I gotta admit, Irish whiskey is not among my favourites. I know, I know – the first whisky was probably distilled in Ireland way back, some sources date it to as early as early 15th century and all that, but in my opinion, the Scots have surpassed them and perfected the craft of whisky making. Now, this is all just a personal preference. As a matter of fact, most of my casual whisky drinking friends still prefer a Jameson over anything else, mostly because of its mellow flavour and smoothness.
Because of this, I don`t often buy or try Irish whiskies and I mostly stick to Scotch instead. But still, life is too short to limit yourself in way of doing just one thing, and I think it is important to always balance between your personal tradition, preferences and style, and exploring something new. This goes for whiskey as well.
I`ve tasted a dram at Zagreb Whisky Fair 2017 and was awestruck by its sweetness and chocolate notes, so I grabbed a bottle as my Irish Whiskey of choice for this year`s St Patrick`s Day, which I traditionally celebrate by preparing an Irish Coffee, watching Boondock Saints, going to a pub for a pint of Guinness, participating in a bar fight, and searching for leprechauns at 6 a.m. next morning.
Just kidding about the bar fight.
After W. Grant & Sons acquired the brand in 2010, they constructed and opened the new distillery near the village of Tullamore in County of Offaly, Ireland, and they turned the old distillery into a visitor centre. The characteristic style of this distillery is that every whisky is triple distilled and usually made with three types of whisky: golden grain, pot still (which consists actually of malted barley and normal barley in the mash) and malt whiskeys. For maturation, they use traditional refill casks, ex bourbon casks and sherry casks.
The 12 YO has a higher percentage of pot still whiskey in the blend, and is matured in ex bourbon and sherry casks to achieve the perfect flavour.
The nose is rich with dry fruits, coffee with milk, and dark chocolate, some spice in the background, and I think I even sense a drop of wine.
The chocolate notes dominate on the oily and thick palate, with strong chocolate cake and carob notes. There is some candied orange, raisins and chocolate cream. The finish is somewhat spicy and dry, with prevalent cinnamon, red wine and some cookies to savour.
For an average price of 25-30€, this is really one of the best Irish blended whiskies you can get. It has a dominant chocolate character but it`s still easy going and delicious and interesting enough to keep pouring it and sipping it dram after dram.
Oh, and do I have to mention the obvious? It`s a killer in The Irish Coffee.