Tag: Friday dram

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.

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.

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).

Nose
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.

Palate
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!