palates.
Dundalgan IPA Cask Single Malt, 42%
A light, fruity & summery style of malt full of attractive flavours & a touch of character too.
Nice easy drinking.
Dundalgan Stout Cask Single Malt, 42%
A more solid, rich & heavy malt feel about this one. Very engaging – very moreish.
Teeling Galway Bay Stout Cask, Blend, 46%
The delightful bouquet of aromas from nosing were slightly diminished on drinking by the sweet grainy influence. A lighter offering with contrasting deeper notes & a prickly finish.
Overall – Dundalgan Stout Cask won the day.
Considering one Teeling costs around two Dundalgans – what price are you prepared to pay for flavour?
The recently released diverse range from Dundalgan Whiskey have benefited from a fresh restyle – especially their standard blend.
Sporting a classic red topped green bottle livery – the labelling proudly displays it’s West Cork Distillers origins & establishes an attractive uniformity to the series.
After being impressed by the IPA cask finished Dundalgan Single Malt – I thought I’d get back to basics with this ex-bourbon matured blend. Well – over 95% of Irish Whiskeys are blends – so says the Irish Whiskey 2010-2020 report.
Golden brown in colour – a soft light honeyed nose greeted me.
Very easy on the palate – gentle vanillas & richer darker caramels gradually made their presence felt.
A frisson of tingly spice on the finish gave a lift to this elegantly simple sipper.
Punches beyond it’s pleasing price point!
A few years ago I walked into a Scottish supermarket & noted the variety & depth of whisky choices far exceeded that provided in similar Irish stores.
Well not any longer!
Lidl have just released 5 different styles of whiskey under their own exclusive Dundalgan brand – made for them by West Cork Distillers.
Comprising of a blend, charred cask blend & 3 single malts finished in Stout, IPA or Sherry casks – there’s a bottle to suit every palate!
Having recently enjoyed West Cork’s own Stout Cask – I thought I’d diversify into the Dundalgan IPA.
I wasn’t disappointed!
A fresh, light, bright & gently fruity note greeted me with a bit of depth.
Quite rich on the palate, the IPA cask brought some interesting & complex notes to this malt.
A touch of welcoming spice & gentle prickliness on the finish gave character to this engaging edition.
Ironically I’m not an IPA fan when it comes to beer – I find them too bitter – but this Dundalgan whiskey works a treat!
Makes me want to try out the whole range!
My continued blind tasting sessions threw a bit of a wobbler recently.
Randomly chosen from a selection of 8 bottles – I failed to identify any of the 4 samples – failed to detect some of the cask influences & failed to enjoy the cask strength couple.
They were – in order of preference;
West Cork, Black’s Stout Cask, Blend, 40%
I found this a very easy & enjoyable, quite clean & sweet, attractively approachable whiskey which despite being relatively simple – hit the right notes.
The reveal surprised me a little as I didn’t detect any stout influence.
Black Op’s, Blend, 43%
A more complex whiskey offering greater depth of flavour from a sherry influence – I guessed Oloroso? – that again satisfied.
It just lost out to the simple pleasures of the Stout Cask.
Dark Silkie, Cask Strength, Blend, 64.5%
The high ABV was noticeable from the go. Nice clean & fresh flavours – but the high strength just obliterated my palate & left me reeling.
The peat influence must have been subtle – as I didn’t detect it!
Currach Founders, Cask Strength, Single Malt, 60%
Again the high ABV swamped my senses. The more subtle & smooth flavours emanating from this whiskey were lost in a powerful alcohol hit.
I was disappointed by the reveal – I really enjoyed the 46% version & thought nothing had been gained by being 60%.
So there you go.
A good clean & simple 40% blend won out over the high strength competitors.
What would your palate pick?
L.Mulligan Whiskey Shop – along with other establishments – offer a variety of virtual whiskey tastings over the internet.
I’d highly recommend them.
