When The Irishman Met The Sicilian

Photo: michaelorourkephotography.ie
Walsh Whiskey Distillery has released two, new, very limited edition, super-premium expressions from The Irishman range. Both were finished in handpicked Marsala wine ‘hogshead’ casks from the Florio winery in Sicily which is owned by Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s strategic partner Illva Saronno.

Hogshead casks are larger than standard whiskey casks, however with evaporation accounting for the ‘Angel’s Share’, just 2,970 bottles of The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Florio Marsala Cask Finish were filled in mid-August after a minimum of 12 months finishing in the hogshead casks. The nine casks will be spread across seven markets: Ireland, Italy, France, Holland, Switzerland, Travel Retail and Germany. This triple-distilled, non chill filtered whiskey has an ABV of 46%, which is 6% ABV stronger than The Irishman Founder’s Reserve.

Just a single hogshead cask was filled with The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt resulting in 320 bottles of this expression which will be exclusively available at the Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Royal Oak, Carlow, Ireland. Also triple-distilled and non chill filtered, The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt – Florio Marsala Cask Finish is a Cask Strength whiskey with an ABV of 56%.

The creation of these whiskeys began in 2015 when Bernard Walsh went to the Florio winery in the town of Marsala in Sicily as part of his international research into new cask finishes for his portfolio of whiskeys which has also seen him visit Spain, France, Portugal, St. Lucia, China, Kentucky and other parts of Italy. During a tasting of the famously sweet Marsala wines in the Florio cellars, he became convinced of the potential for an exciting expression to result from finishing his signature whiskey, The Irishman Founder’s Reserve, in Marsala wine casks.

Following the tasting, Bernard personally selected the 10 hogshead casks for return to Ireland for filling with The Irishman Founder’s Reserve. He made a last minute decision to add one more twist to the innovation by assigning one of the hogshead casks to be filled with The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt for a minimum 12 months’ finish.

Commenting on the successful outcome of the project, Bernard Walsh said: “I have always loved sweet tasting wines, so I was drawn to the Marsala from the outset, but I didn’t want it to overpower The Irishman expressions either. I am delighted that we have achieved two beautifully balanced whiskeys which we are proud to make the ninth and tenth expressions in our portfolio.”

Jameson Restructures Its Portfolio With New Family Of Irish Whiskeys

whiskey-makers-series_4

 

Jameson has unveiled a new structure to its family of Irish Whiskeys, representing a unique re-interpretation of the super-premium whiskey category. The new portfolio is made up of The Whiskey Makers Series, the range of Heritage whiskeys and The Deconstructed Series with the original Jameson Irish Whiskey at the core. Together, the new portfolio showcases the brand’s rich heritage, celebrates its remarkable present and shares an insight into its innovative future, underpinned by our communications platform of Sine Metu.

The restructure manifests Jameson’s ambition to drive interest globally in Irish Whiskey, a trend that has been led by the brand in recent years. The new family of whiskeys is set to further impact this movement, highlighting Jameson’s wider offering and giving drinkers a meaningful exploration path into super premium whiskey. With a strength of storytelling throughout the range, the new portfolio is rooted in the interests of Jameson’s fans who are seeking to learn more about the people and craft, heritage, taste and ethos of fearlessness behind the brand.

Daniel Lundberg, Global Brand Director for Jameson, comments: “The restructure of the Jameson family is the most significant move in our brand’s recent history. This is an exceptionally exciting development that positions Jameson at the forefront of innovation and advance within the Irish Whiskey category. The family, comprised of The Whiskey Makers Series, the range of Heritage whiskeys and The Deconstructed Series is underpinned by the brand’s people and craft, heritage, taste and fearlessness; in short, the qualities for which Jameson is celebrated throughout the world. Today we finally get to unveil our new family globally and witness Irish Whiskey fans discovering new stories, flavours and experiences from Jameson.”

The Whiskey Makers Series

A brand new range of super-premium Jameson whiskeys – The Whiskey Makers Series – sits within the refreshed family and is comprised of three whiskies that celebrate the people behind Jameson and their craft. Created collaboratively by Jameson Head Distiller, Brian Nation; Head Cooper, Ger Buckley; and Head Blender, Billy Leighton, the range gives Midleton’s craftspeople a unique opportunity to shine a light on their individual areas of expertise. The Whiskey Makers Series is set to deepen consumers’ understanding of Irish Whiskey production through the exploration of three key tools, after which the products are named: The Distiller’s Safe, The Cooper’s Croze and The Blender’s Dog.

