Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2022

Redbreast 12 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

If you’re a fan of Irish whiskey, chances are you’ve heard of Redbreast. If that’s not a familiar name, no worries, I’ll tell you all about it.


Redbreast is made at the Midleton Distillery, Ireland’s most extensive. It is home to other famous brands, including Jameson, Powers, Spot, and Midleton. The Redbreast brand was created in 1912 by Gibley’s Wines & Spirits Import Company, marketing JJ Liqueur Whiskey (Jameson). Gibley’s chairman was an avid bird watcher and chose a red-breasted robin as the mascot. Thus, Redbreast was born.


“For more than a century, Redbreast has stayed true to the Irish Pot Still whiskey-making tradition. Today it is considered to be the definitive expression of this quintessential style of Irish whiskey making - a living legacy. Single Pot Still Whiskey has been safeguarded and nurtured under the watchful eye of the Midleton Distillery for almost two hundred years. And Redbreast is proudly considered the definitive expression of this Single Pot Still art.” - Redbreast


So, what does Single Pot Still mean? I’ll break that down for you in easy terms.  First, let’s look at Irish whiskey. It must be a product of Ireland and aged at least three years. There are additional rules, but we’ll skip those. Next is Pot Still, a mix of malted and unmalted barley distilled in a pot still (versus a Coffey still). Then comes the Single part. That means it comes from a single distillery in most countries, and Ireland is no exception. Add them all together, and you get Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.


Today I’m exploring Redbreast 12.  It starts with a 50%-50% mash of malted and unmalted barley. It is triple-distilled in copper pot stills and then aged at least a dozen years in former Oloroso sherry butts. Redbreast 12 is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $60 or so for a 750ml package. For the record, Redbreast also offers a cask-strength version of it, but that’s not on today’s agenda.


And, that’s all the background you need, so let’s #DrinkCurious and get to the important stuff.


Appearance:  Drank neat from my Glencairn glass, Redbreast 12 was brassy and formed a thicker rim. It created husky legs that crawled down the wall and into the pool.


Nose:  Sweet aromas of malt, vanilla, apricot, peach, and freshly-cut grass joined with spicy notes of cinnamon and toasted oak. When I breathed in through my mouth, the grass and cinnamon remained.


Palate:  A luxurious, silky texture greeted my tongue. On the front, I tasted vanilla, almond, and honey. The middle featured apricot, raisin, and green grape. A spicy back consisted of cinnamon and dry oak and tapered with cocoa powder.


Finish: Cocoa powder, toasted almond, green grape, oak, and cinnamon remained for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Redbreast 12 is what Irish whiskey should strive to be. I’ve been a fan for several years. Redbreast is (pardon the word) smooth, flavorful, and just satisfies your desires for a great whiskey. I don’t know what else to say. It is one of the easiest Bottle ratings I’ve given. Just buy it. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, April 25, 2022

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


My history with Teeling Whiskey goes back almost seven years. I was the Whiskey Consultant for Vom Fass’s flagship store in Madison, Wisconsin, and there were several independent bottlings of Teeling whiskeys available. One of them, called Against the Grain, was my secret weapon whenever someone came into the store and suggested they didn’t care for whiskey at all. I’d pour them a sample, and it was a game-changer more often than not.


Since moving on from Vom Fass, I’ve not had much opportunity to try Teeling’s whiskeys. I’ve seen them on the shelves, but I’d always explore something else. I came across a triple pack of 50ml Teeling’s Single Malt, Single Grain, and Small Batch whiskeys one day, and it would be my opportunity to try all three.


If you’re not familiar with the Teeling family, you should be. Go back a few generations to Walter Teeling, who started the journey back in 1792 in Dublin. There is a suggestion that the Teelings have been involved ever since. In 1987, John Teeling purchased a formerly-state run industrial alcohol facility, installed a couple of stills, and then became the Cooley Distillery.  Cooley wasn’t any distillery; it was winning accolades for what it produced. It became so much so that in 2011, Beam Suntory bought it.


