Category: Friday dram

The Whistler Oloroso cask finish

The Whistler, Oloroso sherry cask

An extremely cold and dull day for being June, an hour to kill before taking the bus home from Cork city. What is there to do? Tasting whiskey at Shelbourne bar, of course!

This is one I tasted at Whiskey Live last year. I wasn’t super impressed then, but was curious to taste it again since my taste in whiskey changes quite a lot over time, or at least it has during the past year.

The Whistler is the brand of the Boann distillery, located in the Boyne valley, known for several interesting historical places, like Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Boann distillery plan to make whiskey and gin – the distillery is built (according to the brilliant list here) but I have no certain information about whether or not they have started distilling yet. They do have some interesting cask ownership or tasting programmes.

Their brand The Whistler is released with a 7-year-old single malt, a 10-year-old single malt, and a 7-year-old at cask strength. The whiskey with oloroso sherry cask finish doesn’t seem to be in their standard range but it is available to buy at the Celtic whiskey shop. It’s a blend from malt and grain whiskey, and has spent 9 months in a Solera oloroso sherry butt.

Lots of oak aromas, almost a little bit smoky, at least in the very beginning. Nice fruit(s), perhaps apricot or similar. Lots of raisins and a hint of red berries. Pepper.

A bit lighter on the palate than expected. However, very nice flavours. Raisins, dried apricot, a hint of orange with cloves or similar. This is a very enjoyable whiskey, but it would have been more interesting at cask strength. I still could consider buying a bottle of this. Nice sherry notes but they are not overpowering as happens in some sherried whiskeys.
With a drop of water some sweetness comes forward but the whiskey loses some of the characters that I like about it.

However, this was a nice dram, and I’m definitely looking forward to what Boann will have to offer in the future.

Dingle single malt batch 4

Dingle single malt, batch 4

Dingle distillery released the batch 4 whiskey in the beginning of April. This, as well as previous releases, was highly awaited. After batch 3 I had decided to not buy more bottles from them for a while, but wait a couple of years until it’s a more fully matured whiskey. However, I was very curious to taste the new batch. I expected to get the opportunity for a tasting at the Dingle whiskey bar when I was in Dublin to buy my concertina, but sadly they didn’t have it yet. 🙁

I eventually was informed that it was available at the Shelbourne bar, to my great delight both the “ordinary” and the cask strength bottlings.

The batch 4 release from Dingle is a single malt with a combination of bourbon, sherry and port casks.

Dingle batch 4, 46,5% ABV bottling

The lower ABV bottling was released in a larger batch than the previous releases – however there is different information out there about this. Most sources say 30 000 bottles.

Nice aromas of cinnamon, chocolate, warm vanilla, oak, and orange with cloves.

I’m quickly hit by the lovely orangey character, similar to the Italian Aurum liqueur (higly recommended, by the way). This whiskey has more body than the previous releases from Dingle. Some chocolate notes but the orange and spice flavours are more dominant. A longer finish than what I’m used to in Dingle whiskey, nice and spicy.

Generally a nice development of the Dingle whiskey. I’ve seen a good potential in the Dingle malts from batch 1, but this is the first one where I can see it’s getting close to being a nice whiskey, and not only being “good considering it’s so young, and with good potential”.

Dingle batch 4, cask strength release

The cask strength bottling from Dingle is always very limited and always very sought after. 500 bottles at 58,5% ABV were released this time, and all were gone quite soon.

The first impression is very characterised by the higher ABV. Then there’s warm orange, oak, and something more fresh, minty or herbal. I also get lime or lemon.

I get a liquorice feel at the entrance. There’s a hint of a nice oily texture, but perhaps a bit too little body for a cask strength whiskey. It’s different from the other Dingle whiskeys I’ve tasted, with the very dominant orange flavour that is even more present here than in the lower ABV bottling. There’s also some kind of Christmas spice, ginger or cloves, and lemon with honey.

With a few drops of water it opens up very nicely, with a more creamy mouth feel and more body. This is generally the very best that I’ve tasted from Dingle. With the price of this bottle I wouldn’t be interested in trying to get one though – also with a whiskey at cask strength I wouldn’t want to pay €350 for a whiskey that isn’t even 10 years old, I simply think it’s overpriced. Having said that, I think this whiskey is really nice, and I’m delighted to see how the whiskey from Dingle is developing.

