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Connemara Turf Mor

Please, No More Turf

0 1272

@talexanderReview by @talexander

29th Aug 2013

0

  • Nose
    18
  • Taste
    21
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    15
  • Overall
    72

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Connemara is, to my knowledge, the only peated single malt Irish whiskey on the market (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). This brand was started by John Teeling after he purchased Cooley Distillery, the first new Irish whiskey distillery in over 100 years. Cooley has a bit of a checkered past; the Irish government used it to distill industrial alcohol, until selling it for scrap to Dr. Teeling in 1988. But rather than dismantle it, he decided to make whisky, and seriously struggled for a couple of years before it started to take off, thanks to the resurrection of old, iconic brands such as The Tyrconnell, Locke's and Kilbeggan. They also market a grain whisky called Greenore. Cooley may be the most innovative and boundary-pushing of the Irish distilleries, which has served Dr. Teeling well: he cashed out last year, selling the distillery and its brands to Beam Global for a cool 71 million euros. Not a bad investment given he paid 106,000 GBP for it in 1988.

Connemara Turf Mor (gaelic for "big peat") is the most heavily peated of any Irish whiskey, at a staggering 58 ppm (standard Connemara is 20 ppm). It is part of their Small Batch Collection, and like Octomore from Bruichladdich, seems to be a bit of an experiment in Extreme Peating (sounds like something you'd watch on ESPN). It is non-chill-filtered. Many thanks to Johanne McInnis for this sample. Because I do not have the bottle, I don't know the bottle code, nor any other pertinent information that might be on the label.

The colour is a brilliant light gold. Be careful when you nose it - alcohol burn! But when you get past that, some nice sweet peat smoke with sage, thyme, lavender and a slight soapiness (that I'm not crazy about). After only a few minutes in the glass, it starts to smell like, um, an ashtray. Seems extremely young - this may be less than four years old. Very tart and sharp. Improves with water, replacing the soap and "ashtray" notes with more malt.

On the palate - wow! Very rubbery and medicinal, with very pronounced lemon citrus. Bitter. Lots of Fisherman's Friend - I feel like I'll have clear sinuses for the next few months. Very oily, with the slightest hint of cream soda in the background. Surprisingly, I don't get that burning alcohol heat at this strength; and conversely, a drop of water actually adds that heat.

The finish continues the Fisherman's Friend note, with more lavender, turning into cilantro. Powerful, but medium length. Although the ppm is higher than Laphroaig or Lagavulin, the smoke doesn't stay in the mouth as long as with those malts. Surprising delicate for such a peat monster, but a very challenging dram - a little too challenging. It's very imbalanced; while very complex, there is a lot of conflict between the notes. It's like a party in my mouth and everyone invited eats kippers and smokes Camels. If you know me, you know I love my peated whiskies, and I enjoy other Connemaras, but this one, as interesting as it is, doesn't bowl me over. But don't listen to me - I have many friends who love this malt, it has won a number of awards, and Jim Murray scores it a 94. So to each their own!

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12 comments

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

Another wonderful review, but I must say you've scared me off this one. Even if it's well-liked by others, the elements you find don't sound very appealing. Lavender and cilantro in the finish bring to mind the little gift-shop soaps in my grandmother's bathroom.

Tonight on Extreme Peating: Sean and Seamus face off in the Irish Coffee Showdown! Fergie is guest judge.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

You know, @talexander, I had some of that Turf Mor up there when last we were in Toronto in March, and I didn't like it any better than you did. It made me really wonder how I could so love the Connemara Cask Strength, and then they made this stuff which tasted so strange and different by comparison. I have to say that I have seen a range of some fairly odd flavours in the mix in some of the malts from Cooley.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@WhiskyBee, thank you for the kind words. I was lucky enough to get a sample from fellow Canadian "Whiskylassie" (check out her blog) so I didn't have to spring for a bottle. I had heard enough good things about it that I would have been happy to shell out for one - but I'm kind of glad I didn't. The sample had two generous drams in it, and I had all of it over the course of 90 mins or so. Just wasn't crazy about it. But it is worth trying, who knows...

@Victor, I agree. I love the Connemara CS, which I've had a few times (the last time was with my partner's father, a serious brawler of an Irishman who used to be an investigator in the UK and seems amazed I'm not intimidated by him). The Connemara NAS is also very good. This one just went over the top with a whole bunch of off-notes. I know @thecyclingyogi really likes it, I presume Johanne "Whiskylassie" McInnis likes it as well. Am currently cleansing my palate with ye olde Ardbeg 10.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Forgot to mention, @WhiskyBee - that's hilarious! As much as I hate her music, Fergie's pretty smokin' and I'd watch her judge anything any day. But I sure tire of the big-dick-contest that is Extreme Peating by the likes of Jim McEwan, Dr. Bill and the Turf Mor. (Having said that, Extremely Peated Ardbeg is still awesome)

7 years ago 0

@thecyclingyogi
thecyclingyogi commented

i'm not sure why you think i'm a fan, but i can assure you i'm not. i gave the bottle i had a score of 80, and that was being generous - i wouldn't rate it much higher than you these days. i also got a blind sample from whiskylassie and i knew what it was right away, it turned me off that much. it remains one of my least favourite bottles i've ever purchased.....

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@thecyclingyogi, I stand corrected - I had thought you had told me verbally that you really liked it (I didn't check your score or anything) My apologies.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Thank you for the compliment! :)

7 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

Thanks, @talexander. I hear what you're saying re: the battle of the family scepters, but I'd still like to get my hands on an Octomore 2.2 one of these days. If I could only find one.

Yeah, Ardbeg. I think I'd hate them if I didn't love their whisky so much.

I chose Fergie mainly because she's the best-known part-Irish lass I could think of. I prefer Rachelle Lefevre or (giving away my age here) Ann-Margret. Both just slightly Irish, I know. But being half-Irish myself, I'm a sucker for gorgeous redheads. (I married a Hungarian blonde, but I'm not complaining.)

7 years ago 0

kian commented

I love a good peat monster but this one ended up getting poured down the sink.Only ever done that once before but the overpowering taste and smell of burnt rubber was just awful.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

One important point not yet brought out in the comments is whether this particular bottle of Connemara Turf Mor is from a recently released new batch of that product, or whether this is a bottle from the same old juice that got a lot of stellar reviews back about 3 or so years ago. I very much suspect that this must be from a "fresh" batch of Turf Mor.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Yes, I'm guessing that. It is part of their "Small Batch Collection" which implies they would be different "batches". Though in the world of booze marketing, anything goes...

7 years ago 0

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