Tag Archives: West Cork Distillers

Skibbereen Eagle, Single Cask, 57%

Fly Like An Eagle,

Sang Steve Miller and his band back in the day.

Well this Skibbereen Eagle certainly made my palate fly!

At 57% it’s remarkably shy on the nose – spirity alright – yet clean & fresh.

The palate belied the high ABV offering warming vanilla & soft caramel from the bourbon cask maturation – all before a lipsmackingly enjoyable alcoholic punch made it’s presence felt.

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The Skibbereen Eagle flies free! c/othewhiskeynut

A prickly tingling sensation & gently fading flavours followed on the finish.

This is a West Cork Distillers whiskey available on the German market for €33 – prices correct as of September 2019.

Fabulous stuff indeed!

Sláinte

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Sample & header image courtesy of Irish Drams.

O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

It seems every time I shop in my local Dunnes store there’s a new Irish Whiskey out!

Sporting what I’d describe as a classic green bottle topped with a red screw cap & traditional looking label – O’Neill’s appears to be a no nonsense style of whiskey.

Proclaiming to be of ‘Fine Spirit’ & ‘Smooth Blended’ the label has minimal information.

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Alfresco whiskey tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

Double Cask Matured is stated – with no mention of which casks – and produced by West Cork Distillers for what I assume is a Dunnes store brand – it made my basket.

And then my Túath glass.

Quite a rich golden hued colour for what I take is a young whiskey.

The nose is rather soft, sweet & honeyed.

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Minimal info c/othewhiskeynut

More engaging on the palate. The sweetness suggests a sherry cask influence – along with bourbon cask maturation – giving a bit of depth & body to the blend.

The grain element gradually kicks in with a little heat & soft prickliness.

A gentle spice rounds off the finish.

O’Neill’s delivers a decent straight down the line blended whiskey experience at an affordable price.

On a back to back with it’s Ardfallen sister, I found O’Neill’s a more sherried & rounded whiskey – making it worth the extra few euro.

Hats off to West Cork!Good Logo

Sean’s, Clonmacnoise Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

I like a whiskey that takes you on a journey.

A journey of taste – as well as history.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt Irish Whiskey does this in bundles.

A short boat ride down the mighty River Shannon from just outside Sean’s Bar’s beer garden in Athlone – is the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise

The art of distillation is often attributed to monks bringing back the knowledge from the middle east. The route they would have traveled into the heart of Ireland is the very same River Shannon.

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Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The earliest written record of  aqua vitae, or uisce beatha, or whiskey as we now know it – was written in the Annuls Of Clonmacnoise in 1405. It regales the story of an unfortunate local chieftain who died of a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’ during festivities.

Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to receive an advance bottle of Clonmacnoise by Sean’s for appraisal – & more sensible drinking.

Now I’m a fan of pubs releasing their own whiskey brands. It harks back to the days when licensed premises would have had a barrel of whiskey propped up at the bar from which they would have dispensed the spirits inside.

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Sean’s, Ireland’s Oldest Bar c/othewhiskeynut

The degree of individuality, diversity & tastes experienced when going from bar to bar would have been vast – and to a certain extent bars releasing their own brands today reflects that history.

Nowadays the whiskey is usually sourced from a number of distilleries and bottled for the bar.

Sean’s happens to have been sourced at West Cork Distillers (WCD) – and I must admit to being a fan of this slightly unconventional distillery founded by three friends who were mainly previously involved in the fishing industry.

So how did I find Clonmacnoise Whiskey?

Well the colour is a lovely dark amber. Suggestive of charred casks – which WCD do a lot of – or perhaps a sherry finish.

The nose is quite youthful & invigorating – with a warm & inviting depth to it. There’s some dark fruity notes & an intriguing soft hint of smoke.

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Sean’s Bar Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

It starts off light & easy. Very accessible & gently warming – but then it takes you on a journey – slowly developing layers of enjoyable flavours & complexity before a lovely dry spiciness with subtle hints of smoke finishes of this characterful little number.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise captures both the modern rebirth of Irish Whiskey with it’s youthful vitality & modern style – as well as remembering the long historic legacy of Irish Whiskey that has journeyed so far from it’s original birthplace.

