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

April 11, 2023


Eleven Irish for St Pat

St Pat? Indeed this is a kind of nightmare session that we couldn't finish on time. So, we're extremely late indeed but on the other hand, we really don't care about any kinds of commercial days… Still, Erin go Bragh!




Power's 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish, +/-2022)

Power's 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Some blended Irish from Midleton, said to shelter a high proportion of pure pot still whiskey. Also said to be 7 years old, while what's sure is that they've raised the strength from 40 to 43.2% vol. around ten years ago, which sounded like smarter premiumisation. Got to love those nifty decimals BTW! The packaging has been completely transformed now – it's lost its crest-like label. But enough banter… Colour: light gold. Nose: fresh butter, copper coins, melons, a little raw alcohol (or COVID hand sanitiser, do you remember?) then some not-too-ripe banana and a touch of liquorice. Very Irish, not too sanitised either, not too grainy for sure. Mouth: the arrival has this liqueury and sightly alcoholic side, some sweet mashes (red kuri squash, mashed sweet potatoes) and gets then a little oaky and cardboardy, but without excess. Rather good body. Finish: the oak really feels now. Oversteeped rooibos tea and a cardboardy tannicity. Comments: this is not unseen with good blends, noses and arrivals are surprisingly nice, but it would then go a little pear-shaped. I think I liked it a little better last time (WF 81), but that was ten years ago. I'll kill anyone who would add 'how time flies'.
SGP: 440 - 79 points.

Tullamore Dew 13 yo 'Rouge' (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022)

Tullamore Dew 13 yo 'Rouge' (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022) Three stars
All right, the reds are invading Ireland now. Indeed, this was finished in Pomerol and even the label reminds us of some châteaux, between Clinet, Lafleur, Evangile… But the landscape rather reminds us of Tuscany.  Great that it's 13, now the 40% vol. are a little scary, let's see. Colour: straw. No pink hues whatsoever. Nose: no proper Pomerol that I could detect, I've tried an excellent young Rouget just three days ago, I still have the profile in my head. Now it is shock-full of jellybeans and marshmallows, indeed perhaps rather the red, pink and purple ones. It is extremely fruity and does nose a little younger than 13. Highly consensual nose, unless you hate fruit but who does? Mouth: a little soft and weakish because of the low strength, even those good old Pomerol barriques (probably rather knackered) couldn't do much. Nut the fruitiness remains pretty perfect, with bags of marshmallows and liquorice allsorts. Red praline, grenadine... Finish: very short, but clean. Comments: you don't quite know what's from the malt and what comes from the Pomerol, I suppose both thresholds kind of overlap, so to speak. A higher voltage would be welcome.
SGP:740 – 81 points.

Bushmills 10 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022)

Bushmills 10 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Aged in bourbon and sherry and coming with a new livery. I find it a little surprising that they wouldn't have added a few extra-% while they were at it, to add a wee 'premium' effect. You can't quite be premium at 40% vol., unless your whisky is 50 years old. It's like a, say a Rolex Quartz. Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely Bushmills, that is to say ridden with ripe bananas and mangos. Some custard, acacia honey, and just a tiny whiff of wood smoke. And voilà. Mouth: the signature bananas are there but the spirit doesn't totally stand the oak and once again, we've got a feeling of oversteeped tea. I believe it is not possible anymore to bottle whisky at 40% vol. when it's pretty modern and more wood-driven. Wood technology has to come with higher strengths, in my most humble, personal opinion. Finish: short, as expected. Comments: rather a missed opportunity, only because of those stingy degrees. You do feel that 'the juice behind' is pretty lovely and indeed, 'Bushmills malt'.

SGP:650 - 79 points.

Bushmills 16 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Port finish, +/-2022)

Bushmills 16 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Port finish, +/-2022) Three stars
A lovely triple-distilled, rather old malt whiskey finished in Port pipes and bottled at 40% vol. once more. As FZ used to sing, the torture (may) never stops… Colour: gold. Nose: Bushmills malt + Port works on the nose, we've seen that before. Some rosehip tea, peonies, morello cherries, jasmine, wisteria (big time), old copper, prickly pears…  Now let's get ready and put on our parachute correctly… Mouth: a rather superb attack, round but also all on flowers and red jams, which is cool, zwetschke tarte, fig jam (I'd kill for fig jam)… Even the middle is pretty okay, jammy, with some cherry jam… And then woosh, it goes into a spin, thank God we were having our parachute on. What a pity, there was a little menthol in the background. Finish: not much, as expected. More stewed zwetschke/damsons, perhaps. Comments: formidable whisky, just rather impaired. Some are getting away with murder.

