A few weeks ago, Steve of the Whisky Wire was asking on twitter who wanted to join in for a Cooley Irish whiskey tasting event online. I am not the one to miss on such an event, and I really was looking forward to getting to know a few whiskies I have yet to try from the Irish. The lineup of yesterday’s tasting consisted of : Kilbeggan blended whiskey, Tyrconell single pot still whiskey, Greenore 8 yo , single grain, and the peated Connemara.Of all those I’ve only tried the Connemara prior to this tasting and was really keen on trying the others after hearing good things about them. I remember tasting the Greenore 18 year old a few months ago, but the younger brother, the 8 year old was something I needed to try too.
Last night was Purim (a Jewish holiday, in which kids and adults wear costumes, and it is a customary and recommended that you drink wine, whisky or whatever in order to get a bit drunk.Now that’s the kind of holidays I like), in light of the tasting and St. Patrick’s coming soon, I took a bottle of my Connemara peated to the temple, to pour some for myself and my friends and make them merry, talk about coincidences, ha? After we finished reading the scroll over at the temple, I was prepared for the tasting, and with kids and wife in bed, early, I set the table and prepared.
It seemed we had quite a nice forum, with mostly UK based twitter tasters, some good friends, and some new acquaintances I am sure will become good friends, after this tasting. We set to start with the Kilbeggan, after conducting a short survey among the tasters whether they wanted to start with this one or the Greenore 8 yo.
Nose: Vanilla, honey, sweet matiness, banana.Some spices and corn flakes. with a little time in the glass it gets grassy. vegetal.
Palate: Sweet honey, then transformed to a bit of bitterness, and malty notes. some spices, and a bit spicy on the entry with biscuity notes.
Finish : short, biscuity, with a bit of cough syrup remnants.
As I wrote, this was my first encounter with the Kilbeggan, and I had no pre-conceptions of it. It is a nice, very quaffable whisky, not very complex, light and easy going. Nothing amazing, but not bad.Decent stuff, entry level Irish, as it should be.
The Tyrconell is NAS , we were told that 25% of the spirit in the vatting is 8 yo, but also some of it is made from 4 yo in it, to give it a punch.
Nose: Sweet stuff, raisins, golden syrup, rich and fruity, with apples. (red) , spices, a bit of cinnamon bark, woodier also. also some lime edge,lime pie lime tart kind of.
Palate: Sweet ‘N spicy with orange peel, sweet zesty lemon custard, apples in kilos, malty goodness. , fruit, rich. very good! creamy with a malt honey – there is plenty of oak in this as well as hints of rye.
Finish : Short, sweetish bitter chocolate,traces of fruit.
For me this was the star of the tasting, I really liked it and the nose was excellent, sweet, rich, thick, and fruity, really appetizing stuff. The palate did deliver what the nose promised, and I am happy of my discovery, this NAS single malt whiskey , is really something worth trying. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s a very good whisky, period. Very nice!
Nose: Banana, some wood varnish , Acetone, also some grassy stuff going on here. it’s less sweet than the Tyrconell ,some bourbon notes, also a lot of vanilla. not surprising .
Palate: Vanilla fudge, wood as in sawdust, sweet bourbony , some fennel , ginger and wee bits of nutmeg.
Finish: medium. apples, wood.
Quite what I was expecting, some bourbony notes, and bananas, with the wood shavings. Acetone is a bit of a turnoff here, but it’s not overwhelming. A nice dram, was a favorite of some of the twasters.
Connemara is double distilled in two small pot stills to ensure the whiskey is full of robust flavor and character.and to my knowledge it is the only peated Irish whisky out there, which is odd considering that most Irish barley in the past were dried with peat.
Nose: Nose: I am getting some rubbery notes, also some new make this is a young whisky.. oil, earthy peat, wet tires
Palate: Malty and peaty, with a lovely roundness to it, fills the mouth just right , a sweet and peaty combo, slightly herbal with a toffee feel to it too.
Finish : Smoke, peat and earthy with a sweet tang.
For some reason (maybe the company? maybe since I had alerady drank a few drams) I liked this one much more than I usually like it (I do own a bottle), it was less bizarre and more communicative than I had remembered it, and in a good way. It was also quite popular with the other twasters,ranking high among their top drams of the evening.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. It is always fun to discover new whiskies, and this evening was a wonderful lesson in Irish whisky. I learned quite a bit, and discovered the Tyrconell, a hidden gem of a whisky IMHO. Irish whiskies can be flavorful, and full bodied too, and this is something I am going to take with me from now on.
many thanks to Steve for the great initiative and organization, and of course to the Cooley guys who were online answering questions from twasters, and giving some background on every expression we sampled.