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The Viking Ship on the mighty River Shannon at Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

You too can take that journey – by having a glass of Sean’s Clonmacnoise Whiskey in the Oldest Bar In Ireland – Guinness Book Of World Records certified – as well as journeying down river on the Viking Ship from Athlone to visit Clonmacnoise Monastery – home of the earliest written record of whiskey in the world.

Just go easy – don’t end up like the poor old chieftain!

Sláinte

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Drombeg Original, 22%, Liqueur

I’m slowly working my way through all the whiskeys available to buy in my local Dunnes store.

A bottle I’ve avoided up until now eventually made it into my basket.

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Drombeg front c/othewhiskeynut

Drombeg Original.

It was one of West Cork Distillers first offerings – and is a mainstay on the whiskey shelves at Dunnes.

Despite looking like a whiskey – golden brown in colour – at only 22% – clearly isn’t.

There is no mention of whiskey on the label either – so perhaps ‘spirit drink’ or ‘liqueur’ would be a more apt descriptor.

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Drombeg back c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is caramelly sweet – the label states added E150a – a bit of vanilla with a hint of woodiness too.

Initially watery – not a great deal going on  – a slight touch of heat towards the finish – some soft woody spice – but the sweetness dominates.

Rather empty.

The back label suggests a serving with ginger ale.

Probably a good idea.

Sláinte

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Slieve Foy 8 Year Old Single Malt, 40%

Supermarket Single Malts come in many varieties.

There can be the bargain basement headline grabbing Glen Marnochs & Ben Brackens.

There can be the annually anticipated Lidl/Aldi Xmas Specials which can be of high age statement, low cost and surprisingly great quality to boot.

And then there is Marks & Spencer’s Single Malt.

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M&S Supermarket Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

M&S always go the extra mile.

To begin with they name the distillery that produced the malt – Cooley – even although it’s not a legal requirement. They also inform the discerning drinker caramel colouring is added – also not a legal requirement. And they package the liquid in a very attractive bottle providing a piece of prose about the rich folk lore contained within the local area the whiskey is from – as well as a clever back label that evokes the mountainous landscape of the region.

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Slieve Foy & Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

And what a stunning region it is too.

Slieve Foy Whiskey is named after the majestic mountain of the same name that dominates the landscape of the Carlingford Peninsular. Despite Cooley Distillery not having a visitors centre – that is the role of the pretty Kilbeggan Distillery of the Beam/Suntory group that owns both facilities – a trip to this fabulous part of the country is highly recommended.

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Looking down on Carlingford Lough & Northern Ireland from Slieve Foy’s slopes c/othewhiskeynut

A hearty arduous ascent of Slieve Foy itself is rewarded by jaw dropping views of the clear blue waters of Carlingford Lough below – as well as the rounded tops of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland in the distance.

You can replenish your energy afterwards by dining out in one of Carlingford towns many bars – not forgetting a drop of the hard stuff!

So what is the whiskey like?

Well – unlike the rugged countryside – Slieve Foy exhibits a soft, sweet malty nose.

A gentle introduction to a very easy approachable – slips down smoothly – bourbon cask matured single malt.

It’s well balanced – the added caramel doesn’t dominate like other offerings – and there are no rough edges to this very pleasant malt.

The whiskey leaves a warm glow at the end – along with a soft spice – much like the open fire in a suitable Carlingford town bar after a strenuous day on the hills.

Cooley built it’s reputation and business producing 3rd party bottlings. Slieve Foy 8 Year Old is a fine representation of that business.

I look forward to many more representations emanating from the Great Northern Distillery – the successor to Cooley after the sale to Beam – as well as West Cork Distillers – who are both in the business of supplying the supermarkets with malt for the masses.

Long may it last.

Sláinte.

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Lambay Whiskey – A Taster – Small Batch Blend & Single Malt, 40%

Lambay Island

A small privately owned island off the East Coast of Ireland with a rich historical background and a thriving biodiversity.

