Category: Irish whiskey

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!

A couple of whiskeys I’ve come across since moving to Ireland

Obviously living in Ireland makes it easier to taste new goodies on the Irish whiskey scene, but also to find older whiskeys that are unavailable in Sweden, where I come from.

At the moment we live in a rental house that is adapted for people staying short term for holidays or such, so there are no obvious places to store things and we don’t want to buy bottles of whiskey (we have plenty packed down in boxes) since most can be tasted in bars here and there, but sometimes we can’t resist. Some of these are unpacked and some are new purchases.

I know, I know, they are unhappy there with sun exposure and all that. I do have a better plan, and will move them soon.

However – I have some nice ones here in the window, that we inexpectedly found in the local Off Licence shop. Dingle single pot still batch 2 is one of them – it should be sold out by now? We saw two bottles of it in the shop when we just had moved here, and finally bought one on St Patrick’s day, and if nobody else has done the same, there is still a bottle left in the shop. Red Spot, the first batch, was also supposed to be all gone, or so we were told (at least outside the distillery visitor shops), but my husband bought one for my birthday, also from the Off Licence.

Here are some of my thoughts of random whiskeys I’ve come across since coming here.

Redbreast Pot Still blend, Edward Dillon & Co bottling

This bottle took me by surprise. I wanted a dram for the trad session, planned to have a Redbreast and suddenly saw this one. I had never seen it or heard of it before and didn’t even recognise the logo. Was it a premium bottle? Old? Rare? I didn’t dare to taste it that time because I thought that if it was an old bottle of true Redbreast it should be.. costly.

I posted the picture on Instagram to maybe get some more info. It seems like it’s a special Redbreast bottling for Edward Dillon & Co which I can see is a spirit & wine distributor that is still going strong as it seems, but I haven’t found more info about this bottling than that. It seems to have been bottled in the 90’s so the spirit should be from Midleton, in the early era of the rereleased Redbreast brand. This is a blend of pot still whiskey and grain whiskey.
If anyone who reads this knows more, and/or finds what I’ve written here is inaccurate, please let me know in the comments!

I was informed on Instagram that this bottling was a low seller and didn’t hold the quality of other bottlings with the Redbreast brand. On St Patrick’s day, I decided to taste it.

Newly cleaned wooden floor. Reminds me of a Swedish allround soap made from, among other ingredients, pine tree oils. Maybe some lime or tangerine.

Fresh. Bitter, woody, with a touch of lemon. I miss some sweetness. Soft in the beginning but dry on the palate. The citrus-ey feel makes me think of washing -up liquid. Fresh. Barely any finish, perhaps a bit of pepper.

I’m not impressed. It was interesting to taste it, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Sexton single malt

This is a whiskey that we actually brought with us from Sweden, but I haven’t had much of it since we bought it, which was after Whiskey Live Dublin 2018.
The people from Sexton were the first exhibitors we stumbled across at Whiskey Live, and they were really cool with high hats and fancy clothes, and with a whiskey in a hexagonal shaped (or what I call concertina shaped) bottle, like the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway in county Antrim. It’s not the easiest bottle to pour from but I love the design, it’s very creative.

It’s a young 4-5-ish-year-old if I’m not mistaken, triple distilled and must be made at Bushmills. It’s been matured in Oloroso sherry casks, and is bottled at 40% ABV.

Dark fruit, cereals, light sherry, varnished oak, oxidated apple, perhaps some orange?

Cereals, cinnamon, light toffee with a peppery twist. Light-bodied.

With added water I get more sweetness but it’s still very dry on the palate. Aromas get more intense and with more citrus and something herbal.

This is a true sherry bomb which is quite uncommon for new Irish whiskeys. Very interesting though. I quite like it, but miss sweetness and some body. It’s also a fact that I’m not as fond of heavily sherried whiskeys as I used to be – still it’s nice to see a whiskey brand that stands out and does something different.

Glendalough 13 years old, Mizunara cask

This is one that I had planned to taste at Whiskey Live, but among all new people and interesting whiskeys, I forgot about it. At Whiskey Live this year I’ll stick to my plan much better!

A year ago when we were going back to Sweden after a week in Ireland, I was recommended this whiskey at Dublin airport, but I didn’t want to buy it at €90 without tasting it first. A couple of weeks ago when I went to Shelbourne bar to have lunch and kill some time , I finally tasted it.

