Irish Whiskey Week – Day 4: The Wild Geese Single Malt (43%, OB)

Irish CloverDay four already of the Irish Whiskey Week, so we are more than halfway! Today we’ll have a look at The Wild Geese Single Malt Irish Whiskey. There is no age statement on the bottle. To be frank, I never heard about this one before even though they have managed to win a lot of awards and even claiming that it was voted Best Irish Whiskey. That in itself is always a statement I find pretty suspicious, especially since it is not clear at first who voted it the best Irish Whiskey around. Nobody asked me!

After some research it were the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) that voted it the best Irish Whiskey in 2010. The results of 2010 were impossible to find, but I did find the results of 2014. This year there wasn’t a best Irish Whiskey, since no Irish Whiskey was submitted. What was submitted were five Scottish Whiskies. Benriach Horizons (Double Gold and voted best Scottish Whisky), Glenrothes (unclear which expression, Gold) and three Whiskies from the Lost Distillery Company: Auchnagie, Stratheden and Gerston (all three won Silver). Well excuse me, for not taking the claim all too seriously! Oops now I don’t have any room left to tell you about The Wild Geese themselves. Oh well…

The Wild Geese Single MaltColor: Light citrussy gold, pale

Nose: Floral, light and fresh nose. Fruity too. Very fresh with citrus notes on top, lemon, lime, lemon curd, all that sort of thing. Underneath that a promise of sweetness, with lots of vanilla and a tiny hint of sappy new wood. leaps out of the glass giving at lot from the start.

Taste: Here the sappy wood is up front, hazelnuts and quickly a shot of sweetness and vanilla, then acidity and fruit, with the floral part pushed more towards the finish, again moving into the realm of washing the dishes. The citrussy-vanilla work well together, but the wood somehow is less of a good balanced component. That could have been better. The finish is warm, toffee like and has some staying power. Funny enough it seems to have a sort of gritty texture.

In the end it is light, it is Irish, therefore easily drinkable. It is nice, it is young and fresh. Not extremely expensive and well worth a go if you have a substantial collection of open bottles. It also will do a good job for novices exploring the Irish. It’s not the best Irish I have tried. I still like Redbreast 15yo (especially the L5 batch) best, but I may have mentioned that before…

Points: 79

Irish Whiskey Week – Day 3: Jameson 18yo “Master Selection” (40%, OB, JJ18-3)

Irish CloverDay three already of Master Quill’s Irish Whiskey Week, and no more Tyrconnell. Today we’ll focus on Jameson, because what would be an Irish Whiskey Week without Jameson! I’ve tried quite a few Jameson bottlings, but I have never found a bottle that scored over 80 Points, and although not bad, this may have fueled the prejudice I have (or had) against Irish Whiskey.

John Jameson was a Scottish businessman and in 1780 he acquired the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. Today the Bow Street Distillery is a museum and visitors centre. The production has moved to the Midleton distillery in Cork. The Whiskey itself is produced from a mixture of malted and unmalted or Irish barley, mostly if not all sourced from within a fifty mile radius around the distillery.

Jameson 18yo Master SelectionColor: Copper gold

Nose: Deep and tarry wood, but also quite fruity. Nice to finally smell something Irish (and unpeated) which smells like it has some age and not so light all the time. Nice soft wood. Velvety feel and very elegant. The only thing that doesn’t work for me is the black fruit acidity. It hinders the balance of the nose, luckily the acidity is upfront and dissipates after a while, to leave more room for the oak. Give it some air and time.

Taste: Yes, quite some oak and again lots of sweet red fruits. The Whiskey is not sweet and does show some age. It has the same red fruits I taste in my beloved Redbreast 15yo! Creamy, powdery malty and dry, but with lovely red fruits and a good yet light and malty finish. Very easily drinkable at 40% ABV.

Actually I was quite surprised how nice this is, and how close the taste resembles the first Redbreast 15yo. This should not be a big surprise, since both come from the same Midleton distillery. Still, the Redbreast pack a lot more punch with its 46% ABV and is pretty special. This  Jameson however may have only 40% ABV which may let it down a bit, but is more easy-going and creamier.

This Jameson 18yo “Master Selection” has been rebranded as Jameson 18yo “Limited Reserve” some time ago. I haven’t tried this “new” version yet, so I don’t know how that one will hold up to this Master Selection, which was also produced in batches, hence the Batchnumber JJ18-3 in the title.

Points: 85

Irish Whiskey Week – Day 2: The Tyrconnell 10yo (46%, OB, Finished in Port Cask, Circa 2007)

Irish CloverWhy not continue our Irish Whiskey Week with another Tyrconnell, but first I’ll start with my thoughts about finishing Whisk(e)y in casks that previously held(fortified) Wines.

I come from a time where every single cask that was released was good by itself, so when the first finishes emerged we were quite suspicious of them. Was the Original cask too tired to produce a well aged Whisk(e)y? Especially Port finishes were considered to be strange. The color turned slightly pink, and the Wine bit, that leaped out of the glass was pretty harsh. Now that I (and Whisky makers) understand Port better we have learned that the best kind of Port for Whisk(e)y is Tawny (or Colheita or any other form of a Tawny, or oxidized Port, like old Whites). So today finishes have become more popular. I see a lot of people raving about different kind of Sauternes finishes, Marsala finishes, PX finishes and so on. On a more personal note. In the old days I found the odd Rum finish pretty pleasing, but it seems to me Rum isn’t a first choice from the industry anymore.

