Saint Whiskey Day
It won’t be long (March 17th, to be exact) until Saint Patrick’s Day is upon us. If you’re of Irish descent, the day might hold significant cultural and/or religious significance. Or not. In any case, getting into the Irish spirit is something all of us can do to celebrate. While it might be argued that the real spirit of Ireland is Guinness, most of us are astute enough to know that Guinness is a beer and that the true “spirit” of Ireland is whiskey (with the “e”).
If you’re new to Irish whiskey – or have just a passing familiarity – it’s time to get (re)acquainted. Forget what you may think you know (or have heard) about Irish whiskey. “They’re light and delicate.” Not necessarily. “They are triple distilled.” Not necessarily. “They’re never peated.” Not necessarily. In fact, over the past few decades, Irish whiskey has undergone a renaissance, with a large number of distilleries opening, and bold new expressions emerging.
Bernard Walsh, Managing Director of Walsh Whiskey, has played a leading role in the reemergence of the Irish whiskey category. His Writers’ Tears and The Irishman labels have gained global accolades, and have been embraced by whiskey lovers here in Ontario.
Possibly the main thing to know about Writers’ Tears and The Irishman whiskies is that they are either single malt, single pot still, or a combination of both styles. Most whisk(e)y fans are likely aware of single malt whiskies. Single pot still whiskies, however, are unique to Ireland, and Walsh explains their uniqueness in the Quench interview. In any case, the upshot is traditional Irish whiskies, with full flavour, bold character, and remarkable complexity.
Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey
The marriage of malt and pot still whiskies has been known to result in the creation of “The Champagne of Irish Whiskey.” Writer’s Tears Copper Pot is exactly that, a sophisticated and elegant blend of the two distinctive whiskey styles. Expect to find some forward, fruity nuances (apple and pear), combined with hints of vanilla pod and balking spice on the nose. On the palate, warm honey, vanilla, and ginger are interlaced with some malty undertones. Fruity/honey notes leave a lasting impression on the finish. Score – 93 (Jim Murray, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible)
Writers’ Tears Double Oak Irish Whiskey
Another triple-distilled combination of single malt and single pot still whiskies, this whiskey undergoes a unique double ageing regime. Both ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky and French Oak cognac casks from the Allary Cooperage are employed in the maturation process, resulting in a very fragrant, mildly malty aroma, with suggestions of dark fruit (plum), poached pear, and cinnamon stick that lead to a smooth, full mouthfeel, with flavours redolent of sultana and lemon zest, with toasted nuts, and mildly spicy cocoa lingering pleasantly behind.
Writers’ Tears Red Head Irish Whiskey
A non-chill filtered single malt Irish whiskey matured entirely in oloroso sherry casks. The result is a powerful, complex dram that puts to rest any preconceptions that all Irish whiskies are “light” and “delicate.” The sherry influence is evident in the fragrant nose that leans towards sultana, candied orange peel, and dried apricot, enhanced by suggestions of mild smoke and cedar. In the mouth, nutty/sherried flavours come forward, backed by a touch of marmalade, and a dash of sweet raisin pie.
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Irish Whiskey
A triple-distilled, premium combination of 70 percent aged single malt and 30 percent aged single pot still whiskies matured in ex-bourbon barrels, The Irishman Founder’s Reserve is a gold medal-winning, 100 percent copper pot distillate that’s become a modern Irish whiskey classic. Zesty and peppery initial aromatics give way to orchard fruit, malt, and dark chocolate, all of which reappear in the mouth, along with additional suggestions of smoky oak, toffee, malt, and citrus that segue into a haunting finale of butterscotch and vanilla. Score – 93.5 (Jim Murray, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible)
Also, be sure to check out the Glendalough range of excellent Irish offerings. Tasting notes and an interview with the distillery’ Donal Gallachoir are posted on the Quench website.
Sláinte and happy St. Paddy’s Day!