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!