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Friday dram

West Cork single malt, virgin oak finish

We live in strange and scary times right now but I’m going to continue to talk about Irish whiskey.

West Cork Distillers has ditched the old 12-year-old single malt series and there is now a new cask series available with whiskey made at their own distillery in Skibbereen. They are all non-age statement single malts, matured in first-fill bourbon casks, and then finished in different casks; sherry, calvados, port, stout, IPA, rum, or virgin oak.

These appear to be very young – I’ve tasted the sherry cask and it seems too young for what I prefer in a whiskey, while the stout cask and the virgin oak finish were different. This is to be expected in whiskeys from newer distilleries when they move on from using a sourced liquid to using their own. The older cask series from West Cork was a collection of 12-year-old single malts, all sourced from another distillery. If we want to see the distilleries use their own produce, we need to get used to the fact that they will be young and not to be compared with more well-matured whiskeys. It takes a few years for whiskey to become truly good whiskey, as we all know, and with so many new distilleries in the country, we need to be patient, support them, and see the potential in the new products.

Personally I’m delighted to see new whiskeys from West Cork that come from their own stills (I’ve been quite confused about that when it comes to certain bottles by West Cork Distillers) and as usual with new young whiskeys, I’m looking forward to seeing how they will develop.

West Cork virgin oak finish single malt

I’ve always been a fan of virgin oak and I like that West Cork Distillers has chosen to add a virgin oak cask finished whiskey to this collection. Sometimes the oak character can be too strong, but generally, I like a bit of oak present in whiskey.

This whiskey, like the others in this collection, has been matured in ex-bourbon casks for an unknown number of years and has then spent some time in virgin oak casks from the Kelvin Cooperage, a company that originated in Scotland but now resides in Kentucky.

Nose

There’s an interesting mix of aromas here. Damp wood, vanilla with some spice, maple syrup, resin, clementine peel, bark that has been warmed up by the sun… or something else forest-related. It has a nice warm feel on the nose.

Palate

As expected there’s lots of wood. Perhaps too much, but ok. There’s a nice spice attack at the first sip, with pepper and some kind of Christmas spice. There’s leather, nuttiness and a mouth-lining feel with a long peppery finish.

Definitely an interesting whiskey, gives me the feeling of walking in the forest early in the morning when it’s still damp, with all the woody aromas along with a certain freshness. Definitely the tastiest of those I’ve had so far in this collection. But if you don’t like virgin oak you’ll want to get another one because there’s LOADS of oak in this one.

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