And that may have been the end of Teeling, except it wasn’t. John’s sons, Stephen and Jack, teamed with their first employee, Alex Chasko (its Master Distiller and Blender), and opened the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in 2015, the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years. Because of that, combined with laws governing Irish whiskey, anything with the Teeling label before 2018 is sourced (from Cooley, Old Bushmills, etc.).


Today’s review is of its Single Grain release. While we’re in 2022, the Trinity Pack I purchased was from 2019. I believe this whiskey is still a Cooley product and the labels state it is crafted and bottled by Teeling (rather than distilled).


The Single Grain starts with a mash of 95% corn and 5% malted barley. If that has you scratching your head, recall that single refers to the distillery, not the actual grain content. Single malt or single grain whiskey comes from a single distillery, whereas a blend is from several. It carries no age statement, but it is aged between five and six years. It spent time in former Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon French Oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to spend $45.00 or so on a 750ml bottle.


How does the Single Grain fare? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, this single grain whiskey presented as deep orange. It formed a medium-weighted rim that released wide, slow legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: Before I even picked up the glass, a waft of butterscotch was easy to find. Once I brought it close to my face, I found plum jam, vanilla, French oak, and sawdust. The last note was curious because, in my experience, it suggests smaller cooperage, which isn’t the case here. As I drew that air past my lips, oak and toasted pineapple rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The first sip seemed thin, but that texture thickened quickly, making it full-bodied and creamy. Coconut and Werther’s candy came out in a big way on the front. Next, I tasted date, pear, and cranberry. The back featured oak, caramel, and toffee.


Finish:  The French oak woke up on the finish and kept building. At its crescendo, cinnamon spice and toffee toned it. The finish was long and very dry, almost giving me the pucker power that one should expect from Cabernet Sauvignon casks.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I went into this review wanting to like the Teeling Single Grain. The independent bottlings of its Single Grain from the Cooley Distillery were lovely. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience with their branded one. I’m not suggesting this is bad because it isn’t. It just lacks anything remarkable to give a wow factor. I do appreciate its 46% ABV versus the 40% that so many Irish whiskeys have, but that in and upon itself doesn’t push it over the edge. For the price, I would recommend trying this one at a Bar before committing to the entire bottle. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Quiet Man 8-Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Beannachta√≠ na F√©ile Padraig Ort! The traditional Irish blessing translates as “Blessings of Patrick’s Festival Upon You.”  Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I can find no better way to commemorate it than to review a new-to-me Irish whiskey.


Before I get there, though, what exactly is Irish whiskey? First and foremost, it must be a complete product of Ireland, distilled from a mash of malted cereals with or without unmalted grains. It must be fermented with yeast and distilled at less than 94.8% ABV. Here’s a tricky part: when distilled, it must have an aroma and taste of the representative grains, with no additives other than water and caramel coloring. It must age at least three years in 700 or fewer liter oak containers.


Beyond those requirements, Irish whiskey falls under four categories: single pot still, single malt, single grain, and blended.


The Quiet Man is a venture of US-based Luxco and Niche Drinks of County Derby in Northern Ireland. The whiskey enjoyed distribution throughout Europe before making its US debut in 2016. There were talks of building a distillery in County Derry, but those fell by the wayside in 2018. Regardless, the brand is going strong today, but the actual distiller remains undisclosed.


“Now that I am making my own whiskey, I am naming it after my father. As a bartender, he saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories, but like all good bartenders, he was true to his code and told no tales. My father, John Mulgrew, ‘The Quiet Man’, or as they say in Ireland ‘An Fear Ciuin.’”Ciaran Mulgrew, founder of The Quiet Man


The Quiet Man is available in two versions: a blended Irish whiskey and an 8-year Irish single malt. I’m sipping on the latter. Like most Irish whiskey, it is triple-distilled in copper pot stills from a 100% malted barley mash. It is then aged in first-fill former Bourbon barrels for at least eight years and bottled at 40% ABV (80°) with a retail price between $42.99 and $49.99.


