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

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Dublin Liberties Murder Lane Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


"Named after an unmarked alley between Bow Street and James Street in Dublin, it is said that people who went down that lane never came back. There was an archway with an oak devil hung above it, and it was seen as a place of no return." - The Dublin Liberties Distillery

I've been having some fun with The Dublin Liberties Distillery. This will be my third review of its whiskeys - the first being Oak Devil and the second Copper Alley. I don't talk much about marketing because, for the most part, it is fluff. But, in the case of The Dublin Liberties, these backstories are fascinating and spooky.  Overall, it has no effect on my tasting notes or recommendation, but it sure beats, "My grandpappy's grandpappy was a distiller of yore and we found his secret recipe on the back of a child's painting discovered in the attic of a neighbor at an estate sale."

Today's review is of Murder Lane, a 13-year Single Malt that was first aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished for an undisclosed period in former Hungarian Tokaji wine casks. I'm a whiskey guy. While Mrs. Whiskeyfellow is a cork dork, I've never heard her mention Hungarian Tokaji, and as such, I was curious and looked it up:

"Tokaji is the name used to describe wine from the Tokaj region in northeastern Hungary. Though dry wine is made here, the region’s most famous wines are lusciously sweet, and this is what most people refer to when they use the name Tokaji. The sweet wines of Tokaji are some of the world’s greatest." - Wine Enthusiast

Like everything from The Dublin Liberties, this one is sourced from an undisclosed distillery. It is bottled at 46% ABV (92°) and there were 1278 bottles in the batch. Expect to pay at least $120.00 for a 750ml. That's getting into super-premium pricing for Irish whiskey.

I'd like to thank Quintessential Brands, the parent company of The Dublin Liberties, for providing me a sample of Murder Lane in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Now, let's #DrinkCurious!

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Murder Lane appeared as a golden amber. It created a thick rim that led to fat, sticky droplets that glued to the wall. They eventually fell back to the pool, but it took a bit.

Nose:  The lusciously sweet note that Wine Enthusiast suggested was appropriate. Aromas of pineapple, Honeycrisp apple, green grape, vanilla, and Whopper candies. As I breathed the vapor in my mouth, it was like eating pineapple. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and offered a medium body. On the front, I tasted milk chocolate, honey, and toasted coconut. As the liquid moved mid-palate, citrus flavors of orange and lemon danced in tandem, then was joined by apricot. On the back, the sweetness continued with butterscotch, but that then morphed to clove and cinnamon.

Finish:  Where's the wood?  It waited until the finish to appear!  A strong presence of semi-dry oak married with cracked pepper. The spice was long-lasting, but it started dropping off with tobacco leaf, then full-monty sweet with peach before finally fading out.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I don't know who is doing the actual distilling for The Dublin Liberties but I wish I did. I've been impressed with what they're packaging, and Murder Lane is no exception. I'm also damned intrigued about Hungarian Tokaji and want to grab a taste (and that speaks volumes, I'm not really a wine guy). I loved what I drank, and I have nothing to criticize except the cost. At $120.00, I could be persuaded to buy it. But, I've also seen it at $180.00, and Murder Lane just isn't worth that. Take price out of the equation, and this one of the easiest Bottle ratings I'd offer. Factor it back in, and this is a Bar. Find a good whiskey bar and try this one first. I'm sure you'll love it, and you can decide for yourself if you're willing to shell out the dough. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Dublin Liberties Copper Alley 10-Year Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Last month, I reviewed The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil five-year Irish whiskey. It was a blend of malt and grain whiskeys.  I went into detail as to the history behind the distillery. 

Today, I'm reviewing their Copper Alley ten-year Single Malt. Copper Alley is named for what the distillery describes as a journey between Heaven and Hell.  The alley was located by the "medieval Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.  By day, it rang to the cries of hawkers, tradesmen, tanners, and merchants. By night, the pickpockets, cut-throats, tavern-keepers, and brothel-owners plied their busy trade." 

