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

July 20, 2022


Couldn't we do a few Irish?

Long-time no Irish on WF. Let's try to find some kind of logic, or maybe not… So start with one and follow any path…

(Picture, at Midleton with some good friends, rather a long time ago)




Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, Irish, single pot still, +/-2018)

Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, Irish, single pot still, +/-2018) Four stars
Some kind of benchmark to start with, if you will. Colour: gold. Nose: we used to find this rather bigger than others, but by today's standards, it's become light whisky. Having said that, it's still very seductive, pretty complex, with these teas and softer waxes, butter cream, banana skins, honeys… We've tried a more recent batch just in March this year, but this very one seems to be more complex, almost assertive, and very 'pure pot still'. Mouth: rooty, especially with celeriac and chicory coffee. Not sure I've ever noticed this, OBE already? Also big notes of shredded carrot. Really, while I love shredded carrots (I'm the President for Life of the Shredded Carrots Appreciation Society (S.C.A.S). Also heather honey and beeswax. Well, this batch was particularly wonderful – sorry, haven't got any laser code. Finish: medium, awesome, on teas and… carrot juice. Comments: fantastic batch indeed, even the 40% don't feel.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

So, some kind of logic, we said…

Green Spot (40%, OB, Irish, single pot still, +/-2018)

Green Spot (40%, OB, Irish, single pot still, +/-2018) Four stars
Another Midleton from around the same period of time. I have to confess I'm rather less familiar with these coloured 'Spots'. There's a Green Spot finished in Saint-Julien (Léoville Barton) but luckily, this is not that one, it's the normal Green Spot. Phew! Colour: straw. Nose: similar style, but this is a little fresher, a little more on broken branches and, perhaps, pipe tobacco. A few added sour notes, French beans, tinned bamboo shoots and palm hearts… Mouth: same family indeed, but once again this is a tad more 'whacky', less 'obvious', more on grasses and vegetables, also a little more fermentary (miso), then oily, sesame oil, sunflower, stewed peaches and apricots… That's pretty 'pot still' indeed. Finish: rather long despite the strength, with a faint metallic touch, otherwise stewed fruits. Quince 'tajine'. Comments: I liked the Redbreast a little better but once again, it was a particularly successful batch.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

So, some kind of logic, we said…

Midleton 'Very Rare Release 1985' (40%, OB, blend, Ireland)

Midleton 'Very Rare Release 1985' (40%, OB, blend, Ireland) Three stars
The very first Midleton Very Rare ever, released in the year 1985, courtesy of Pernod Ricard. In general, distillers would send you their new stuff, which is totally normal, but this time they shipped a true wee verticale of their earlier expressions (including their new Very Rare, naturally). That goes to show that they're not afraid of any comparisons with their earlier makes, which is not always the case elsewhere. Well, Châteaux in Bordeaux would do that too. There, I said it, let us proceed… Colour: light gold. Nose: it's always been a light whiskey, and this is not exception. The grain doesn't shine through, which is good, but it's really light, rather on bananas and light breakfast teas, plus the softest honeys and cakes. I'm not sure it's a 'nosing whiskey', but after all, nosing your whisky is a fairly recent thing. Previously, you would have just gulped it down. Mouth: very soft, whispering, with notes of banana cake once more, soft teas, then hold on, carrots, a little gingerbread, the softest toffees, Frappuccino (apologies) and cappuccino. The wee earthiness is very pleasant. Finish: short to medium, on strictly the same flavours. Comments: the 2022 would just crush this fine and lightish oldie, proof that 'whiskey was not always better in the old days'. That may have been the whole point.

SGP:641 - 80 points.