Before I go further, I’d like to thank Luxco for sending me a sample of The Quiet Man in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and learn what this whiskey is all about.


Appearance: Sipped neat in a Glencairn glass, The Quiet Man was brilliant gold. It formed a bold rim with husky, fast legs that crashed back to the pool of whiskey.


Nose: A floral fragrance accompanied by caramel, honey, citrus, and lightly-toasted oak. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, citrus and vanilla tangoed across my tongue.


Palate:  A full-bodied, somewhat creamy mouthfeel greeted my palate. The front featured banana, apricot, apple, and vanilla, while the middle offered nutmeg and orange zest. Clove, cinnamon, coffee, and oak comprised the back.


Finish:  Flavors of oak spice, coffee, and clove were joined by apricot and orange zest. The finish was long and lingering, and I was admittedly taken aback that something at 40% ABV could make my hard palate tingle.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  An eight-year Irish single malt whiskey for $42.99 sounds like a heck of a deal if it is enjoyable. The Quiet Man may tell no secrets, but the whiskey named for him is full of flavor and character. I savored it, and I believe you will, too. The Quiet Man 8-Year Single Malt has earned every bit of my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Monday, January 31, 2022

Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Irish whiskey is a lovely category. It was once the most popular spirit in the world. Trade wars, taxation, malpractice, war, and, of course, Prohibition in the United States nearly killed it off. There were only three working distilleries in Ireland at its low point, but Ireland has been enjoying a resurgence in distilling over the last several years.


Irish whiskey is defined as a whiskey distilled in Ireland from a mash of malted cereal grains, which can be combined with other cereal grains. It must age in wooden casks no larger than 700 liters for at least three years in the country. The only additives allowed are water and caramel coloring and must retain the color, aroma, and flavor of this process.


One of the four types of Irish whiskey is called single grain. That term can be confusing. As is in the case of Scotland, the term single refers to one distillery used in the distillation process. As such, you’re not looking at a single grain containing only one type of grain. Instead, it can have multiple grains and still be called single grain.


Today we’ll explore a single grain from Glendalough Distillery called Double Barrel Whiskey. The exact distillery is undisclosed, but the mash is made from corn and malted barley. The double barrel part refers to the aging process. The whiskey spent at least three years in ex-Bourbon barrels from Wild Turkey then spent another six or so months finished in former 700-liter Oloroso sherry butts.


Once that process is complete, spring water from the Wicklow Mountains was used to proof it to 42% ABV (84°), and there are no statements regarding chill-filtering or added color. Due to the proof, the assumption would be that it is chill-filtered. You can expect to pay about $35.00 for a 750ml package.


Before I get started on the tasting notes, I want to thank Glendalough for providing me a sample of Double Barrel Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, I’ll #DrinkCurious to learn more…


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Double Barrel Whiskey was the color of deep gold. A medium-thick rim formed that created wide, fast legs.


Nose:  I was taken aback by how complex the nose was, made of apple, nuts, honey, date, toasted oak, and then, behind all that, was a floral bouquet you might expect from rye. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, a wave of honey and vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The texture was light-bodied but creamy. Brown sugar, apple, and pear were on the front. The middle consisted of vanilla, honey, and toasted nuts. Then, I tasted cocoa powder, roasted coffee, cinnamon, and dry oak on the back.


Finish:  Medium in length, the first note I discovered was smoke. Where did that come from? Cinnamon, oak, vanilla, and toasted nuts followed.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I honed in on that smoky finish. There were no hints on either the nose or palate that it was coming. Did it come from the sherry butts or the Bourbon barrels, or was it just dumb luck? I appreciated how much Double Barrel Whiskey kept me guessing. Frankly, I think this is genius, especially for the price. I can’t think of a single reason why this shouldn’t have it, so I’m crowning it with my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Glendalough, which means “The Glen of Two Lakes,” is named after a scenic area in County Wicklow at the base of the Wicklow Mountains. Wicklow is considered “the garden of Ireland” and is located just south of Dublin. Back in the 6th century, a monk named Saint Kevin founded a monastery in the area, and some believe that his monastery was one of the pioneers of distilling spirits.


