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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

September 12, 2013


Tasting three rather impressive
peated Cooley

There are some new or newish independent peated Cooley aka Connemara around! I'll always remember the first Connemara I could try, that was blind, on location at... Ardbeg! That was fun.

Cooley 13 yo 1999/2013 (51.4%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Cooley 13 yo 1999/2013 (51.4%, The Whisky Mercenary) Four stars The Whisky Mercenary is one of these sweet Belgian proams that are so passionate about whisky (and sometimes shrimp croquettes, just like yours truly). Colour: straw. Nose: it's a fresh and relatively light kind of peat smoke that first arises, and then rather sweeter elements, around jelly beans and sweets. I seem to detect cherries, for example. Also a little lemonade, which works well in this context, honeycomb... It tends to become pleasantly fatter and oilier after a few seconds, but never quite a, well, an ashtray. With water: becomes more medicinal, so Islayesque. Antiseptic. Mouth (neat): well in line, although a little drier and grassier. The peat is bigger than expected - although not as ashtray-y as some officials - and there's quite some pepper, ginger and cardamom. Becomes more citrusy after two or four seconds, mainly on grapefruits. It's funnily both powerful and light, not too sure you see what I mean. With water: very good, very well balanced. A little easier with water. Finish: long, with notes of smoked tea. Maybe bergamots as well? Comments: excellent, well on par with the best Islays of similar age. I tend to like this better than the officials! SGP:456 - 87 points.

Connemara 15 yo 1992/2007 (50.5%, OB for Whisky Fair Limburg, bourbon barrel)

Connemara 15 yo 1992/2007 (50.5%, OB for Whisky Fair Limburg, bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half This one isn't recent but I thought it would be a good idea to have it after the 1999 since it's of similar age. Colour: straw. Nose: oh! This is completely different, it's smokier, peatier, much drier and, above all extremely walnutty. It's almost bone-dry fino sherry or heavy vin jaune from Arbois. Interesting, but dangerous... With water: same plus a little dark chocolate. This is very ashy and sooty. Mouth (neat): big, bitter and acrid, almost violent. Lories of walnuts again, grass, bitter herbs and rocket. I've seen some call that also aragula? And this feeling of 'swallowing an ashtray'. With water: more of all that, plus something inky, perhaps. Finish: long, smoky and ashy. The ink and soot got even louder. Comments: this one's very extreme and totally unsexy. Quite an experience and I like experiences. SGP:267 - 84 points.

Cooley 21 yo 1992/2013 (56.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 210 bottles)

Cooley 21 yo 1992/2013 (56.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 210 bottles) Five stars Another new Cadenhead from summer this year. We're having a lot of Cadenhead these days but it's true that they fired earlier than others with their new bottlings. That was smart! Colour: straw. Nose: this one sleeps a bit after the younger ones, but maybe that's the higher strength. Quite some mash though, mashed potatoes, then more earth and humus, which I always like when it's not plain dirty. Oh and a little gentian. With water: oh, some kind of smoked pears now! Or strawberries? It's a great nose. Mouth (neat): a very unusual one, with a combination of flavours that's nowhere else to be seen in my experience. It's actually a triplet of bitter herbs, ashy smoke and candied oranges and kumquats. Quite a cocktail! But it's also very strong, water is needed. With water: oh yes! What's starting to happen here is the kind of 'transmutation of peat' that's also to be observed in old Laphroaigs or Bowmores. So less straight smoke and more tropical and citric fruits, maracuja, mangos, lemon, tangerines... Perfect! Finish: long, citrusy, with also touches of waxes and oils. How could we be against that? Comments: at 25 yo these casks will be stellar. They're already quite stellar, in fact. SGP:457 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Irish I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback







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