Lambay Whiskey

A business venture by the current Lambay Island owners and French based drinks producer Camus to launch Ireland’s first Cognac cask finished Irish whiskeys.

Sean’s Bar Athlone

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Sean’s Bar Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

The Oldest Bar In Ireland. Also happens to be a local of mine where a tasting of the Lambay Whiskey range was held with their entertaining  & informative ambassador Calum.

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Lambay Small Batch Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Lambay Small Batch Blend

A small batch sourced blend – West Cork Distillers – of malt & grain Irish whiskeys triple distilled, matured in ex-bourbon barrels & finished in cognac casks.

I was looking forward to trying this one.

A lovely soft, sweet yet surprisingly fresh & lively grainy nose pulled you in to a fruity & floral mix complimented by some nutty, almondy notes – presumably from the cognac influence.

The taste was clean & crisp – very engaging. Even at the 40% presentation there was appreciable depth of flavour with more of those nutty notes slowly fading to give that lovely dry mouth feel I enjoy.

This small batch blend certainly introduces a new and exciting flavour profile to the Irish whiskey scene.

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Lambay Single Malt Story c/othewhiskeynut

Lambay Single Malt

Also sharing the same source and maturation as the small batch blend, the single malt spent a little while longer in the cognac casks. Some of them were even matured on Lambay Island itself in a small warehouse used for the cognac finishing.

A softer, more malty & rounded nose led to a very smooth vanilla & caramel taste from the ex-bourbon barrels before the deeper almost cherry fruit notes of the cognac casks came through.

The finish wasn’t as dry – which allowed more of the lovely flavours to linger on the palate.

Conclusion

Both of these new expressions bring a welcome additional taste & flavour to Irish whiskey. Cognac cask finishing is new to Ireland – and relatively new to the whiskey world in general. I congratulate Lambay Whiskey – and all their partners – in delivering a lovely pair of great tasting and exciting whiskeys to the market.

For what it’s worth – I enjoyed the youthful vitality of the blend over and above the smoother single malt. The grain element provided a pleasant kick which contrasted with the softer fruitier depth of the cognac cask influence. Very enjoyable indeed.

Sean’s Bar Whiskey Club

A friendly gathering of whiskey fans to meet, discuss & enjoy fine tasting whiskeys from around the world. For details of future events, membership & activities please email westmeathwhiskeyworld@eircom.net – or chat to a member of staff at Sean’s Bar, Athlone.

Sláinte.

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Great Oaks Irish Whiskey, Blend, 46%

As I write this Ireland is effectively in lockdown covered in a great blanket of snow from the #BeastFromTheEast & awaiting the blizzard of Storm Emma.

In response I’m sitting indoors enjoying a #WarmthFromTheWest whiskey by the name of Great Oaks.

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Great Oaks c/othewhiskeynut

This whiskey seems to be off the radar for most – which is a pity – as it’s the perfect antidote to keep Storm Emma at bay.

I’ve only come across it in Dunnes stores – yet it’s a product of West Cork Distillers.  The label isn’t particularly attractive. Rather plain & unassuming – but for me – it’s the contents that count.

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#WarmthFromTheWest c/othewhiskeynut

There’s a rich inviting nose of vanilla & caramel – with a hint of oakiness – the usual notes expected of bourbon cask maturation coupled with charred cask finishing.

In the mouth it’s soft, approachable, very bourbony and above all, lovely & warming. The oak influence adds a degree of spiciness too. Very nice.

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Detail c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely dry prickly finish rounds off this comforting little blend.

Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered, no age statement & possibly without added caramel. I’d suggest this was all West Cork’s distillate. It has the same DNA as their Black Cask bottling which at only 40% doesn’t pack as much flavour or heat.

With snow all around – heat is exactly what I’m looking for and Great Oaks certainly delivers that in a delightfully enjoyable way.

Keep yourself warm with a bottle from the West!

Sláinte.

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Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey, 40%

Every now and then a TV show comes along which just seems to capture the imagination.

Peaky Blinder on BBC 2 has certainly done that.

With a growing fanbase worldwide and racking up big viewing figures, the show is now available on Netflix.

