Tag: Single malt

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!

WOTW – Tipperary The Rising

Tipperary Boutique Distillery is yet another new whiskey distillery to open in Ireland. The future of Irish whiskey is truly exciting!

From the info I’ve managed to find so far, Tipperary distillery plans to open next year.Their brand is already alive and kicking though, they have released a few whiskeys, and I came across this one last August in an off-licence shop. I had never heard about the brand or plans of a distillery in Tipperary, and was very curious about this whiskey. Since they are not distilling yet, it’s a sourced whiskey they have selected that reflects the particular style of whiskey they want to produce once the distillery is up and running. It’s a single malt, 11 years old, double distilled, matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 47% ABV. It was released in the spring of 2016, and the name celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.

It’s a nice, sweet and fruity whiskey that I’ll happily drink again. It should also be a nice option for summer cocktails. In the past I’ve despised whiskey cocktails but now I’m becoming more and more interested in them. This whiskey probably has a good character for blending but it’s also good to drink neat.

Nose
Banana and something else tropical. A hint of vanilla and possibly cinnamon. Cereals. After a drop of added water there is some grapefruit.

Palate
Tropical fruits, sweetness with a small bit of honey. Something minty, maybe rosemary? It has a nice finish with something spicy to it. Some oak and it gives a dry feel on the tongue.

WOTW – Dingle single malt, Supervalu release

This is another whiskey that was sent to me while I was in Ireland in March. A very nice limited edition Dingle single malt, matured in bourbon casks and finished in port casks. (or was there even more than one cask?)

While the Batch 1 single malt was quite light in flavour (although a VERY nice flavour profile) and therefore didn’t enter my whiskey tasting recently, this special single malt was an unexpected surprise. If I had known about it in time so that I could have bought a few bottles, I would definitely have included this in the tasting. Now I saw it had been sold at auction for 270 GBP. So crazy for a 3-year-old whiskey!

However. Dingle is an interesting distillery that I admire a bit. I guess you can discuss whether or not it is a good thing to release a whiskey after only three years, but I like the concept. I completely understand why other new distilleries buy sourced whiskey to release good whiskey under their own brand while waiting for their own produced whiskey to mature, but at the same time – when they release their own produce, will it follow the same profile as the sourced whiskey? Or be totally different?

When a distillery ONLY uses their own produce, you can follow the development of the whiskey exactly. But that being said, I’m a novice in the more exact details of how distilleries work with these things – I would love to have the opportunity to stay a couple of days in a distillery to learn more about how they work and find out this kind of details. I hope I can do something like that in the future.

Nose
It has an interesting woody character to the nose. I also get chocolate, mint, herbs, grass, something that reminds of apple.

Palate
It gives a dry feel to the mouth. Red wine, a light bitter flavour, undefined spices, a feel of old damp basement/warehouse. Peppery, woody finish, it’s a lot more intense than the other Dingle single malt whiskeys I’ve tasted (Batch 1 & 2).

With a few drops of water the aromas disappear quite a lot and the alchohol comes through a bit more. However, it also seems more balanced in the flavours after adding a drop or two of water, more oily texture and more sweetness. This with the dry feel to the palate makes me think of Redbreast Lustau. Interesting whiskey and more intense in flavour than the other Dingle whiskeys (not counting the single pot still here). I hope they will continue to do this sort of special releases so we can taste more of what Dingle has to offer. 

Thanks again to Whiskey Nut for sample!

WOTW – West Cork Dha Casca single malt

As you can see, I’m late with the WOTW this week. I almost didn’t post one – I’ve caught a bad cold which makes it impossible to do any decent nosing and tasting. Even if I’ve tasted a whiskey in the past, I want to do it again before writing a post, because I often change my mind or find new characters after a while. But I won’t be able to taste this again – at least not now.

Dha Casca means “two casks”. I had the privilege to have a sample of this whiskey sent to me some time ago while I was in Ireland, a limited release single malt whiskey from West Cork Distillers. It’s been matured in Bodega sherry casks, cut to 40%, and then finished in double charred bourbon casks.

After I came home from Ireland and did some internet searches for more info on this whiskey, I realised that it was still available at Supervalu in some places! How bad that I didn’t know about that (or that I didn’t think of that possibility while I was there, I guess I thought it was so old that all of it was gone already) and did some more Supervalu visits! It’s a very nice whiskey indeed.

Nose
Light wood, something floral, fruity, maybe pineapple, strawberry, a touch of lemon? Definitely almond, and something undefined burnt.