The Tyrconnell 10yo Port Cask FinishColor: Light copper gold

Nose: Strong and spicy. Malty and winey, but the winey bit isn’t overpowering the whole. It really is only an (balanced) addition. Adding something new to the Tyrconnell profile. Quite some creamy, wooden depth with licorice. Fresh cut oak. Earth and clay. Fresh butter. Good stuff. Spicy and powerful.

Taste: This packs a lot more punch at 46% ABV than the standard Tyrconnell. This version is also a lot more spicy and “older”. Cask toast and licorice, and medium wooden bitterness. All kept in check. The body is well-balanced and creamy, but towards the finish a sweet and slightly sharp and acidic winey note comes to the top, that also throws the Whiskey slightly off-balance. I also get some cardboard and bitterness in the finish. It doesn’t take air so well, so drink up, don’t let it sit too long in your glass.

Since I have just recently tried the “normal” Tyrconnell, does this one resemble the other one? Well no, but that may not only be the Port finish. First of all, a huge difference is made by the 46% ABV. 6% more alcohol is quite a bit. Second, this version is 10yo, and may even hold older Whiskey in the mix. And yes there is some Port going on, but as I mentioned above, this is not overpowering. If you can get past the finish, it does resemble a Tyrconnell though, again a sign they didn’t overdo the Port. Definitely a step, or two, up from the standard version, but still it didn’t quite work for me. Still not a big fan of finishes I guess…

Points: 79

Irish Whiskey Week – Day 1: The Tyrconnell (40%, OB, Circa 2008)

Irish CloverTime for another of Master Quill’s “Weeks”. This time we’ll be doing the Irish Whiskey Week. Irish Whiskey is something I would love to love. Ireland is a beautiful country with lovely people, and in Whisk(e)y they have become something of an underdog. I already have on my lectern a very good Redbreast 15yo that was bottled in 2005, and that bottling especially, turns out to be somewhat of a cult Whiskey, but I like to have some more excellent Irish Whiskey on there, so the search starts here…

The Tyrconnell (a racehorse) was once the biggest brand of the Watt distillery which dates back to 1762. Still on the label is the year 1762 as is the name of Andrew A. Watt & Co. The modern Tyrconnell was revived by the Cooley distillery, which today is part of Beam Suntory. Cooley also revived the Kilbeggan brand name, and Beam Suntory today calls the company Kilbeggan Distilling Co., with Cooley and The Tyrconnell to be two of its brands. There are two more brands you might have heard of: Greenore (a Single Grain) and of course Kilbeggan itself. As could be read earlier Jack Teeling sold Cooley to this group and started fresh with Teeling Whiskey.

The TyrconnellLets have a look at two Tyrconnell’s, first the standard The Tyrconnell at 40% ABV with no age statement (NAS), and the next review will be about another Tyrconnell Single Malt Whiskey.

Color: Light gold

Nose: Petrol (as you can have in a good Riesling) and malt. Fruity, as in apples and pears. Dry grass and toned down lemon sherbet. Machine oil and honey. Dusty toffee. Sweet, but more from fruit sugars and honey, than from sugar itself. Very nice and also interesting nose with a little bit of pepper and toasted wood. Industrial, but I very much like that.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Some of the Industrial warm oil notes return in the taste. Petrol is here too. Malty and sugary sweet, with some air it develops into honey sweetness. It is young, yet not vibrant, slightly under-developed and for my taste a tad too sweet. Entry into the mouth is nice and oily, sweet, than a nice body shows itself, but quickly hides. Towards the end everything seems to turn into water. Extremely short finish with some woody bitterness.

Very interesting Whisky with a nice, but light, industrial revolution profile. The old owners issued quite some single cask bottlings of The Tyrconnell and I hope the new owners will do the same, hopefully at cask strength. For a NAS bottling it is quite nice, and sure shows some potential. Tweak the stuff with some older ex-Bourbon cask Whiskey (for a longer finish) and maybe up the strength a bit and in my opinion you may have a winner!

Points: 74

Cooley 13yo 1999/2013 (51.4%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Cooley! How cool is that! As the label states, this is peated Cooley so probably spirit that was made to become a Connemara. But what is Cooley?

In 1985, Jack Teeling bought a former state potato alcohol distillery and two years later converted it into an independent Irish Whiskey distillery with a column still and two pot stills, located on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, hence the name. Cooley is known for distilling only twice, where other Irish distillers distill three times.

25 years later Mr. Teeling sold his distillery for €71 million to Beam Inc. On January 13th 2014 however, Japan’s Suntory Holdings sort of bought Beam Inc. for about €10.2 billion, making Cooley part of Suntory now. In the same deal our beloved Laphroaig, will enter the Japanese outfit wich already contains Bowmore.

