Irish Whiskey

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The Alltech stills that have been producing malt spirit in Carlow for the past year are moving to Dublin. Dr Pearse Lyons, Alltech's owner, has announced he is buying a former church on James's Street (view on Google Maps). I took a few ...
The Alltech stills that have been producing malt spirit in Carlow for the past year are moving to Dublin. Dr Pearse Lyons, Alltech's owner, has announced he is buying a former church on James's Street (view on Google Maps). I took a few snaps of the location yesterday as the sun was going down. It's a small Gothic Church, built in 1859-60. The tower looks truncated because its spire was removed in 1948. Once Church of Ireland, it was converted to commercial use some years ago. Redevelopment as a distillery depends on a successful application for planning permission. Since the site directly abuts the enormous Guinness brewery, it must surely stand a good chance. Also James's Street is the continuation of Thomas Street, which was formerly home to two distilleries, George Roe and Powers, the last of which only closed in 1976. It will give efforts to regenerate Thomas Street a hefty boost. It's only a stone's throw too from the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland's most popular tourist attraction, getting over a million visitors a year. Alltech have yet to name the whiskey that they are currently laying down in Ireland. At a couple of recent events they have been soliciting suggestions from the public with a case of the spirit as a prize. I can't find any mention of the competition online but if it appears I'll post the link on Twitter. The former St James Church, with the Guinness brewery in the background
about 10 hours ago
Twice this year I've been in a room where you could feel the energy and excitement of the growing Irish whiskey industry. The first time was at Alltech's Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention. The second time was on Friday evening at t...
Twice this year I've been in a room where you could feel the energy and excitement of the growing Irish whiskey industry. The first time was at Alltech's Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention. The second time was on Friday evening at the first Irish Whiskey Awards, held at the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin. Imagine makers and marketers, enthusiasts and journalists, barkeeps and traders renewing acquaintances, forging new ones, swapping gossip and tips, hinting at secret plans, inventing new cocktails*. Such gatherings are creating a real community which will contribute to the success of the industry as a whole, I'm sure. There is nobody better placed or more trusted by that community to initiate an annual awards ceremony than Ally Alpine, owner of the Irish whiskey nexus known as the Celtic Whiskey Shop. It's time, as Ally says, to celebrate the diversity and quality of Irish whiskey. It's truly a new Golden Age. To judge, Ally drafted the members of the shop's Celtic Whiskey Club who were able to sample the contenders in the shop or at a formal, blind tasting. Irish Whiskey Society members were guest judges for the Single Malt category. Ally modestly excluded his own whiskeys from contention but warned that was only for the first year. Next year he is totally bringing it. Here are the 2013 winners. Many of the categories were closely fought which is testament to the quality of Irish whiskey across the board. Best Blended Whiskey (under €50): Writers Tears Some day there might be a Pot Still Blend category for whiskeys that are vattings of pot still and malt, like Writers Tears and Irishman Founder's Reserve. Until then, though, Writers Tears competes like a heavyweight in the welterweight general blend category. Best Blended Whiskey (over €50): Midleton Very Rare 2013 I haven't tried this latest Midleton VR but I'm inclined to rate Jameson Gold and Kilbeggan 18 ahead of the the Midleton vintages in general. Best Single Pot Still Whiskey: Redbreast 15 Year Old Only Irish Distillers makes single pot still whiskeys at the moment so they were guaranteed to walk away with this one. All the pot stills are good, each has its dedicated fans and any of them could justifiably have won. I'm a little surprised that Powers John's Lane didn't end up in the top three, however. The Redbreast Cask Strength wasn't considered in this category since it was already included under another heading. Best Irish Single Cask Whiskey: Tyrconnell 14 Year Old Cask 204/96 I confess I missed this whiskey when it came out. The days of regular Tyrconnell single casks are gone but this one somehow escaped the warehouse, with the full allocation going to the Celtic Whiskey Shop. Kilbeggan Distillery Co.'s Master Distiller Noel Sweeney (right) accepting the award from Ally Alpine (left) and Willie McCarter, Chairman of the Irish Spirits Association Best Irish Cask Strength Whiskey: Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Best Irish Single Malt: Bushmills 21 Year Old The members of the Irish Whiskey Society were asked to vote on this one so I had a small hand in the selection. I chose the Bushmills 21 year old and, trying it again on the night, I think the right whiskey won. Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year: L. Mulligan Grocers, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 There was a danger that Mulligan's and WJ Kavanagh's in Dorset Street - under common ownership - would suffer from a split vote but as it turned out Mulligan's won and Kavanagh's was runner-up. A large number of attendees felt one more round of judging might be in order and so relocated proceedings to Mulligan's after the ceremony. Irish Poitín of the Year: Teeling Whiskey Company Poitín It's marvellous that there are enough poitíns to make this a real competition. This one should perhaps be judged by mixologists in future years. The successful poitíns will be those that create the best cocktails, in my opinion. Overall Irish Whiskey of the Year: Redbr
1 day ago
Many Dublin pubs still proclaim themselves "whiskey bonders" on their signage, a throwback to the days when they could buy loose whiskey from distilleries to bottle themselves and serve to their customers. That practice had died out by t...
