Five whiskeys from the Cooley range
The Connosr Distilled tasting panel convened once more - this time to assess five expressions from Cooley. The panel is comprised of Connosr staff and members. If you are interested in sitting on the tasting panel please get in touch.
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Meet the panel
The community members on this issue's panel were Stuart Robson AKA Stu_R, Olivier Kaempfer AKA OJK and, joining us via video link, Mark Dermul AKA markjedi1. The panel also included Connosr founders Pierre & Jean-Luc Thiebaut.
Meet the whiskies
Kilbeggan Distillery Reserve - "Young but not yet wise"
The first release of whiskey entirely distilled and matured at the Kilbeggan Distillery since it resumed production under Cooley ownership. The bottle, marked batch 001, carries no age statement and the contents flowed from the distillery's old pot stills.
Nose: Very interesting with aniseed and nail polish building to herbal notes of fennel seed, tarragon and mint underscored by a layer of vanilla, spices and some fruit. Throw in a hint of rubber and some metallic tones and you have a very promising and morish bouquet.
Taste: Slightly disappointing after the nose. Starts sweet with crème brulee, brown sugar and cornbread. Moves quickly through more vegetal flavours and dries to bitter walnut skin.
Finish: Short, dry and uncomplicated. Hint of spice gives way to more pronounced walnut. Bitter final notes.
Comments: Split opinion although all agreed the nose was exceptional. Consensus was that despite criticisms this is a whiskey to watch. Perhaps with more maturity future releases will add depth of flavour and length of finish to the lively and beguiling nose.
Greenore 15 year old - "Older but wiser?"
A single grain whiskey matured for 15 years from the much praised Greenore range.
Nose: Vanilla and oaken spice with distinct eucalyptus and wood sap. Very Bourbon like developing with lavender, honey-roast peanuts and orange ice lolly.
Taste: Slow build of spice and vanilla with pine sap, pencil shavings, fig and oats. Members of the panel were very familiar with the 8 year old expression and felt this lacked some of the sweet milk & corn notes of that version. Returning later in the evening some of the sweetness was more evident – takes time to develop in the glass.
Finish: Drying with a touch of perfume and spice – cinnamon and ginger.
Comments: More grown up than the regular 8 year old. Prompted some discussion over whether older was better for this whiskey. Good but slightly disappointing for the Greenore fans.
Tyrconnell Madeira Cask - "Tropical beach party!"
A Tyrconnell single malt, finished in Madeira wood, this unusual whiskey caught the attention of the panel. This is where things started to really get going.
Nose: Fruit, nuts, chocolate, wine – where to start? We picked up: strawberry nectarine, mango, toffee, lychee, nougat, walnut, almond and wine - plenty of wine.
Taste: Tropical fruit – mango, pineapple, green banana with cocoa, vanilla and plenty of oak spice. Develops with nougat, chocolate pudding, honey roast cashews and guava.
Finish: Spicy tropical fruits, topped with ground nutmeg in a sweet ice cream cone dipped in dark chocolate. Drying with some book dust. Medium length.
Comments: Fresh, lively and perfect for summer. A very successful Madeira finish.
Connemara 12 year old - "Sweet peat"
Universally praised by the panel. Those familiar with the regular Connemara peated expression thought this was a touch more refined.
Nose: Burnt grass, wet soil, dry smoke, yellow apples, a touch of sharp lemon with crème fraiche or sour cream. Moves on to a hint of mint – like dried toothpaste - accompanied by paraffin, copper and seaweed.
Taste: Fresh, still minty turning to soft smoke with a little lemon. Develops with coal smoke and vegetal notes – particularly sweet broccoli and cauliflower.
Finish: Subtle smoke and peat gives way to sweet milk and charred pine cone lifted by a hint of banana.
Comments: Beautifully balanced and approachable. Gentle peat, very accessible.
Connemara Turf Mor - "Connemara in excelsis"
The logical next step for Connemara - this is a limited release expression but if Cooley don't make another batch they'd be missing a trick. The standout whiskey of the night.
Nose: Kicking off with smoldering damp hay, grassy smoke, damp earth and all the fruit from the 12 year old - later a touch of fennel and carrot water comes in.
Taste: Quite peppery & more dry smoke. Vegetal with a touch of toffee. Water brings out more peat - but not coastal peat - and more fruit, pear, green bananas. Water also enhances the already big bodied mouth feel. This can handle quite a lot of water each additional drop bringing out more flavours - Turkish delight, melon, nougat, and gentle sweetness.
Finish: Honey, lemon, brown sugar, peat, melon, Lapsang Souchong tea; wood smoke, nougat, tree bark, pomegranate. We could go on because it does.
Comments: Outstanding, how you want a peaty whiskey to be. Complex & vibrant. We couldn't resist checking the price - a bargain, we will be adding this to our cabinets. You should too.