Tag: Blended whiskeys

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.

WOTW – Teeling small batch

It’s about time that I write about Teeling on this blog, isn’t it? I haven’t so far because – don’t hate me now – I haven’t been overly impressed by their whiskey. But I’ve changed my mind recently.

Whiskey making runs in the Teeling family, starting in 1782 when Walter Teeling established a small distillery in the Liberties, Dublin. His descendent John Teeling opened the Cooley distillery in 1989, and in 2012, the Teeling brothers Jack and Stephen moved on from Cooley and launched Teeling whiskey company. The new distillery opened in 2015, and this year we’re awaiting the first whiskey produced in their own distillery – Teeling whiskey making is back in the Liberties.

I came across Teeling for the first time in late 2016. I had never heard of them, but their small batch blend was in the standard stock at our Swedish Systembolaget all of a sudden. I bought a bottle, and really liked it. Since I came to know about Teeling, they have impressed me greatly with their marketing skills, because since 2016 the name Teeling whiskey has been EVERYWHERE. As I stated in the beginning of this post, for a while I wasn’t too excited about Teeling whiskey. I wanted whiskey at cask strength, amazing flavour bombs, lots of complexity, and I didn’t think the Teeling whiskey I had tasted at the time fell into that category. When I now take a sip of the small batch blend I don’t understand what my tongue was doing earlier – it’s a fabulous whiskey.

My taste has evolved quite a lot since I started exploring the world of Irish whiskey, I now appreciate also the more simple whiskeys, as well as the very complex, older, or stronger whiskeys. They are just different whiskeys that can’t be compared. I’ve also found that there are many Scottish whiskies that I’m not interested in anymore because they lack the sweetness that Irish whiskeys have.

I’ve now had the opportunity to discover more from Teeling, some of their older and more complex whiskeys. The oldest I’ve tasted was the 15-year-old though, so I still have some Teeling tasting to do!

My visit at Shelbourne bar in Cork in March this year was the starting point for my renewed interest in Teeling whiskey. If I remember correctly, I told Mark about my opinions about Teeling and asked him to give me something that would prove me wrong. And he sure did.

This 12-year-old single malt finished in Merlot cask was a real beauty, and definitely one in the flavour bomb category. Later at the beer & whisk(e)y fair in Göteborg, I tasted their very nice 15-year-old from the Revival series. I’ve also fallen in love with the Teeling single grain whiskey, that is a more simple whiskey but still gorgeous. The small batch blend has been ignored on my shelf for a while, but when I had a dram of it last night, my palate sang with joy. 

Recently I bought a sample of another single cask bottling distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2016 – a sherry cask matured whiskey that also was a beauty.

So as my taste in whiskey has evolved, I’ve changed my mind about Teeling whiskey. I’m excited to get the opportunity to taste more from them, as well as the ones I didn’t like in the past to see if I’ve changed my mind about them. And of course I’m enormously excited over their first Dublin distilled whiskey that will – to my great delight – be a single pot still.

So what about the Teeling small batch? It’s a nice blend that has been finished for 6 months in rum casks, and bottled at 46% ABV. It has won several awards, the best blended Irish whiskey €60 and under, Irish whiskey of the year, and many more (see them listed here).

Something spicy, cereals, grass or hay, citrus or possibly pineapple.

Beautiful soft vanilla, a hint of honey, perhaps a small bit of tropical fruits. Spicy finish with some dark chocolate. With two drops of water the aromas are more intense and there’s more wood and something medicinal to the nose. It becomes sweeter and softer to the palate and possibly has a longer finish, but the flavours are more interesting without adding water. 
In case you wonder, when I do my tastings, I first taste the whiskey neat and then I always add water, but only 1-2 drops. Even whiskeys at 40% can change character with a drop of water, and curious minds want to know. As a conclusion, the Teelings know what they are doing, and this small batch blend is a very nice tasty whiskey that you can get at a very nice price.

This is the last Whiskey of the week or review for a while – I’m very busy right now but I have lots of ideas for other types of articles, and hope to be able to make time to write them. Occasional reviews will show up if/when I come across something fabulous.

WOTW – West Cork cask strength

This week we’re going for one of my very favourite whiskeys. If you’ve seen me on Instagram you’ll know this by now – I love the West Cork cask strength whiskey. I love cask strength whiskeys generally because of the nice oily texture they usually (not always) have, and because of the concentration of flavours. I like flavour bombs, and if the ABV is too high, there is always water in the tap to add if it’s too strong.