Glendalough is a brand I’ve been very impressed with. I have their 7-year-old, and have tasted the “normal” 13-year-old as well as a single cask release, a whiskey finished in a burgundy cask. They are all very good, and I’m looking forward to seeing what their own produced whiskey will be like.

The Mizunara cask is Japanese oak, and I see that some other distilleries/producers also try this finish. There’s some good information about Mizunara oak here.
The Glendalough Mizunara cask finish was quite hyped for a while, and I’m not sure I think it’s so much better than the other 13-year-old, but it’s certainly a good whiskey.

It has a nice woody aroma with vanilla, toffee notes, cereals and orange.

The flavours are hard to define, but very nice. Warm, sweet, peppery, hints of orange. Sweet and soft on the palate. Short finish and some bitterness at the end.

With water, it gets more intense on the nose and gets a longer finish, but loses some of its sweetness and soft mouthfeel.

I really liked this whiskey – but I’m not sure it’s so much better than the ordinary (and probably cheaper) 13-year-old. Nice on my palate though, and it’s always interesting to taste whiskeys with unusual cask finish.

West Cork Black Cask

The last but absolutely not the least. I absolutely love this whiskey. It’s a blend made by West Cork Distillers, that has been matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in double charred casks. It’s bottled at 40% as most other whiskeys from WCD.

The aroma is absolutely beautiful. Floral, light wood, pineapple? Tropical fruits, something herbal.

The floral character comes along to the palate. There’s a nice honeyish sweetness but also a nice peppery finish. Quite a short finish but nice soft mouthfeel with pepper.

Very nice blend that has an extra twist fresh, sweet and floral. . I generally always like the whiskeys from these guys. West Cork has become my go-to whiskey, when I want a little dram but don’t know what I want, only that I want something good. They have very good prices too so it doesn’t hurt to get an extra bottle from them.

This week I’m going to kick off my weekly reviews again – now on Fridays. Look forward to the Friday dram series!

Teeling single pot still batch 2

Before saying anything else about Teeling, I want to congratulate them for having the 24-year-old single malt voted the World’s best single malt! I haven’t tasted this particular single malt, but I’ve really enjoyed the other single malts that I’ve tasted from them.

Since I came across my first Redbreast, I’ve always loved single pot still whiskeys. I’m thrilled to see new distilleries produce single pot still whiskey, because it is something unique to Ireland and I think it’s a shame that only one distillery has been producing them for so many years, until Dingle released their first.

If you want an update about what a single pot still whiskey is and some of the history around it, you can read my post about the Dingle single pot still.

I was of course very enthusiastic about the fact that Teeling’s first Dublin produced release was a single pot still. As everyone else has also stated, it was such a victory to see pot still whiskey production back in Dublin. I tasted the batch 1 when I visited the distillery in November last year.

I found the batch 1 quite poitìn-ey, which isn’t a great surprise for a 3-year-old whiskey, but I wondered why this one still had so much poitìn character that other 3-year-old whiskeys don’t.

However, I have been looking forward to seeing what more time in the cask would do to it, and when I read another blogger’s review of batch 2, it sounded like something I wanted to taste. From what I can find online, batch 2 has spent four months more in the cask than batch 1. Interesting that only four months can make such a difference!

The Teeling single pot still is triple distilled, bottled at 46% ABV, and made with 50% malted barley, and 50% unmalted spring barley. It’s matured in ex-bourbon, ex-wine, and in virgin oak casks. It’s an interesting combo, and I like it! I’m quite fond of virgin oak that, when used correctly, gives a nice woody character to the whiskey. Some people don’t like it at all, but I love it.

Orange peel or perhaps grapefruit. The citrus aroma is quite intense. There’s also something minty, and darker fruits as well as a spicy sweetness and something woody.

It has a nice soft mouthfeel. It has spice and sweetness, like from some dark sugar. I get white pepper with a long spicy finish.

When I add a drop of water, the aromas intensify and get more.. homogenous? On the palate it seems sweeter and with more body. It has a nice long finish as before. I really like this whiskey and I’m impressed with how much it has developed in this short time. The Teeling single pot still has lots of potential – and is already a very nice whiskey.

Irish drams revived

Hello, whiskey lovers! I’ve been away for a while.. We have now – as you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram – moved to Ireland. It’s not because of the whiskey, believe it or not! We lived here ten years ago but moved back to Sweden in 2009, for work related reasons and more. But West Cork has always continued to be like home, especially in recent years, and because of changed circumstances and many other things, we decided to come back to live here again. We’re now back in West Cork since about a month, and are enjoying life.

