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Opinions about Irish whiskey

Clonakilty cognac cask, distillery exclusive

2020 has certainly been the year of whiskey samples. Online tastings, virtual festivals, sample swaps, dream dram services from pubs and whatnot.. we’re drowning in whiskey samples and empty sample bottles right now!

Some of these samples are from Bar 1661 and Dick Mack’s, others are my Mackmyra cask samples and other samples I was sent by Mackmyra and by friends/sample swappers, but I also have a nice collection of samples from Clonakilty distillery. We visited them some time ago, before the Covid situation went from bad to horrible in Ireland and distilleries were still open.

We had the opportunity to taste their new 15-year-old, the new cognac cask, and since my better half had to drive home we were sent home with a generous “doggy bag” of samples to enjoy a bit more later, many of them from the recent US brewery collaborations, but not only. It’s certainly nice to have contacts in the distillery!

Clonakilty whiskey samples
Clonakilty whiskey samples

The new cognac cask release is available to buy at the distillery – which now is closed again but it’s now available in their online shop (if you live in the US, see their website menu for another link). Clonakilty distillery recently released a cask strength whiskey finished in cognac casks, exclusively for Irish malts. This is a second one, bottled at 47% and released in a batch of 1035 bottles. It’s a blend of malt whiskeys distilled 2008 and grain whiskeys distilled 2010, matured in bourbon casks (I assume) at the original distillery location and then finished in 1st and 2nd fill cognac casks in the Clonakilty distillery warehouse, with the first casks being filled in the summer of 2018, so parts of the whiskey has spent a good amount of time in these casks.

My previous experiences of cognac cask finished whiskeys haven’t been great, which is mentioned in this post. I usually sense a bitter kind of flavour that is not so appealing to me. This is not one of them though – it’s one of the more palatable ones I’ve tasted so far, in good company with the Lambay.

Nose

Light. It kind of grows over time though. It starts with spice, then vanilla, orchard fruit, grapefruit, something floral and herbal, like wildflower grasses on meadow. in late summer. Very nice!

Palate

The palate is greeted with tropical fruit and a quite intense spice. The mouthfeel is quite light, watery but there are some more earthy flavours as well as dark chocolate and nougat. There’s a bitterness in the background but it’s not so pronounced.

I enjoyed this whiskey. It has a nice flavour profile and the more earthy and chocolatey layers give it a bit more complexity than the previous non-cask strength Clonakilty cognac cask had. It’s still quite light but a good sipper.

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