West Cork distillers is a very interesting distillery in Skibbereen, West Cork. They do a lot of interesting things there, and are very nice people who quickly respond to questions if you get in touch. This is something I really appreciate, as well as their whiskey.

I came across their cask strength whiskey when we visited West Cork distillers in August last year. I asked about their core range, and I was delighted to hear that they had added a cask strength whiskey to it. We bought a bottle while we were in Ireland, and since I was unsure about whether or not it would stay in their standard range (at the time it was listed as part of the limited edition cask series), I later ordered two more online.

This beautiful whiskey is a blend of 66% grain whiskey and 33% malt whiskey. West Cork uses pot stills for all their whiskey, also their grain whiskey. I’m curious to find out eventually how much difference it makes – I’ve tasted lovely column distilled grain whiskeys, but it is well known that pot stills give more flavour to the whiskey. This is a topic for more research and an own blog post.

West Cork Cask Strength is matured in first fill bourbon casks and then finished for 6 months in exhausted Irish whiskey casks. It’s bottled at the impressive 62% ABV.

Very floral aromas and some light wood. Clementine, vanilla and almond.

Lovely oily texture!! Some oak character, sweetness, citrus, a hint of dark chocolate, and a nice spicy finish. Obviously this whiskey goes well with some water, that adds sweetness and honey flavours, as well as more malty flavours and soft vanilla. 
It’s strong, but it’s lovely. The oiliness is simply fabulous, and you can add some water and it will still be nice, oily, sweet, smooth, and with lots of flavour.

Because of its high ABV, I tasted this whiskey in the Neat glass which was a very nice experience. I’m also going to taste it in the Túath glass eventually – I will definitely write about it and compare these glasses with an ordinary Glencairn glass. It’s interesting what difference a glass shape makes to a whiskey!

WOTW – Kilbeggan 21 years old

Some time ago when I couldn’t sleep, I browsed an online whiskey shop, and decided to order some samples. One of them was the 21-year-old Kilbeggan. I just recently found out that they have released an older Kilbeggan, and of course I was curious about it. I didn’t know what to expect since I haven’t really tasted much of the Cooley brands, although I’ve probably tasted loads of their stock sold to non-distiller whiskey companies.

I’m not greatly fond of the ordinary Kilbeggan blend, it’s not bad at all but it’s a little too sweet for my taste and simply doesn’t stand out much enough to fall into my favourite whiskey category. But older whiskeys are always interesting, and I was curious about what years in a cask would do to a Kilbeggan whiskey.

I have mixed emotions about older whiskeys. Some are fantastic while others lose nice characters with age. Some of my very favourite whiskeys are of this age – like the 21-year-old Redbreast for example – but there are other whiskeys that I prefer as 12-year-olds. So what about this Kilbeggan?

(The disadvantage with buying sample bottles is the lack of decent photos!!)

This is a limited blend – made with malt and grain (from corn) whiskeys.. A variety of cask types have been used – ex-bourbon, port, madeira and sherry. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.

Sweet, vanilla, a fruitiness I can’t define. Something that reminds of paint. Citrus peel – mostly lime.

Citrus, cereals, honey. The flavours stay in the front part of my mouth – there’s not any real development on the palate. This disappoints me a bit, and also that there’s quite a lot of flavour but I think there’s something missing, probably the fact that it lacks the complexity on the palate in my opinon. It has a medium finish that is slightly bitter but it also has the honeyish type of sweetness.

So well, this wasn’t one that blew me away and I won’t go and buy a full bottle of it. Still, it was good to get the opportunity to taste it.

WOTW – Dublin Liberties Oak devil

I came across this brand when I started searching for information about Irish whiskey some year ago. The Dublin Liberties whiskey, The Dubliner whiskey, and now Dead Rabbit, are owned by Quintessential Brands (along with many others, I’ve only mentioned the whiskeys here), and a new distillery also named Dublin Liberties will open later this year in – of course – the historical Liberties area in Dublin.

This old whiskey quarter of Dublin is now awakening to be a whiskey producing area again. Teeling opened there, then Pearse Lyons distillery, and now Dublin Liberties.

There’s loads to say about the Liberties and about its history, and I certainly want to learn more about it, but I’ll leave that for another day.