Last summer I had planned to do a whiskey glass review, and had lots of other nice post ideas, but preparing a house for sale, packing down 10 years of living, and preparing to move abroad, simply has eaten up all my time and energy. Now, however, my fingers are itching to write again, there are loads of interesting whiskeys to taste, and interesting news in the Irish whiskey world. Ireland now has 23 working distilleries, and more to come. I haven’t been able to keep up with all the news out there, but will do some reading and some catching up. I plan to visit more distilleries when I can, and I’m definitely looking forward to that.

These are some babes that I’ve purchased and tasted since coming over to Ireland. I’ve finally had a decent taste of the Red Spot, had the nice surprise that the West Cork Dha Casca wasn’t a one-time limited release, I’ve visited the Clonakilty distillery and bought a bottle of their new single grain from the cask, and I’m exploring the world of Irish gins. I plan to visit some distilleries, and I’m looking forward to writing here again.

Expect some decent posts here soon, and of course have a fabulous St Patrick’s day whereever you are!

Thoughts before Whiskey Live

Oh, people! I definitely didn’t mean to stay away from this blog for so long.  I had lots of writing ideas, but there’s also the fact that we’re selling our house, which has totally eaten all of my time and/or focus. Other than that, I’ve been dealing with tech stuff here and there. But I’m back – and will get back to writing in one way or another.

Hello Dublin and Whiskey Live

Last year in late November, after reading all the posts about Whiskey Live on social media, I decided that I would be there this year. I will soon be in Dublin to do some distillery visits, taste some new whiskeys, and do some other tourist stuff before the big event on the 24th.

I have so much whiskey news to catch up with. Lots of things have happened since I last was involved for real, both new whiskey releases and interesting reflections about the happenings in Irish whiskey. During the summer and autumn I’ve mostly just browsed my Twitter and Instagram feeds and I’ve occasionally read articles or reviews. I haven’t bought anything because since we’re moving I don’t want to buy any new whiskeys until after the move. I said the same thing before we went to Islay in September, and we still came back with 6+ bottles… LOL. I’ve done better with the new Irish whiskeys, thinking I will get the opportunity to taste them either in some Dublin pub or at Whiskey Live – which means I’ve missed out on some good stuff. 

There are some whiskeys that have been released this year that I’m particularly interested in. Jameson Bow Street, Teeling single pot still, probably some other Teelings, the new Dingle single pot still, and the 5-year-old Pearse. The Clonakilty whiskey, which is a sourced whiskey, is interesting simply because it’s been extra matured in their warehouse in my favourite part of West Cork. I’ve recently heard about a new Powers single cask whiskey. And for Whiskey Live there will be another, yet more interesting whiskey available – the Red Spot. I’m so glad it’s been relaunched! Ireland needs more single pot still whiskeys out there.

So – what should I expect?

I don’t know what to expect from Whiskey Live, since it’s my first whiskey event outside Sweden, but I hope it will be something extra. I’ve been to quite a few whisk(e)y fairs in Sweden, and have been rather disappointed many times. There are lots of competent people out there and I’ve met many of them – often at the smaller fairs actually.

At the latest whiskey event I visited, the only exhibitors that really gave me something extra were all Swedish distilleries – always enthusiastic, competent, and proud of their stuff –  Eldvatten (excellent Swedish bottling company), and Teeling. Teeling had a tiny stall and not so many whiskeys – definitely no special releases. BUT they showed interest and competence, and I met a distillery representative (not sure what role he has nowadays) and had a good chat with him about the upcoming single pot still release, and more. It was a good experience, and this is what I expect from a whiskey event.

At a larger whiskey event I want to meet people who can give me information about the whiskeys displayed, recommendations, they should be able to say what makes their whiskey special. I expect to see the standard range from the brand BUT I also want to see the newest, coolest, most special products, and I want to be able to get information about them! I want to be surprised. Maybe my standards are too high?

I know that if I had the job to promote a whiskey brand at a big whiskey event, I would be super enthusiastic, learn all about the brand and the whiskeys I would promote, know the details, and bring the very best. Actually that would be a lovely job to do! 

All in all – I’m really looking forward to Whiskey Live. The whiskey events I’ve been to so far have actually been beer AND whiskey fairs, in which whiskey always has the smallest focus. A whiskey-only event is optimal of course. And with so many exciting things going on in the world of irish whiskey, I do expect a fabulous weekend.