The opinions about Dingle whiskey are very varied out there. Personally I like it, although I wouldn’t compared to a more mature whiskey, but instead see what potential it has to become a really good whiskey eventually. I also like to see new distilleries release their own drops from the start, both for the variety on the Irish whiskey scene, and so that whiskey enthusiasts can follow the progress as the whiskey matures.

Happy weekend to you all, and if you’re interested in the Dingle batch 4, the 46,5% ABV bottling is available here and there for your Friday dram.

Gelston’s 15-year-old single malt

This is a nice single malt that I was recommended at Shelbourne bar, the never ending source of good Irish whiskey.

Gelston is an old brand from Belfast, founded by the wine and spirits merchant Samuel Gelston in 1830, and it was taken over by Harry J Neill after Samuel died in 1869. The brand has now been revived by a Neill descendant – Johnny Neill. The whiskey itself is made by Bushmills.

Some year ago I wanted all whiskeys to be total flavour bombs, primarily at least finished in sherry casks and bottled at cask strength. Since then my taste has changed a lot, or it’s possible that it’s more about my attitude. I still love a nice cask strength sherry (or other fancy wine cask) finished dram, but I also very much appreciate more subtle flavours, and I’ve come to love a really well made bourbon cask matured Irish whiskey. This is one of them.

My first impression is an overload of green apple. Then grapes, and an odd mixture of biscuits and black pepper.

Pear. Buttery biscuits? A slightly oily feel. Sweet but not too sweet. Nice and fresh, with a peppery finish and a hint of wood.

This is a nice whiskey that is still available to buy at Celtic whiskey shop and around the country in different Off Licence shops. If you’re outside Ireland you can also buy it – and other Gelstons – at Master of malt (they don’t ship to Ireland for some reason). I personally bought a bottle at the Off Licence in Kenmare, Kerry. Maybe a bit overpriced but it’s still a nice whiskey and as I wrote in the post about the Burke’s 14-year-old single malt, I like seeing old brands being revived.

The Irishman single malt coffee stout cask finish

The Irishman, coffee stout cask

It doesn’t look better than that I forgot to post last week. Oops! The reality was that I was, against all odds, going to Sweden for a week, and had too much going on. Not even Storm Hannah nor the SAS strike could stop me though – I arrived and I’ve had a brilliant but very intense week in Sweden. I’m still there, and will be back in Ireland on Monday.

I had no internet on Friday and planned to post through my phone, but it never happened. I was too busy playing music and enjoying good company in the south of Sweden!

Last week’s Friday dram will be this week’s Friday dram. This is another bottle that I had the opportunity to taste at the Shelbourne bar some time ago. I don’t usually drink whiskey finished in stout/beer/ale/similar casks, because I’m coeliac, and even if the amount of gluten that could end up in the whiskey from the stout cask would be extremely small or maybe non existent, there’s no way of knowing how safe it really is, since nobody tests the finished whiskey for gluten. However, I’m thinking that a dram of 3-ish cl from a normal sized barrel is probably ok, especially when I normally avoid this kind of whiskey.

This is a collaboration between the Royal Oak distillery and Dick Mack’s Brewhouse in Dingle. Single malt “The Irishman” whiskey, that has previously been matured in bourbon and sherry casks, has been finished in a cask that used to hold Coffee stout in Dingle. The whiskey has stayed in this cask for 9 months.

Coffee stout was a new concept to me – for the reason mentioned above I don’t drink stout so I’m not particularly familiar with it. But I was told that the stout is infused with coffee beans to add flavour, and that certainly sounds interesting. I like creativity!

This was a single cask release – limited to 240 bottles that are now all gone. It was triple distilled, was bottled at 48% and sold by the Celtic whiskey shop.

Very peppery at the first nosing. Then dried fruits, something minty – almost like eucalyptus. Gives a feel of heavy oiliness.

Lighter on the palate than I expected. Very nice notes of chocolate and honey sweetness. Lots of pepper – I get a burning feel on the tongue. A bit too light bodied though.
With a few drops of water it’s softer and nicer, and there’s more body. But the chocolatey notes disappear, which is a bit disappointing to me.

A very interesting whiskey, nice creative attempt. Not as exciting on my palate than I thought it would be, but I always enjoy tasting these unusual whiskeys.

