Chapel Gate isn’t a distillery, but a modern whiskey bonding company, meaning that they buy good quality whiskey from distilleries, and mature it in their own casks. Whiskey bonding is an important part of Ireland’s whiskey history, for example the Spot whiskeys and the big Redbreast brand was created by whiskey bonders.
Nowadays, new whiskey brands pop up everywhere, and many of them are probably in reality whiskey bonders. Many whiskey companies start building a brand without having a distillery – some because they are building their distillery, or their distillery is so new that their own whiskey is still in casks for maturation, and they buy sourced whiskey to release a whiskey with their brand in the meantime, either as a custom made ready product or they own a warehouse where they finish the sourced whiskey in own casks.
The later could probably be considered whiskey bonders, some have no plans for having a distillery but only plan to do the maturation part. But although cask management and maturation is an art form in itself, few (or perhaps none) take pride in being whiskey bonders such as Chapel Gate.
Chapel Gate has its home on a family farm in county Clare where they’ve built a rackhouse where all the magic will happen. Their first whiskey, The Gael, was released during 2017, a very interesting blend. It consists in not less than four different whiskeys, three single malts and one grain. These whiskeys have arrived already mature to Chapel Gate, and have been carefully blended there.
The brand, JJ Corry, has its name from an old whiskey bonder from the area. He wasn’t only whiskey bonder but he was also an innovator and entrepreneur, and The Gael is actually the name of a bike he invented.
It’s bottled at 46% ABV, and the only cask type that is specified is the oldest single malt component that has been matured in ex-sherry butts, so I suppose the others must be matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Fresh apple with a light hint of mint, honey and citrus.
There’s loads going on here. The first entrant is lime and fresh stone fruit, followed by a floral character and lots of honey. Pepper comes in at the end, it’s quite intense but mixes well with the honey and creates a nice long and spicy finish.
A nice, flavourful and complex whiskey but still fresh and smooth. You have to get this one. And do you know a whiskey nerd who claims that blended whiskeys are boring? You have to get him/her this one.
Read more about Chapel Gate and The Gael here.