Google Revisiting Ireland, first part

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

December 12, 2022


Revisiting Ireland, first part

Gone are the times of one large company owning the whole category. Isn't it budding just everywhere? Let's try a new bag of Irish whiskies, randomly this time (because building verticales when ages and/or vintages are missing is really difficult to do!)…




Writers' Tears 'Single Pot Still' (46%, Walsh Whisky, Ireland, 2021, 5800 bottles)

Writers' Tears 'Single Pot Still' (46%, Walsh Whisky, Ireland, 2021, 5800 bottles) Three stars and a half
We'd love to try this little NAS al natural but it's been dumped into Marsala and PX for finishing. Why not, after all and you're right, what hasn't these days… This was triple distilled while they have used 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley. What's more, I remember I've liked earlier versions at 40% rather a lot. Colour: light gold. Nose: we've almost got a bunch of muscat grapes in front of us at first, then pears are chiming in, together with cassata and panettone al limone, a little sourdough bread, there's a hoppiness as well (Citra) … Like this fresh nose. Mouth: rather powerful, a little more oak-froward than I remembered from those earlier expressions, but the rest is very pleasantly bready and fruity. Apricot bread, plus ripe peaches and a few small tangerines. Some white pepper and a feeling of flour in the background, that's probably the oak. Finish: medium, really drier, towards raw polenta and ground coffee. Comments: would love to try this without the Marsala wood.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Just ask…

The Irishman 'Founder's Reserve' (40%, Walsh Whisky, Ireland, +/-2021)

The Irishman 'Founder's Reserve' (40%, Walsh Whisky, Ireland, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Indeed, this one is stemming from the same source. It is single malt and single pot still blended and matured in bourbon. We'll say it again, founders are the most generous persons in the world, according to the vast amounts of own reserves they tend to accept to part with, usually for cheap. Colour: light gold. Nose: light, on ripe apples and barley syrup, with hints of light acacia honey and crushed bananas. Which is all very Irish… Also jelly babies. Mouth: pleasant arrival on more jelly babies and beans, with some apple juice, then black tea making it rather tannic. Finish: short, while the fruitiness is almost gone. More tea. Comments: fresh and fruity nose, nice arrival, but this Irish blend would then tend to lose some steam. Maybe the 40% vol.

SGP:441 - 78 points.

Bushmills 'Black Bush - Caviste Edition' (43%, OB, Ireland, +/-2022)

Bushmills 'Black Bush - Caviste Edition' (43%, OB, Ireland, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Black Bush at a higher strength, only for wine and spirit shops, so cavistes, although they would have it at Cdiscount too, which is the French dramazon. I believe there's also more oloroso in there, and a proportion of 80% malt whiskey. Colour: light gold. Nose: more Juicy Fruit, wine gums, peach syrup, raspberry liqueur (a few drops) and sultanas than I remembered. Mouth: very fruity, more citrusy than expected (blood oranges), then rather on grape juice, musto, Turkish delights and citron liqueur. As often with 'entry-level' whiskies, the oak is not perfectly integrated, but at least it does not really get in the way. Finish: a little short, fruity, with purple jams and Jell-O. So blueberry, cassis, blackberry… Comments: I like this much better than the last Black Bush I've tried formally – but that was in 2010. Warning, I'll knock out anybody adding 'how time flies!' with a magnum of Loch Dhu.

SGP:631 - 79 points.

Dingle 'Blue Label' (46.3%, OB, Ireland, single malt, 50,000 bottles, 2022)

Dingle 'Blue Label' (46.3%, OB, Ireland, single malt, 50,000 bottles, 2022) Three stars
Dingle's first own distillate, triple distilled and matured in bourbon and PX. Between us, at the rate we are going, I am not sure the south of Spain will manage to produce enough PX to cater to the needs of the Scottish and Irish distillers in the coming years. Colour: straw. Nose: curry and ginger cookies from the woods, plus mango jam and ripe bananas, which is all extremely modern. Add some blueberry tarte, which I love but which will paint your teeth blue, which this whiskey won't do, which is a plus. All right. Mouth: good modern whisky, with some excellent citrus (blood oranges) and raisin rolls, probably from the PX. Pastries, also kriek beer. Finish: medium, honeyed, spicy and fruity, young and modern. Very faint mustiness in the aftertaste. Comments: very positive, rather loved the blood oranges. Also happy for the bodegas in Montilla-Moriles! BTW, try their dry PX too (seco).

SGP:651 - 82 points.

