Google The cream of the Irish plus aperitif

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

January 2, 2017


The cream of the Irish plus aperitif

For many years I had found most Irish whiskeys rather unimpressive, too light and weak, and sometimes too unlikely. But it’s true that all what we could get were the large brands, and most used to be bottled at 40% vol., or 43% vol. if you were lucky. It’s only when the first Cooleys appeared, and then when Midleton’s Redbreast was re-launched, that things started to change. And then you had these utterly stunning independent 1988-1991s... Let’s see if we find other gems today, and start all this with an unknown apéritif…

Blarney Stone 25 yo (40°, OB, for Switzerland, 1970s)

Blarney Stone 25 yo (40°, OB, for Switzerland, 1970s) one star and a half Probably an Irish blend, although the Blarney Stone lies 5 miles from Cork, while Cork is the home of Midleton, of course. Now given that this baby was possibly distilled in the early 1950s, it may have come from the old Midleton distillery (closed in 1975 if I’m not mistaken) but sadly, the label wouldn’t tell us anything. Colour: dark gold. Nose: some nice tinned and candied pineapples for a start, which reeks of Irishness indeed, with some white chocolate and touches of metal polish. Gets then very mossy and vegetal, with fern, crushed leaves, mown grass, and simply quite a lot of chlorophyll and freshly sawn pinewood. Some coconut balls, perhaps. The jury’s still out… Mouth: too bad, it got too pine-y, too sappy, and actually very resinous. It reminds me of Cadenhead’s very old Irish, which they were having around twenty years ago. Fir liqueur, Unicum, Fernet-Branca… All that without the sweetness that could have made it easier. Finish: medium, dry, always very pine-y. The coconut returns in the aftertaste. Comments: some very interesting parts, especially the nose, but the palate’s too difficult for me. Unbalanced. SGP:271 - 69 points.

Good, now that we’ve got a stepping stone, let’s tackle those glorious ones again…

Emerald Isle 24 yo 1991/2016 (57%, Specialty Drinks, cask #8583)

Emerald Isle 24 yo 1991/2016 (57%, Specialty Drinks, cask #8583) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: exceptional fruity nose, well in line with other bottlings of a similar make. Astounding mangos and passion fruits, plus juicy golden sultanas and a hint of peaty tropicalness, as could be found in old Bowmores or Laphroaigs that had been distilled in the 1960s. This style is just unassailable. With water: earth, humus, and moss! Always a wining combo that often fights the dullest vanillas with gusto and panache. Mouth (neat): immensely fruity, and yet magnificently balanced and elegant, with just the right amount of menthol and eucalyptus from the wood. Bags of passion fruits again, some spearmint liqueur, and one tiny drop of Jaegermeister. Implacable – unless it wouldn’t take water well on the palate, you never know when there’s oak... With water: no, it loves water. Multi-vitamin fruit juice, this does much good to our health. Finish: long, very fruity, and delicately mentholy. Still a little earth in the aftertaste, pine needles, moss… Comments: just as good as many very good 1991s from the same origin. Hope they have more. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Cooley 24 yo 1991/2016 (53.8%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 198 bottles)

Cooley 24 yo 1991/2016 (53.8%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 198 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: a completely different style, this is a much peatier, more austere whiskey, with some yeasty beer and hints of olives, certainly some brine, and a handful of old pennies. With water: earth, yess, gentian, yesss, fresh diesel oil, yessss… Mouth (neat): much, much, and I mean much more like it, this is almost a blend of 60% Ardbeg with 40% mezcal. Salt, brine, kippers, olives, lime, peppermint, tar… With water: ah yes it swims. Gets more Ardbeggian, more citrusy, tarrier, waxier… And more fruits are coming out, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, white currants, bitter oranges. I also love this bitter background, rather on propolis and other blackish things that the good people in the north used to chew. No, I’m not talking about sürströming (sp?) Finish: long, briny, perfect. The mezcal is striking back. Comments: Cadenhead, when are you going to bottle mezcal? Excuse me? You say you just did? SGP:456 - 91 points.

Irish Single Malt 27 yo 1989/2016 (45%, The Whisky Agency and Eiling Lim, barrel, 177 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 27 yo 1989/2016 (45%, The Whisky Agency and Eiling Lim, barrel, 177 bottles) Five stars Back to the fruit bombs, I suppose… Colour: straw. Nose: can you name at least thirty tropical fruits? Well done, they’re all in there. Especially pink bananas and tangerines! A touch of spearmint too. Mouth: well, we’re still in the same very fruity territories. Passion fruits for sure, grapefruits, mangos, a little chlorophyll, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gums… Plus a little green tea, and perhaps a tiny bit of Jaffa cake for good measure. I don’t think I’ve met another whisky that’s as splendidly fruity as these Irishs in recent times, given that those old Benriachs and Lochsides and early new Clynelishes are all gone, gone, gone. Right, perhaps not all Littlemills (more about those soon on WF). Finish: medium, fresh, fruity, easy. Easiness is an asset in this context. Grassier aftertaste. Comments: this one’s up there too. The others had just a little more knack. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Fine Single Malt Whiskey 26 yo 1989/2016 (47.2%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Fine Single Malt Whiskey 26 yo 1989/2016 (47.2%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re closer to the Cadenhead, with more grassy smoke, cut grass, peelings, eucalyptus, paraffin, various green teas… It’s actually rather a shy one, but should you give it some of your precious time, it’ll start to deliver. Some mentholy passion fruits wakening up after around three minutes. Mouth: ah this is superb! Grassy fruits and fruity herbs, pineapples, red apples, pomegranates, blood oranges, mangos, elderberry flowers (jelly)… There’s also something  (citrusy) that reminds me of the best sweet Jurançons. Always a hit at WF Towers. Finish: rather longer than feared, with notes of Canadian ice wine. No, really! Comments: the nose was not the most extravagant ever, but I adored the rather unusual palate. SGP:651 - 90 points.

A last one and we’re done with all this Irish tropicalness…

Emerald Isle 26 yo 1989/2016 (59.2%, Specialty Drinks, cask #16244)

Emerald Isle 26 yo 1989/2016 (59.2%, Specialty Drinks, cask #16244) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: I’m rather getting more vanilla, and hints of varnish. I suppose the higher strength prevents the fruits from speaking freely. So, with water: fruit bonbons and green-blue teas, then preserved peaches. Mouth (neat): it’s really strong! Very crisp, spirity, biting… But one can feel that what’s happening behind those thick curtains is cool and good, let’s see… With water: it’s actually the sweeter of them all, but it’s also got something that the others did not have; honey! Excellent. Finish: rather than Canadian ice wine, this would rather be Canadian ice cider. No, really. Comments: it’s really great to be able to monitor all these tiny differences between them all. Always compare! (if you can). SGP:641 – 90 points.

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







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