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This is an abbreviated version of a post that will be published on my blog tomorrow
I take jabs at Irish whiskey all the time, but I don't really worry about offending anyone, since, as far as I can tell, the Irish don't get offended. Or, at least not by a silly French-Canadian like me. Jocularity aside, I've always found Irish whiskey acceptable if somewhat dull and predictable, like action movies or romantic comedies. Irish whiskey is good in a pinch, I thought, but it doesn't merit the same reverence Scotch whisky commands. A good friend changed my mind somewhat with a tasting of Green Spot. While it's good, the price of Green Spot (here in Ontario) also buys a nice bottle of Old Pulteney 12, Glenfiddich 15, Laphroaig 10 or Highland Park 12. All of those suit me better than the Green Spot. But on a recent family trip, I purchased a bottle of Bushmills Black Bush and found an Irish whiskey that outperforms just about anything I've found at that price point (approx. $37 CAD).
Black Bush contains a "high proportion" of malt whiskey that was aged 8-10 years in Oloroso Sherry casks. What is "a high proportion" of malt whiskey? I don't know. I've read it's as high as 80% malt whiskey, but I can't seem to confirm this anywhere.
- Nose (undiluted): citrus (lemon), red fruit, red grapes, apples
- Palate (undiluted): medium-bodied, very little tongue-burn (bottled at 40% ABV), lots of red fruit (cherry, raspberry), malty, nutty, biscuits
- Finish: medium length, red fruit developing to milk chocolate, cinnamon with a licorice note lingering.
Adding water didn't change much in the character of this whiskey, but adding ice brought out more fruit and toned down a bit of the malt sweetness. I prefer this one neat, or maybe chilled. I would like to try chilling the bottle or even the glass. At 40% ABV, it doesn't need to be diluted any further, but tasting it cold was quite nice (heresy to some, I'm sure). I was surprised that the finish was as long as it was. I find Bushmills Original has a fairly short finish and I was surprised that this one went on as long as it did. Maybe the Oloroso casks had a prominent influence, or maybe it is close to 80% malt whiskey after all. I'm not quite sure where the longer finish comes from, but it's a treat.