Some kind of logic, we said…

Tomàsin 5 yo 2016 (49%, W.D. O'Connell, Irish, single pot still, cask #144104, 350 bottles, +/-2021)

Tomàsin 5 yo 2016 (49%, W.D. O'Connell, Irish, single pot still, cask #144104, 350 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
It says 'peat cask', so perhaps more in-cask blending, let's be careful… This was distilled at the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk. Colour: white wine. Nose: asparagus, fresh bark, sunflower oil, salsify, peanut butter, whiffs of lady's night cream and suntan lotion, shea butter… Well, the peat is very discreet. Mouth: there it is. It's fine, it's more or less of HP-levels, or say between light Ardmore and HP. Other than that, and even if this is pretty perfect, I would have preferred to find a similar profile after that nose that I really enjoyed. Roots, smoke, charcoal, grapefruit… No, it's really good and the peat is gaining traction. No, it's really really good. No, it's excellent, the smokiness being pretty tidal (I know what I'm trying to say). Finish: sometimes you just don't want to know about how they make their whiskies, it's like wurst. Oh hell, it's excellent. Comments: as I said, while it feels rather ten than five.
SGP:554 - 87 points.

Hinch 12 yo 'Amarone Cask Finish' (46%, OB, blended Irish, +/-2022)

Hinch 12 yo 'Amarone Cask Finish' (46%, OB, blended Irish, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
A blend of sourced grain and malt (well, that's the definition of a blend indeed), finished for two years in that thickish (sometimes brilliant) Italian red wine that's great with steaks and urban pizza, but maybe not in our whiskies. Colour: between straw and blush. Nose: grass, leaves, tomato leaves, charcoal, cactus, eggplant… No aromatic bomb for sure, even that amarone remained extraordinarily quiet. Was it first fill?  Mouth: as they say in Hollywood, this goes down nicely. Pleasant grenadine, poppy syrup, pear cake, moist cookies and macaroons, blood oranges… No quibbles, this is rather pleasant. Finish: medium, maltier. I don't think there's tons of grain whisky. Comments: its main asset is that it wouldn't be exactly 'amarone-y'. Good drop.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Since we're doing crazy (and sometimes unnecessary) finishes…

Glendalough 'French Oak Calvados XO Finish' (42%, OB, Irish, +/-2021)

Glendalough 'French Oak Calvados XO Finish' (42%, OB, Irish, +/-2021) Four stars
I would suppose this is their own whiskey; I'm only wondering if they're not also making Irish applejack over there, hence generate some ex-Irish applejack (or apple brandy) casks? Because between Irish whiskey and French calvados, there sure is a whole world…  BTW, XO means 'old' in whisky terminology, so 'rather young'. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, baked apples, covered with maple syrup, caramel and honey, with a lot of vanilla fudge in ambush. Love this, but once again we'd want to rather not know how they made it. Just love this. Mouth: it's a crossbreed between whiskey and apples. It is not exactly whiskey anymore, but they did this particularly well. Love this meta-spirit full of stewed and baked apples, melted butter, proper caramel and caramelised popcorn. Perfect strength. Finish: medium, rather on sweet artisan cider from Brittany (I'm over there as we speak, by the way). Comments: success. We've had, for example, some ex-calvados Caol Ila by a famous house in Elgin that had been much less convincing, but that was a very long time ago.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Yeah, the whisky world is full of marketing-generated antonyms. Rare means common, old means young, collectable means better drink it, finished means flavoured, etcetera. But let's go on… Since we were doing finishings…

Dingle 8 yo 2014/2022 'PX Single Cask' (59.7%, OB, Kirsch Import, 312 bottles)

Dingle 8 yo 2014/2022 'PX Single Cask' (59.7%, OB, Kirsch Import, 312 bottles) Four stars and a half
It is triple-distilled and it seems that it was not finished in PX, rather fully matured. I have the impression that Kirsch are really into un-boring sprits, first and foremost, rather than into classic old makes. You know, Macallan, Dalmore, 'livet  usw. Colour: full gold. Nose: yeah sure, banana cake, gingerbread, old balsamic vinegar, then huge notes of brown ale and tamarind jam. Fermenting figs, or fig wine too. With water: fig wine, really. To be sipped on the shore of the… Bosphorus. Mouth (neat): it is extremely strong, with some black raisins that would make it falsely approachable. Careful, it is not, it'll burn you. With water: there, more fig wine, fruitcake, raisin rolls, dried litchis and rambutans, Chinese almond jelly, and really a lot of figs. The thing is, I'm rather a fig addict. Finish: long, same, figs, Bosphorus, Turkish delights, maamoul (cookies filled with dates), baklava… Comments: some pretty oriental Irish whiskey selected by a German company; contrarily to popular belief, the world goes well. Great use of PX, for once.
SGP:751 - 88 points.

