Category: Irish whiskey

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.

Nose
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.

Palate
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.

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

Palate
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.

Nose
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.

Palate
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.

Teeling Revival Series V

Teeling whiskeys: Revival series V

It’s Teeling time again, people!

The Revival series from Teeling was created to celebrate the opening of the new Teeling distillery and the return of distilling in Dublin. The series was first launched in 2015, each of the bottlings with its own special cask finish. This is the last whiskey in the series, released in the spring of 2018, shortly before the release of Teeling’s first single pot still. Previously I’ve only tasted one from the Revival series, the 14-year-old (very nice indeed) so I was very curious about this one.

My little sample bottle doesn’t have an age statement, but in various places online I see that it is a 12-year-old single malt. It’s been initally matured in ex-bourbon casks, and then finished in a combination of brandy and cognac casks.

You remember that I wasn’t overly happy about last week’s Teeling? Well, this one definitely suited my palate.

Nose
My first impression is – VERY nice aroma. Warm chopped hazelnuts, lemon peel and some white pepper. I even get some nutella, but that’s gone the second time I nose it.

Palate
A nutty almondy entrance, honey sweetness. It’s quite light bodied but has a nice warm lingering with a small hint of dark chocolate. There is some bitter citrus in the background. Light wood and a creamy mouthfeel. I really like this whiskey.
With a drop of water it becomes softer on the palate, and a bit more balanced. This isn’t always a good thing – it happens that more balance makes whiskeys less interesting. It’s not the case here though, I wish I had added water earlier!

Very nice whiskey and a worthy ending of the Revival series (of which I’ll try to taste more eventually).

This whiskey was sent to me from the brilliant Teeling whiskey company. All opinions & tasting notes are my own.

Teeling whiskey series

Teeling whiskeys: Brabazon bottling 1

Hello people, I hope you are well. I’ve been unable to post a few weeks because of exams, flu and other things going on but now I’m back on track, I hope.

I’m continuing my journey through the Teeling whiskey range. The Brabazon bottling series was released in 2017, and takes the name from the Brabazon family, who dominated the Liberties area in Dublin from the 16th to the 19th century, and became Earls of Meath.
The Brabazons laid out the market space at Newmarket, now home to the Teeling distillery. The area became an important area for business which attracted many tradesmen and crafts – among them Walter Teeling who started the original Teeling distillery in 1782. The Liberties housed several distilleries at the time, and because of this history, it’s a delight to see the distilling tradition return to the area in our days.
The Brabazon series celebrates the reason why Teeling and many other distillers came to this part of Dublin to begin with, and why they are coming back.

The Brabazon bottling number 1 is a vatting of single malt whiskeys from six different sherry casks, and bottled at 49,5% ABV. It’s non chill filtered and has no added colourings.

I opened this little bottle while spending a day in our new house, with no furniture other than my computer desk, no kitchen gear and no heating yet (let’s call it we have a DIY house). After several hours without heating and quite dull weather outside, I was frozen, and it was nice with a little dram. But it’s also a fact that whiskey needs a certain temperature to show its true identity, and I’m not sure how well I managed to warm it with my hand.

Teeling Brabazon bottling no 1

Nose
Not the very typical sherry aromas to me. Darker damp wood, mint chocolate, baked apple and cinnamon. A light medicinal feel. A quite odd mixture of aromas!

Palate
Dark wood, with very spicy or peppery attack as a first impression. There’s some undefined sweetness. The baked apple with cinnamon comes back, and the spicy notes follow along to a quite long and dry finish.
With a few drops of water there’s more vanilla and pepper on the nose, it becomes sweeter to the palate but loses some body and the more interesting characters.

This whiskey was generally quite odd to me – I find it a bit too indecisive and less balanced than their standard single malt for example. However, the extra spice suited my palate very well, especially on the day of tasting, and the fact that this whiskey also gave me a history lesson makes me like it more!

This whiskey was sent to me from the brilliant Teeling whiskey company. All opinions & tasting notes are my own.

Teeling whiskeys: The non age statement single malt

I received a very nice little parcel a few weeks ago. After I had published this post about the Teeling single pot still, a nice person at Teeling thought I should taste the award winning 24-year-old single malt, and I received not only that one, but a few other samples too.

There’s something else (other than the whiskeys) that is brilliant about this parcel…

No plastic packaging. This increases my respect and appreciation for Teeling even more! Every decent company these days should minimise the use of plastic packaging, or better yet, stop using it altogether. The only plastic that came with this parcel was there to cover the address label.

Plastic aside, I decided eventually that since I now have a nice little collection of Teeling whiskeys, and Teeling has loads of other interesting expressions out there to explore, to start this Teeling series, that will be published outside of the weekly reviews. I will start with the non-age statement single malt.

I’ve actually had a bottle of this in the past, but wasn’t particularly fond of it back then. I wonder what my taste buds were up to??! Then last summer I spent a few days with a friend to practice for a little gig and she had a bottle of it. And I loved it.

This whiskey is made from malt whiskey finished in five different wine casks: sherry, port, madeira, white burgundy, and cabernet sauvignon. One may think that this creates a final product that is very.. eh, undecided? Instead I think it’s nicely balanced. It’s a non-age statement whiskey but Teeling themselves write on their site that the oldest whiskey in this expression was distilled in 1991 – I’m not sure exactly which release I have here but however, likely they still use whiskey of a decent age in it. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose
I spent quite some time trying to define what my nose perceived on this one. A nice sweetness along with tropical fruits – bitter citrus such as grapefruit, pineapple, and perhaps apricot. Grass or hay, or it could be the malt. Also some hints of dried fruits, nice warm aromas.

Palate
More grapefruit and pineapple. Dry mouthfeel but there is also a hint of honey sweetness. There’s a nice mixture of bittersweet flavours where the sweetness takes the lead. Dried herbs or maybe cereals. There’s a nice lingering citrus-ey feel along with cloves or other spices.

I didn’t add water to this which I regret now when I read other people’s tasting notes. However, I will get the opportunity to do that. This is a lovely whiskey and I will definitely buy another full bottle of it quite soon, to enjoy more of it. I also love to see whiskey producers dare to try new things – such a variety of cask finishes in the same bottle can’t be very common. The final result is a very interesting (in the positive sense of the word) whiskey with nice depth and flavours that appeal to my palate.

This whiskey was sent to me from the brilliant Teeling whiskey company. All opinions & tasting notes are my own.

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.

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

Palate
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.