I was curious to taste these whiskeys, and I ordered the Copper Alley – or so I thought. I don’t know who did the mistake, myself or the web shop I ordered from! I didn’t receive the Copper Alley but instead the Oak Devil, and of course that one is also interesting to taste.

The Oak Devil is a blend of double distilled malt and grain whiskeys. It’s aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 46%. It appears the Liberties was once called “Hell” and with this whiskey they’ve played around with that. The website describes a carved oak devil that once stood at the entrance to the Liberties, and that one night suddenly disappeared, seduced by the whiskey angels escaping the barrels of the distilleries, or that the dark powers from the oak devil entered the barrels. Dark powers or not, this was an interesting whiskey to taste, definitely not the typical blend.

This whiskey has a FANTASTIC aroma. I’d like a scented candle with this! Light wood, floral, something that reminds me of wild strawberries. Pineapple, light lemon, something minty and herbal. I love it.

I wasn’t totally impressed by the flavours here, but it has some interesting characters. As with the nose, i get something woody and very floral, mint and herbs, a kind of bitter feel. Quite dry and has a nice peppery finish.

The bitter and quite odd flavour makes the Oak Devil not one of the whiskeys I enjoy to sip. Interesting, yes, and it’s fasacinating how different it is from other bourbon matured whiskeys I’ve tasted, but the bitter feel it gives my palate isn’t my cup of tea. However, I’m looking forward to seeing the distillery open, and I will definitely visit when I get a chance. I’m now also looking forward to tasting the other whiskey, the one i intended to buy – the Copper Alley.

WOTW – Jameson Black Barrel, cask strength

This is one of my favourite Irish whiskeys of all time, and I haven’t even known about it for long! When we were over to Ireland in August, we visited the Midleton distillery to do some browsing in the shop and have lunch. We found a very nice surprise…

Since some time back, they have a cask of Jameson Black Barrel for customers to bottle on site. It’s the usual Jameson Black Barrel but cask strength, and ridiculously delicious. Our first bottling, in August, was at 58% ABV, wonderfully creamy, and simply fabulous.

Of course when we were over in March, we wanted to go back and get some more, especially since I’m preparing for a tasting where I’ll show off some of the best from Ireland.

I absolutely don’t mean to insult anyone else’s whiskey, but to find the best Irish whiskeys, so far you almost always end up with mainly Midleton whiskeys. I’ve tasted some fabulous and/or interesting non-Midleton Irish whiskey, but they were all small batch and very limited edition, and I want to be able to tell the people who come to my tasting that “this is a fab whiskey and you can buy it here (insert whiskey shop)” about the majority of the whiskeys I include in the tasting.

And regarding Midleton, I suppose this only proves that they know what they are doing and that they should be proud of it. I’m going to write more about this eventually, both about my tasting and about my view on what makes one whiskey more interesting than another.

But back to Black Barrel.

Black Barrel is a nice blend made from single pot still and grain whiskeys, but has a higher pot still content than the usual Jameson, and some of the grain is a special small batch grain whiskey. Some of the spirit in this whiskey has been matured in first fill bourbon casks that have been additionallly charred using a special method to bring out more flavour. This gives it a slightly different flavour profile than the usual Jameson, more oak, butterscotch, chocolate and spice.

The whiskey reviewed here was bottled just after the St Patrick’s weekend, and it’s 60,2% ABV. Rather strong, but as we know, higher alcohol content maintains more flavour, and there’s water in the tap for anyone who wants to water it down.

Lots of oak. Pineapple, something undefined fresh. Sweetness, vanilla, toffee. Damp malt. 
With a few drops of water the aromas are sweeter and softer, more fruity. Banana?

Creamy toffee, leaning towards salted caramel. There’s pepper and vanilla, nice long peppery finish. With a few drops of water the texture feels more oily but it still has a dry feel to the tongue. Pleasant sweetness and with a feel of old wood and damp warehouse.

This truly is a fabulous whiskey. I’m always a fan of cask strength whiskeys because of the concentration of flavours. I love flavour bombs, sweetness, and that caramel character in whiskey. (guess if pot still whiskey is my cup of tea?!) The ordinary Black barrel is lovely but a little too “weak” in my opinion, so this one is definitely a treat. 

So whiskey lovers, if you visit Cork, you have to take a trip to Midleton and the distillery visitor centre. The price for one bottle is towards the higher end but it’s definitely worth it!