Many Dublin pubs still proclaim themselves "whiskey bonders" on their signage, a throwback to the days when they could buy loose whiskey from distilleries to bottle themselves and serve to their customers. That practice had died out by the 1970s as the distillers took bottling and branding in-house. One of the great Dublin pubs, The Palace Bar, revived the tradition in 2011 with a Palace Bar 9-year old single cask single malt from Cooley. It's a good whiskey and still stocked behind the bar. Today the pub has announced a new collaboration with the Teeling Whiskey Company. The Palace Bar "Fourth Estate" Single Malt is the first in a series of exclusive releases. The whiskey was selected by third-generation owner, Willie Aherne, and bar patrons, and hand-bottled and labelled by Willie along with his father, Liam. There are 1,000 bottles at 46% ABV (non-chill filtered, of course). It's a combination of several casks, of which the press release reveals few details except that it includes some whiskey over 21 years old. In this it sounds similar to The Gathering from a few months back, also created by Teeling. I haven't tried the new whiskey yet so I can't offer an opinion on the family resemblance. As a single malt, it all comes from the one distillery, and I don't think it's giving away any state secrets to say it's not a Cooley this time around. The name, "Fourth Estate", refers to the Palace's status as a watering hole and "office" for Dublin's journalists and newspaper workers in the 1940s and 50s. (It's a nice coincidence that the bar's address is Fleet Street, which is another catch-all term for the press in the UK.) The label reproduces a 1940s illustration by Alan Reeves of the denizens of the Palace's back lounge. The original still hangs there and you can have fun picking out Smyllie of The Irish Times and various other well-known journalistic and literary wordsmiths. It's a nice, unforced homage to Dublin history and to the Aherne family's role as host and lubricator. The journalists may have dispersed or sobered up but it's good to know you can still order a measure of something special at the bar. There will be more exciting whiskey news from The Palace in a couple of weeks' time, so stay tuned. Palace Whiskey bottled by Willie Aherne's grandfather in the 1950s or 60s
5 days ago
Irish Distillers launched Redbreast 21 year old last night in London, with Midleton distillery's Master Blender, Billy Leighton, leading the tasting. Redbreast Master Blender, Billy Leighton. Photo: Irish Distillers Ltd That'...
