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

November 30, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Liquid Irish History 
It’s been a while since I’ve done an exclusive Irish session. I always enjoy older bottlings of Irish Whiskey. Even if they aren’t always technically as thrilling as their Scottish counterparts from similar eras, they very clearly exhibit their own style and are always quite fun and instructive to taste. 


John Power & Son ‘3 Swallows’ Pure Pot Still (43%, OB, -/+ 1950) 

John Power & Son ‘3 Swallows’ Pure Pot Still (43%, OB, -/+ 1950)
There’s not too much info on this one, but we can be certain that it comes from the old John’s Lane Distillery. Indeed, it would have been distilled entirely through pot stills as it seems that they only added a column in 1961. Colour: light gold. Nose: Like many of these very old Irish bottles the immediate impression is of a fusion of OBE - metal polish, soot, porridge - and some rather specific older Irish Whiskey characteristics. In this case mechanical oils, root vegetables, orange cordial, paraffin and steel wool. Teeters between metallic and greasy with some very light fruity notes which fade in and out. Impressive and charismatic old stuff. In time it really starts to open up with gentle waxiness, dusty old book jackets, old copper coins, celeriac and mineral oil. Mouth: impressive texture and delivery. All on white pepper, canvas, ink, charcoal and some notes of plain porridge and bread dough. Goes on with caraway, some lighter cereal tones and lamp oil. Very old school in profile and nicely distinct from Scottish whiskies of the same era. Finish: a bit short but rather dry, oily and mineral with a hint of citrus peel. Comments: cleaves very close to this rathe classical old Irish pure pot style. The more I have of these sorts of bottles the more I enjoy them; I would love to find an example bottled at full strength to see how this sort of make holds up over decades with a bit more oomph. 
SGP: 451 - 84 points. 



John Power & Son 7 yo (43%, OB, 1960s) 

John Power & Son 7 yo (43%, OB, 1960s)  
This one should theoretically be 50s distillate. Probably distilled after the previous one was bottled. Colour: yellowy gold. Nose: bolder, richer and sweeter but also far more herbal and liqueurish. Like old verbena liqueur perhaps. Some unusual notes of curry leaf, mustard powder and soot. But there’s also more familiar tropes such as metal polish and these mechanical oily notes. Keeps developing along this line of bitter herbal qualities which I really enjoy. Mouth: funnily enough you notice the wood presence more here - understandably given the age statement. There’s almost a more modern note of green pepper and sawdust but it’s very slight and bound up in all these caraway, fennel and lemon cough medicines. Hints of pine sap, menthol tobaccos and limoncello. Funny and very entertaining. Finish: longer, more nippy and peppery than the previous one. More sooty, autolytic and mineral notes. Comments: This one feels a tad fresher and punchier so it goes up a notch technically in my book. But there’s a nice overall sense of cohesion between the flavour profiles of the two bottlings. Interesting to note the more pronounced wood influence. 
SGP: 561 - 86 points.



Let’s head over to Bow Street…



John Jameson & Son 7 yo (40%, OB, 1950s)

John Jameson & Son 7 yo (40%, OB, 1950s)
Interestingly, this one states on the rear label “The materials used in its manufacture are MALTING BARLEY, WHEAT AND OATS”. Why do I feel like I’m being shouted at in a thick Irish accent? Colour: gold. Nose: fascinating. In some ways were very close to the Powers 7yo with this liqueurish and herbal profile but here it’s more concentrated, syrupy and slightly fruity with tinned exotic fruit syrups. Also some notes of black coffee, red fruit teas and spiced mango chutney. There’s a little of this metal polish and sooty quality too but it’s more restrained here. Mouth: ooooh! Superb arrival, all on exotic fruit teas, lemon peel, cough medicines, herbal liqueur, soft waxes, putty, lemon barley water and the refreshing tannin of black tea. I find this really quite excellent. Finish: medium and showing a metallic waxy quality, some grassy rapeseed oil and a few seeds and cereals. Comments: I love the fruitiness that this one retains - a higher malt component in the mash? Anyway, this is probably about as good as these old official Irish Whiskeys can get I suspect. Would kill to try this at cask strength.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



John Jameson & Son 12 yo (43%, OB Italian import, mid-1960s) 

