This is a story of firsts. Or at least, the firsts in a long time. The whiskey ‘The Gael‘ represents the first release by the ‘J.J. Corry’ brand of The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, the first licensed Irish whiskey bonders “in living memory”.
Let’s unpack that statement.
Firstly, whiskey bonding, is the traditional art of blending, maturing and finishing whiskies within your own barrels for then selling onto the wider market, looking to taste something unique.
The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co. (TCGIWC) was set in motion in 2015 by Louise McGuane with the intention of selling Irish whiskey, and the business received their first barrels of Irish whiskey for bonding on their farm in Cooraclare, County Clare in December 2016. They have since been storing whiskey within their specially built rackhouse on the farm, and they are working with one of Ireland’s 4 remaining master coopers.
J.J. Corry is a name picked by TCGIWC to act as the brand for their bonded whiskies. The name is taken from a revered whiskey bonder from the nearby town of Kilrush, who was active during the 1890s. He used his store the port town to sell Irish whiskies that been finished in the casks that he could purchase from the port trade, including rum, port, and wine casks.
The Gael is named after a bicycle that the local innovator J.J. Corry had devised as part of his business, but here it represents a blend of Irish whiskies sourced from County Louth. As with the development of TCGIWC, there has been full transparency into what comprises the first batch of whiskey (see their blog here for the details of their foundation and development). Not only do they share that this is a whiskey comprised of 60% single malt whiskey, and 40% single grain whiskey, but they actually detail that it is comprised of:
- 5% 26 Year Old Single Malt Ex-Sherry Butt
- 27.5% 11 Year Old Single Malt
- 27.5% 15 Year Old Single Malt
- 40% 7 Year Old Single Grain
The initial batch was released in Summer 2017 and is limited to 7,000 bottles, captured at 46% ABV. And so, with all that preamble, what does it actually taste like…?
Oh, its fresh! Lots of fruity flavours jumping out of the glass here. Yellow fruits, at that. Lemon. Pineapple. Maybe even banana. A little bit of time reveals some freshly cut orchard fruits too (namely, apples and pears), to round out the fruit-bowl of flavours. There’s a sweetness to this that also reminds me of parma violets and sherbet dib dabs. Lots going on.
There’s a distinctive, Irish whiskey creaminess and soft texture that coats the tongue as you taste this. There’s a nice boozy and oaky spice that comes from it too. Once that fizzle fades out though, the fruits reappear and bring a zest to the creamy coating. This whiskey is definitely ticking a lot of boxes under the pudding category here.
Sweet and spicy in equal measure. The gingery oak spice tingles atop the custard-style sweetness and creaminess. A distinctively Irish set of flavours and experiences at play.
A very light and fruity whiskey. It definitely has summer vibes to it. Really refreshing tastes with a nice little tingle to remind you that it is a 46%er and has some heritage to it. The flavours all work in sync with one another and would let you drink this well into the evening. It also has that distinctive Irish creamy texture, but maybe on the thinner end of the Irish whiskey spectrum. The alcohol and parma violet type sweetness cut through that coating and tingle your tastebuds, meaning that the whiskey as a whole doesn’t just blend into the Irish whiskey crowd. A fine entrant into the Irish whiskey market, and, speaking of market (or marketing), this is one that is dripping with history and nostalgia. Presumably the name Chapel Gate Whiskey will be used for their own whiskies one day, but for now the J.J. Corry brand marks the traditional acts with a modern twist with a near-hipster retro feel and suits the whiskey and new venture down to the ground.
NB: If you are interested in learning more about TCGIWC, the brand and their development then do go their blog, which is refreshingly frank and transparent about their beginnings, development and future.
Sample disclosure: The sample was received as part of a Tweet Tasting event organised by Steve Rush of @TheWhiskyWire. Unfortunately, the initial samples were not received due to issues with the delivery, and so, a second chance event was curated by Brian of @MaltMusings. Whilst received as part of a promotional event, all notes above are intended as a fair, honest and independent review of the whiskey.