Waterford 'Heritage Hunter' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2022)

Waterford 'Heritage Hunter' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2022) Five stars
I must have downed one full bottle of this little Heritage Hunter already, time to write a tasting note (S., you lazy 'blogger'…). Please note that this has nothing to do with someone hunting down heritage (although…), Hunter being the name of some ancient barley created in 1959 and abandoned twenty years later, sacrificed on the altar of yield. I find it superb that they would revive those old strains, as they also do at Holyrood, for example. Colour: straw. Nose: immediate impact, there aren't many whiskies that would be this close to the raw materials. Exceptional breadiness, chalk, Meursault, overripe pears, homemade limoncello and citron liqueur, some savoury, almost slightly funky touches (miso, high-ester rum), a handful of dried kelp, garden earth, a touch of wormwood… No actual changes with water. Mouth: a fat, sweet spiciness with bags of Zante currants, never vulgar, some rich stolle, orange cake and marmalade, gingerbread, French toast, and indeed a growing breadiness, around fruit breads. I mean, farmhouse bread with bits of fruit. It never begs for water, but this is our duty… With water: add citron liqueur with a little turmeric. Finish: long, with a few more Zante currents. Aftertaste a little drying (tea, oak, four). Comments: I think there was some VDN inside, may we also try one of these, fully ex-refill? Anyway, I believe we'll crack another bottle open before Christmas…
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Redbreast 21 yo 2000/2022 (58.7%, OB, Ireland, LMDW Antipodes, first fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #21285)

Redbreast 21 yo 2000/2022 (58.7%, OB, Ireland, LMDW Antipodes, first fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #21285) Five stars
Colour: reddish amber. Nose: perhaps a tad hot, but you already get a splendid, tobacco-y sherry, with dried oranges and clove plus juicy ripe apricots and nectarines in the back. Yet I feel water is mandatory. With water: roasted pecans, walnuts and sesame; that's game, set and match. Mouth (neat): I'm not sure it would be very smart to mention old-style Macallan. Oops, too late. Pleasantly a little 'over the top', with very rich prunes in armagnac, pipe tobacco, cherry jam (you may check Itxassou in French Basque country), black raisins, ganaches, the obligatory old walnuts… Isn't this actually an old Ténarèze? Do Pernod-Ricard own some armagnac house(s)? With water: civilisation, at last. Seriously, this would gather many jams and pastries, let's mention only one, perhaps Arctic rolls? Or raspberry muffins? Marzipan-filled dates? Fig jam? Finish: long. This time again, I'm reminded of that cherry-flavoured pipe tobacco that we used to smoke… what, forty years ago. But what was the name again… but of course, Borkum Riff (thanks Google). Comments: Redbreast is always grand, even when heavily sherried.
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Perhaps a last Irish, another 2000, but we may have more in the very near future…

Fercullen 21 yo 2000/2022 (53.7%, Powerscourt, Navigate World Whisky, Ireland, straight bourbon, cask # 204194, 234 bottles)

Fercullen 21 yo 2000/2022 (53.7%, Powerscourt, Navigate World Whisky, Ireland, straight bourbon, cask # 204194, 234 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is Cooley. Powerscourt only started distilling in 2018, they're using the brand name 'Fercullen' for their older, sourced whiskeys. Colour: white wine. Nose: this totally immaculate and fresh 'western' fruitiness, with a nose ridden with green plums, gooseberries and rhubarb and shock-full of just riesling. Austrian riesling this time, Pichler und so weiter. Sehr schoen. With water: the barley blowing its own trumpet now. Mouth (neat): a bag of wine gums, some custard, and more Austrian riesling. Indeed, it's that simple (and yet fantastic). With water: of Knappogue Castle quality, undoubtedly. We'll soon try some Knappogue Castle. Finish: not that long but perfect, a tad sweeter this time, thanks to some good active oak. In short, some sweeter Austrian riesling, with peaches inside (so to speak). Comments: Irish whiskey full of Austrian riesling, bottled for some well-reputed South-African company, love the concept. It just went a tiny tad sweet in the end.

SGP:751 - 88 points.

Another Fercullen for South-Africa while we're at it…

Fercullen 20 yo 2001/2022 (53.7%, Powerscourt, Navigate World Whisky, Ireland, oloroso finish, cask #201198, 276 bottles)

Fercullen 20 yo 2001/2022 (53.7%, Powerscourt, Navigate World Whisky, Ireland, oloroso finish, cask #201198, 276 bottles) Four stars
It's to be known that Powerscourt's Master Distiller, Noel Sweeney, has been behind Cooley Distillery for many years. Colour: rich gold. Nose: the sherry did seemingly offset the joyful green fruitiness, replacing it with richer, I was about to write fatter, notes of pastries, dried fruits, Xmas cake and fudges. No complaints to file, we worship and revere panettone while this is some kind of liquid panettone. With water:  walnuts and venison, onion soup, that rich pipe tobacco… Mouth (neat): we're really not far from the Redbreast, as far as styles are concerned, this has just a little more oak and oak spices. Cherry stems and leaves, perhaps a bit of leather, walnuts… With water: some chocolate, black tea, green walnuts, and always a leathery leafiness in the distance. Finish: Comments: it's been a little tough after the extremely joyful and bright 2001. My fault. Lovely drop, nonetheless.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Irish we've tasted so far







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