I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve no idea how I came across this Irish whiskey and for it to end up in my possession, I simply can not remember. That doesn’t mean it should be excluded, as after doing some research on the expression, it turns out its from a rather well-known distillery.

Locke’s Irish whiskey gets its name from John Locke, who was one of the previous owners of the Old Kilbeggan Distillery located onthe banks of the river Brusna. The Locke’s Kilbeggan Distillery was first licensed in 1757 by Mathew MacManus, making it the oldest licensed distillery in the world. The ownership was passed on to Patrick Brett in 1833, then John Locke acquired the distillery in 1843. A topsy turvy century went by before the Irish government raised the spirit duty from £6.85 to £8.80 a proof gallon in April 1952. This resulted in a huge cut in demand. By November 1953, Locke’s could not afford the duty to release the whisky from bond for the Christmas period and distilling ceased.

The distillery survived until November 1958 when a debenture issued to the bank in 1953 became due. Locke’s could not raise payment so the bank called in the receiver and ended 201 years of distilling history. In 1987 the Cooley Distillery acquired Locke’s Kilbeggan Distillery from its then owner Lee Mallaghan for an exchange of Cooley shares and a place on the Cooley board. Cooley restored the warehousing and used it to mature its output from its distillery at Riverstown, Dundalk.

So it’s now Cooley Distillery who run the name Locke’s Single Malt, a part of its growing portfolio with names such as Greenore, Conemmera and Tyrconnell alongside.

The brand itself says that they distil within traditional pot stills and use malt barley as their base cereal as well as Irish spring water, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting note –

Locke’s 8yr – 40%

Soft, creamy vanilla and toffee notes on the nose, with a rather light, thin texture on the palate with a little sweetness. Lots of aromatic malt with a little spice to finish.

Not a bad dram at all! A hidden gem some could say, and perhaps something just that little bit different from the mainstays of your drinks cabinet. Although not littered with big, bold points in their history like some brands, and an extensive production method like others, if you think about it, its the liquid that does the talking. Try something new from Ireland.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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