Method and madness single pot still whiskey Hungarian oak cask finish

Method & Madness single pot still, Hungarian oak cask finish

This Friday is not any Friday, it’s Good Friday. So should you have a dram on Good Friday? Some will say no, some will say yes.
I claim that if you have respect for the product, enjoy it responsibly and for the right purposes, there’s nothing wrong with having a dram on Good Friday. This of course is relevant for having a dram on whatever day!

I bought a bottle of the first Method and Madness single pot still some year ago, the one finished in French chestnut. Then of course I was very curious about the newer single pot still releases. I was a little annoyed about the 28-year-old though. Don’t misunderstand me, seeing older Irish whiskeys is nice and good for the variety in Irish whiskey, but when there were still so few new single pot stills out there, I preferred to see new whiskey releases in a price range for normal people and so that the whiskey will be enjoyed, not put on a shelf. Anyway, there is also another younger single pot still release, finished in Hungarian virgin oak. I tasted this a month or so ago at Shelbourne bar in Cork.

There are a few different types of Hungarian oak, and according the the Method and Madness website, this one used for this whiskey is Quercus Petrae, which grows densely in the north-east of Hungary where the conditions are harsh with cold winters and hot dry summers. It’s similar to the French oak but it grows more slowly and the wood has a higher density than the French oak.

This single pot still whiskey is first matured in a combination of first fill and refill ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Hungarian oak for 11 months. It’s then been bottled at 46% ABV.

Soft creamy vanilla. Spices such as cloves. Something fresh fruity, perhaps green apple.

Slightly more dry than what I’m used to in single pot stills. There’s a nice sweetness and I sense a hint the woodyness of the virgin oak. A nice combination of soft vanilla and oak. There’s dry pepper at the end but not much spice on the palate otherwise. The finish is particular – something herbal with a feel of rosemary, gin herbs. It’s slightly too light bodied in my opinion, but has very nice flavours, it would have been interesting to taste it at cask strength.

With a few added drops of water the aromas are more intense, and there’s more pepper on the palate, and more oaky flavours.

This is a very nice whiskey although not among my favourite single pot stills. However, virgin oak and single pot still from Midleton is a very interesting combo!

Burke’s 14-year-old single malt

Some Wednesdays I go to Cork to attend a language exchange – and while killing some time, what better opportunity is there to go and taste some new (new to me) whiskeys?

My go-to whiskey bar in Cork is Shelbourne bar. It’s a brilliant place where they stock hundreds of Irish whiskeys – fabulous for someone like myself.

Ireland has lots of new whiskey brands, as well as old whiskey brands being revived. I’m very curious about these old brands, I want to learn more about them, about the history of them, and of course taste the new bottlings. What I always wonder when we speak about old brands is how much people have worked on trying to recreate the same style of whiskey as it used to be back in the days.

One new-old brand that I came across recently is Burke’s. The only information I’ve managed to find is from this page, that tells about the brothers Edward & John Burke who founded the company E & J Burke in Dublin. They were very successful with their whiskey, and they also opened branches in Liverpool, New York and Australia. It seems they were primarily bottlers, brewers and importers in those countries.

Although new bottlings of old whiskey brands may not be like it used to be, I like the concept of using historical brand names, because it is a way to keep a part of history alive.

The Burke’s 14-year-old single malt is Cooley spirit used for the first release by the Great Northern Distillery, opened in Dundalk by the great John Teeling in 2015.

This one was a single cask release that now sadly is all sold out. I’d guess (from the flavour profile) it’s matured in ex-bourbon casks, and it’s bottled at 59% ABV. This is a superb whiskey – some may think it’s useless to review a whiskey that you can’t buy, but who knows, they may release something similar again, and in whatever case – it’s available to taste in Cork (and maybe in other whiskey bars too).

LOADS of vanilla. Pepper, honey, and something herbal. I see that some people find fruity notes in this – I don’t, but I usually have difficulty finding fruity notes in whiskey, unless they’re very distinct.

Yet again vanilla, and the pepper comes in here too and goes along very well with the vanilla. There is something else going on in the background that I wasn’t able to define, could be cinnamon or something like that? Nice and soft texture.

I loved this whiskey. It’s a fine example of a really well made Irish whiskey, sweet, nice and creamy, but still good body and spice. As far as I can remember, it’s the first time I’ve had a cask strength whiskey from Cooley. I certainly hope it’s not the last!