The Glendalough Distillery sources its water from those mountain springs. Established in 2011, friends Barry Gallagher and Brian Fagan quit their big-city careers and followed their dreams to distill.  They started with poitin, which is a precursor to whiskey. In keeping with Irish law, it is made in a small copper pot from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses, or potatoes. From there, the distillery moved to whiskey and gin. Mark Anthony Brands purchased the distillery in 2019.


“The idea behind Glendalough Distillery is to make innovative spirits while staying true to the tradition and heritage of our ancestors.” – Glendalough Distillery


Today I’m sipping on Glenalough’s Pot Still Irish Whiskey. It begins with an unusual 2:1 ratio of unmalted barley to malted that’s been triple-distilled and non-chill filtered. It matured three years in former Bourbon barrels, then spent up to a year resting in Irish oak casks.


Here’s where things get a bit more exciting. A virgin Irish oak cask is very rare. The wood is harvested from 140+-year-old trees surrounding the distillery, then sent off to Spain to be coopered. If you have a bottle of this whiskey, the label will tell you the very tree the barrel came from!


Bottled at 43% ABV (86°), a 750ml package can be acquired for around $54.99. I was provided a sample by Glendalough in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review, and I thank them for the opportunity. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: Glendalough appeared brassy and formed a medium rim on my trusty Glencairn glass. There was a combination of thick, fast legs and sticky, tiny droplets left behind when it released.


Nose:  A relatively strong aroma of malted barley greeted my nostrils. Hidden beneath were nectarine, grass, apple, vanilla, and toasted oak. As I drew the air past my lips, malt continued. I have to admit I was curious why the malt notes were so strong when only a third of the barley was malted.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy with a medium body. On the front, I tasted coconut, apple, and caramel. The middle offered dried dark fruit, muddled orange, and malt. The back was oak, ginger, clove, and pine (not to be confused with juniper).


Finish:  Ginger, clove, and oak tannins remained, along with barley and coconut. I have no idea what portion of that (aside from the oak) belongs to the virgin Irish barrels. Medium in duration, it strangely left a buzz on my hard palate. Remember, this is only 43% ABV; it shouldn’t do that.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’ve been sampling some off-profile Irish whiskeys for the last year or so. Glendalough Pot Still falls into that category. I appreciate the bonus of the virgin Irish oak and the opportunity to taste something aged in it. The whole 2:1 ratio of unmalted to malted barley works, although to be fair, there shouldn’t be a significant difference in taste between the two. However, the dominance of the malt on both the nose and palate was unexpected. I believe this Irish whiskey is enjoyable and reasonably priced, and as such, it takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Claddagh Imported Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


One of the things I appreciate about any whiskey brand is its transparency. One thing that frustrates me is when a brand offers more marketing terminology than facts. There’s a difference between holding information close to one’s vest and obfuscation.  


For example, the term single oak cask would imply to a layperson that it is a single barrel whiskey. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. A single oak cask simply means that the final stage of the aging process was conducted in a single oak cask, and that last process could have been anywhere from a few moments to several years. The majority of aging could have been from multiple barrels of multiple types of whiskeys for an indeterminate time. It is like the term small batch; it carries no legal definition and, as such, is essentially meaningless.


Claddagh Imported Irish Whiskey falls under that single oak cask category. It comes from The Last 3 Feet Company, LLC. Much information is left to conjecture. Here’s what we know: It is non-chill filtered, a blended Irish whiskey that carries no age statement, and 46% ABV (92°). We can discern that while it has no age statement, it must, by Irish law, be at least three years old. The suggested retail price is $34.99. I did manage to pick up my 750ml for half the price at a Black Friday sale in Chicagoland.


