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Connemara Peated

A bit...pointless

5 1174

RReview by @RikS

17th Apr 2019

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    74

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

After having seen a big variance and a few rather positive reviews of this one, I decided to pick one up on a whim as I spotted it on special offer as I was walking through Heathrow airport.

Colour: straw... a light gold.

Nose: malt. sweet. wood. whiff of smoke. a tiny bit of acetone in the background. however, you better close your eyes and work for it cause it's 'delicate' to say the least. (I really wish I had a Glencairn with a lid now here now).

Palate: is it in?? eh... oh yes, there... I feel something wet in my mouth... ah, there it is... finally... a bit malty sweetness... some light honey.. floral... green grass wet in morning dew... some smoke, but oh it's gentle. it's pretty thin, and being 40% really doesn't help. I actually have to concentrate for a nano-second to get the tastebuds to kick in or they will have registered that I just took a sip of water.

Finish: short in terms of the floral and honey elements, with the smoke lingering on for some time. but do not expect the sooty Caol Ila smoke of an overfull ashtray at 03:00 in a New Orleans bar. Rather, think the remaining smoke in a shirt that's hung outside on the balcony overnight after a business meeting with someone insisting to smoke a Camel ultra light next to you.

In fairness, I should point out that the bottle is just opened and the glass I'm drinking from is far from ideal, so things may improve with a bit of time... I really hope so. you probably have figured out from the above that this was a pretty underwhelming experience.

I'd say this: if you have a friend who doesn't like whisky much, but who would like to try something innocuous and containing some of the famous whisky 'smoke' - then, this is a perfect introduction. It's pretty hard to imagine anyone having much of a reaction to this, be it good or bad.

As for the rest of us, I cannot say this is bad per se; it's just pretty... pointless. There are so many other expressions that bring out the representative taste elements in much more interesting ways, and the 'togetherness' of them in this Connemara expression have resulted in a pretty bland concoction with any excitement whatsoever. The only reason I'd pick this one out for a visiting friend would be if he insisted on trying something that could help him understand grassy in a whisky context.

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11 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@RikS yes, standard Connemara is mild stuff. I've had it a couple of times, so I didn't buy a bottle of it.

Now the Connemara Cask Strength, that is well worth owning. I have been through one bottle of the CS and have another in my cabinet.

7 months ago 4Who liked this?

RikS commented

@Victor Thank you Victor, I can totally see that point. As I said, there isn’t anything here that put me off in and of itself, rather the underwhelming experience of the ensemble. Actually, I really wanted to like this one... Now, if someone could turn up the volume!? The redeeming element for me was the grassy element that I’ll enjoy exploring with time as/if evolves.

PS: is the CS version also peated?

7 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RikS yes it is interesting that a relatively few malt whiskies strongly show the grassy side of barley. Makes me want to drink some of my recently opened bottle of Hakushu 12 yo. Hakushu 12 yo is as grassy as they come.

Yes, to the best of my knowledge all of the Connemara whiskies are peated. Connemara Cask Strength is most certainly peated. My Julie used to say that the Connemara CS we owned smelled "sacred" like church Frankincense. The ABV of the CS is up arouind 57-60%.

Here's my first bottle:

connosr.com/connemara-cask-strength-whisky…

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@RikS - I was gifted a bottle of this last year. Perhaps it will become the gift that keeps on giving grin

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

RikS commented

@RianC Well... I'm pretty curious to taste their CS version after @Victor 's comments, but yes, maybe it should be the one that keeps on giving :-)

This chap, however, seems to like it - www.youtube.com/watch

7 months ago 0

@Hewie
Hewie commented

Again, thanks for the helpful review - even if it is disappointing. I've wondered about this one too and now I know not to sink the cash into a bottle - I'll see if I can sample some first. Thinking of you with a whole bottle of the stuff - do you think it's too 'delicate' to hold up in a cocktail?

7 months ago 0

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 commented

I was gifted a bottle of this in the distant (2013) past. It was cracked open with my two nephews. We were not impressed or amused with it. It was memorable for all the wrong reasons, the acetone(plastic) notes, a lack of body, and an unbalanced composition. The bottle was put away in a cabinet and we moved on to JW Black. About three years have since passed, when one of the nephew's mentioned to me that the bottle has been consumed. He stated "it was actually, pretty decent after about a year or so in the cabinet".

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

@dloewen
dloewen commented

@RikS I'm really surprised to hear such an underwhelming review of this...I hope there isn't drastic batch variation going on, because my last experience with it left me looking to buy another bottle! I arranged an Irish whiskey tasting with a group about one year ago...here is our flight...this was also the order of consumption. Without exception, everyone loved the Conny. The only thing I can think of, is that it might be the context with which we drank it?!? If I had just had a dram of Lagavulin, it goes without saying...

7 months ago 0

RikS commented

@Hewie I couldn't really say, I rarely drink and never make cocktails except for the odd classic Margaritas. Sorry

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

RikS commented

@dloewen I was pretty surprised too actually. That said, the bottle was just opened and could be I had an off palate day. I'll let it air a bit and try it again once back home under better conditions. If I note any discernable improvements I'll add here... Seems indeed this one gets quite a varience of opinion. Now, if that's down to batches or taste preference, who knows?

I don't know if this is just my imagination, but seems that the Irish get more favourable reviews at cask strength? See e.g. @Victor comment on connemara CS and the general opinions on Redbreast CS. Maybe that's a consequence of a lighter spirit requiring higher ABV to push through the taste elements, but that's beyond my experience and expertise to have a view on.

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@RikS "yes' to the observation that cask strength/higher ABV concentrates the flavours to make them more discernible and interesting. There is one other huge observation to be made here, which is: special smaller volume releases of which Cask Strength releases are one of the major types, always involve careful cask selection. It is a general truth that the Cask Strength/Barrel Proof releases around the world are made from more carefully selected, "better", casks. The "standard" release of any whiskey is where the lesser casks have to go.

It took me a lot of years to get past my former bias against low ABV whiskies. N.B. that "low ABV" for me would be everything under 50% ABV. And 50% ABV just straddled the line of acceptability for me. After several outstanding releases got past me because I refused to entertain the idea of purchasing them at a mere 45% or 47% ABV I eventually realized that the most important determinant of quality is always cask selection.

How does one know whether the casks selected are any good? There are only about three ways: 1) taste the whisk(e)y for yourself, 2) trust the skill of the master distiller with respect to designating the product in question to be 'premium', or 3) trust the taste of reviewers.

I give reviewers almost no credence unless I know their personal taste very well from my own experience. Tasting the whiskey is the best approach, but is often not an option. What I have learned slowly and the hard way is that the taste of the best distillers in selecting casks for special releases can usually be trusted. True for all good distillers? No! Ardbeg is my favourite Scottish distillery and they have certainly released a few dud special releases along the way. Most of the time though, I will trust a Limited Edition from Buffalo Trace or Four Roses. Same for most, but not all, LEs from Amrut. I haven't had a bad taste of an LE from Amrut, but their LEs are quite expensive, and some of them I don't want to spring for. Amrut Intermediate Sherry Matured or Portonova are likely to give more enjoyment than their more expensive LEs.

With whisk(e)y learning experience in tasting for yourself is everything.

7 months ago 3Who liked this?

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