This one has been in my cabinet for a few years now, thankfully I bought it just before the LCBO boosted the price up to the current $80. I bring this up because I feel like the place it held in my cabinet deserves to be renewed, but at current prices, it’s a bit of a tough sell. But such is life, and age statements now cost money. But cost aside, this is one of Ireland’s greats…period. I would stand by that. I haven’t had many Irish “premium” whiskies, but as far as my experience takes me, this one has got a solid place in my top 10 recommended bottles. If someone wanted to know what good Irish whiskey tasted like, this would probably shoot to mind as my first recommendation.
“Why?” you say?
Let’s start at the beginning. First of all, this is a SINGLE POT STILL whiskey, the quintessential Irish style. Single – meaning from one distillery, and Pot Still – meaning there is no column still spirit (sometimes referred to as neutral grain spirit). This is no blend. And what makes this different from a Scottish single malt? The mix of unmalted barley along with malted barley…and that is what makes it the quintessential style of Ireland. Add to it that this has been triple distilled, and aged in a combination of bourbon, and sherry casks, and you’ve got classic Irish whiskey, made by Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland. (Note: On the bottle packaging only sherry casks are mentioned, the mix of bourbon casks in addition to sherry is on the official website.)
Tasted neat from a Glencairn.
Nose: What jumps out first is clearly red apples, baked red apples, but without the common spices that go into a baked apple pie. This is baked apples with a candied element, like candy apples at a carnival or fair. There is a very light caramel that emerges, along with a pleasant mustiness after some time in the glass. It actually reminds me of a Calvados that I had not long ago. Barley sugar rounds things out.
Palate: It has a nice coating, oily mouthfeel…a testament to the pot stills. The flavour follows the nose quite predictably with the addition of (what I call) butter biscuits. They weren’t noticeable on the the nose, but they do have a place on the palate…wonderful, I love surprises! The finish doesn’t hold any surprises though, it gives you a medium length lingering taste of what you’ve just had…no flourishes, no twists or turns. Predictable.
Conclusion: I find this to be a wonderful example of a proper Irish whiskey. It does the job right, every time, and provides a benchmark by which other whiskies can be measured. It is also a great example of “Smooth doesn’t have to mean simple!” It’s complexity allows this to be shared among whisky aficionados, and it’s easy drinkability allows it to be shared among friends at a party. It seems to do it all well, and yet I find myself reaching past it often in the cabinet. Yearning for a whisk(e)y and admiring a whisk(e)y are two different things I suppose. This one gets much admiration here.