Sound the alliteration alarm on this article as we explore a tweet tasting triple tipple of Tully treats.
The tasting notes for each whiskey in the tweet tasting have been published separately as follows:
The tweet tasting did also feature the classic Tullamore DEW Original (tasting notes also available here), but the drams listed above were the real stars of the show as they are a little more difficult to come by and made for an interesting compare and contrast against one another.
One common theme throughout these whiskies were the distinctive fruity flavours. Within the XO Rum Cask Finish, there was a clear tropical influence with pineapples and lemons being an usual whiskey element, but these were lighter and more delicate in comparison to the 14yo, which had a much more rounded fruity flavour profile (think oranges, clementines) whilst still seeming light and fresh. The 18yo on the other hand was all about the dark fruits, and had a stronger, richer, fruitcake profile of flavours rather than smelling of the fruits themselves. The 18yo had the strongest nose by far and certainly had the oak profile to recognise its length of time in a barrel, which strangely, the 14yo had little to imitate.
As with any whisk(e)y tasting flight, the age is usually the defining characteristic that sets the flavour profiles apart, and that was certainly the case here, with neither the XO Rum Cask Finish nor the 14yo displaying much of a woody feature in the nose nor in the taste but those additional 4 years of maturation (and presumably distillers’ choosing) really made a difference, with the 18 yo having a really strong, if not overpowering oak spice. The XO Rum Cask did have its own spice element, but that was gentle and worked with the tropical fruity flavours, but it seems crazy that 14 years in a barrel for the 14yo imparted no trace of oak spice whatsoever, yet the 18yo had that spice in abundance. What the 14yo did have though was a fully rounded-out flavour profile with fruit and malt-meets-grain-meets-cereal underpinning it all.
Whilst each whiskey held their own individually, when going back and to forth between the whiskies, it was clear that age also seemed to affect the finish and body of the whiskies too, with the XO Rum Cask Finish having quite a thin, watery body by comparison. On the other end of the spectrum, what the 18yo lacked in softness, it made up for in flavours and body with a much thicker, oily, woody, pungent and powerful delivery (particularly when considering it has the alcohol percentage as the 14yo). Sat in the middle on the body and finish was therefore the 14yo, but actually, what this whiskey did display, which the others didn’t is that classic triple-distilled Irish whiskey creaminess and rounded, softness to the finish.
Overall, there wasn’t a bad dram amongst the three, but I did think that the XO Rum Cask Finish and 14yo were immediately more enjoyable overall that then 18yo, and of those two the 14yo featured more of the characteristics that I would associated with Irish whiskey, but with the longer maturation and combination of cask finishes bringing out a juicier orange fruit element that complemented the creamy body and malt-and-grain backbone really well. To pick a champion of the three, I would have to go with the 14yo. Whilst this might just appear that I too easily sit in the middle of the road, I thought they were all good whiskies with their own characters and flavours to offer in their own right, but this whiskey particularly had the most to offer without extremes of flavours and without compromise.
Thanks to Steve Rush @TheWhiskyWire and his @TweetTastings for the samples and of course to all at Tullamore DEW for the opportunity to enjoy and review.