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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Limavady Irish Single Malt, Single Barrel Review & Tasting Notes


In ye olde 1750, alongside the River Roe in County Londonderry, Ireland, John Alexander began making whiskey on his family farm and called his distillery Limavady. Limavady remained in business in one form or another, including adding a brewery, until it was shuttered in 1915 when Distiller’s Finance Corporation (DFC) acquired several Irish distilleries and killed them off.

 

Then, 260-something years later, Darryl McNally, a well-respected veteran of the distilling industry under Bushmills and The Dublin Liberties, traced his family tree and discovered he was related to the Alexanders who began the distillery.

 

“Limavady kept calling, so I said, let’s grab this with both hands. My brother—who was also a distiller at Bushmills—left as well to come into the family Limavady.” – Darryl McNally

 

But McNally didn’t want to simply do another me-too whiskey, especially since he had to source barrels. He planned on offering Irish single malt whiskey but took things a step further. He concentrated on single barrel, single malt whiskeys. While the single-barrel idea isn’t unheard of in Ireland, it is unusual.

 

You know me; unusual is something that always grabs my full attention!


While Limavady doesn’t disclose who distilled its whiskey, we know it is made from 100% malted and unmalted Irish barley that’s been triple-distilled in copper pot stills, then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for about four and a half years. At that point, McNally selects his barrels of whiskey.


Next, the matured whiskey is dumped and finished in former Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks, giving it a chance to pull fruity notes from the wood. Those PX casks are lovingly referred to as Darryl’s Barrels.


Sourcing barrels of whiskey won’t last forever; McNally has a distillery planned so he can make everything in-house and bring distilling back to its historical roots.


Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), it carries a suggested retail price of $49.99.


Each bottle is labeled with the barrel number and bottle number. In the case of the sample that was provided to me, it is Barrel 0082, Bottle 452 of 846. And, speaking of the bottle, the brand didn’t spare any expense. It is an attractive, embossed bottle with Limavady printed lengthwise along the side, 1750 above the label, and has a bulbous neck with a glass stopper.


The bottling process and distribution are performed by WhistlePig, which has partnered with McNally. That allows McNally to concentrate on his whiskey without the hassles of logistics.


Now that we know the backstory, the only thing left is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I thank WhistlePig for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!

Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a whiskey the color of bronze. A thick, heavy rim yielded sticky tears that slowly crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose: The journey began with an evident PX influence, with strawberry, apple, pear, and honey, followed by malt and buttery toffee from the Bourbon. When I inhaled through my mouth, honey and pear rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate: Thick and viscous, the whiskey imparted flavors of raw honey, stewed apple, and peach on the front of my palate. The middle consisted of malted barley, grass, and caramel, while the back featured cinnamon, oak, and graham crackers.

 

Finish: Cinnamon spice and oak tannins dominated the beginning, then syrupy honey seemed glued to my mouth and throat. Stewed peaches and apple pie filling slid by, with the whole shebang remaining for several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Limavady has a complex nose, an unusually thick mouthfeel, and a spicy, fruity palate. Its long-lasting finish gently warmed my throat, and I caught myself smiling as I analyzed the experience. To offer a 46% ABV single malt at $50.00 ranks this one heck of a bargain, and I can’t think of a single reason why it hasn’t earned my Bottle rating. On a side note, Limavady is one of the better Irish whiskeys I’ve sampled this year. 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, September 9, 2022

Mad March Hare Irish Poitín Review & Tasting Notes


Even experienced whiskey drinkers run into something new. I’ve always heard about Poitín but never had an opportunity to try it. Today that changes.

 

I’m sure the big question is, “What is Poitín?” It certainly was for me. Poitín has been around much longer than whiskey. The first recorded instances were in the 6th century! Always created in a single pot still, Poitín is kind of like vodka or sort of like moonshine, but neither. It is made from potatoes, cereal grains, sugar beets, whey, or molasses.

 

Throughout its history, Poitín has been on-again, off-again legal to make. Parliament only made it illegal in 1661 because it was too difficult to collect taxes. Any illicit pot still hidden on an Irish farm could be used to make Poitín, and of course, the underground network of friends and relatives kept the liquid flowing.

 

A little over 300 years later, in 1997, Poitín was once again legal to produce. Distilled between 40% and 90% ABV (that’s 80° to 180°), Poitín is a geographically-protected class of spirits that must come from Ireland. It is also considered a specialty drink, not one that’s overly common for bars to stock.

 

Today I’m sampling Mad March Hare Irish Poitín. This one is not only legal but available in the United States. Like most Irish whiskey, it is triple-distilled in copper pot stills. It is bottled at 40% ABV, and a 700ml package has a suggested price of $29.99.

 

“Mad March Hare uses only the best, locally sourced, malted barley. As you would expect, fine Irish Poitín needs fine ingredients, and most of our suppliers are farmers within a couple of miles of our stills, with equally rich histories in the growing of this key ingredient. As one would expect, their covert deliveries are made in the dead of night.” – Mad March Hare Irish Poitín

 

I’m ready to hit up a real #DrinkCurious adventure here, not knowing what I’m even getting into aside from what I’ve researched. But, before I do, I must thank Mad March Hare Irish Poitín for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  

 

Appearance: This is an unaged spirit and is clear, similar to water. A thicker rim led to syrupy legs.

 

Nose: As soon as I popped the cork, this spirit’s aroma flowed from the bottle’s neck. I didn’t get the expected buttered popcorn that is typical of moonshine. There’s a lesson in assumptions! Instead, I smelled something like Sierra Mist but heavier than that. Also present were grass, berries, and limestone. The grassy note performed a stepdance across my tongue when I pulled the vapor past my lips.