SGP: 650- 82 points.

A last try…

Bushmills 21 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Madeira finish, +/-2022)

Bushmills 21 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Madeira finish, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
These quasi-suicidal 40% vol. once more, at 21 years of age. What's the message? Why did they decide not to up their game while they were redesigning the bottles? Colour: gold. Nose: of course it's nice, this fruity whiskey takes Madeira pretty well, as we've been knowing for a few decades already. Some sweet mustard, preserved greengages, teas, cinnamon, walnuts… In short all is well; this far. Mouth: fantastic arrival, full of tropical fruits, ripe bananas, ripe mangos, manuka honey, old Sauternes (or old sweet Madeira I would suppose), golden raisins… Well, actually it doesn't exactly nose-dive after that, but it does slow down a lot. Finish: short, a notch drying, with some cinnamon. We're okay thought. Comments: the low voltage is even more frustrating, because the juice was just first-class. We'll start petitioning for versions at 46-50% vol. right tomorrow, first thing in the morning.

SGP:651 - 83 points.

Wait, I've got an idea…

Great Northern Irish Whiskey 5 yo 'Just Dram It' (58.2%, Whisky AGE for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill bourbon barrel, batch #1, 2022)

Great Northern Irish Whiskey 5 yo 'Just Dram It' (58.2%, Whisky AGE for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill bourbon barrel, batch #1, 2022) Four stars
I would suppose that great northern distillery would be Bushmills, what would you say? Colour: white wine. Nose: it's shock-full of butterscotch, new-sawn plywood, double-IPA  (triple coming soon I would suppose), roasted peanuts and custard. With water: this could easily be an excellent young Scottish Speysider. Lovely sweet breads, ripe apples, scones, muffins, biscuits and croissants (mais bien sûr). Mouth (neat): a family-pack of lemon drops, a little varnish, some lemongrass and a little pear eau-de-vie. Williams pears, obviously. A little hot I have to say. With water: superbly malty, fruity, with orchard fruits, both fresh and preserved. Finish: pretty long, sweet, fruity, superbly simple. Ripe apples and honeys, some liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: the epitome of a very young natural malt whisky of excellent quality. At just 5, it easily beats any much older juice finished in wine and bottled at 40% vol. But granted, it would probably not beat a natural 20 yo bottled at 50% or more.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

UPDATE: Great Northern is actually a distillery in Louth set up by John Teeling after he sold Cooley. Thanks John M.!

While we are in Irish Taiwan (what?)…

Cooley 8 yo (58.6%, Whisky AGE, cask #0011, 210 bottles, 2022)

Cooley 8 yo (58.6%, Whisky AGE, cask #0011, 210 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
I find it always very reassuring when bottlers would make it clear that whiskies bottled at nearly 60% vol. are 'cask strength'. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's grassier, with some white asparagus (the best, take that England!) and just the right amounts of chalk, porridge and grist. With water: a lot of barley syrup, plus stewed vegetables, salsify, parsnips, bok choy…  Mouth (neat): sweets, lavender, lemons, tangerines and mercurochrome. Not that we drink mercurochrome every day but remember, using any descriptor means 'something reminiscent of said descriptor', nothing more. With water: sweets, drops, mints and syrups. Less focused than the 5 yo, but pretty excellent too. Finish: medium, sweet, barley-y. Isn't this salty seaweed in the aftertaste? Comments: excellent young drop, just a tad rougher and a little less coherent than that incredible 5 years old.

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Waterford 'Peated Fenniscourt' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, 2022)

Waterford 'Peated Fenniscourt' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, 2022) Four stars and a half
Irish peat, 38ppm, single farm barley. We've tried the newish peated Waterfords several times 'informally', this one was our favourite (but the other one came close). Colour: light gold. Nose: but yes. It is very 'farmyardy', whatever that means, extremely close to breads, including smoked ones, should those exist. Behind that, some sage, eucalyptus, thyme, lime blossom, green bananas (an Irish thing, really, how bizarre) and this godly liquid that we always just adore, olive brine. With water: muddier, gristier, chalkier, even breadier. This is what many contemporary distillers are missing in my opinion, malt whisky is malted barley eau-de-vie aged in oak, all the rest being marketing. Mouth (neat): salt and sorb. Plus other small berries, as liqueurs or as eaux-de-vie. This is exactly not Scottish, all feelings being pretty new to me. With water: someone's smoked fruits and added Szechuan pepper, or Timut perhaps. Finish: long, fresh, bready, with more peppers of all kinds. Gentian in the aftertaste, as well as edible flowers and something like, say roasted Japanese tea? Hochicha! Comments: absolutely wonderful, even if I would tend to prefer some of the unpeated, by a small margin. Hunter, Luna and Gaia, top of Irish!