“It is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The hands in the ring design represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century. Claddagh Irish Whiskey celebrates these lovely sentiments.” – The Last Three Feet Company


What don’t we know? The distiller, the contents of the blend, or what type of cooperage was used (aside from “oak”). A casual Internet search doesn’t even tell much of its parent company aside from launching this whiskey in 2016.


We need to know if Claddagh Imported Irish Whiskey is any good, and the way we do that is to #DrinkCurious. I’ll get to that right now.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Claddagh had a beautiful deep, orange amber color to it. There’s no mention of e150a, so it is difficult to determine if this is naturally colored or not. It created a medium-thick rim that yielded heavy tears that ran back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Sweet and fruity, aromas of caramel, vanilla, raw honey, and orange blossom tantalized my olfactory sense. When I pulled the air into my mouth, pure vanilla ran across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick, creamy, and full-bodied. I tasted vanilla and caramel-coated apple on the front. As it slipped to the middle, honey was joined by lemon zest and bold grapefruit. The back brought an encore of vanilla which was accompanied by oak and clove.


Finish:  For what seemed to be many minutes, the finish was spicy with oak and white pepper and sweet with vanilla and apple. I also experienced a chalky quality.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’m generally a fan of Irish whiskey, and Claddagh holds my opinion intact. This was certainly different from many Irish whiskeys I’ve had with its spiciness, but in other ways, it fits very well with the sweet and fruity aspects. It would be nice to know who did the actual distilling. While there is only a handful of working distilleries in Ireland, I can’t nail it down. I also wish there was less marketing lingo and more transparency, but that doesn’t affect my rating at the end of the day. This was proofed right and appropriately aged, and even at total retail price, I’d repurchase this one in a heartbeat. A Bottle rating for sure. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, October 8, 2021

Blue Spot Cask Strength Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


In 1803, William Mitchell declared that all of the firstborn Mitchell sons would be named Robert to honor the memory of his close friend, Robert Emmet. Many generations later, that demand has been honored to the present day. His bakery, Mitchell & Son, slowly expanded into other fields, such as importing wines from mainland Europe. Then, in 1887, it delved into bonding whiskeys. With a plethora of wine casks on hand, Mitchell & Son gained a reputation for taking Jameson distillate and aging it in fortified wine casks. It referred to this product as Spot Whiskey. His warehouse was a cellar, located beneath the streets of Dublin.

"When their fortified wine casks were filled exclusively with Jameson spirit from the old Bow St. Distillery, they were marked with a daub or ‘spot’ of paint which identified how long the barrels would be matured for. Blue for 7 years, Green for 10 years, Yellow for 12 years and Red for 15 years—hence the name Spot Whiskey." - Spot Whiskey

Blue Spot is the only one bottled at cask strength. It is a Single Pot Still Whiskey which means the mash is made from both malted and unmalted barley. To get into even more detail, any Single Pot Still Whiskey must contain both a minimum of 30% malted and 30% unmalted barley. Then, up to 5% of other cereal grains can be used. It must be distilled in a pot still, and Blue Spot was triple-distilled, which is the most common means of distilling Irish whiskey (the other option is double-distilled).  The single part of the category means that all the malt comes from a single distillery. 

The distillate was then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, ex-sherry butts, and ex-Portuguese Madiera casks. Spot Whiskeys are non-chill filtered. Blue Spot weighs in at a hefty 58.7% ABV (117.4°) and was distilled at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork. You can expect to pay right around $100.00, I picked mine up for $105.00. One last note, 2021 is the first time since 1964 that Blue Spot has been available for mass consumption. 

I've given you a lot of background, but now it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Blue Spot was the color of brass. It left a medium rim on the wall and fast, medium legs that crashed back into the pool. 

Nose: The smell of fruits was simply delicious. Blueberry is my favorite fruit. Guess what? The explosion of blueberries into my olfactory sense was welcomed. Pineapple, banana, and citrus shined through. I also experienced a thick maltiness. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, I got more fruit - this time, apple. 

Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and oily. It coated every nook and cranny of my mouth. Nutmeg, almond, cinnamon, and dark chocolate started things off. The middle offered orange, vanilla, raisin, and honey. On the back, I tasted caramel, oak, black pepper, and red wine.

Finish:  Thick, rich, caramel flavor dominated. Dark chocolate and leather were next, and the end was spicy with clove and black pepper. It was long-lasting and warming, but not anything that could be described as burn.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is one dangerous whiskey. At no point did I recognize the proof. But, it sure recognized me. It came at me like a wave, I could feel the flush in my head. Despite that, I enjoyed every iota of Blue Spot. Is it worth $100.00? Yeah, it is. It also earned my Bottle rating, and if there was something higher, it would take that, too. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Dubliner Irish Whiskey with Honeycomb Liqueur Review & Tasting Notes


There are days where it is hot, you're tired, and you just want something refreshing to sip on. It was the first such day in Wisconsin for 2021, Mrs. Whiskefellow and I did yard work, and we were both pooped. I didn't want a full-blown whiskey, it was just not the right day (weird, right?). But, I was hurting, I wanted to relax, and I was hoping for a little treat.

That added up to the perfect opportunity to crack open a bottle of Dubliner Irish Whiskey with Honeycomb Liqueur.  Legally speaking, this isn't a whiskey. It is below the 40% ABV (80°). While there's no age statement, because it is a liqueur, it doesn't have to meet Irish whiskey standards. It also has, if I had to guess, way beyond the allowable limit of E150A caramel coloring for Irish whiskey. What's the allowable limit? That's a fair question. An amount or percentage isn't specified, but the rule is that it can only affect color and not the flavor. 

Produced by The Dublin Liberties Distillery, and packaged at 30% ABV, you can expect to pay about $20.99 for a 750ml bottle. There is no indication of what the various percentages are of each ingredient (whiskey, honeycomb liqueur, and caramel coloring), and I'm not entirely sure it matters.

Before I get started with the review, I'd like to thank The Dublin Liberties for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Dubliner presented as the color of a new, copper penny. Now, keep in mind, there is caramel coloring added. A heavy, sticky rim was formed, which yielded watery legs that fell back to the pool.

Nose:  An explosion of butterscotch walloped me in the face before I even attempted to take a sniff. Once I managed past it, smells of saltwater taffy, chocolate, and orange candy slices permeated my nostrils. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, that butterscotch bomb returned.

Palate:  I expected this to be sugary-sweet, but instead I was greeted by a soft, airy mouthfeel that offered just a hint of warmth to remind me this was still whiskey-based. Butterscotch discs and pecan started things off, which gave way to caramel and white chocolate on the middle. The back featured honey and cinnamon.

Finish:  Sweet with honey, pecan, and white chocolate, the dusting of cinnamon at the end seemed near-perfect. It was a longer finish than I anticipated, especially considering the 60°.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cutting to the chase, I loved it. So did Mrs. Whiskeyfellow. The nose sucks you in, the palate convinces you, and the finish just makes you smile. Would this make a great cocktail base? Probably. Am I making a cocktail with it? Not likely, because I don't see the point of going beyond a neat pour. This is delightfully sweet, but not overpowering, and perfect for a hot summer's day. In fact, I'd declare this one of those dangerous drinks, one you can drink several pours before things sneak up on you. With or without the low price, it a very easy Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Friday, April 23, 2021

Dubliner Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Long ago and not so far away, Irish whiskey used to be the #1-selling spirit in the world. But, as luck would have it, that faltered. Mismanagement, tariffs and trade wars, and Prohibition all took their respective tolls, and in relatively quick fashion, the Irish whiskey market was decimated and close to death, with only three distilleries remaining.