The opportunity to try a flight of whiskeys – some possibly beyond your budget – with an introduction by the brand ambassador or owner & interactions from fellow whiskey fans.
What’s not to like?
Well – 2 things.
The vagaries of a courier system overwhelmed with demand due to COVID resulted in some folks not getting their physical tasting packs in time.
Your computer skills – or lack off – or outdated software – may need an update.
Thankfully it all came together on the evening as I sat down to enjoy 6 samples of Gelston’s Whiskey.
Samuel Gelston first began a whisky merchants business back in an 1830’s Belfast. Later joined by HJ Neill, the company successfully bonded, blended & bottled the whisky of the day. The current Samuel Gelston’s Irish Whiskey has been founded by direct family descendents who wish to revitalise the family tradition.
Gelston’s Single Pot Still, 40%
Being independent bottlers, Gelston’s source their spirit from a number of sources – in this instance West Cork Distillers (WCD) using a 50/50 malted/unmalted barley mix. Displaying some nutty notes, oily mouthfeel & an enjoyable spice on the finish – this is a very easy going, accessible & engagingly pleasant introduction to the Single Pot Still category.
Gelston’s 5 Year Old, Single Malt, 41.2%
Again WCD supply the base malt – a combination of sherry cask & bourbon cask matured barrels that have been married together to produce this characterful 5yo which exhibits a fine degree of richness & depth for it’s young age. Very satisfying.
Gelston’s 10 Year Old, Single Malt, 40%
A very fruity & fresh exbourbon cask matured malt signified a marked doubling in age – along with a change of supply – a triple distilled Cooley. It was also stressed acquiring these barrels can often happen at very short notice with little prospect of future supply to guarantee a core & consistent product. Makes it all the more enjoyable to taste such an engaging whiskey!
Gelston’s 15 Year Old Single Malt, 43%
The higher up the years we go – the flavours were enhanced – the price escalated & the availability of barrels decreases – Bushmills malt sourced via John Teeling’s Great Northern Distillery (GND). I found a rather quiet nose belied the delights within completed with a gorgeous flourish on the finish. A beauty of a malt.
Gelston’s 26 Year Old, Single Malt, 54.2%
I was enveloped in the warm embrace of a joyously returning old acquaintance on tasting this one! Again – GND sourced Bushmills malt. This is probably my 3rd or 4th encounter with these venerable old barrels. Various independent blenders, bonders & bottlers have a cask or 2. Simply stunning!
Gelston’s Single Pot Still, Pinot Noir Finish, 40%
How do you top a beautiful, rare & superb single malt? How about a soon to be released SPS finished in Pinot Noir casks supplied by the Gelston/Neill family descendents vineyard? Rich dark fruits on the nose, great depth & complexity & a lovely long luscious finish. The Pinot Noir casks had added so much more to the original WCD SPS we started with at the beginning – and rather being an unicorn bottling – this one is set to become part of the core range! Fabulous!
Gelston’s Irish Whiskey
Gelston’s Whiskey are a wonderful example of the fine art of independent bottlers.
Sourcing from all and sundry – blending where needed – finishing in self sourced casks – releasing limited stock that might be deemed too small to market by the big companies.
May the current generation Gelston/Neill family be every bit as successful in the Irish Whiskey scene of today as their relatives were in the past.
A highly enjoyable & enlightening whiskey tasting!
There’s hard sell – & then there’s soft sell.
A duo of distilleries in Ulster have recently released their first whiskeys to market.
Being small concerns they lack the advertising might, supply chain connections & brand recognition of established players to garnish much attention.
My Northern correspondent obtained a trio – added a pair of wild cards – & presented 5 blind samples for my tasting pleasure.
In order of preference – this is what I found.
1st place, Sample 5, Mourne DEW Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%
‘Soft vanilla, mellow soft & slightly smokey, dry smoke on finish.’