Cooley 13yo 1999/2013 (51.4%, The Whisky Mercenary)After selling Cooley to Beam Inc. Teeling bought Diageo’s recently closed Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk with a group of investors and is converting it into a distillery. Great Northern made Harp Lager, Smithwicks, and Carlsberg (for the Irish market) and Diageo moved the production of these beers to their Guinness St. James Gate brewery in Dublin. Production of Teeling Whiskey should commence after the summer of this year. Today Teeling Whiskey is already on the market, obviously sourced from another distillery.

Color: White Wine.

Nose: Sweetish, light, lemony and young. Very fresh, lightly smoky, dusty and fatty peat. A long time ago, I had a tall bottle of cask strength Connemara (59% ABV), and this smells very similar. Grassy and lemongrass. Alcohol, chocolate and a bit fatty. Hints of wood. Lemon again which pushes the peat and smoke to the background. The smoke returns after some breathing. Bonfire. The wood and fire notes are really great. Small hints of toffee, cardboard and strangely enough some perfume. Empty glass has a lot of smoke and toffee notes.

Taste: Smoky sweet and quite a lot more peat than in the nose. Wood, ashes. Bonfire again. A little bit of bitterness from the peat (and the wood). Quickly turns dry and fatty. Soot, ashes and a lot of dust. Animalesk (there is that word again), with lemons. Quite some balls for an Irish Whisky. Cloying toffee with nice depth. Lacks some zest, or freshness, to be a proper Irish Whiskey if you ask me. Salty lips. Finish is half-long and somewhat introvert.

On the nose, quite a nice Cooley. Taste wise it’s also nice, but not very complex. WYTIWYG (What You Taste Is What You Get). Definitely a nice Cooley, but I have to say there are some more outspoken examples around. Great nose though.

Points: 83

Guinness Original (5%, 330 ml)

Guinness is good for youMoving on to a beer this time, and not just any beer, but a Guinness, you know the dry stout that is good for you! (especially for the heart, because the antioxidants found in the beer, battle cholesterol depositing in your body). Today it’s almost everywhere illegal to make such a medical claim.

I guess nobody will be actually interested in this review, because who knows anyone on the planet who drinks beer and hasn’t tried this beer yet? It should be next to impossible. My first encounter with Guinness was in a pub. That’s a good thing because of all the Guinnesses I have tried over the years, no bottled Guinness ever came close to Guinness draught (Around 4.2% ABV). There are a lot of variations on this theme for different markets, so plenty of Guinnesses to discover. If you want to know more about the beer, I have found the Wikipedia page to be extremely interesting.

Color: Brown-black cream with brown foam (that sets quickly)

Nose: Fresh hoppy foam and some fresh oak. Dark brooding nose. Fresh oak again and also a hint of  slightly toasted wood. Honey, caramel and slightly burned Sugar finish off the nose.

Taste: Bitter dark chocolate, woody yet retaining an unusual freshness for this type of beer. Slightly sour. Heavy, full-bodied and bitter aftertaste. Earwax and yeast. Yummie!

Actually it is pretty unique that a beer like this is so popular, well maybe not. It’s unique and heavy in taste. Quite bitter, but never the less enormously popular. For me this is especially a very nice beer to get from a pub and as a draught. Lovely stuff.

Points: 84

Redbreast 15yo (46%, OB, 2005 Batch [L53273071 11:54])

Bourbon week is over. The king is dead, long live the king. Now we’ll try a very nice one from Ireland. Ireland, like the USA like to call it Whiskey, with ana extra ‘e’. I’ve already tasted a lot of Irish whiskies, and I know that Redbreast 15yo is one of the best there is.

Redbreast ia a triple distilled pure pot-still Irish whisky from the New Middleton distillery from County Cork, owned by Pernod Ricard. This bottle is from a 2005 batch when it was still called “pure”. Due to new rules for whisk(e)y, “pure” was deemed to be a very confusing word, so now it is called a single pot still Irish Whiskey instead.

There’s only one other pot still whiskey these days and that’s Green Spot. Redbreast is a blend of old whiskies from sherry butts and bourbon barrels. The difference between a single malt and a single pot still Whiskey is that the latter also uses unmalted barley, and therefore cannot be named a single malt. Besides this there are a 12yo (40% ABV) and a new 12yo, which is 57.7% ABV.

Color: Dark Gold

Nose: Malty with red fruit, but red fruit in a spicy way, almost smells carbonated. Milk chocolate and clean. Definitively some wood shines through. probably some older casks in there than 15yo? After a while more meaty, like a good Flemish stew made with dark beer.

Taste: Red fruit and blueberries, blueberry candy. Unique. It’s something we like in 60’s Bowmores (just a 100 times cheaper). Very smooth. Mocha and a hint of caramel or toffee.  Some tree sap, and slightly bitter oak, or maybe bitter chocolate. Again, are there some older casks in here? Besides the dark fruits, I guess I am tasting banana and some coconut too. After some oxidation, the woody part is enhanced and the fruityness is a bit more subdued.

All in all a very nice example from Ireland. And it sure has a place of its own, since it’s different from anything from Scotland or the USA. This just has to be compared to both 12yo’s and Green Spot. Recommended.

Points: 86