Irish Whiskey Week – Day 5: Kilbeggan 15yo (40%, OB, 5000 bottles)

Irish CloverKilbeggan distillery a.k.a. Brusna Distillery a.k.a. Locke’s Distillery, was founded in the small town of Kilbeggan, County Westmeath in 1757 by Gustavus Lambert. The distillery was formerly a monastery and is situated near the Brusna river. Kilbeggan is now claimed to be the oldest working distillery in the world. One of the two stills at the distillery was made early in the 19th century and is considered the oldest working Pot still in the world. The distillery was dormant for quite a while, but Cooley restarted the distillery in 2007. Today Kilbeggan an Cooley are part of the Beam Suntory group.

Kilbeggan 15yo is a small batch blend, made with Cooley Whiskey, since Kilbeggan Distillery wasn’t running 15 years ago.

Kilbeggan 15yo

Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Fruity and fresh. Lovely. Vanilla pods and vanilla ice-cream but also a little dusty. Very nice and sweet grain in the nose. Slightly burnt wood (and new wood) with toasted bread.

Taste: Lots of vanilla and dried yellow fruits. Caramel and fresh toffee. Lovely stuff, I would pour this over pancakes. Peach yoghurt. Again toast and slightly smoky. Sweet, sappy wood. Nice hint of bitterness in the finish to hive the whole experience some balls. Excellent! Since this is a blend, don´t be surprised the finish is rather short, but who cares the Whiskey is simply delicious!

I love Cooley Whisky, but what makes this Blend really work is the high quality grain Whiskey that in here and it seems to me that there are a lot of first fill Bourbon Barrels (or Hogsheads) used. This 15yo is discontinued and is replaced with the 18yo in the same style decanter. Decanter you say, after-shave bottle imho. The 15yo was 5.000 bottles stong, of the new 18yo a mere 4.000 bottles were filled. I hear the 18yo surpasses this 15yo, and if that’s true get it if you can, since both are probably sold out everywhere.

Points: 85

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

Inchmurrin 15yo (46%, OB, 2012)

Bottled on the 14th of november 2012, we have here an Inchmurrin which is a Single Malt Whisky made at the Loch Lomond distillery. Loch Lomond was founded in 1965 and distillation started a year later. On site there is a malt distillery as well as a grain distillery. The distillery has two copper pot stills and four stills with adjustable rectifying columns (for Single Malt production). Because of these different stills and the fact that the rectifying columns are adjustable a series of different Single Malts can be made. Today Loch Lomond produces the following Single Malts: Loch Lomond, (Old) Roshdu, Inchmoan, Craiglodge, Inchmurrin, Croftengea (heavily peated), Glen Douglas and Inchfad.

Inchmurrin 15yoSince 1993 also a Coffey still is placed for Grain Whisky production and therefore the company is able to produce a Single Blend named Loch Lomond (you’d think they were good at making up names for their products)

Color: White wine.

Nose: Extremely malty, grassy and has notes of lactic acid. How’s that for a start! We continue with cardboard and a strange kind of acidity. Vegetal and woody. Toasted wood which makes the whole rather spicy. Slight whiff of menthol. When you let it breathe a while in your glass this is actually not a bad nose, the strange funkiness that was there in the beginning dissipates, to give us a more normal nose.

Taste: Grainy, very grainy. Neutral. It tastes like a Vodka on wood. It ís a Single Malt, so what happened in those casks over all those years? Grain and wood, not a lot more actually. Freshly cut baguette with its paper bag. Hint of vanilla. It isn’t sweet and has only a hint of bitterness. Finish is uneventful, and the higher strength gives it some staying power. But nothing really special stays behind.

First of all let me say that the bottle looks very nice when you have it in front of you. Highest marks on the packaging. The Whisky itself seems almost like a Grain Whisky that was aged in a bunch of rerererefill casks, very inactive indeed. Probably the most neutral Single Malt Whisky I ever tasted. Let’s make it my 70 points benchmark.

Points: 70

The Macallan ‘Fine Oak’ 10yo (40%, OB, Circa 2010)

To be honest, I’d rather review a Macallan from the times of the old 10yo 100 proof I reviewed earlier, but instead I’m having a 10yo from the Fine Oak series. When the Fine Oak series was released some ten years ago, it was the time the real Macallan was killed off by the owners. Macallan was then a Whisky for aficionado’s and people with taste and the Fine Oak Macallan is marketed more to be hip. Maybe the change happened because there was a shortage of Sherry casks, or maybe it was a pure marketing move. Who knows, and who cares. For those of you who don’t remember, The Macallan used to be the finest Speyside Whisky around, known for heavy use of Sherry. Something Glendronach is known for now. Glendronach didn’t sell well and even closed because of the Sherry success of Macallan. So here we have a entry-level Macallan with an age statement. So let’s have a look what the legend has become.

Macallan Fine Oak 10yoColor: Light gold, with a pink hue.

Nose: Sweet and malty, hints of creamy Sherry in the distance. Cream, vanilla, lemon and sugar with that typical sherried wine-note. Hints of oak, yet very light. If you want to, you can still smell a bit of the original distillate which still is excellent. Ear-wax again, with mocha and a nutty component. Something like almond-cream. After some time, the sugary sweetness gets some help from honey. Also a powdery note enters the mix as does some cardboard.

Taste: Malty and sometimes close to new make spirit. Sweet with lots of toffee and caramel notes. A little back-bone from the oak. I taste a lot of Bourbon cask in this 10yo, and it does get some character from Sherry casks, which in my opinion aren’t all Oloroso, since typical Fino notes are here too. Maybe a plethora of different Sherry casks went into this. The sweetness is definitely a sugary sweetness. This Macallan would make an excellent filling for bonbons. It somehow would complement the taste of chocolate for me. The finish somehow is a bit unbalanced, with wood and cardboard. It splits like a hair, and is rather short to boot. After 10 years it should have been better, it still says Macallan on the label you know…

When reviewing this, should I forget about the old Macallan? Sure, this has nothing to do with The Macallan that used to be, but on the other hand, the name is still on the label and on the back label Macallan is still considered a legend. If I were to get this blind, this could have been anything.

Points: 77