Fast forward almost eight decades, and Irish whiskey is now the fastest-growing segment over the last three years. New distilleries have been coming online, the whiskey is coming to age, and folks just like Irish whiskey. Usually triple-distilled, it is known for being smooth and easy to drink.

Today I'm exploring The Dubliner, a three-year blend of single malt and grain whiskeys. Distilled by Darryl McNally, who has over 17 years of distilling experience and the Master Distiller at The Dublin Liberties, The Dubliner is an affordable entry-level Irish whiskey that has been aged in former Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Proofed to 40% ABV (or 80°), you can expect to pay about $28 for a 750ml bottle. 

I'd like to thank Quintessential Brands, the owner of The Dublin Liberties, for providing me a sample of The Dubliner in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and find out what this whiskey is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Dubliner was the color of old gold. It formed a medium rim and thick, watery legs that crashed back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  A fruity bouquet of green apple, pear, honey, grass, and vanilla permeated my nostrils. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, I found more pear.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was unusual. With a medium body, it was initially sweet, but the next sip became spicy. On the front, I tasted dried golden apple and tangerine. The middle reminded me of the muddling mix of an Old Fashioned with the fruit, sugar, and aromatic bitters. It was also accompanied by smoked honey. On the back, there were flavors of malt, oak, and clove. 

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish consisted of charred oak, cocoa powder, and smoked honey.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Interestingly enough, this is marketed as an entry-level Irish whiskey. I can understand that, too. It is low-proof, sweet, slightly spicy, and in the typical fashion of Irish whiskey, an easy-sipper. There's no heat, there's nothing offensive (but, again, that's characteristic of Irish whiskey). You'd think with my experienced palate and the fact that I've been on an Irish whiskey kick lately, that I'd find The Dubliner to be boring, and you'd be absolutely wrong. To make sure I wasn't out of my mind, I had Mrs. Whiskeyfellow try it and told her nothing. She loved it. Not only is this an easy drinker, it is an easy Bottle rating. I'm betting you'll walk away convinced this one is a smart addition to your home bar. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ha'Penny Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Sometimes, when you wander the aisles of your local liquor store, you find something new. And then, when you're traveling, you wander the aisles of a far-off liquor store and you're more apt to discover the undiscovered.

Now that COVID is starting to (finally) start to show cracks, I'm able to explore liquor stores in further-flung areas. While shopping in East Dubuque, I stumbled upon a bottle of Ha'Penny Irish Whiskey. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe not. Toss me in the latter group. But, for $27.00, I wasn't going to pass it up, especially after reading the label.

This is a blended Irish whiskey using four different types of cooperage:  ruby port pipes, Oloroso sherry butts, first-fill Bourbon barrels, and twice-charred oak. The label wasn't done shelling out the transparency.  The port pipes held malt, as did the Bourbon barrels. The sherry butts and twice-charred oak held grain. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 43% ABV (86°). It is produced by the Pearse Lyons Distillery with the key term being produced - meaning they likely didn't distill some or all of it.

Further research told me the final blend was 38% malt and 62% grain.  The whiskeys aged between four and ten years.  The Bourbon barrels came from Town Branch Distillery

"For Dublin is a city of character and of characters and is warm, witty, and welcoming in equal measure. And that spirit has connected people through the years, just as the Ha'Penny Bridge joined the people of Dublin." - Pearse Lyons Distillery

If you're like me and wondering what the term Ha'Penny means, that's "a halfpenny" which was the toll required to cross the bridge.

Let's #DrinkCurious and find out what this affordable whiskey is all about.

Appearance:  In my trusty Glencairn glass, Ha'Penny presented as golden with an orange tinge. It created a sticky, thicker rim, which led to heavy, slow legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  I found the aromas to be sweet and fruity.  I found a punch of honey married to apricot, raisin, and stewed peach. Those were joined by nutmeg and a smattering of woods - I was able to identify oak and cedar, but there was an exotic that I couldn't pin down.  When I brought the vapor into my mouth, chocolate and golden apple danced across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was both oily and buttery. At my first sip, I could swear I was drinking a French Chardonnay. On the front was vanilla, brown sugar, and coriander. As it flowed mid-palate, I tasted apricot, date, and golden raisin. Then, on the back, it became earthy, with oak and apple.