Since we're doing funny Irish (and since we still need some kind of logic…)

Currach 'Atlantic Wakame Seaweed Cask' (57.2%, OB, wakame seaweed charred cask, for Belgium and The Netherlands, cask #286, 2021)

Currach 'Atlantic Wakame Seaweed Cask' (57.2%, OB, wakame seaweed charred cask, for Belgium and The Netherlands, cask #286, 2021) Four stars
Right, as if Belgium and The Netherlands would need even more seaweed than they already have. Joking aside, we loved other 'seaweedy' expressions by these unconventional whisky people. It's true that all we need is fun, beyond love, no? Nah, peace is #1. Colour: gold. Nose: but yes, charcoal and lit cigars, whelks, new plywood from Ikea's, pistachio oil (very vivid), green bananas and, well, many unidentified green things. New cloths too. With water: fresh-sawn pinewood and Woolite. Mouth (neat): they're all extraordinary, really. This one's rather medicinal, perhaps a little 'too much' at times, with a rubbery bitterness that really sits near the utter limits of Whiskydom. Could be that this one went too far, it's that weird that you cannot even really describe it using common vocabulary. Whisky by and for aliens?  With water: not too sure. Sour creams, chlorophyl, moshi, broad beans, salt… This is terra incognita, really. Finish: long, very medicinal, sour, olive-y, with 'ideas' of Jamaican rum. Comments: I don't know, I really don't know. Well, what I know is that this is not boring at all. Reminds me of the Edgar-Broughton band. Go figure…

SGP:383 - 85 points.

Quickly, and I mean very quickly…

Currach 'Atlantic Kombu Seaweed Cask' (58.4%, OB, for Belgium and The Netherlands, 260 bottles, 2021)

Currach 'Atlantic Kombu Seaweed Cask' (58.4%, OB, for Belgium and The Netherlands, 260 bottles, 2021) Four stars
I'm lost, I don't know what this really is, while there are more pressing issues around, there. What we're actually waiting for is a 'Shrimp Croquette Cask', please do that. Colour: rich gold. Nose: less seaweed influence, more gingerbread, honey cakes, cigarette tobacco… With water: indeed, it is less extreme than the 'wakame'. Plywood, new cheap furniture, glues and varnishes, also rye bread and pumpernickel. That part is nicer for sure. Mouth (neat): huge, massive, flinty, rubbery, roasted… With water: back to breads and tobaccos. Molasses in the background. Finish: long, thickish, with a lot of gingerbread and a saltier aftertaste. Comments: this time the treatment has been a little subtler, but it is still a crazy heavyish concoction. It's just that I believe they've found something, it's not impossible that you could use 'new' seaweed instead of 'old' peat. We'll just need to talk a little bit about nitrosamines… In any case, with whisky and whiskey, which is exactly the same thing (vloggers!) much more fun should be around the corner. By the way, really love this unapologetic little monster.
SGP:473 - 87 points.

Good, perhaps some very newly classic make before we call this a tasting session…

Cooley 11 yo 1992/2019 (53.4%, Cadenhead's Open Day Big Tasting, barrel)

Cooley 11 yo 1992/2019 (53.4%, Cadenhead's Open Day Big Tasting, barrel) Two stars
Afterglows of Cadenhead's big tastings and a rather liberal view on mathematics. Should we even trust the A.B.V. mention here? Seriously, only time spent in Ireland counts, so as this cask was moved to Scotland quite some years ago, the time count was interrupted early. Colour: light gold. Nose: this really has Meursault, mercurochrome  and bandages. Hints of new plastics too (dolphins won't thank us). With water: too far towards plastics and acetic, bacterial fermentations. Mouth (neat): weirdo briney smoke, tinned olives from Peru, bitter and salty gums. Tough, really tough. With water: nope, really. Smoked pear, no thanks. Finish: long, burnt, rather difficult, with some muddy smokiness and a saltier aftertaste. Comments: I know many friends juts loved this one and almost built a statue to it, but I for one am finding it just too, say muddy and uncertain.
SGP:363 - 75 points.

Shall we call this a proper Irish session? Ten, that's a good number.

(Merci KC!)

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