As today is St. Patrick’s Day, it seems timely to delve into the WhiskyUnplugged selection and pick out a recent favourite Irish Whiskey. For this tasting though we are not looking at your traditional pot still or malt whiskey, but instead we are sampling a blended grain whiskey, and I have chosen a particular one from The Chapel Gate Irish Whisky Co, (TCGIWC) which they bottle under the JJ Corry brand with the name The Hanson.
Now drag yourself away from the thought of 90s pop band sensations / one hit wonders, because this bottling continues the TCGIWC branding story of being named after local whiskey hero, JJ Corry. In fact this bottling is named after his son-in-law who worked as a revenue man in the early 1900s known locally in Cooraclare as “The Gauger Hanson”.
It is a meticulous blend of Irish Grain Whiskey from multiple distilleries. Four and ten years old and ex-bourbon barrel aged, the result is a whiskey with rich, deep, bourbon-influenced notesJJ Corry / The Chapel Gate Irish Whisky Company
This particular bottling is Batch 2 of The Hanson release which has been captured at 46% ABV without any artificial colouring or chill-filtration, and is intended to be “enjoyed by itself or in a refreshing cocktail”. We will stick with “by itself” for the purpose of this post, and with a Tuath glass in hand, here we go…
Lovely light grain smells just lifting out of the glass. An initial grassy/hay/straw-like set of smells at first and then joined by soft and sweet vanilla, cream, and buttery flavours. Noticeably there is no nose prickle at all, just a final smell of oak – all just really soft and balanced.
Vanilla and cream start the tastebuds off but the body brings some alcohol strength and fizzle – which feels like a good choice on the 46% percentage point as keeps it from being that overly cloying Irish whiskey mouthfeel. It shows it’s Irish whiskey roots but has a little edge/zip – joined by some apple, banana and custard, or even banana foam sweets flavours. On that banana note there is even a little hint of herb or bitterness like banana skins, maybe even coconut. It closes out with a touch of oak spice but it’s complemented well by the alcohol strength and adds a nice toasty warmth and texture – like the charred sugar on the crème brûlée.
A slight astringency but little burn – a gentle warming throughout the chest. It leaves a little tingle on the tongue with grass, grain, and cream on the finish.
This is a light, vibrant, but classy affair. It has all that’s characteristic of your “traditional Irish whiskey” – the apple and vanilla flavours with the silky mouthfeel – but it comes with a bit of bite and a fantastic warming of the chest. And it does that all purely from a selection of young-ish grain-only whiskies. Job well done. I’d love to know if the original Gauger Hanson would have liked it. I’m sure he would.
It’s interesting to see that this has been angled with cocktails in mind but I think it’s classy enough on it’s own. You really wouldn’t want too many dominant flavours or mixers in there otherwise I think you’d lose those intricacies that make this an enjoyable whiskey.
Looking above I can see that my pen wasn’t exactly overflowing with tasting notes but you must remember that a whiskey doesn’t have to do that for it to be a nice whiskey. The 2 doubles that I’ve had back-to-back barely touched the sides. I know that in Ireland they have that extra bit in the 750cl big bottles and I know that it would disappear just as quickly in this house.
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.