The Distiller’s Safe celebrates the role of Jameson’s Head Distiller, Brian Nation, and is a true showcase of the original copper pot still distillate. A purist of whiskey making, Brian explores the influence of the copper on the new-make spirit, using a maturation process that skilfully preserves the qualities of the original distillate, allowing the flavours developed in the pot still to take centre stage. Brian’s tool of choice – the spirit safe – allows him to fine tune the whiskey’s style at any point during the distillation process and the resulting blended whiskey carries distinct sweetness from barley sugar and gentle notes of apricot, cinnamon and melon. A smooth, light whiskey with a luminous, zesty finish.

The Cooper’s Croze showcases the role of Jameson’s Head Cooper, Ger Buckley, and explores the influence that maturation in casks has on whiskey. A fifth generation cooper, Ger has a deep relationship with wood and is tasked with selecting, repairing and maintaining Midleton’s diverse and treasured barrels. Ger’s prized possession – a croze – passed down through his family, is used to make the groove where the head of the cask is positioned. The resulting blended whiskey is matured in virgin American oak barrels, seasoned bourbon barrels and Iberian sherry casks, a combination that delivers vanilla sweetness, rich fruit flavours and a balance of floral and spice notes.

The Blender’s Dog celebrates the role of Jameson Head Blender, Billy Leighton; a tribute to the fine art of blending. A master at matching whiskeys across ages and characters, Billy is tasked with uniting the crafts supplied by distiller and cooper to create harmonious, perfectly balanced whiskeys. Billy’s go-to instrument – a ‘dog’ – is used to collect whiskey samples from the casks, allowing Billy to bring together complementary spirits from Midleton’s extensive range of maturing stock. The Blender’s Dog is a perfect balance of spirit, wood and time; a rich, rounded whiskey with butterscotch sweetness, spices, tannins and an exceptionally long finish.
heritage-series_5The range of Heritage whiskeys

The range of Heritage whiskeys is a new collection of super-premium Irish Whiskeys that bring to the fore over 200 years of remarkable stories and milestones from the brand’s rich history. Created to better highlight three world-renowned Irish Whiskeys – Jameson Black Barrel, Jameson Crested and Jameson Signature – each expression in the range tells a different story from Jameson’s past.

Jameson Black Barrel is a triple-distilled Irish whiskey that pays tribute to the cooper’s method of charring barrels for a second time. Charring is a traditional method for invigorating barrels, although today at Midleton double-charred barrels are used by choice rather than through necessity. The expression uses a blend of ‘small batch’ grain and traditional pot still Irish Whiskey, which is distilled just once a year at Midleton, and is matured in a combination of American oak, sherry casks and double-charred bourbon barrels. Time spent maturing in these barrels imparts the whiskey with intensified notes of vanilla sweetness and caramel, alongside toasted wood, fruit, and warm spice.

Jameson Crested, launched globally in March 2016, is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that celebrates the first drops of whiskey to be bottled, sealed and labelled at the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, marking the moment in time (1963) when Jameson took full control of the whiskey making process, from grain to glass. Up until then, distillers – including the Jameson Distillery – sold barrels of whiskey to bonders to bottle themselves, however, reports of whiskey bonders watering down their whiskey in the 1960s led Jameson to complete the process inside the distillery walls to protect the quality of the whiskey. Jameson Crested brings together rich pot still Irish Whiskey and grain whiskey, matured in a high proportion of sherry casks, as well as bourbon barrels. The result is a nose of vivid sherry and pot still aromas, a palate of toasted wood, spice and chocolate, and a warm, lingering sherry finish.

Jameson Signature is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that bears the signature of John Jameson, a mark of quality that has appeared since the early days of the Bow Street Distillery, when all casks were signed off by John Jameson. The expression celebrates this tradition and the generations of meticulously transcribed distillers’ notebooks, a sign that attention to detail remains at the heart of Jameson. Jameson Signature is a commitment from the brand to uphold the founder’s core values of craftsmanship and quality, with a robust and complex whiskey that boasts deep flavours of cedar, vanilla, citrus and dried fruits and a smooth balance of honey.

deconstructed-series_6The Deconstructed Series

The Deconstructed Series is a range of super-premium Irish Whiskeys that explores the key flavour notes of the original Jameson Irish Whiskey. Launched in Cannes in October 2015, the expressions – Jameson Bold, Jameson Lively and Jameson Round – are named after three key taste characteristics found within the family’s core expression, amplifying each flavour trait to offer three new drinking experiences.

