Showing posts with label Irish whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irish whiskey. 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.

 


 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The First Ever Wisconsin Whiskey Fest Recap and Review

 


Everything has to start somewhere, and last night was the inaugural year of Wisconsin Whiskey Fest in Milwaukee. In full disclosure, I was comped a VIP ticket.

 

When founder Zack Farrar first announced the festival, I was publicly skeptical. Tickets were sold when it was still just an idea in Zack’s head, and no venue had been secured. As far as I knew, there weren’t any distilleries lined up. Finally, there was less than a year between that announcement and the actual event.

 

Some doubters felt Wisconsin Whiskey Fest would be a duplication of Distill America, which has been held in Madison for the last 14 years. Distill America is a wildly successful event that fans look forward to again and again. Yet, Distill America is not a whiskey event; it is a celebration of the American distilling industry that includes whiskey as a significant component. On the other hand, Wisconsin Whiskey Fest was centered solely around whiskey, both American and otherwise.

 

The Hilton City Center was eventually selected as the venue. Many Wisconsin distilleries, including Dancing Goat, J. Henry & Sons, Driftless Glen, and Great Lakes Distilling, supported the event. Heaven Hill, Bardstown Bourbon Company, Buffalo Trace, Luxco, and other big names also poured their whiskeys.







I went to the Wisconsin Whiskey Fest with an open mind and an almost #DrinkCurious mood. I was willing to give Zack the benefit of the doubt and take a look-and-see attitude.

 

I drank hardly anything, but I planned my evening that way. Aside from having a long drive home afterward, I wanted to keep a clear head during the festival.

 

I spent my evening talking to distillers, friends, and reps I knew. I met new-to-me distillers and reps (even at least two brands I'd never heard of before) and talked to random folks in the crowd. I did four Facebook Live sessions. People were smiling, laughing, drinking, and seemed to be having a good time.  I ran into many guests I knew (including a trio from the Janesville Bottle Club), and they told me they were enjoying themselves.




 

Plenty of food was available between the appetizers, carving station, and desserts. I didn’t engage in much eating because I hate standing in lines. But, I did sample some of the tasty appetizers.




Mistakes were certainly made, the biggest being the event’s timing. Wisconsin Whiskey Fest competed against the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and Bourbon and Beyond. Several brands did not put on their A-game as resources were likely directed to those events. But, it showed. The brands might have approached things differently if the festival had been scheduled differently in either direction for a few weeks. Zack must be more mindful of long-standing, competing events to limit the cannibalization of distillery resources.

 

In visiting with some of the reps there, I learned a few things that should be changed. I won't go into details because they were said to me in confidence. But I'm sure they'll give their bosses or Zack feedback.

 

Another issue was the VIP access. Special bottles were supposed to be poured for those who purchased VIP tickets. What was poured wasn’t what many expected or hoped for. If you were looking for Blanton’s, that was there. Other near-impossible-to-find whiskeys were missing, and that’s something that people who pay for VIP access to whiskey events not only expect but demand.

 

The Wisconsin Whiskey Fest must grow into something bigger for 2023 than last night to justify the price of admission at $150 for general admission and $200 for VIP access. In Wisconsin, we’re a little spoiled by what Distill America has to offer for half the price (to be fair, Distill America is a not-for-profit event).

 

The Wisconsin Whiskey Fest also needs a different venue for 2023, even if it does not grow in size. Once the general admission guests came in, there was hardly room to walk around. I felt bad for the brands blocked from view by the line of people getting food. I also don’t believe The Hilton City Center’s ballroom was set up for as many people that were there. I’m not talking about fire code issues; instead, it was uncomfortably warm inside.

 

Wisconsin Whiskey Fest was not a bad event. I had fun and I enjoyed myself. It just needs further work per my suggestions above. And, especially considering the fact that for whatever reason, people in Milwaukee will not travel to Madison, a big whiskey event (this or something else), Wisconsin Whiskey Fest is something whiskey fans in Milwaukee desperately need.

 

Cheers!









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, August 8, 2022

Bushmills "The Original" White Label Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


What can you say about a brand's flagship whiskey?  Come on, I'm a reviewer... I can say plenty! Today I'm sipping Bushmills "The Original" White Label Irish Whiskey.  I've reviewed Bushmills before, it was Red Bush, and you can peruse that review if you're interested.


Old Bushmills Distillery has been distilling since 1608, making it the oldest licensed distillery worldwide. It hasn't been a continuous run - it was shuttered and reopened a few times, and back in 1885, the distillery was pretty much destroyed by fire. But they rebuilt and resumed operations and even survived Prohibition, a feat most other Irish distilleries failed to overcome.


Bushmills has also changed hands several times. Founded by an Irish adventurer named Thomas Phillips, it didn't officially become Bushmills until 1784, when it was purchased by Hugh Anderson. It changed hands a few times, and then, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, the holding company that controlled all Irish whiskey production. Then, in 1988, Pernod-Ricard took possession, sold it to Diageo in 2005, and traded it off to Jose Cuervo, its current owner, in 2014.


