Category: Irish whiskey

Blacks Ops

I had two post drafts waiting, but after I visited the Shelbourne bar yesterday I had to ditch them both (for now) and instead write about this nice release from the Blacks distillery in Kinsale. The Blacks Ops.

Being resident in West Cork, I’m very happy to see the distillery development in this lovely area. Blacks is one of three (soon to be four if all goes well at Cape Clear) distilleries in West Cork.

Blacks started in 2013, by the couple Sam and Madeleine Black. It started as a brewery, and the distillery was added in 2015. However it seems they didn’t start distilling whiskey until 2018, so there will be a few years until we’ll see their own produce. For now, their whiskey is sourced. A 12-year-old single malt has been out there for some time, and some week ago I was informed about the Blacks Ops. It’s a blend of malt and grain whiskey, matured in sherry and bourbon casks, and finished in extra deep charred bourbon casks.

My first impression of this whiskey was that this isn’t your typical Irish whiskey. It’s messy and has an attitude. While I also very much enjoy the typical softer Irish whiskey characters, I really welcome variety on the whiskey scene. I like to come across whiskeys that stand out – if they do it in a good way, of course!

The Blacks Ops is bottled at 43 % ABV. It’s very dark. The extra charring probably gives some colour? According to Irish malts, where Blacks refer you to buy it, that’s the case here.

My first impression is liquorice. Then smoke, but not peat smoke. This is like smoke from a campfire, from burned wood. There’s also newly cut grass, floral herbs, thyme or similar. Something sweet and fruity, peach or apricot, but also something darker, like dried figs.

I get a rather oily and creamy impression on the palate which I usually don’t get from a whiskey at only 43%. The woodfire smoke is back and it’s quite powerful. There’s also something fresh and minty, but not from mint leaves, it’s more like eucalyptus? Rosemary perhaps? A hint of wood – obviously since there is that wood fire smoke. A nice sweetness underneath.

I really liked this whiskey! It’s wild and crazy with that smoke on top of sweet fruits and all kinds of things going on. Many whiskeys/whiskies these days are too mainstream, made too perfect, too elegant or “easy to drink”. It’s good to come across some more unruly whiskeys, that give your palate something to work with.

Dingle single pot still batch 2

It’s Friday again, and last week I actually forgot to post. We just moved into our new house, and trying to make it habitable takes way too much energy! I haven’t been around the Irish whiskey social media circles at all lately but decided I wanted to come back to posting as soon as possible, to not slack like I did last year. Browsing through my old tasting notes, I found my notes about the 2nd Dingle single pot still, that it seems I haven’t written about yet.

I wrote about the first Dingle single pot still release here, and I remember I found the first one more interesting than the first single malt releases, although I quite liked the single malts too. The single pot still had more complexity and interesting flavours, at least according to my palate in the spring of 2018.

This second single pot still from Dingle was released in late 2018, just before Whiskey Live Dublin, and I tasted it there. I liked it, but there was so much to taste there that I soon forgot about it. As most of you may know, the drops from Dingle sell out very quickly, so I didn’t expect to see it again really. But when we moved to West Cork in February, and visited the Off Licence in Clonakilty, we discovered they still had two bottles. On St Patrick’s day they were still there, and we decided to buy one.

Dingle single pot still batch 2

I found this bottling a bit more “decided” than the first one, that had loads of different flavours that competed with each other.

Cereals, sweet mint, orange but also a bit of lemon. A darker more raisin-like aroma.

A nice sweet but fresh citrus-ey feel, with a light oiliness. It reminds me of a Spanish citrus liqueur. Light on the palate but it has a nice flavour profile.
With a drop of water the citrus becomes stronger especially on the nose. The flavours come together a bit more, and there’s a more peppery and longer finish.

It’s still very young but in my opinion it has lots of potential, and I expect another single pot still release this autumn.

Teeling 24-year-old single malt

Teeling whiskeys: Vintage Reserve collection, 24-year-old single malt

Last week it was finally time to open up this sample bottle from Teeling – the famous award winning 24-year-old single malt.

There aren’t many older Irish whiskeys around, so I was very curious about how this one would be. Also, I have mixed experiences of older whiskeys. Older isn’t always better!
The oldest Irish whiskeys I’ve tasted before this have been 21-year-olds, from Midleton (Redbreast) and Bushmills, both excellent. In this Vintage Reserve collection from Teeling there is also a 33-year-old whiskey, the oldest Irish whiskey out there, as far as I know.

The 24-year-old is initially matured in ex-bourbon cask and has also spent some time in ex-sauternes wine casks. Teeling themselves write on their site that it’s “limited to 5000 bottles per batch“. I wonder if this means that the 24-year-old single malt will be an ongoing release from them? Well I certainly hope so!

This is one of the best Irish whiskeys I’ve tasted.
The first impression was an overload of flavour that filled up my entire being (ok, I little exaggerated, but you get it!).

Not impressive on the nose. Something smoky at first – almost like the burnt rubber of the Connemara. The smokiness disappears quite soon and there’s white pepper, wet wood, rhubarb and cereals.

There’s a total explosion on the palate with the first sip. Fantastic! I love it from the first moment it touches my mouth. I get toasted almond, figs, grapes, and apricot jam with a twist. An interesting combination of flavours – I love it!
The finish is long with a lingering sweetness but dryness on the tongue. With a drop of water it becomes sweeter but lighter in flavour – not worth it.

This is definitely a whiskey I’ll add to my “whiskeys I’ll buy when I want to spend some big money” whiskey list.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.