Just like Oak Devil, this is sourced from an undisclosed distillery.  Being a single-malt, it is made from a mash of 100% malted barley. It was then aged a decade in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished for another six months in 30-year old former Oloroso Sherry casks personally selected by Master Distiller Darryl McNally

"My inspiration for Copper Alley was going back to the original methods of Irish whiskey making. Having rested for 10 years in Bourbon casks, I felt it just needed something extra to really bring it to life. Working with our cask partners, I came across some 30-year-old Sherry casks of exceptional quality which I knew would give the whiskey an edge. This is a one off – there are only 31 casks, so this is a whiskey which will be little repeated." - Darryl McNally

Once dumped, the whiskey was non-chill-filtered, then bottled at 46% ABV (92°), and a 750ml will set you back about $58.99.

Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Quintessential Brands,  the parent company of The Dublin Liberties, for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review of this whiskey.  Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious. 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Copper Alley appeared as, well, copper. More specifically, it was the color of copper topaz. It provided a fairly thin rim with fatter, fast legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  If you could stuff a bunch of fruit in a grenade, pull the pin, and stick it in a glass, you'll get the nose of what this whiskey has to offer. Prune, raisin, and pineapple were easy to pick out. Underneath that were molasses and nuts.  When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, pear and thick vanilla rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was full-bodied and extremely creamy. It coated everywhere. Dried cherry, raisin, orange peel, and peach smacked the front of my palate. At the middle, I tasted dark chocolate, toffee, and malt. The back yielded flavors of dry oak, cinnamon, mint, and ginger. 

Finish: The finish began with a nuclear explosion of sherry. I chose that descriptor because it was incredibly long and fruity. The fallout was spicy, with ginger, oak, and white pepper. As the spices faded, it became nutty before completely ending.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Copper Alley had the right amount of sweet and spicy. This is atypical of Irish whiskey, a category I already enjoy, and Copper Alley shined a whole new light on it.  For a decade-old, higher-proofed whiskey, it is priced competitively and I believe this is one you'll happily drink. I'm a fan, and I'm slapping my Bottle rating on it. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Founded outside the walled city of Dublin in 12th-century Ireland, The Liberties was a district of illicit trade and a bit of chaos. While considered part of Dublin, it was not subject to its laws or government structure. The Liberties was the center of Dublin industry, and you'd think with all that commerce, there wouldn't be impoverishment and destitution, but that is how much of the populace lived - at least until very recently. It has been the center of various rebellions almost since its inception. 

In the 1700s, a carved Oak Devil stood over the entrance to the Dublin Liberties, inciting mayhem and damnation within the riotous quarter known as Hell. The Oak Devil is now gone, some say he was made into whiskey barrels, others say he was seduced by the whiskey angels. - The Dublin Liberties Distillery

If you're wondering why the rumors of the devil's demise include being made into whiskey barrels, The Liberties has a rich history of Irish distilling. Guinness has been there for generations, Jameson, Teeling, George Roe & Company, and Powers were there long ago.  Teeling has been reborn, and The Dublin Liberties Distillery is new to the scene.

Owned by Quintessential Brands Group, who also counts The Dubliner and Dead Rabbit in its portfolio, The Dublin Liberties Distillery is headed by Master Distiller Darryl McNally.  Their five-year release, Oak Devil, is a blend of sourced malt and grain Irish whiskeys that have been aged in former Bourbon barrels. It is non-chill filtered and then packaged at 46% ABV (92°) and retails for about $38.00.

I'd like to thank Quintessential Brands for providing me a bottle of Oak Devil in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious

Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Oak Devil appeared like an oaked chardonnay. It was absolutely golden in color. An ultra-thin rim left surprisingly thicker, fast legs to drop back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose: I found this to be light and fruity, with aromas of apples, citrus, and melon. They were followed by fresh hay and ended with floral perfume. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the only things I tasted were vanilla and brown sugar.

Palate:  Like the nose, the mouthfeel was light - almost lighter than air. Flavors of apple cider and caramel started things off, but it wasn't like eating a caramel apple. Come mid-palate, I found cinnamon spice, and on the back, a blend of nutmeg and milk chocolate.

Finish: As airy as the mouthfeel was, the finish seemed to go on forever. At first, I got a mocha blast, which gave way to charred oak and cinnamon.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Oak Devil was uncomplicated but sometimes that's all you want. It has a low barrier of entry, especially considering it isn't 80° like many of its Irish brethren. The Dublin Liberties recommended pouring Oak Devil over ice or using it as a cocktail base. I did neither - I drank it neat. Guess what? It required neither. I enjoyed it just fine as is and I believe you will, too.  As such, this one takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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