There’s a strong Irish link in the story line, Irish actors pepper the cast and a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ crew are Irish too.

So it’s entirely fitting an enterprising company would release a trio of spirits – gin, rum and whiskey – on the back of the show – and that the whiskey in question is Irish Whiskey.

I couldn’t wait to get hold of a bottle!

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Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Now there has been some controversy over the term ‘Product Of The British Isles’ printed on the label – which incidentally is common to both the gin & rum too.

As a geographical term – technically it’s correct. Ireland is part of the British Isles. But the term has geo-political implications which you can read about here from Wikipedia.

Such disputes would not have deterred gang leader Tommy Shelby from plying his trade – and nor will it stop my pastime of drinking whiskey.

So? Is it any good?

Well. To start off with. It looks like some of the aforementioned Mr Shelby’s victims have been allowed to bleed all over the mixing barrel. The colour is a deep ruby red which even allowing for ‘Aged In Sherry Casks’ seems a bit dark. Much like a lot of the excellent music featured in the show.

The nose follows on in this theme with rich sweet & dark notes with a bit of depth. I’m suspecting Oloroso or PX casks were used to get the very inviting aromas here,

The taste is – well – WOW!

I wasn’t expecting this from a reasonably priced blend,

Now it does start off rather softly – just like Mr Shelby sweet talking to you. The gentle sweetness & warmth guiles you in.

Then POW!

A gorgeous hit of rich, dry prickliness envelopes the mouth with soft spice & tangy fruits.

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Don’t mess with the Peaky Blinders c/otheinternet

Like a blow from Tommy – you are left reeling from the experience as the dry sensation slowly fades.

This is very nice.

So who is behind the blend?

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Sadler’s c/othewhiskeynut

Sadler’s are a brewery based in the West Midlands of the UK. They obtained the whiskey from Halewood International who are a marketing & distribution company with worldwide reach based in Liverpool. Halewood previously released The Pogues Irish Whiskey – to much acclaim – which was produced for them by West Cork Distillers in Skibbereen.

Draw your own conclusions.

I’ve drawn mine.

From the Peaky Blinders gang – this is a belter of a blend!

Sláinte.

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Update August 2019!

Peaky Blinders Irish Whiskey label now states ‘Product Of Ireland’.

 

 

Peaky Blinder Ireland
Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey – Product Of Ireland c/othewhiskyexchange    

AND a Peaky Blinders Bar has opened in Monaghan!

Press the link here.

The Ship Tavern, Anstruther, Scotland.

When over in Scotland earlier this year I popped into a few bars to see what whiskies were on offer.

The very attractive Ship Tavern – which appropriately sits only a stones throw from the picturesque harbour in the fishing village of Anstruther on the East Neuk of Fife – didn’t disappoint.

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Ship Tavern whiskey selections c/othewhiskeynut

A pleasing variety of Scottish blends & single malts adorned the shelves – as well as a sprinkling of Irish blends,

Being in Fife – which has a few new distilleries waiting for their own spirit to mature – I was keen to sample a sourced blend for the local Eden Mill distillery near St Andrews.

And being in Scotland – you have to have a bit of tartan!

The Art Of The Blend is a trio – a 4th bottle was released later – of very attractively presented blended Scottish whiskies from unnamed sources that Eden Mill are using to showcase & practice their maturing and blending skills on.

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Art Of The Blend c/othewhiskeynut

No 1 is a bourbon cask matured blend of malts & grain. It didn’t really do much for me. A fairly soft, sweet standard entry level offering with subtle tones. Approachable I suppose.

No 2 was far more entertaining. Mainly as smoke had been introduced with the use of ex-Ardbeg casks in it’s maturation. This raised the whole character of the blend with distinctive peaty notes I enjoy very much that balanced the sweeter tones.

No 3 offered an even more powerful peat influence and was the most attractive – at least on paper – expression I was keen to taste. Clearly this corresponded with many other whiskey drinkers  thoughts as the bartender informed me the bottle they did have sold out almost immediately!

Whilst chatting – I asked how the Irish whiskey was going down.