John Jameson & Son 12 yo (43%, OB Italian import, mid-1960s)
It’s surprising in some ways that the Italians didn’t take more keenly to these Irish Whiskeys at the time, their profiles seem like a natural fit for anyone with a taste for 5yo Glen Grant or Grappa… Colour: pale gold. Nose: very good, we’re opening on bitter orange marmalade with coriander, fruit salad juices, cereals, herbal cough medicines, quince and even a wee kumquat. There’s an added layer of complexity and integration here, no doubt due to the extra age, but also some characteristics that might be classed as more ‘generically old school’. By which I mean you could almost be nosing an old 1970s bottle of Auchentoshan 12yo - maybe… Anyway, it’s a harmonious and superbly elegant old nose. Mouth: Cocktail bitters, white pepper, camphor, hessian, waxes, chalk and limestone. This mix of plain minerality, dry waxiness, light dustiness and light warming mustard and peppery quality make for quite a pleasurable drop. Although, it doesn’t quite have the fruity panache of the 7yo. Finish: Good length, nicely bitter, drying and full of bitter citrus fruits, specifically grapefruit peel and a hint of tarragon. Comments: I like it a lot, it’s an easy one to nose and sip and we’re still firmly in ‘old Irish’ territory. I think it doesn’t quite match the more opulent cheekiness of the 7yo though. 
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Now, from ‘young old’ to ‘old old’…



Knappogue Castle 36 yo 1951/1987 (40%, OB, sherry casks)

Knappogue Castle 36 yo 1951/1987 (40%, OB, sherry casks)
Distilled at the old Tullamore Distillery which was mothballed in 1954. I know this bottle will set you back a few pennies at auction, but imagine if it was from a similarly long lost Scottish distillery. Make of that what you will. Colour: light amber. Nose: what’s funny is that even with all these extra and evidently older layers on top, there’s still this rather clear ‘Irish’ accent on the nose. Lots of tangerine and marmalade mixed with coal dust, hessian, cloves, olive oil, marzipan and brown bread. Very good but perhaps a tad light. Mouth: hmmm, a little flat and dusty on arrival. Good but a bit cardboardy. Some nice mineral oil notes along with wet grains, orange cordial, green herbal teas and a soft, dusty waxiness. Finish: Medium but on the shortish side. Some notes of mirabelle, lemon peel and quince with a bitter herbal note in the aftertaste. Comments: There’s plenty to enjoy here, and the historical heft is not lost on me. It’s just that I tend to prefer the much more playful and fun ‘old youngsters’ than these longer matured old Irish. 
SGP: 550 - 80 points. 



It would seem remiss not to have a couple of modern day Irish Whiskeys to finish… 



Irish Single Malt 13 yo ‘Batch 2’ (48.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 2200 bottles) 

Irish Single Malt 13 yo ‘Batch 2’ (48.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 2200 bottles)  
Shout out to all the Father Ted fans. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure pears! Pears, pears, pears and did I mention pears? You could also find some rather elegant grassy notes, green apple peelings and some kind of custard made with poire williams. Pear drops sweets melted in a pan with nail varnish remover. That sounds terrible but it’s not meant to be. Mouth: Guess what? PEARS! (says the loud Jameson rep from the 1950s) Seriously, this is more pears than a Perry orchard. There’s some lemon, some grass, some rapeseed oil and perhaps a little vanilla syrup. But mainly it’s about the pears. Finish: Medium, quite cereal and featuring pears. Comments: Pears. No, seriously, it’s very good and wonderfully green and fruity. It’s just a little lopsided towards, well, pears. 
SGP: 630 - 83 points. 



An Irish 10 yo 2006/2019 (47.4%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 bourbon hogsheads, 648 bottles)

An Irish 10 yo 2006/2019 (47.4%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 bourbon hogsheads, 648 bottles)
You may note the discrepancy between age and vintage / bottling year. This is almost certainly due to the legality that Irish Whiskey is only as old as the number of years it matures in Ireland. Hence the 10yo age statement from Cadenhead. How very ‘them’ - if I may. Colour: white wine. Nose: surprisingly different. This could almost be vendange tardive pinot gris with these light and toasty honeyed notes wrapped around minerals and some slightly salty mead. Quite a departure from all the others. Pretty unusual and rather good I think. Notes of putty, chalk and something akin to lemon-infused goat cheese. Mouth: rather peppery and fruity on arrival. Exotic fruit yoghurts, mango lassi, lemongrass, chai tea, kumquat and unusual fruits like kiwi and star fruit. Some olive oil and toasty cereals. Finish: good length, again nicely peppery, citrusy, grassy and mineral. Comments: Very good! Great and unusual selection by Cadenhead. Worth trying if you can find it. I really enjoy this quite unusual and oh so Irish fruit profile. 
SGP: 640 - 88 points.



What I really enjoyed about this wee tasting was that while there are quite distinctive differences between the older Irish pure pot still whiskeys and their contemporary single malt counterparts, the overall impression remains one of distinctiveness. It often feels quite evident that you’re drinking an Irish Whiskey - something Scotland could do well to learn a thing or two from on occasion. 



Big hugs to Martin for the old ones!




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