Irish Distillers launched Redbreast 21 year old last night in London, with Midleton distillery's Master Blender, Billy Leighton, leading the tasting. Redbreast Master Blender, Billy Leighton. Photo: Irish Distillers Ltd That's already the third new single pot still whiskey this year (after Powers Signature Release and Paddy Centenary). The press release says it's the ninth in total but I've been totting it up and I reckon there are ten on the shelves now (or very shortly): Green Spot & Yellow Spot; Redbreast 12yo, 15yo, 21yo & Cask Strength; Powers John's Lane & Signature Release; Midelton Barry Crockett Legacy and Paddy Centenary. There are even rumours of another "colourful" pot still on the way (*cough*). Quoting from the press release: As the oldest and richest expression in the decorated Redbreast family, Redbreast 21 Year Old is the finest representation of the brand's signature sherry style. It is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and matured in a combination of American Bourbon barrels and first fill Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. Billy Leighton, Master Blender at Midleton Distillery, said: "Redbreast 21 Year Old is a very special Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and one of which I am immensely proud. Once my team and I tasted the 21 Year Old whiskey, there was never any question about whether we should release a younger expression - the older whiskey showed such stunning levels of depth, flavour and taste, we just had to bring it out for the growing army of Redbreast and Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey fans around the world." There is a really strong Redbreast line-up now. Many rate the 15yo and Cask Strength among the very finest Irish whiskeys (as do I) and the Redbreast 12yo is not all that far behind, even at 40% ABV. So the 21yo has a lot to live up to and it would be interesting to pit it against the rest of its family. It looks like visitors to Whisky Live Dublin next week will have that chance at a masterclass. Redbreast 21 year old is 46% ABV, non-chill filtered and available in "very limited quantities". It's out this month in the US, France, UK, Ireland and Germany, priced at $180. Official tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton: Nose Remarkable aroma spanning fresh tropical fruits, nuts and rich dried fruit. Taste Soft vanilla, toasted oak, sherry nuttiness with a dusting of Pot Still spices. Luscious fleshy fruit notes complete the creamy mouth feel. Finish Lingers, seemingly forever, to oak and pot still spices and then, the final bow from the Barley – where it all began.
9 days ago
In our Part 1 posting we sneaked a peek at some of the new Irish whiskeys bound for America in the next 6 to 9 months. These are from distillers and brand owners who obtained the necessary U.S. regulatory approvals for the labels to appe...
In our Part 1 posting we sneaked a peek at some of the new Irish whiskeys bound for America in the next 6 to 9 months. These are from distillers and brand owners who obtained the necessary U.S. regulatory approvals for the labels to appear on the bottles, otherwise known as COLAs (Certification of Label Approval).Taking at look at the current approved labels is intended as more than just a speculative tease. It's really meant as an indicator of the continuing renaissance in Irish whiskey and Irish spirits in general. New distilleries are either in production, coming online or are in the planning phases. That represents an impressive reinvestment in an Irish industry that was on the verge of disappearing in the 1960s. Remember these caveats when you're looking at the labels:These whiskeys/spirits have not yet been introduced. Label approval doesn't guarantee that a whiskey or spirit will be introduced. There may be delays or changes to the label after approval, or, a brand owner might have a change in plans for the product.Not all distributors or retailers can get new bottlings at the same time. It depends on geography, target markets and other factors. Once a new whiskey is in distribution you'll have to ask your retailer if they are willing to order it.1661 PoitínThis is a Kickstarter-funded initiative by Mullingar, Co. Westmeath native and Washington, DC resident Ashlee Casserly, to bring the story and products of traditional Irish cottage (literally) industry distilling to America. David Havelin first wrote about this poitín on his Liquid Irish blog in February 2012. Looks like a interesting story and spirit drink all in one. Banshee Single Grain Irish WhiskeyThis appears to be a brand extension of the Banshee Legend caramel and vanilla-flavored liqueur. Banshee Legend sticks with the grain whiskey alone at 40% ABV. It comes from a