Jameson Bold, influenced by pot still whiskey, is an intense and robust whiskey, with a strong influence of spices. Initially sweet and creamy, with an abundance of soft fruits, the pot still spices develop to bring a perfect balance of rich barley notes and mellow baked apple.

Jameson Lively, influenced by grain whiskey, offers an elegant and floral taste combined with a citrus lightness. Its soft and sweet taste, provided by the perfume bon bons alongside turkish delight, combines with drying hints of citrus to balance the sweetness. A little chilli oil brings a prickle of spices to the mouth.

Jameson Round, influenced by the wood contribution, is a balance of rich and plump charred wood tones. A perfect harmony of diverse flavours, sweet vanilla fuses with soft ripe fruit and, together, combines with the rich Pot Still Spices on a firm foundation of toasted oak.

Drombeg Tasting Notes

Theres many an Irish liqueur out on the shelves these days, Baileys probably springs to most minds, but theirs a relatively new brand shaking the branches, and is coming at a new angle than the traditional ‘cream liqueurs’. Drombeg is a natural, hand-crafted liqueur that is infused from Irish oak and sweet distillate using Irish spring water. Created by West Cork Distillers, themselves only founded back in 2008, it is one of only two non-sweetened savoury brown spirit liqueurs on the global market. With the lack of a ‘Baileys cream colour’, it can easily be mistaken for whiskey which is something Drombeg have been taking full advantage of by promoting the brand to customers who are attracted by Irish whiskey brands, but are looking for a lower alcohol alternative.

The name itself is taken from Ireland’s oldest stone circle that dates back to as early as 150BC. Drombeg carries on the tribute to the ancient monument by distilling and maturing the spirit close by.

So how does this mystical oak wood matured premium spirit fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Drombeg

Drombeg – 22%

Light and mild on the nose, with slight oak and caramel notes blending well. On the palate, instant smoothness with a creamy texture is noticeable with caramel dominating with a little smoky wood following. Very long-lasting effect with hints of sweetness to finish.

This is a little different to what you may expect an Irish liqueur to be, but it’s a great start-up to becoming an Irish whiskey fan as well as a good substitute from the usual ‘cream liqueurs’.

Especially if you try the simple mix of Drombeg with a splash of ginger ale and a twist of lime. Sláinte!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Yellow Spot Tasting Notes

Lately i’ve been lucky enough to experience the return of Yellow Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Below is the press release, and underneath that i have added my tasting notes –

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has announced a return to the fold for the revered Yellow Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, which has been skilfully recreated by the dedicated team at Midleton Distillery in Cork . The re-launch underpins the company’s pledge to introduce new Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey expressions each year, as part of its continued commitment to reinvigorate the category.

Part of the ‘Spot’ range of Single Pot Still Whiskeys, Yellow Spot was originally produced, bottled and sold by Dublin-based wine merchants Mitchell & Son. Established in 1805, Mitchell & Son were ageing whiskeys bought from John Jameson’s Dublin distillery in their own casks up until 1968, when the practice of selling whiskey to bonders in cask ceased. From that date, Green Spot was bottled by Irish Distillers Ltd., and is now joined by Yellow Spot 12 Year Old.

The exceptional skill of the Midleton Masters, combined with Mitchell’s old notes on the Yellow Spot expression, has led to the recreation of this 12 Year Old whiskey. Rather than simply being a ‘finished’ whiskey, Yellow Spot is an expression that has been matured for a full 12-year period, in three oak cask types: American bourbon barrels, Spanish sherry butts and uniquely, Spanish Malaga casks. Bottled at 46% ABV and set to be produced annually in batches of just 500 cases, the first bottles will be available in key markets from late May 2012.

Anna Malmhake, Chairman & CEO of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, says: “Through the skill and craftsmanship of our Midleton Masters, we have been able to retrieve this stunning long-lost gem. We are delighted to welcome it back into the portfolio today and we’re confident that it will heighten the rekindled interest we see in Single Pot Still Whiskeys around the globe.”

Yellow Spot, 12yrs – 46%

Very smooth on the nose with a rich malt aroma doninating, but notes of sweetness following. The palate experiences a slight spice that warmly tingles. Honey, chocolate and red fruit blend over the longevity.

This is a welcome addition to the Irish market, and i’ve a genuine enthusiasm towards the next expression to be released. Don’t expect to see this in every bar, but if you do come across, give it a try!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Irish Whiskey Tasting at Kro 2

Last night was Kro Bar’s monthly whiskey tasting night involving a range of whiskey from the Irish based Cooley Distillery.

