Friday, November 26, 2010
Blended Irish Whiskey
My years in the US taught me many things, but in the world of whiskey it was a true eye-opener to see the sheer volume of Irish whiskey that America throws down its throat. From only four distilleries operating in Ireland (Bushmills, Cooley, Midleton/Jameson, and the recently re-opened Kilbeggan distillery), at least ten times as many labels are currently out there in the market.
This is just one of many brands one finds on the shelves and in this case, it comes from Cooley distillery, makers of Kilbeggan, Tyrconnel, Locke's, and Connemara whiskies.
This growing segment of the world of whisk(e)y has, to date, received only a small fraction of the ink spilled on its Scottish cousins even though as little as a century ago it outperformed Scotch globally. Back in 1994, Jim Murray wrote The Irish Whiskey Almanac, and a few years later Classic Irish Whiskey but since then the topic has generally been relegated to a chapter in books covering Scotch AND Irish whiskies or world whiskies, like Murray's own World Whiskey Guide (2002).
While the world wide intraweave has literally over one hundred English language Scotch whisky blogs, there are currently only a handful of dedicated Irish ones. The folks at Irish Whiskey Chaser provide a useful links page for the Irish whisky drinker/researcher.
The future seems bright for Irish whiskey. With annually increasing sales as a category, increasing variety of flavour (pot still grain, pot still malt, column still, peated, wine casks, etc.) and with apparent reinvestment from all corners of the industry, not least of all William Grant & Sons purchase of Tullamore Dew with an apparent clear intent on building a distillery in Ireland, Irish whiskey is on a path to regain a good chunk of what it lost back in the 1920s.
Goodness knows they could use it right now. So go grab a bottle of Irish. In fact, while you're at it grab some sherry; they say Spain could be next.
Tasting in "the valley hushed and white with snow"...
Pencil shavings and sweet, vanilla-accented spirit.
Toasty and nutty oak impressions, new make grain sweetness, and some sweet strawberry jam in there, too.
Really, very much as expected. Young, simple, innoffensive verging on bland but entirely enjoyable whiskey. The website tells us the whiskey is "just like the famous and much loved melody." Perhaps... if sung by your half passed-out uncle.
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