Palate
Floral, and light oak. Pepper with something fruity further back into the throat. Nuts? Äpple? It has a long finish with pepper. With a drop of water, there’s some vanilla too. Nice and complex, but as you can see, and as I’ve noticed many times I find it very difficult to identify certain fruity flavours and aromas in whiskey. I can tell if it’s fresh, dark, citrus-like or similar. So that’s the reason behind all my question marks. Whatever the fruits are – I really liked this whiskey and would love to buy it if I can find a bottle.

Thanks to Whiskey Nut for whiskey sample and photos!

WOTW – Dingle single malt, batch 1

I’ve finally arrived to Dingle whiskey. The Dingle distillery was one of the first I came across when I started looking for information about irish distilleries. I had been to Dingle once previously but didn’t know about the distillery back then – what a shame!

They opened in 2012, by a group of people who owned a craft brewery. The plan has always been quality over quantity, to continue small scale production of a really good whiskey, and the first drops of whiskey were ready in December 2015.

Until the early 2000s there were only three distilleries in Ireland, and it was definitely about time for new independent distilleries to open, which is exactly what is happening now with new distilleries being planned, built, or opened all over Ireland. Dingle was, after West Cork, the second new distillery to open in Ireland in many years.

When I first read about their whiskey I found the description of it very appealing, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from such a young whiskey. The very first whiskey from one single cask was released in December 2015, and the batch 1 single malt was released in 2016. I had the opportunity to taste it in a Cork pub in April 2017, and loved it from the very first drop. When I came to Dublin I looked for it everywhere to buy a bottle, but nobody had it for sale anymore. Later that year however, the brilliant L Mulligan whiskey had opened their web shop and I bought it from there.

It’s a nice smooth whiskey – maybe a little bit too smooth for my taste – but with a gorgeous flavour profile, fruity but with a touch of dark chocolate and oak. It’s matured in bourbon casks, and bottled at 46,5% ABV.

Nose
Lemon peel and orange, dark chocolate bar, light hint of cereals.

Palate
Dark chocolate, herbs, fresh citrus, light pepper. 
With a drop of water it gets a more oily feel, there’s more chocolate and herbs, along with some pepper and oak. Very nice!

I tasted the cask strength version of this whiskey in Dublin in August, and it was absolutely beautiful. Extra everything, extra fabulous. I really like cask strength of any whiskey because the stronger alcohol content keeps the flavours in the whiskey and often gives it that nice oily texture that I love.

I really like the Dingle whiskey, it has a nice character and is impressive for being so young. It’s a very interesting distillery too, I’m really looking forward to see what they will release in the future and how their whiskey will develop over time. As well as a second – very nice – single malt they have already released a single pot still whiskey – so they are heroes in my opinion!! I’ve been wondering why no distillery other than Midleton makes pot still whiskey for other than blends. It was definitely about time!!

Dingle distillery is located quite centrally in Dingle, they have a small visitor centre and offer a lovely distillery tour, definitely book yourself in for a tour if you’re in the area! It ends with a tasting where you can taste the whiskey and also their gin or vodka (at least when we were there).

Read more about Dingle distillery and their whiskey here.

WOTW: West Cork rum cask finish

This week’s dram is a nice 12-year-old single malt from West Cork Distillers. It’s a sourced whiskey, but has spent time in the West Cork warehouse. It’s been matured in first-fill bourbon casks for 12 years, and then finished in rum casks for a shorter period of time. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.

West Cork whiskeys have an interesting floral character that I haven’t been able to identify yet (suggestions welcome), and this one is no exception. It’s a smooth and very nice dram.

West Cork distillers keep the whiskey in the finishing casks for shorter time than many other distilleries, in order to keep the bourbon cask character. I haven’t decided yet if I think this is good or bad. I like lots of flavour and I do like whiskeys where also the cask used to finish the whiskey has left its character, but the typical flavours of the ex-bourbon cask are definitely very nice.

Nose
The whiskey greets your nose with fresh fruit, light oak scents, vanilla, and pepper.

Palate
Peppery, spicy entrance, then fresh fruitiness along with vanilla, floral notes, and a long peppery finish. With a drop or two of water the oak scent comes through stronger, the oak takes more place, more sweetness appears and there’s more body to the whiskey. Generally this whiskey is quite light, perhaps a little too light for my liking.

The nice fruity character and long spicy finish kind of makes up for it but I miss a more robust body, I really like whiskeys where there’s a strong body behind all the other flavours. Still, how you like and perceive different kinds of whiskeys always depends on many different things, and this is a very nice whiskey after all, one that I’d happily enjoy also on a hot summer day.