Walsh Whiskey Distillery has released the second expression in The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Cask Series, a limited edition finished in rum casks from the tiny tropical Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – Caribbean Cask Finish, a super-premium whiskey, is a rare vatting of Single Pot Still and Single Malt whiskeys finished for 6 months in Chairman’s Reserve Rum casks.
In recent years, as part of his research into new cask finishes for his portfolio of whiskeys, Walsh Whiskey founder, Bernard Walsh, has sourced casks from a range of countries including Spain, France, China, Kentucky and Italy. This limited edition, of just 12 casks, began in 2014 when he made the trip to the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies in search of rare casks to give a special expression to his original whiskey.
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve, is distilled entirely in copper pot stills and Bernard’s journey took him to visit the famous St. Lucia Distillers (established 1932) where they also use copper pot stills to distil their rum. While there, Bernard handpicked 12 oak casks and he chose to age them in St. Lucia Distillers’ iconic Chairman’s Reserve Rum for a minimum of 2 years from 2015. The casks were subsequently brought to Ireland in the autumn of 2017 and used to finish a batch of The Irishman Founder’s Reserve for 6 months.
John Kelly, Commercial Director, Walsh Whiskey Distillery, said: “St. Lucia Distillers, who produce Chairman’s Reserve Rum, are renowned as a prestigious operation first established and run by the Barnard family for almost 90 years. Bernard was confident that he would be able to select from a high quality stock of well cared for casks imbued with a classical rum flavour. This Caribbean Cask Finish release will complement our highly successful ‘The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – Marsala Cask’ finishes of 2017. We hope the lucky few who secure bottles will enjoy this unique whiskey which is characterised by tropical fruits and spices.”
The release is limited to just 12 casks with 380 bottles per cask. Each bottle is individually numbered and signed by Bernard Walsh. This premium whiskey is now for sale across just 7 selected international markets namely; Ireland (including Dublin Airport), the USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, France and Holland. Of course bottles can also be purchased by visitors to Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak in Ireland.
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – Caribbean Cask Finish is triple distilled entirely in copper pot stills, natural non-chill filtered, aged in American oak bourbon barrels before being finished for 6 months in the Chairman’s Reserve Rum Casks and, finally, bottled at 46% ABV.
‘Born by accident’ – a phrase with a rather distinct meaning behind it. But what if you could turn around that meaning and have it shone in a positive light, say, for example, the story of Innis & Gunn? I give this independent Edinburgh brewer as an example because it literally was ‘born by accident’. Back in 2002, an ale-finished whisky was sought by William Grant & Sons and they approached Master Brewer Dougal Sharp who proposed a special recipe and technique. He brewed an ale that was then stored in oak barrels for 30 days, which after being emptied, would flavour the maturing whisky of Grant’s Cask Editions.
After discarding the beer for many months, Dougal Sharp received a phone call letting him know that the distillery workers had been sampling the ale, and that it was absolutely fantastic! After receiving 9 out of 9 in their brewery tasting panel (a feat that even their beer brewed at the time hadn’t achieved) he decided to concentrate on bringing Innis & Gunn to the mass-market. In August 2003, Innis & Gunn Original was launched to an accolade of praise and awards, most recently a third consecutive Modern Monde Selection gold award. Six others have been added to the range since, all matured in a different way to give off their unique aromas and flavours. With this in mind, below I give to you my tasting notes –
Innis & Gunn Original– 6.6%
Matured for a total of 77 days, notes of toffee and oak combine well on the nose, with vanilla making its presence felt on the palate that slowly mellows away into a creamy finish.
Innis & Gunn Blonde – 6%
Matured for 37 days, a hit of oak and fruit on the nose to begin with, with a hint of vanilla following. A light offering of ripe fruits with malt flavours coming through near the end.
Innis & Gunn Rum Finish – 7.4%
Matured for 57 days in rum-infused American Oak barrels, a light nose of spice and oak with dried fruits, with short flavours of vanilla and caramel on the palate that leads into a slightly dry finish.
Innis & Gunn Spiced Rum Finish – 6.9%
Matured for 47 days in oak from Caribbean spiced rum casks. Lots of white fruits on the nose with fresh spice entwined that blends well with the lively start of caramel on the palate. A lingering malt sweetness mixed with oak to finish.
Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask – 7.4%
Matured for 60 days in barrels from a famous Irish whiskey distillery, a huge bold blend of chocolate and vanilla on the nose with sweet aromas dancing around. Very smooth on the palate, with chocolate dominating with a long-lasting finish. Slightly dry at the end.
Innis & Gunn Highland Cask – 7.1%
Matured for 69 days in oak barrels which had previously been used to mature 18-year-old single malt Scotch Whisky from the Highland region. Light mix of toffee and malt with hints of orange on the nose, with a very smooth beginning on the palate with a mouth-watering fresh oak flavour. A long, sweet finish with a kick of malt.
Innis & Gunn Triple Matured Oak – 7.2%
Matured in 150 selected oak barrels and aged the longest for a total of 99 days, it produces a bold hit of chocolate and oak with ripe malt pushing through near the end. A slight tang on the palate as the three flavours mix with sour fruit. Honey and spice appear on the long finish.
Innis & Gunn Canada Day 2012 – 7.7%
Matured for 49 days, there’s lots of malt on the nose with a soft aroma of toffee. A huge burst of soft malt hits the palate, with a long tingling sensation that lasts a long time. Slight toffee and vanilla flavours creep in near the end.
Innis & Gunn Independence Day 2012 – 7%
Using American hops, it gives a soft aroma of vanilla on the nose with apple slowly becoming more apparent. A rather sharp start on the palate but soon mellows into a blend of citrus and malt. Rather long with a slight bitter finish with treacle.
Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter– 7.4%
Matured for 39 days with added molasses, roasted wheat and crystal malt. Soft sweet treacle on the nose with hints of chocolate coming through. Plenty of toffee and brown sugar flavours blending well, with a refreshing finish of hops that linger.
Innis & Gunn Barrelmaster’s Reserve – 7.4%
Limited edition and matured in specially selected 18 year old highland whisky casks. Rich honey notes on the nose with scents of heather, fudge and sweet marzipan.Very rich treacle on the palate, mellowing into a vanilla and honey combination that leaves a long, lingering sweet finish.
Although an extensive range, its uniqueness shines through with each recipe giving that different edge from its respective maturation. With this, Innis & Gunn has been well received when it comes to pairing with food including the Original that goes well with grilled seafood, steaks and cheese as well as –
Give them a try one day, and hopefully you’ll be seeing the range not only chilling in the fridges at your favourite bar, but also on the menu of a restaurant. Be adventurous, it’s well worth the hype!