Sunday, September 25, 2011

Redbreast 12 year old cask strength.

On Saturday just past, at Whisky Live Paris, Irish Distillers launched their latest addition to the single pot still category with Redbreast 12 year old cask strength.

Until recently getting your hands on a single pot still whiskey was no easy task. Redbreast as a 12 year old was generally available via most off licenses. Greenspot was less so and gained its iconic status as generally only being available from wine merchants Mitchell’s & Sons. A few years ago Irish Distillers launch a 15 year old version of Redbreast, but even that appeared to be a limited run as it floated in and out of the market at greatly different prices.

Now these three whiskeys have been joined in the last twelve months or so by at least six other single pot still whiskeys. 

I was one of a lucky few who were at a pre launch of Redbreast 12 year old cask strength a few days ago. IDL have released cask strength whiskey before, although in order to purchase them you required a wallet fatter than a pre Nama construction mogul (fat wallet whiskeys). This little beauty will come to the market in the €60 price bracket making it quite affordable to the Redbreast fan. Bottle at 57.7% from a batch of 68 casks it should yield approx 12,000 plus bottles, so its not going to be a collectors item just yet.

The whiskey has all the typical Redbreast notes, rich, spicy and oily. On the nose it was surprising, as the big alcohol kick that my nose normally gets from cask strength whiskey wasn't there, it was more like being battered with an oak baseball bat, such were the strong wood aromas. That oily spicy trait from  Redbreast 12 year old coated the palate, but i couldn't help detecting a Bertie Bassett liquorice all sort or two (the ones with the blue vermicelli). It has a deep rich finish with a touch of ginger snap that lingers on in the mouth. I didn't add water, but it would certainly change it, opening up some more flavours and aroma.

Redbreast 12 year old cask strength will appear in off-sales in Ireland from Tuesday and bars from Thursday.

For those of you wondering what the other five single pot still whiskeys that were released in the last 12 months or so, they are:- 

Midleton Single Cask 1991 (for Dublin Airport).
Midleton Single Cask 1996 (for Celtic Whiskey Shop).
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy.
Powers 12 years old Johns Lane Release.
And another Midleton Single cask for Dublin Airport as the first one sold out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More Single Pot Still coming our way.

First there were product launches now there are pre-launches.

Irish Distiller's will be giving a pre launch of their new single pot still whiskey this Wednesday evening at the Old Jameson Distillery. The rumour mill is going around in circles trying to guess what it will be, but the hot favourites are an older Redbreast, probably at 18 years old or another "spot" as in Greenspot. To get to this pre launch event you have to be a member of the Irish Whiskey Society, but hurry there are only a dozen spaces remaining.

Whilst on the note of single pot still whiskey, IDL have finally launched their website dedicated to the style. You can find it here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Whiskeys Launched today

The cat has been out of the bag for weeks but today sees the launch of two new whiskeys from the Midleton distillery.

Both single pot still whiskeys (the new name for pure pot still after the Americans spat the dummy out)

- Powers 12 year old Johns Lane Release at 46%
- Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy at  46%

The powers will come in at about €50 and the Midleton in its fancy wooden box at €160.

It great to see IDL to really push this category of whiskey at last.

At the launch Greenspot reveals it new look as well as Redreast, both have been given a fancy new uniform bringing them inline with this century.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japanese Whisky Tasting

After the destruction that has rolled across Japan in the last few days, I have decided to host a Japanese whisky tasting to raise funds for those in need.

I have long be a fan of Japanese whisky and was actually due to travel to Japan on whisky research only last week but had to cancel due to other commitments. So I thought it fitting that I crack open  some bottles from my personal collection to let you good folks try them.

I'm not going to reveal the line up but what i can say is that there are some cracking drams in there, including the fantastic Hibiki 12 year old blend that has been matured in plum liqueur casks as well as undergoing a bamboo charcoal filtering before entering the cask.

The tasting will take at L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 and will cost 25 euro per head booking is essential and can be done by emailing Michael at

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Knappogue Castle 16 year old.