company called Dublin Distillers run by entrepreneur Illann Power. The company has been planning a U.S. entry and recently sorted its importing and wholesale arrangements.West Cork DistillersWest Cork Distillers of Union Hall first came to our attention a couple of years ago with the Drombeg liqueur and more recently with Kennedy, Lough Hyne and West Cork spirits drinks. They been quite busy since and are expanding their lineup with several new whiskeys and spirit drinks while prepping for an entry into the U.S. market.Cavanagh Whiskey An old-enough-to-be-whiskey 3-year-old aged in sherry casks and, interestingly, Irish oak.Celtic Pride Irish SpiritThis is a Irish oak- and sherry-influenced spirit drink bottled at 32% ABV. Kennedy WhiskeyA 3-year-old whiskey labelled as aged in Irish and sherry oak. Not entirely clear on this as the distillery's website states that it is a fusion of Celtic (Scotch and Irish, presumably, hence no "Irish" before the "whiskey")) whiskeys infused with wood from oak casks. I think that means wood from the casks vs. the actual bourbon and sherry casks. The U.S. label refers to the scientific name for American and European oak, in addition to the Irish oak reference. This looks interesting and innovative. McFadden Spirit DrinkAnother innovative take on blending and maturation with a mix of Celtic whiskeys and malt (presuming spirit vs. whiskey) and oak (not necessary cask) aging. Interested in trying the result. Irish Mist Irish WhiskeyLooks to be a Midleton-distilled blend carrying forward Campari's classic "Irish Mist" Liqueur brand into the whiskey arena. Paddy Devil's ApplePaddy Irish Whiskey flavored with apple and cinnamon.Devlin Irish WhiskeyA Cooley-produced private-label bottling.Wolfhound Irish WhiskeyAlso looks like a Cooley-made malt-grain blend.South Boston Irish WhiskeyThis one is close to home, coming from Grandten Distilling on "Dot Ave." in Southie. We'll be looking for this! Nice old image of South Bay and part of Southie from the incredible, and easily accessible Norman B. Leventhal Map Center online and at the Boston Public Library.Tha
18 days ago
Irish Distillers (IDL) has been mining the rich heritage of its various brands in recent years to relaunch the traditional single pot still Irish whiskey style. Now it's Paddy's turn, and no better year because it's exactly a hundred yea...
Irish Distillers (IDL) has been mining the rich heritage of its various brands in recent years to relaunch the traditional single pot still Irish whiskey style. Now it's Paddy's turn, and no better year because it's exactly a hundred years since Cork Distilleries Company (which later merged with Jameson and Powers to form IDL) renamed its flagship whiskey in honour of renowned salesman, Paddy Flaherty. Paddy is a single-expression brand, a light and pleasant triple-blend of malt, pot still and grain whiskeys. A century ago though, it was a 7-year old pot still and that's what IDL has recreated now in a limited Centenary edition. The vintage label is a reminder that not all Irish distilleries spelled whiskey with an 'e'. Indeed, Paddy was still 'whisky' up till the late-70s, at least (see the stadium advertising in this 1977 gaelic football match, for example). Tasting notes supplied by the company: Nose The initial aroma of green apples quickly gives way to the rich spicy notes typical of well-aged Irish Pot Still Whiskey. Soft mellow barley grains are in balance with the more robust touches of tarragon and bergamot as associated with Paddy Irish Whiskey down the years. Taste The initial mouth coating has a soft vanilla sweetness, from years of maturation in ex-bourbon barrels. Then the orchard fruits appear reflecting the proportion of whiskey matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. The evolution continues into the crisp succulence of freshly chopped green bell peppers. Finish Long with sweet vanilla top notes balanced with a pepper prickle and fading to expose the delicate barley grains. It's available from this month in travel retail and specialist retailers in Ireland and France, priced at about €75. It arrived at the Celtic Whiskey Shop yesterday. According to shop owner, Ally Alpine, the allocation for Ireland is 1,500 bottles. I have no information about availability in the United States. Paddy has been distributed in America for just the past couple of years and only at very low levels but the coming year will see IDL put more focus and investment into developing the brand there.
23 days ago
When I tell people about my obsession with interest in Irish whiskey, I inevitably get the question, "so, what's your favourite whiskey then?" Since its release two years ago, the answer I've been giving is Powers John's Lane Edition. It...
