It always intrigued me that the gender mix at Whiskey Live Dublin was predominately male, yet that of Gin Live – organised by the same folks, often with exhibition stalls from the same distilleries & staffed by the same people – is overwhelmingly female.
Well Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara can unsolve that mystery.
A thoroughly researched book, packed with information presented in an entertainingly readable style tells the tale of how females have been systematically excluded from the drinking scene for centuries.
This results in genderised drinks whereby whiskey = male & gin = female – as played out in my Dublin experiences.
Things are changing for the better however.
But consider the first female Master Blender of any sprits category was as late as 1997 with the appointment of Joy Spence at Appleton Estate Rum Distillery in Jamaica.
There is still a long way to go.
A compulsory text for anyone serious about the gender divide in alcohol.
W.D. O’Connell are part of the next generation of Irish Whiskey brands/bottlers/bonders and distillers that have exploded onto the scene.
Labelling themselves as ‘Whiskey Merchants’, W.D. O’Connell source their spirit from existing distilleries – and have it finished to their own requirements.
Showcased for the first time at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019– where I had a quick sample – as well as a tweet tasting I missed – I did get a couple of sample bottles for my tasting pleasure.
Bill Phil, Peated Series, 47.5%
Peat – or turf in Ireland – is a flavour profile that has been absent in Irish Whiskey for too long. It’s a style I enjoy & I celebrate with open arms any newcomer’s reinterpretation of this distinctive character.
That lovely warm smokiness just captivated me straight away. Clear, crisp & slightly meaty. A joy to behold.
Delightfully young & fresh on the palate. The ashy peat smoke develops into an all embracing toastiness that wraps you heartily like a turf fueled fire.
A frisson of nutmegy spice dances merrily on the finish.
A stunner of a malt.
17 Year Old PX Series, 46%
A much more ‘traditional’ Irish style.
Cooley malt matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in Pedro Ximenez barrels for 6 months.
A dark cherry sweetness on the nose.
Lucious fruitiness on the palate – more stone fruits than orchard apples – with a gentle spiciness to enliven the whiskey – finished off by a softly drying prickliness.
Classic stuff indeed – and very well done.
Without a doubt – Bill Phil.
It’s young, it’s fresh, it’s exciting.
It marks the welcome return of peat to the Irish Whiskey cannon.
W.D. O’Connell sourced this one from the Great Northern Distillery. Hopefully it will be the first of many interpretations using peated malt from this distillery.
What would make it even more outstanding was if Irish turf was used to dry the barley.
There are now 16 working distilleries that have matured stocks of spirit old enough to be called whiskey.
All of them contributed to create this special limited edition 21C blend unveiled at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019.
Luckily I managed a taster.
A fabulously rich & complex nose. Full bodied on the palate. A long lasting satisfying finish.
From my recollections of 21C 1st Edition – blog here – this was a vast improvement. Perhaps reflecting the growing maturity of Irish Whiskey in general – a better blend of ingredients – older stocks added – or a combination of all factors.
Whatever – it made a great whiskey.
The new additional distilleries to have matured whiskey are below – taken in left to right, top to bottom order as printed on the back label.
Shortcross Distillery have yet to release their 1st whiskey – a single pot still by all accounts – but have built up a strong following with their Shortcross Gins.
Connacht Distillery are also waiting for their own whiskey to age further before release. In the meantime they have some tasty & innovative sourced whiskey under the Spade & Bushel, Ballyhoo & Brothership labels.
Waterford Distillery are following the above 2 in waiting for their own stock to age before committing to market. Unlike the others – they have not sourced any whiskey prior to that release.
Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow have not released their own whiskey. Previously called Walsh Distillery – a split with the 2 companies involved means Irishman & Writer’s Tears will remain as sourced brands.
In addition to last years 21C – some distilleries have recently entered the market with their own stock.
As it’s National Bourbon Day I thought I’d celebrate by cracking open a bottle that’s been sitting in my cupboard for some time.
When I first bought this bourbon I knew nothing about it.
My original impression was that as it has a large 8 emblazoned on the label it must be a step up from the 7 on a bottle of Jack?
And on eventually getting round to a tasting – it certainly did satisfy my palate more.
A lovely golden hue complete with decent legs graced the Túath glass on a pour. Being a ‘straight‘ bourbon guarantees no added caramel in the mix.
Soft and gentle on the palate to begin with, the flavours & heat slowly grew in intensity giving a good showing of vanillas & sweet caramel mixed with darker hints of tobacco and a lovely growing spice towards the end.
For me the finish was the best bit.
The spiciness – suggestive of a decent rye percentage in the mashbill – slowly dried out leaving a gentle prickliness in the mouth – which I enjoy.
Being an entry level bourbon – Benchmark is appropriately named as it does provide an exceedingly pleasing drinking experience from which other bourbons can be compared.
Only after I purchased this bottle did I find out it’s part of the Buffalo Trace portfolio from Kentucky.
Interestingly it shares the same mashbill as Buffalo Trace itself – along with the more aged Eagle Rare & George T Stagg offerings!
The only differences are the time spent in the barrel – they are all virgin american oak remember with the same char level – and which part of the rickhouse they were stored in during maturity.
Having tasted the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2017 release at Whiskey Live Dublin – it would be folly to compare the 2 bourbons – but you can appreciate the solid foundations of the young Benchmark that with added maturity grew into the stunning Eagle Rare 17.
But then my local O’Briens only stocked Benchmark!
The choice of which dressing to adorn your meal with to spice it up a little wouldn’t normally feature in a whiskey blog.
But then this is no ordinary ketchup.
Fitzpatrick’s Homemade Ketchup is the first – at least to my knowledge – to be infused with ‘just a splash of Irish Poitín’ in it’s ingredients.
I just had to try it out!
It’s available locally near it’s Cavan based homeland – and at Fallon & Byrne in Dublin – where I picked up a bottle before attending the wonderful Whiskey Live Dublin 2018 show.
I added a generous serving to my fish ‘n’ chips recently – well – it was a Friday – and it certainly made a welcome step up from my normal everyday condiment.
It’s more of a relish than a red sauce.
There are small chunks of tomatoes, onions & sultanas in the mix – which adds texture – together with a gentle sweetness – and a spicy tanginess – giving a welcome zest & flavour to my meal.
Quite what the ‘splash of Irish Poitín’ added to the well balanced mix I’m not sure – but there was a wholesome earthiness to the experience – and at only 1.5% content – it’s hardly going to intoxicate you.
A lovely tasty addition to the condiment canon!
I’ve certainly enjoyed splashing it all over my meals in recent weeks!