Now there were only 3 offerings on the shelf from the Emerald Isle – the ubiquitous Jameson Original – which effectively is the brand on which the entire rise of the modern Irish whiskey revival started with – The Pogues Irish Whiskey by up and coming West Cork Distillers in partnership with Halewood Wine & Spirits and West Cork’s Bourbon Cask.

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The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

‘Och The Pogues is a great wee dram, canny get enough o’ the stuff.’

If that’s not a testament to the resounding success of the new breed of Irish whiskey companies, blenders, bottlers & distilleries – I don’t know what is.

Sláinte.

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Whiskey Live Dublin, 2017

Whiskey Live Dublin continues to grow every year. Not only in numbers attending this marvelous showcase of Irish Whiskey – but also the amount of exhibitors on display.

There are masterclasses held throughout the course of the day which provide access to the distillers, whiskey ambassadors, blenders & bottlers who are driving the current growth in Irish Whiskey. It was to one of those classes that I started my visit to this years show.

Alex Chasko – master distiller with Teeling Whiskey Co. – regaled us with the story behind the current Brabazon series of whiskeys – as well as introducing us to some choice single cask samples.

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Brabazon tasting time c/othewhiskeynut

I was particularly taken by the 2001 Port Single Cask – especially in the newly released Tuath Irish Whiskey glass which was provided to visitors at the event.

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Teeling & Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

After this highly enjoyable introduction – I joined the crowds in the main hall as I tried to sample my ‘hit list’ of whiskeys I’d either missed out on during the year – or were new releases appearing at the show for the first time.

The Glengarriff series from West Cork Distillers were on my list.

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Glorious Glengarrif whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I was highly impressed by the Peat Charred Cask single malt. The influence of the peat was clearly evident on both the nose and taste – yet there was a lovely earthy savouriness element to the expression too. Beautiful!

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Dunvilles Three Crowns Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Talking about peat – Echlinville had their Three Crowns Peated on display – very appealing to my tastes. But what surprised me was their yet to be released peated poitin – Bán Barreled & Buried at 47.2% – now that’s a tasty innovation.

Now I’d heard Kilbeggan were showcasing some of their ‘experimental’ casks – as well as the current range of freshly re-branded (and even re-recipied in some cases) favourites too – so naturally I was excited by a 6 year old Rye Pot Still!

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When will this stunner be released? c/othewhiskeynut

Rich rye on the nose & taste followed with some creamy smoothness. Stunning!

Peter Mulryan’s Blackwater Distillery – which is currently under construction in Co. Waterford – chose to reveal their Retronaut 17 year old single malt at the show – a must try.

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Retronaut Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

I can confirm the whiskey is every bit as bold & brassy as the elegantly designed label on the very attractive bottle.

At this stage in the proceedings – with a few samples onboard – chatting away with fellow attendees & stall holders began to divert me away from my ‘hit list’ as I was tempted into trying some surprising expressions.

Cork Whiskey Society had assembled a fine display of whiskeys from times gone by.

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A bevy of beauties! c/othewhiskeynut

The Bushmills 5 year old single malt took my fancy and a sample was procured. Was it just me or did this bottle taste more bold & robust in flavour than some current releases?

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A tasty blend c/othewhiskeynut

The Irish Whiskey Society’s excellent private bottling range continued to impress with a delightful blended offering sourced from the Teeling Whiskey Company.

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A Single Cask Powers c/othewhiskeynut

The Powers range of single cask releases surprised me with the fine creamy single pot still character on this Celtic Whiskey Shop‘s 16 year old exclusive. I did miss the signature spice kick though.

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Powerful bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

I also couldn’t resist a powerful Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel Bourbon at 65.4% – my sole American sample at the show.

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Campbeltown’s Longrow Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Longrow‘s  Peated Single Malt didn’t disappoint either – being my only Scottish dram on the day.

Apologies to all those I didn’t get round to sample, visit or even chat to – there is simply too much to cover in one session – which is part of the fun.

There were a few that got away – but the one I missed the most was the return of the indulgent donuts on the Dublin Liberties Whiskey stall!

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Donuts! c/o@AlanWhiskey

Sláinte.

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