SGP:456 - 88 points.


Waterford 'Der Wanderer' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, micro-cuvée, 1200 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Will this one truly be Schubertian? I remain partial to Fischer-Dieskau I have to say, the old guard… Naturally, this is a bottling for Germany. Colour: gold. Nose: talking to Nature indeed. I know they have their own very specific cask-bill, but the barley's doing all the talking at first here, before some pretty Alsatian, or say Germanic kind of fruit bread would make its mark. Pears, figs, bananas… With water: chalk, grist and sourdough, one of malt whisky's most seminal trios. Even if Der Wanderer is a piano + voice duo. Mouth (neat): yes. With Waterford you have to go beyond the ooh-ah-look-at-me packaging and imagine it was bottled in one of those lousy 'whisky bottles' that everyone's using. Impressive salty bread, peppers, fennel, caraway, soft curry, poppadum, seawater… With water: just perfect. Breads, cereals, coastal things, etcetera. Finish: long and saltier yet. I'd swear someone's poured five litres of seawater into each and every cask. Go on, prove me wrong! Comments: here' a tip, you could make a lovely 'sauce vierge' using this romantic little Traveller, by adding a few drops to your olive oil. Yep, guaranteed.

SGP:462 - 90 points.

Perhaps an older bottling…

Teeling 21 yo 1991/2013 'Vintage Reserve Batch #1' (46%, OB, Silver Bottling, 5,000 bottles)

  Teeling 21 yo 1991/2013 'Vintage Reserve Batch #1' (46%, OB, Silver Bottling, 5,000 bottles) Five stars
Sadly this was only a finishing (in Sauternes), never good news as far as the quality of the original spirit was concerned, but there, if they needed to do that, they needed to do that. Right. Colour: deep gold. Nose: nah, great, on peaches, peaches and peaches. These batches were the best they ever made, simple as that. The Sauternes was anecdotal. Some tiny earthy touches, which would add to the glory of this nose. Which Sauternes was it, by the way? Mouth: more peach liqueur, plus mead and heather honey, old Sauternes indeed (your own choice) and some fig wine. Peaches of all kinds keep running the whole show. Finish: pretty long, a tad more citrusy, with blood oranges and tangerines. Heather honey back in the aftertaste. Comments: you need to love peaches (not only in regalia) but if you do, you'll adulate this rare old bottle. Om… (insert personal invocations here)… om…
SGP:641 - 90 points.

More Irish fruitiness but let's make the next one he last one please…

Knappogue Castle 1994/2022 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-Libris, 'Summer Wind', Antipodes)

Knappogue Castle 1994/2022 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-Libris, 'Summer Wind', Antipodes) Five stars
I forgot to taste this one when it came out last year. What a bloody mess at Château Whiskyfun! Colour: gold. Nose: you could sometimes believe that very 'tropical', or 'exotic' noses such as this one would be a little vulgar, over-the-top, too ooh-ha or lacking depth. You would be totally wrong (apologies), this is just sublime, on a precious fruit salad and the purest expression of guava, guava being one of the trickiest fruits in any spirit, in my humble opinion. The bananas are splendid too (same comment). With water: some pure all-vitamin fruit juice. I've heard Covid wasn't actually over, well this one will cure it for good thanks to all these vitamins. Mouth (neat): flabbergastingly fresh and fruity. Incredible bananas, guavas indeed, papayas, raisins, grapes (say viognier)… Now, it is not very mango-y, nor is it maracuja-y (no shame, no shame at all at WF Towerz). Let's say it's rather on 'rounded' tropical fruits. With water: it takes water pretty well, but it will get a tad winey, for no foreseeable reasons. Pinot Gris! Finish: medium, fruity, with some fruit peel, green tea and the tiniest pinch of salt ever. Comments: top of Ireland once more, no questions.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

(Merci Enrico)

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