I knew some of the releases had a peaty element – which I like – & I found it in sample 5. It wasn’t overpowering – gently balanced, easy & attractive. A delightful blend.
2nd place, Sample 1, May-Lóag, Peated, Blend, 40%
‘Sweet fresh & honeyed, complex rich flavours, lovely spice on finish.’
I was immediately taken by this one. The reveal surprised me being peated – as I didn’t detect it on tasting! I did get a very enjoyable & characterful whiskey!
The above two captivated me – I’d happily purchase both – leaving the rest somewhat in the shadows.
3rd place, Sample 4, Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt, 40%
‘Clean & fresh ex-bourbon cask, soft & mellow, prickliness on rear, drying, hint of smoke?’
A standard of Irish Whiskey. It just didn’t shine against the new entrants.
4th place, Sample 2, May-Lóag Small Batch, Single Malt, 40%
‘More mellowed, sweet & earthy, flatter on palate, nice spice on long lasting finish.’
Lacked a certain ‘oomph & character’ of it’s peated sister. Pleasant easy sipper.
5th place, Sample 3, West Cork, Virgin Oak Cask, Single Malt, 43%
‘Honeyed hint of smoke?, soft mellow & earthy palate, prickliness on rear.’
The reveal surprised me again. I’d have expected richer vanilla & caramel with some peppery spice from the virgin oak casks. Obviously being ‘finished’ rather than ‘matured’ hadn’t brought out enough flavour for my liking.
So there we go.
A very enjoyable tasting session where 2 of the newest entrants to the Irish Whiskey scene excited me.
I look forward to many more!
In a departure from the usual – today’s blog is courtesy of the Irish Whiskey Stone Company who received one of my blind tasting packs.
This is the experience they enjoyed!
“About a week ago I saw a post on Twitter by a whiskey reviewer, @2DramsofWhiskey of Westmeath Whiskey World, in which he showed a picture of some vials of whiskey and informing us that he was going to be doing a blind whiskey tasting. I replied to his tweet asking what was a blind whiskey tasting and how does one go about doing it. Not really expecting an answer, I was more than pleasantly surprised when I got a reply telling me that it could easily be arranged!
This was followed with some private messages in which I then had to admit that I know next to nothing about whiskey (which may surprise some of you, considering I sell whiskey stones but how and ever…)
That didn’t put the reviewer off and before I knew it, here I was with 3 samples of whiskey to try out.
I have to admit, it took me a few days to get around to doing it and a certain amount of mental preparation (don’t know why but I was quite daunted by this task!).
Anyway, today was the day. I got out the samples, I found three glasses, got a spittoon glass at the ready and a bottle of water to clean my palate between tasting.
I got a pen and paper out ready to make some notes and cracked open Sample D. I poured some into a glass and first took note of the aroma, which struck me as quite sweet. I sipped and let it rest in my mouth, closed my eyes and thought for a moment about the flavours. The two flavours that struck me the most was citrus and wood. I then added a wee drop of water to see what flavours this would release and the sweetness became more intense. I found this sweetness too much for my liking to be honest.
I washed my mouth out with some water and proceeded to try out Sample E. Again, the first thing I noted was the aroma. This time I could almost detect the freshness of the sea. (probably not remotely a technical whiskey tasting term but it fits for me). This whiskey had a very pure taste and I found it very pleasant indeed.
On to Sample F I went. As soon as I opened the bottle, I could catch a hint of peatiness. I like peat but not too much of it so I was wary. However, this was not overbearing at all. I tasted. Wow, what an explosion of flavour in my mouth. There was an almost orange tang of it but it was a little sharp for me. Having said that, I think this would be an amazing after-dinner tipple.
I gathered my notes and what you have just read is my semi-coherent interpretation of them.
So, there you go. My first whiskey tasting. I actually really enjoyed it and it was a good challenge to write about it too!”
Many thanks to Irish Whiskey Stone Company for sharing their thoughts.
Have you tried blind tasting yet?
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