When I tell people about my obsession with interest in Irish whiskey, I inevitably get the question, "so, what's your favourite whiskey then?" Since its release two years ago, the answer I've been giving is Powers John's Lane Edition. It's great to be able to recommend a smashing, full-flavoured, single pot still (SPS) that's not hard to track down, and not at all expensive. Powers Gold Label The look of that bottle, though, was quite different to the existing Powers blends, ie the Gold Label and the 12 year old Special Reserve. The Gold Label is now getting the makeover. It still has the gold-coloured label but otherwise has fallen into step with the appearance of the John's Lane (click to enlarge the photo). A more subtle change is the bump from 40% ABV to 43.2%. This means the whiskey needs no chill-filtration before bottling, a process that prevents cloudiness at low temperatures but also removes flavour-giving compounds in the spirit. Conventional wisdom puts the cut-off ABV for rendering filtration unnecessary at 46% but the triple-distilled spirit in Powers is not so susceptible to low temps so 43.2% does the trick. I hear lips smacking in anticipation but I have bad news for Irish imbibers: the juiced-up Gold Label will only be available in international markets for the foreseeable future, while we continue with the 40% version. I can imagine why that might be so. It's deeply embedded as the number two selling whiskey here and Gold Label is one the few staples in Irish pubs along with Jameson and Bushmills. They are all priced the same. It would be risky to either change the flavour or up the cost to punters. Powers Signature Release Irish drinkers will, however, get a sniff of the new addition to the Powers line-up, Powers Signature Release. It's another single pot still, like the John's Lane, but without an age statement. I haven't sampled it yet but it sounds similar in make up to its 12-year old SPS sibling, ie mostly aged in American bourbon barrels, with just a touch of Spanish Oloroso sherry wood. We're back to 46% ABV here and, of course, it's not chill-filtered. The price for this will be about $45 in the US (compared to about $70 for the John's Lane). I don't know what it'll go for in Ireland yet. It's due to appear on shelves this month. The Powers range One concern when the Signature Release first appeared was that it might be a no age statement replacement for the John's Lane. That's absolutely not the case; John's Lane is here to stay. The much-liked 12 year old Powers Special Reserve blend may be gradually phased out internationally but it will continue to be sold in Ireland. Since the John's Lane is also a 12 year old, that will clarify the line up, outside Ireland anyway. There is no plan to mimic the Gold Label's ABV boost in the Special Reserve. Irish Distiller's ambition is to increase global distribution of the Powers range but that is obviously limited by current inventory (Powers uses a distinct distillate and cask profile which makes it quite different to Jameson). The recent Midleton distillery expansion will loosen capacity constraints so we should soon be sharing Powers with the world.
24 days ago
The construction of a huge new distillery hasn't distracted Tullamore Dew from the business of pushing whiskey out the door. It hasn't even slowed the pace of new releases. Along with the wonderful Tullamore Dew Phoenix, there is now a 1...
The construction of a huge new distillery hasn't distracted Tullamore Dew from the business of pushing whiskey out the door. It hasn't even slowed the pace of new releases. Along with the wonderful Tullamore Dew Phoenix, there is now a 14-year old sherry finish single malt. It has been produced for the Nuance Group, a large travel retail operator with 50+ shops around the world. The malt, I would confidently guess, was made at Bushmills distillery, and has been finished for 8 months in sherry butts. According to Tullamore Dew's Global Brand Ambassador, John Quinn, "the result is a very pleasant combination of maltiness combined with characteristic Tullamore DEW citrus notes and a subtle sherry sweetness." There was another sherry finish released a year ago, a 12-year old. At the time it was exclusive to travel retail operator, Heinemann, but it is now available at Dublin airport too. Sherry finishing at Tullamore's own warehouse is one way it can add distinctiveness to whiskey made, for the moment, at competing distilleries. Phoenix's pot still component is matured an extra two years in sherry, while its predecessor, the Black 43, contained pot still matured for one year in sherry. The Black, now discontinued, was very well-received in the Irish whiskey community, while Phoenix was a hit at the most recent Irish Whiskey Society tasting. I've sampled the Phoenix myself twice in the last week and rate it very highly. One for my own shelf, definitely. I have yet to have the opportunity to acquaint myself with either of the Tullamore Dew sherry finish single malts.
30 days ago
Alltech's founder and president, Dr Pearse Lyons, is determined to give the craft beer and distillation renaissance in Ireland a firm push. When he heard that a US multinational had bought the only independent Irish distillery, he immedi...
