Irish Whiskey Renaissance Monday March 17 – A Taste of the Irish!

A group of intrepid whiskey tasters met at Kensington Wine Market on St. Patrick’s Day 2014, Monday March 17,  to sample through a selection of very tasty Irish whiskies. While some around town were stumbling around blind drunk on cheap beer dyed green, our guests were blindly tasting their way through seven sophisticated Irish whiskies including. We sampled a few blends, a blended malt, singles malts and two pure pot still Irish whiskies. Here is our range:

  1. Midleton Very Rare 2011 – 40% – Andrew’s Tasitng Note: “Nose: guava, kiwi and another exotic tropical fruit I can’t put my finger on; soft oily grains, movie theater popcorn and delicate floral top notes; minty and fresh there is also a hint of raisin and dehydrated apple cubes; Palate: very clean, floral and decadent with vanilla extract, Demerara sugars and maple glazed almonds; soft toasty oak yields to some bold citrus, melon and tropical fruits that are more subtle than those on the nose; Finish: grainy with some oily pot still notes; the toasted oak becomes a faint bit bitter, showing its age, while a crisp citrus note pops up at the end.” - $160.99
  2. Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey – 40% – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: a big hit of lemon oil furniture polish, green barley and fruit flan; creamy and rich with whipped cream atop apple strudel; corn syrup and buttermilk crepes; Palate: lots of body with some chewy  barley, creamy oak, oily green grasses and a touch of peppery leather; tart citrus notes build in intensity with some rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream; Finish: long and coating with more creamy oak and fading dusty grain pushed asside by more tart fruits; Comments: interesting and tasty, but a bit strange all the same!” – $86.99
  3. Redbreast 12 Year - 40% – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: apple sauce and Cinnamon Toast Cruch; celery salts, dusty grains and creamed honey with oranges and almond paste; Palate: dusty and grainy like the palate with loads more apple, orange peels and spice; I can’t help but find it salty which is a surprise; classic pot still whisky, not as interesting as the Green Spot but very good; Finish: dtrying and still dusty with some cream and more floral-appley notes.” - N/A
  4. Adelphi Limerick Slaney 11 Year – 57% – Cask 9929 – 235 Bottles – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: massive caramel and chewy malt, more Scottish than typical Irish: green grasses, dew-covered flowers, Werther’s caramels and heather honey; some notes of melon and orange emerge from beneath the surge of malt with patience; Palate: big and juicy with loads of green malt and more big caramel/toffee notes; the flavours come in waves with coconut and vanilla icing on the second pass while all the while the spices tingle the tongue; candied orange, melons and a big hit of ginger and cinnamon come next followed by freshly mowed damp green grass and a hint of clove; Finish: long and coating with the malt and the oak sharing the burden. - $111.99 – !!!SOLD OUT!!!
  5. Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2007 - 46% – A blended Irish whiskey which contains some of the firms oldest whiskies, including pot-still whiskey matured in a port pipe. – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: thin tendrils of oil from the grain, dusty barley from the pot still and some tangy fruit to boot; notes of spicy cornbread, freshly peeled oranges and melons; with patience tropical fruit notes begin to open up; Palate: the best word I can find is juicy; clean honey notes from the grain whiskies while the drier more brittle pot still whiskey adds an earthy depth; lots of melon and tropical fruit notes come in waves, mango salsa with papaya chunks, and canned pineapples; some darker fruits and chocolate develop, likely from the port casks, with a tinge of leather and loose leaf tobacco; Finish: still enormously fruity and elegant with just the right weight of spice, enough to add some character but not enough to derail its silky smooth feel! - $399.99
  6. Bushmills 21 Year 2013 – 40% –  Matured 19 years in Bourbon and Sherry before finishing two final years in Madeira casks. – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: creamy and fruity with chocolate, candied fruit and lighter-style Christmas cake; some chewy malt and toasty oak with Demerara sugars and clove; Seville oranges, and grapefruits  emerge with date squares and shredded coconut; Palate: big and bold with a balance of toasty oak, fruits and spices; given the depth and darkness of the fruits, the American oak influence is surprising, providing a creamy backbone, vanilla and more coconut; a broad range of fruits emerge from candied orange and cherries to melons, banana and pineapple; the spices are darker, but still decadent and soft with licorice; Finish: long and coating the whisky has good body and its balanced flavours fade out slowly: first the fruits, then the spices and finally the toasty oak.” – $202.99
  7. Teeling Hybrid No.1 Edition – 44.1% (cask strength) – 1200 Bottles – Hybrid Malt of Cooley and Bruichladdich whiskies married in cask for 8 years! – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: malty and rubbery with honey, raisins and Roquefort;  some briny coastal notes and clean smoke are hiding beneath the malt, and vanilla icing sugar; Palate: big round malt, honey and gentle earthy peat notes roll into spices and chocolate with some browning apple; salty notes are activating taste buds on the sides of my tongue, while floral white fruits are floating above; Finish: long and malty with some gentle lingering peat, white fruits and citrus. – $64.99

The evening’s Top 3 Showing Whiskies were:

  1. Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2007 - This whisky stole the show in my mind, justifying its price and standing head and shoulders above the other contenders. It is a tropical fruit bomb! It is not surprising that it scored 96pts from both Whisky Advocate and the Whisky Bible.  - $399.99
  2. Bushmills 21 Year - Just behind the Jameson in votes, these two whiskies left the competition in the dust. Tons of character and a bit more modest price than the Jameson. - $202.99
  3. Adelphi Limerick Slaney 2001 - Presumably distilled at Cooley, this double distilled single malt also stood out, sadly we only received 6 bottles of it, and by the night of the tasting had only one left. Suffice to say its gone! – $111.99

I am not surprised that the two most expensive whiskies showed the best, in this case they both have excellent palates and enticing noses. The tasting was conducted blind with the biases of brand, age and price removed. In this case it would seem you get what you pay for!

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