In 2006, the Sidney Frank Importing Co. announced a new and innovative Irish whiskey, named after Michael Collins, who, according to their website, “… signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which made Ireland an independent country for the first time in over 700 years.” Sidney Frank also imports brands such as Jägermeister Liqueur, Tequila Corazón de Agave, Gekkeikan Sake.
Michael Collins whiskey is distilled by the Cooley Distillery, which is one of three major distilleries in Ireland, and is the only one that is independently-owned. Cooley was founded in the 1980s to compete with the two other large distillers in Ireland, and later fought off a hostile takeover attempt. Cooley distills other respected whiskeys such as Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore. Two expressions of Michael Collins are currently available: the Blend, and the Single Malt.
It is fascinating to note that, according to the producer, “..there were more than 2000 distilleries in Ireland that produced whiskey, with more than 400 Irish whiskey brands available for export”. The reviewers much have been quite busy at that time !
MC is double-distilled in copper pot stills using 100% malted barley, some of which is dried over peat fires. It is a marriage of malts aged 8 to 12 years.
Nose: Quite reserved, but a little apple, fruit, honey, glue and cardboard … not really MC’s forte.
Palate: Creamy, soft honey sweet, fruity, deeply engaging, with a light, but persistent smokiness throughout. Well-balanced and complex, and with a lot going on to share your attention. The fanfare in time trails off, as a touch of spiceness appears. All was tasted without water.
Finish: While adding a bit of butterscotch, cookies and vanilla, all flavors simultaneously and gloriously return for their soft and warming finale. Without bitterness, sourness or harshness, lingering dry flavors and a light smokiness accompany you until you are ready for your next sip.
I have had this bottle for several months, and have enjoyed it, with a re-awakening bit of surprise, each time it was tasted … like a friend who never bores you. The other MC expression, the Blend, is also quite worthy, and in my opinion, a cut above the other popular Irish blends.
So how does MC compare to Scotch? In my opinion, MC (as typical of Irish whiskey) is more delicate than the light Scotches, but more complex and satisfying than the lighter Scotch blends. MC is well in the Irish 40% big leagues, along with Bushmills 10, Redbreast and Tyrconnell Sing Malt … all of which are respectively distinctive. I have not yet tasted Connemara.
Oh, and then there is the attractive, distinctive and innovative 750ml bottle, with its long neck, and helpful nylon-plastic (non-restrictive) pour spout … all of which bespeaks quality. The smaller 375ml size for the blend expression is especially suitable as a lovely gift. Here is what the bottle looks like: www.michaelcollinswhiskey.com/index.aspx
The score, which is relative to Irish whiskey, is 91/100.