Bushmills White is triple distilled, like most Irish whiskey, and is a blend of malts and grains.  This is one where the age statement keeps changing.  In recent years, it carried no age statement, then the one I'm reviewing is three years, and according to its website, that's now been bumped up to five, which may explain why I snagged my bottle at the rock-bottom price of $16.00 (it retails typically about $25.00).  It weighs in at 40% ABV (or 80° for those of us who, like me, are stuck in an empirical world). For the record, Bushmill's White is one of the best-selling Irish whiskeys on the planet.


That last statement doesn't mean much to me. The best-selling American whiskey in the world is one I'm not a fan of. Same with the best-selling Scotch. There's a vast chasm between "best-selling" and "best tasting." I care about the latter.


So, how does The Original hold up? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  Let's get to it.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Irish whiskey presents as a bright gold. It left a medium-thick rim on the wall, and fat droplets fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: There was a blast of pineapple that almost overwhelmed my nostrils. I enjoy pineapple, so that was cool. Also in attendance was a strong malt fragrance with honey and green apple. When I inhaled through my lips, I tasted green apple and vanilla.


Palate:  The mouthfeel started off thin, but subsequent sips became more the viscosity of water. Green apple kicked things off, followed by pineapple and malt.  Yeah, I know, that is darned close to the nose. Come mid-palate, a blend of honey and vanilla rounded out all the aromas.  It wasn't until the back, when I tasted ethanol and black pepper, that something new appeared.


Finish:  A medium finish of oak and barrel char was all that I found. Well, that and some unexpected alcohol burn. But there wasn't much else to savor at the end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $25.00 bottle.  You don't expect much from that, and Bushmills delivers on that expectation. This is a disappointing Irish whiskey that should be pretty hard to screw up in theory. When I went on the Bushmills website, even the distillery suggests it is a mixer.  

With a recipe that dates back before Prohibition, there is no better whiskey for making a classic, pre-Prohibition cocktail than Bushmills Original. Combining our pure single malt whiskey and a lighter grain whiskey, you’ll notice its rich, smooth, warming taste almost instantly, just as generations have done before.

I don't buy whiskeys to be mixers; I drink them all neat. As much as I hate to do it, I will toss a Bust rating at this. If I had $25.00 to spend and I wanted an Irish whiskey, check out my review of Slane, which costs the same yet I believe is superior.  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, July 8, 2022

Keeper's Heart Irish + American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 



Blended whiskeys can be a ton of fun. I hold a deep respect for good blenders. They take several things and create something remarkable from them. The trick is mapping out the journey to get to the desired result. That assumes that the blender isn’t simply taking mediocre whiskeys and attempting to salvage them.

 

It isn’t uncommon to create Scotches, Irish whiskeys, or American whiskeys from blends. What is less so is taking whiskeys from various countries and blending them. Such is the case with Keeper’s Heart Whiskey by O’Shaughnessy Distilling of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its Master Distiller, Brian Nation, is formerly of the famed Midleton Distillery of Ireland.

 

“Several years ago cousins Patrick and Michael O’Shaughnessy, along with Michael’s father Gerry, were sharing a bottle of whiskey. It was the end of a long and joyous day at an O’Shaughnessy family reunion, where hundreds of relatives traveled from around the world to spend time together. They were reflecting on the importance of family; on how to make sure future generations stayed connected; and on the legacy they wanted to leave.

As conversation went deeper into the night and more whiskey was poured, they had a realization: the answer was in the glass. It was at that point they set out to create a whiskey that celebrated their Irish-American heritage, that built a way for friends and family to connect today and left a legacy for future generations.” – Keeper’s Heart Whiskey

 

Keeper’s Heart has three offerings:  Irish + American, Irish + Bourbon, and a 10-Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey. If you’re curious about the difference between the first two, the “American” refers to American Rye.

 

Nation took three whiskeys:  an Irish grain whiskey, an Irish Single Pot Still whiskey, and an American Rye to create the Irish + American version.

 

I will approach my review of Keeper’s Heart Irish + American a bit differently because I have the tools to do something special. I will start with tasting notes for each of the three components and then the notes and rating for the packaged whiskey. Doing that is something I’ve not had an opportunity to do before, and as such, I’m excited.

 

But, before I start this adventure and #DrinkCurious, I must thank O’Shaughnessy Distilling for the component samples and the final product in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s get to it.

 

Component One:  Irish Grain Whiskey




The first component is an Irish grain whiskey which comes from a blend of maize (corn) and malted barley. It aged for four years in refilled American oak (Bourbon) barrels and diluted to 43% ABV (86°).

 

Appearance: This is the lightest color of the three components, presenting as pale straw. A medium rim formed on the wall of my Glencairn glass, creating heavy, fast legs that fell back to the pool while retaining sticky droplets.