 

Palate: This spirit’s texture was different. It was thicker than any whiskey’s mouthfeel I’d ever experienced, almost like a milkshake without the cold. The front of my palate plucked limestone and lemongrass, while the middle offered malted barley. The back tasted of pineapple and honeysuckle.

 

Finish:  I found the limestone quality stuck around the longest; by that, I mean many minutes. The honeysuckle and lemongrass fell off sooner but left behind a slight black pepper flavor.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If I were to base my opinion on the first sip, I wouldn’t have taken a second. That’s the number one mistake folks make when trying something new. Palate shock is a real thing. You must allow your palate to get used to what’s in your mouth. Once something harsh is expected, your palate can figure out what’s underneath it.

 

The more I sipped Mad March Hare, the easier it was to drink, and I began to enjoy the experience. It began to get addictive. As heavy as the flavors were, I don’t think increasing the proof would do much more than getting you plastered.  I can appreciate how Poitín was so popular. I also understand why some people wouldn’t like it because it is so unusual.

 

I’m happy to have Mad March Hare in my whiskey library, and this was a fascinating and fun experience. It is tasty and affordable. An honest rating on this must tip it into the Bar category, but only because of how divisive it will be; it really needs to be sampled first. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to further exploring this unique Irish spirit. 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, August 10, 2022

The Irishman Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Did you know that Irish whiskey used to be the best-selling spirit in the world? It also has a rich history. The first documented production of Irish whiskey was in 1405, and in 1608, King James I issued the first distillery license. In 1661, King Charles II instituted a tax on its production. Demand was at an all-time high, which meant that distillers were concentrating on pumping out as much whiskey as possible, consequences be damned.

 

That prompted Parliament to pass a law governing the quality of Irish whiskey. It also changed the tax structure from actual production to potential production! That killed off, at least in a legal sense, much of Ireland’s smaller distilleries. In 1823, Parliament realized its mistake and slashed taxes by half, which encouraged growth and led to the high point of Irish whiskey’s popularity.

 

What caused the downfall?  There were several factors. First, there was a temperance movement in Ireland during the mid-19th century. The second was the invention of the Coffey still in 1832. Then there was the Great Famine of the 1840s. That was followed by the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, and a trade war with Britain. That trade war eliminated exports to Britain and its commonwealths. If that wasn’t bad enough, Prohibition in the United States, followed by protectionist laws in Ireland and serious financial mismanagement by distillers, nearly killed the entire industry. The 1970s was Irish whiskey’s lowest point, with only two operating whiskey distilleries remaining!

 

In the mid-1980s, the world again wanted to embrace Irish whiskey, and new distilleries started to emerge. It soon became the fastest-growing category. As brands were trying to satisfy the demand, like the recent surge in American whiskey brands, new Irish whiskey producers had to source aged distillate to fill bottles.

 

One such company was Walsh Whiskey. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it produces two product lines: The Irishman and Writer’s Tears. In 1999, co-founders Bernard and Rosemary Walsh established their brands, intending to revive the heyday of Irish whiskey.

 

“As whiskey creators, we work with a range of carefully selected partners to explore how different grains, whiskey styles, and woods interact and contribute to taste over time – plenty of it! We seek out the best styles and distillates in Ireland, as well as casks from the four corners of the world. When cask-hunting, we look for, not just those of the highest wood quality and barrel structure but, most importantly, the ones that have been seasoned with exceptional liquid.” – Walsh Whiskey

 

Today I’m sipping on The Irishman Single Malt. As the name implies, it starts with 100% Irish barley that, after triple-distillation, rested in both former Bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks.  It carries no age statement, and the bottle suggests it was produced for Walsh Whiskey, meaning it was sourced, and was actually distilled by Irish Distillers Ltd. at its Midleton Distillery. The entire line of The Irishman was relaunched in 2022 with new bottles and labels. The Irishman Single Malt is made in batches limited to 6000 bottles or fewer. You can expect to pay about $45.00 for a 40% ABV (80°), 750ml package. 

 

Before I start the review, I must thank The Irishman for providing me a sample (and this lovely gift box) in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


 

Appearance: Served neat, this bright gold liquid formed a thin rim in my Glencairn glass. Thick, slow tears fell from it.

 

Nose: As I sniffed what was inside, a blast of orchard fruits, including apricot, peach, apple, and pear, were joined by honey and cinnamon. It had a definitive maltiness when I drew the air into my mouth.

 

Palate: A creamy texture commanded a medium-to-heavy weight, which was truly unexpected from a 40% ABV whiskey. Caramel, honey, and bright apple were on the front of my palate, while the middle featured Fig Newtons, graham crackers, and black pepper. As things rounded out, I tasted golden raisin, cinnamon, and dry oak.

 

Finish: The finish went from soft to bold and seemed to last forever (again, this is only 40% ABV?). Notes of fig, raisin, cinnamon, and oak stuck in my mouth, but then, from completely out of nowhere, was a blast of chocolate.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: There are a lot of 40% ABV Irish whiskeys out there for less than the cost of The Irishman Single Malt. If you’re shopping based on price, you’ll cheat yourself out of something special. Even Mrs. Whiskeyfellow took a sip and smiled, then begged for a second. I’m thrilled to crown this with my Bottle rating and have this in my whiskey library. 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. Must be 21+ to enjoy.

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


Beannachtaí na Féile 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.