I have long been a fan of Knappogue Castle whiskeys and have yet to come across a bad whiskey within their range, so im looking forward to getting my hands on this. However what the hell is going on with the label and the description???

First we had “finished” then some buck on Islay “aced” it, now Knappogue have “twinned” it. Utter garbage. I can handle “finished”, a whisky matured in one type of barrel for many years then “finished” in another different barrel for either a number of weeks, months, or years. Whatever Jim Mac wants to do on Islay is his call. But lads at Knappogue (Castle Brands) get your act together. Okay the whiskey has spent over 15 years in Bourbon barrels and then finished for 9 months in former sherry barrels. Correct me if im wrong but isn’t the meaning of twin the following: -

1. One of two offspring born at the same birth.
2. One of two identical or similar people, animals, or things; a counterpart.

1. Being two or one of two offspring born at the same birth: twin sisters.
2. Being two or one of two identical or similar people, animals, or things: twin cities; a twin bed.
3. Botany. Of or relating to structures, such as flowers, that occur in pairs.
4. Consisting of two identical or similar parts: a twin lamp fixture.

The only thing the barrels have got in common is that they are made of wood. But not even the same wood, American oak and European oak I presume. They never even grew up together, were they long lost twins? One matured bourbon, the other sherry. Enough. Surely if you want to “twin” your whiskey you should mature it in 2 barrels produced from one tree. Or mature it in barrel “A” take it out, swish it around and re-mature it in barrel “A”.

Re-mature, now there’s a thought…

Whiskey of the Week- Glen Garioch Founders Reserve

The Glen Garioch distillery has been on the go since 1797 and is one of Scotland's oldest distilleries. Like most Scottish distilleries it had its ups and downs and funny moments. While visiting several years ago I learned a funy story about one of the previous owners:

William Sanderson was one of the most prominent  whisky barrons in the 1880’s. At that time he launched VAT 69. Yawn! Here comes the blarney: Yep, he selected the 69th barrel from 100. As a result, Glen Garioch became the major malt in this blend. Not so today, Glen Garioch is soley used in single malt bottlings. Sanderson then went on to produce several other blends , SVG (Specially Vatted Glen Garioch) OBG (Old Best Glen Garioch) and my favourites A.M. & P.M. , which were for drinking before and after lunch!

The distillery was sold to Morrison Bowmore in the 1960s and has stayed under their control since (albeit, they in turn have been taken over by Japanese giants Suntory). Suntory with a bit of Scottish vision, temporary closed the distillery in 1995, to make sure of its long term survival. The distillery got a bit of a makeover and reopened in 1997, the results of the re-vamped distillery are clearly evident in the Glen Garioch Founder Reserve.

Rich and malty with lashings of toffee, dried prunes and hints of charcoal.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A belated WoW for last friday

Due to technical issues and myself galavanting around the Higlands of Scotland consuming whisky, the whisky of the week wasnt "put out there" properly so below is what i wrote for last week.

The guid Glendronach* 12 year old

The Glendronach distillery has been around for over 170 years but has been relatively silent in the marketing of its single malts whiskies.

The distillery was founded by James Allardice in 1826 and he was a bit of a pioneer to the whisky industry- he was one of the first to use sherry barrels for maturation.

At the beginning things weren’t easy for Allardice. On a sales trip to Edinburgh where he had hoped to flog his wares he was left feeling like a broken man when noone took him up on his offer. However, following the rejection, he wandered the streets of Edinburgh he bumped into certain ‘ladies of the night” who, after tasting Allardice’s whisky, thought it was amazing. Their affection (for the whisky) kept Allardice happy and more importantly, probably in business.

As recently as the 1970’s Glendronach played a major part in blends such as Teacher's and Balantine's, thus was rarely seen as a single malt. Since the distillery's acquisition by the Ben Riach Distillery PLC in 2008, the single malt is now getting the exposure and credit it deserves.

This is a very rich sherried dram with lots of stewed fruit (apricots and dates) flavour, it has a long and lingering Christmas pudding like finish.

* guid= good in Scottish slang