 

Nose:  Buttery popcorn, pear, and malt notes were easy to pick out. We don’t know how often the cooperage was refilled (three is usually the maximum), but there was no evidence of it on the nose. Vanilla and sweet corn were in the air that I brought into my mouth.

 

Palate: An airy mouthfeel offered up vanilla and sweet corn on the front, with citrus peel and caramel in the middle. The back was a combination of oak and cinnamon Red Hots.

 

Finish: As light as this whiskey was, the finish wasn’t giving anything up. It remained spicy with the cinnamon Red Hots, tempered slightly with rich vanilla. It lasted far longer than I would have imagined.

 

Component Two:  Single Irish Pot Still Whiskey




The second component is a Single Irish Pot Still whiskey, made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley. It also aged four years in refill American oak (Bourbon) barrels and was proofed to 43% ABV (86°).

 

What, exactly, is Irish Pot Still whiskey? The requirement is it contains at least 30% unmalted barley and at least 30% malted barley, and the balance may be other unmalted cereal grains, but no more than 5% of those other grains may be included. The distilling process must be performed via a pot still. The “single” portion refers to the mash coming from a single distillery rather than blends from multiple distilleries.

 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, the Single Pot Still component was slightly darker than the grain component. The rim was delicate, collapsing instantly with thick, slow legs.

 

Nose:  The smell of barley jumped from the glass to my nostrils. A malted portion was evident, but the unmalted barley stole the show—Vanilla and orange peel combined with nutmeg and peach. I could pick out what I swear was oatmeal. The air I pulled into my mouth was all citrus.

 

Palate:  Thin with an oily texture, the first things tasted were vanilla, apple, and pear. As it moved to the middle, I found peach, orange peel, and pineapple, while the back had flavors of nutmeg, toasted oak, and malt.

 

Finish:  Peach lingered into the finish, as did the toasted oak and nutmeg. The oak turned dry, and the whole thing lasted for a medium-long duration.

 

Component Three:  American Rye Whiskey



 

The final component is an American Rye made from 95% rye and 5% malt. I assume the source is MGP (now Ross & Squibb), and the distillate rested in new charred oak barrels for four years. Like the others, it was proofed to 43% ABV (86°).

 

Appearance:  As you’d completely expect, the American Rye was far darker in my Glencairn glass, appearing as an orange amber. A thin-to-medium rim released a curtain of thick legs.

 

Nose: It smelled minty, with black cardamom and fennel. A deeper exploration found plum, nutmeg, and oak. When I inhaled through my lips, I discovered fennel and oak.  At this juncture, I should point out that I am not a fennel fan. But we’ll see where this goes.

 

Palate:  A very oily texture led to black cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg on the front with floral rye and plum. Dark chocolate, charred oak, and fennel sewed up the back.

 

Finish: Fennel remained on the finish, overwhelming other flavors that could have stood out. A deep search found cinnamon, plum, cherry, and charred oak. It was medium-to-long in duration.

 

I will interject that if I were involved in a barrel pick, I would have rejected this sample. I was not a fan of this rye. However, this is one blend component; let’s see what happens.

 

The Resulting Blend

 

Those three components are then blended to produce Keeper’s Heart Whiskey. As you’d guess, it is bottled at 43% ABV (86°), and a 750ml package will set you back about $33.00. It should be interesting to taste how this fits together. The Irish whiskeys and the American component couldn’t be further apart in the flavor universe.

 

Now that I’ve followed O’Shaughnessy’s map, I’m excited to dig up the chest and taste the pirate’s booty.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Keeper’s Heart had the look of polished gold. The thin rim could not sustain the weight of its legs, which flowed down like a curtain back to the pool.

 

Nose: A flowery bouquet wafted from the glass and hit my olfactory sense. Apple, strawberry, nutmeg, and mint followed. I allowed the air to enter my mouth, and in doing so, I encountered vanilla and apple.

 

Palate:  Despite any of the components, the mouthfeel had a creamy quality. Apple, lemon peel, and nutmeg formed the front. The middle had flavors of peaches and cream joined with Nilla wafers.  I tasted candied ginger, cardamom, and charred oak on the back.

 

Finish:  Cinnamon Red Hots from the grain whiskey came from nowhere, as did a hint of fennel from the Rye. Charred oak also had a drying effect in my mouth, creating what I describe as pucker power. The dryness subdued the Red Hots, leaving behind nutmeg and a kiss of lemon peel.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: While there was evidence of fennel, it was nowhere near as dominating as the Rye had. I was fascinated how these three components were recognizable in the final product yet transformed into something unique that those individual components lacked. It demonstrated what blending is all about. Keeper’s Heart Irish + American should appeal to American Rye drinkers, but it is off-profile for Irish whiskey fans. It was stuck between the two, and as such, it earns a Bar rating from me. You’ll want to try this one for yourself before committing to the relationship. 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 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.