Finish:  The length of the finish was difficult to categorize. Some sips gave me a short finish. Others, it became long. It kept cycling between the two. It was never somewhere in-between. A big blast of oak was followed by lemon and orange zest and ended with coriander.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There was nothing mind-blowing about Ha'Penny but it was absolutely an enjoyable experience. I loved the mouthfeel and how fruity things are. I appreciate that Pearse Lyons didn't dilute this all the way to 80°, which it could easily have done. But, I find the extra proof points give it the character it deserves. The price is a no-brainer. This is better than many Irish whiskeys at a similar price-point. As such, it takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Dublin Liberties Keeper's Coin Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


My 2020 Whiskey of the Year was an Irish whiskey out of The Dublin Liberties Distillery called Murder Lane.  Without getting into too many details, I've really enjoyed everything that's come out of this distillery so far.  For the most part, they're priced fairly and very flavorful.

I've been an eager student of history for as long as I can remember. One of the things I can appreciate about The Dublin Liberties is that they don't mess around with their whiskey backstories, rather, each release concentrates on the historical context of the area. The Dublin Liberties was a pretty rough part of town, located just outside of Dublin proper.

Today I'm reviewing Keeper's Coin, and the story is equally fascinating. 

"In the 1600s, under Christchurch Cathedral, there were a series of crypts that were used as illicit drinking dens. The cellar keepers each had their own coins and casks—which is where the name keeper’s coin is derived from. Excavations under the Cathedral unearthed a purse full of silver coins and several leather bottles still containing alcohol." - The Dublin Liberties Distillery

Keeper's Coin is a 16-year triple-distilled single malt that spent most of its life in first-fill Bourbon barrels, then finished in 30-year-old PX sherry hogsheads. Bottled at 46% AVB (92°),  you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $159.99 for a 750ml. There were only 1700 bottles produced. I'd like to thank The Dublin Liberties Distillery for providing me a sample of Keeper's Coin in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and discover if this is worth the premium.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Keeper's Coin presented as the color of old gold, much like a gold coin.  A surprisingly thick rim was created, and that led to a heavy curtain of wavy legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Pineapple, pineapple, pineapple!  It was unmistakable. Aromas of lemon zest, honey, vanilla, and malt were buried underneath. When I inhaled through my open mouth, the pineapple and vanilla carried through.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick, creamy, and full-bodied.  On the front, lemon was introduced and then pineapple shoved it out of the way. The middle was far more complicated, with stewed pear, baked apple, golden raisin, apricot, and milk chocolate. Toasted oak, toasted almond, and honey danced on the back.

Finish:  One would think with all that sugary sweetness, there would be no room for spice on the finish. Clove and freshly-cracked black pepper through me for a loop before the pineapple and honey said they weren't quite done yet. The finish was medium in length, and as everything faded away, vanilla rose from out of nowhere. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found Keeper's Coin to be full of flavor, and I'm usually a sucker for pineapple notes.  Keeper's Coin had plenty of it to go around from the nose to the palate, and the palate to the finish. It also had a very rich mouthfeel.

I have to consider a few things with Keeper's Coin.  First is the fact that this is a 16-year-old Irish whiskey. The second is that I stated for $120.00, I could be persuaded to buy a bottle of Murder Lane, but wouldn't pay much more than that and tossed a Bar rating at it. I'm looking at something three years older for another $30.00. This leads to a couple of questions:

  • Did I enjoy Keeper's Coin?  Most certainly.
  • Did I enjoy it more than Murder Lane?  Truth be told I would rate Murder Lane higher than Keeper's Coin.

While very good, I still can't see myself paying $160.00 for this whiskey. That leaves me with no other rating than a Bar for this one, same as with Murder Lane. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It