Alltech's founder and president, Dr Pearse Lyons, is determined to give the craft beer and distillation renaissance in Ireland a firm push. When he heard that a US multinational had bought the only independent Irish distillery, he immediately (literally, the same day) ordered new stills to be dispatched to Ireland. They are now producing spirit in a temporary home at O'Hara's brewery in Carlow. In a couple of weeks' time, Dr Lyons will open the Alltech International Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention in Dublin where we'll all have the chance to learn what it takes to brew and distil our way to success. I have listed below some of the sessions that caught my eye. Since there are several tracks running in parallel, I'm going to have to make some tough choices. Have a look at the full agenda on the website. There are more talks, and also music and mixers, and an exhibit area too. It'll be a great opportunity to rub shoulders with producers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. And it's only €65 all-in. Boundless Potential: Growing a business from inception to $4B Dr Pearse Lyons Is China the next Frontier in Craft? My beer experience in the Far East. Mark Lyons Creating Raving Fans: Branding Craft in the Age of the Smart Consumer Catherine Keogh Lab Techniques: tricks of the trade for craft brewers and distillers Chair: Joe Power Golden Brews on the Emerald Isle: Craft Brewing in Ireland Today Seamus O’Hara The Hops Shop: Which hops will work the best for your product? Karl Ockert and Ken Lee Barrelling Along: The Fascinating Story of Cooperage Paul McLaughlin, Kelvin Cooperage Sherry, oak, and wine casks: the function & technology of barrel aging Jack O’Shea The Art and Science of Spirit Making – and Tasting Mark Coffman My Global Distilling Experience: Rum, Gin, Vodka Frank Vriesekoop Yeast and Fermentation: Building Better Beer and Spirits through Science and Nature Inge Russell, Graham Stewart Column Stills for Whiskey and Rum John Jeffery The Social Life of Beer and Spirits: Social Media and the New Beverage Marketing David Butler Dublin's Rich Brewing History Eddie Bourke, Diageo
196 3 months ago
Did you know that the world's first aircraft disaster happened in Tullamore, in 1785? A scant two years after the Montgolfier brothers first demonstrated hot-air ballooning in Paris, a balloon crashed in Tullamore, setting the town's tha...
Did you know that the world's first aircraft disaster happened in Tullamore, in 1785? A scant two years after the Montgolfier brothers first demonstrated hot-air ballooning in Paris, a balloon crashed in Tullamore, setting the town's thatched roofing alight. The townsfolk rebuilt, and adopted the phoenix motif for their coat-of-arms. William Grant & Sons have seized on the same metaphor to celebrate the return of distilling to Tullamore. As their new distillery rises from a field on the outskirts of town, they have launched a commemorative whiskey: Tullamore Dew Phoenix. It is a triple-distilled, triple blend, which is what Tullamore calls its signature recipe of grain, malt and pot still whiskeys blended together. The pot still component has been finished for two years in Oloroso casks, giving Phoenix a rich, sherried taste. It's bottled at 55%, non-chill filtered. There will be a total of 5,000 cases of Phoenix released, but in small batches, over time. It will appear in a limited number of markets, the first of which is Ireland, at The Irish Whiskey Collection in Dublin and Cork airports (the airport press release did not mention the world's first aircraft disaster). It will also be sold at The Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre. Andre De Almeida (left) & John Quinn (right), of William Grants; and Dave Gorman and Deirdre O’Carroll of The Loop It goes for €50 at the airport, no matter where you are travelling to. I haven't tried this whiskey yet but that seems a very reasonable price to me. Along with the recent Gathering whiskey, there is some great value to be had at the airport at the moment. Here are some tasting notes from John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador for Tullamore Dew: Nose A surprisingly smooth medium-bodied whiskey, with distinctive sherry notes and pleasantly spicy creamy pot still whiskey flavours, nicely balanced. Taste The higher strength tingles on the tongue leaving a spicy pot-still flavour. Addition of a little water releases layers of caramel sweetness, delicate floral notes and oak tannins. Altogether, a perfect balance of Oloroso sherry sweetness and spicy creamy pot still. Finish Long lasting with a lingering warmth.
about 1 month ago