For those of you who don’t know what Kro Bar is, they’re a Danish family business who specialise in Danish food and beer. A popular idea, they’ve expanded from 1 outlet to 5 in the space of 10 years.

Our host for the evening was Alex Johnson of Eaux de Vie, and he took us through a thorough history of Cooley Distillery itself as well as each individual brand under their portfolio. These included –

– Kilbeggan Blended
– Greenore 8 year old Single Grain
– Tyroconnell Single Malt
– Tyroconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt
– Connemara Peated Single Malt
– Connemara Turf Mor Peated Single Malt

The Irish whiskeys on offer for the night

Now I’ve personally never tried any of these whiskies before so this was another great insight into another part of the whiskey world. Below are my tasting notes on each whiskey offered to us:-

Kilbeggan Blended – 40% £23.99 rrp

Kilbeggan distillery has the title of the world oldest distillery under its belt (opened 1757) so with a whiskey steeped in history, we expected something a little special, and it delivered. On the nose it gave off a subtle mix of both vanilla and a rather sweet caramel aroma, whilst a soft and almost silky taste of caramel and dark chocolate lay themselves down on your palate, giving you a creamy finish. Recommended as a good starter whiskey to unfamiliar Irish whiskey drinkers, and I’d whole-heartedly agree!

Greenore 8 year old Single Grain – 40% £31 rrp

Produced in a continuous still instead of the traditional copper pot still, the Greenore 8yr is lighter in taste but rougher on the back of the throat. So with this in mind, the nose gave off some delicate citrus notes with a slight mix of corn. As it hits your tongue, it gives you a short, sharp hit but mellows quickly into a more distinctive citrus taste with a hint of barley coming through as it gives you a subtle burn (not as harsh as you would expect a grain whiskey to be).

Tyroconnell Single Malt – 40% £32 rrp

Named after a race horse back in America, it was originally produced by the Watts Distillery until prohibition forced them to settle in Ireland. Tyrocennell was Americas biggest selling whiskey before the prohibition, and was one of the first to be brought back to life by Cooleys in 1992. On the nose it gave off a fresh mix of jasmine, malt and honey with the palate enjoying a fruity blend of orange and lemon with the malt making a strong presence in the long after-taste.

Tyroconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt – 46% £49 rrp

Initially matured in American oak barrels, it finished life off for 6-8 months in a Madeira cask. Hints of cinnamon softly enter your nose but you get a kick of mixed spice as it hits your palate.

Connemara Peated Single Malt – 40% £31 rrp

Connemara distinguishes itself away from the Scotch peated whiskies as being produced in rural areas, not coastal, so there’s no powering hit of sea spray or iodine. On the nose it gives you a balance of dried fruits, honey and wild flower. The palate however gives you a silky smooth start of honey, with a more powerful and intense taste of fruit and peat coming through giving it a long finish.  

Connemara Turf Mor Peated Single Malt – 46% £51 rrp

What Alex described as ‘bringing out the heavy stuff’, the last whiskey of the night was the heavily peated Connemara Turf Mor. It gives off a rich mix of salt, spice and subtle smoke. On the palate it gives you an intense kick of peat and smoak but develops into a mellow after-taste that leaves dry spice flavours lingering.

Mid-way through the tastings, Kro supplied us with a delicious lamb-stew which went down very well on a cold and rainy night in Manchester!

A thoroughly enjoyable night in which we were able to sample a good range of what both Cooley Distillery and Ireland have to offer. Irish whiskey hasn’t been something I’ve taken much notice of in the past, with only Jamesons and Bushmills my only knowledgable ports of call. But I’ll be looking out for the Kilbeggan Blend as well as the Greenore 8yr which Alex says are widely available in places likes Corks Out.

Next month’s Kro 2 whisky tasting will be hosted by Compass Box who are an independent Scotch whisky company. On offer will be Great King Street, Spice Tree, Hedonism, The Peat Monster and Orangerie. 5 whiskies I’ve never tried, but can’t wait to taste!

Check out Kro’s website here – http://www.kro.co.uk/

You can purchase all of the above Irish whiskeys here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/productlist.php?catid=41 or http://www.corksout.com/categories/Spirits/Whisky-%26-Malts/Irish-Whiskey/

Take a look at Cooley Distillery here – http://www.cooleywhiskey.com/