It is no secret that Irish whiskey has seen a renaissance in the 21st century and in the last couple of years, multiple new brands appearing on our social media feeds and new distilleries are popping up all over the place. The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company have been front and centre of those new names, though more recognisable through their “JJ Corry” brand. We were delighted to sample their inaugural release, The Gael, previously, their first Irish whiskey, along with their first single malt release, The Flintlock. Flash forward to the tail end of 2020 and we were lucky enough again to sample their wares, this time with the latest batch releases of their leading bottlings.
One of the more refreshing aspects of TCGIWC is their commitment to transparency and flavour profiles. The first release of The Flintlock was a 16 year old single malt by name and they provided virtually all details of its origins but for the distillery’s name. That mantra has continued and Batch 2 of The Flintlock has been released as a continuation of that single malt profile and original flavour creation. Batch 2 comprises a blend of three ex-bourbon barrel aged single malt whiskies from an undisclosed distillery, comprising 14 and 18 year old malt. The release is limited to 400 bottles, has been caught at 46% ABV and is available ca £145 GBP.
The 1st batch won Irish Single Malt of the Year in 2018 so let’s see if the sequel can fill those grand boots…
A warm and spicy start. Think white pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. Once that initial punch has chance to land though, a series of sweet and delicious smells start to emerge: vanilla, peaches, pineapples, and mangoes. Beneath it all is your classic single malt’s origins characteristics of cereals, oats, porridge and a cheeky dollop of salted caramel in those breakfast foods!
This just slips across the tongue. There’s a delicious buttery soft texture that just glides around your mouth and out of it bursts some really juicy fruits: peaches, pineapples, papaya, apples, pears, lemons, oranges, raspberries. The combo brings fruit salad sweets to mind too (which, courtesy of a quick search, are raspberry and pineapple flavour!) As the sweetness subsides though, a raft of peppery spices intensify.
Butterkist popcorn flavour springs to mind as a delicious cloying sweetness returns after the white pepper heat and spice fizzles away.
A great single malt whiskey. The flavours really took a journey from a spicy opening with suggestions of sweetness on the nose to then flip that around to really juicy bursts of flavour then punctuated by spice.
As part of a tasting of 4x JJ Corry releases, this was the best of the night for me amongst some strong competition [ed: and there really wasn’t a bad drop amongst them]. The four piece set came as part of a Christmas selection box themed collection and I love that idea. More than an advent calendar idea actually. As with our first experience of TCGIWC, there was some more excellent presentation – the hanging decoration miniatures, the signed Christmas card with the picture of the hearth and roaring dire, even the ribbon is really well designed: was it luck or skill to get the JJ Corry clover on the centre of the bow? With an overall presentation like this and attention to detail, I’m going to guess skill.
Anyway, back to the whiskey itself and yes, there has been a £50 or so hike in price between Batches 1 or 2, which might put a lot of people off but we are talking real quality here and a bright ongoing future for the team, with the sources being chosen and the tastes being produced from bonding them. On the night, I asked the question as to whether or not each batch would look to reinvent the flavour of the original and the response from Louise McGuane was encouraging: “We create nuances but try to stay true to the profile”. In short, tinkering and perfecting an already delicious single malt. Long may it continue.
Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of a Tweet Tasting event organised by Steve Rush @TheWhiskyWire as a promotion of JJ Corry and TCGIWC. All notes are however intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky itself and not a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.