Here comes the annual St. Patrick’s Day Irish whiskey post and here we look at Sailor’s Home: a relative newcomer to the Irish whiskey game but with some real history and credentials behind it.
The name itself is taken from a building made in 1856 as a refuge for sailors making it to the Emerald Isle after traversing turbulent seas.
The Sailor’s Home whiskey launched in 2020 and features the work of Irish whiskey veteran Dr. Jack O’Sé, which is where the real whiskey heritage comes into play. Dr. O’Sé has worked across multiple distilleries and has quite the collection of academic achievements to his name: an MBA, BSc in biochemistry and an MSc in brewing & distilling, and the “doctor” comes from his PhD in yeast production and fermentation!
The new project set sail, as it were, with their Explorer series: The Journey (a blended Irish whiskey), The Haven (a single pot still Irish whiskey), and Horizon (a 10 year old Irish blended whiskey).
Here we explore that opening gambit: The Journey – a triple distilled and “triple casked” blend of Irish malt and grain whiskies.
The exact recipe and origins of the whiskies are unknown but it is a blend of a) Irish whiskey matured in virgin American oak casks and finished in bourbon barrels, along with b) Irish malt whiskey matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Jamaican rum casks. The final no-age statement blend is presented in an attractive decanter-style bottle at 43% ABV. The 70cl full sized bottles are available for around £36 RRP.
A classic Irish whiskey nose straight from the off. Maybe even more reminiscent of pot still style. There’s a thick vanilla pod flavour with a little pop of fruit and nut. Dusty baking spices and some oaky spices too. Quite a few spices actually.
Toffee sweetness and silkiness start the show, with a little banana flavour in amongst the vanilla. The flavours build to juicy sultanas, and then the spices amp up too, resembling the flavours of sweet treats like apple turnovers or Danish pastries, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
A classic vanilla fudge flavour and sweetness coats the throat whilst some warming cinnamon leads a classic medley of baking spices which tingle all the way down and warm you up from the inside out.
A warming and comforting display of classic Irish whiskey influences, served up with a touch of something else. All soft, sweet, slightly spiced and balanced. I know it is described as an Irish blend but it does somehow taste like the good bits of every good Irish whiskey that I’ve ever had. Really familiar and really comforting.
The marketing does state that they’re are trying to bring something new and innovative to the Irish market and the use of certain casks across the these core range and the more recent Islands series suggests that. The Journey does feature Jamaican rum casks, which is an increasingly popular maturation choice being seen in one-offs, rather than core editions. I can’t quite discern those personally, but maybe I just need to try more, and more frequently!
That said, this forms a core template to build the range and reputation of a new brand on. The first three releases in the Explorer Series have already been joined by an Islands series which looks to explore the influences of Barbados rum (in their “Horizon” release) and Rhum Agricole (in their “Caravalle” release).
The marketing for the Sailor’s Home is as full on with history and rhetoric as most new releases tend to do, but the presence of Dr. Jack O’Sé and their experimentation with cask styles does add credence to some of it. The 40 year career of Dr. Jack makes for interesting reading (see notes from the Sailor’s Home site here). There are some great quotes in there but I particularly enjoyed the one where he dismisses being called a legend in favour of being “infamous”.
I notice that there’s also a similar theme appearing in the Sailor’s Home as that which has been used in England’s The Lakes distillery with the emphasis on experimentation and their lead blender level as their “Whisky Maker”. I do enjoy when a distillery unabashedly puts the spotlight on their talent behind the whisk(e)y.
The decanter style bottle and modern logo will make this stand out on the shelf too. A good amalgam of classic and modern influences. The logo itself contains a myriad of maritime images that each represent a virtue (a bird for good tidings and being close to home and family; an anchor for steadfastness and good luck; a sailors rope and knot for bonds of friendship and love; a shamrock for perpetuity and being the Flower of Ireland; the sextant for navigation and adventure; and a diving helmet for exploration) whilst all embossed over an overlapping S and H for the Sailor’s Home itself.
Overall, a soft and easy going whiskey lives inside the bottle and all of that aesthetically pleasing packaging. The whiskey is soft and sweet with a steady build of spices and enough body to it to know there’s something there. It’s bottled at 43% ABV that gives it a bit of edge to other blended whiskies in that price range. You’d be worried that at 40% ABV it would be too diluted and wouldn’t fully do the casks and liquid justice, whilst 46% ABV would probably give a bit more bite. For the price point, as good an Irish blend as I’ve tried in the market around that figure, and it presents something both interesting and new on the market whilst being noticeably familiar and, at the very least, making a good looking new entrant to any whiskey cabinet.
Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of a paid subscription to OurWhisky. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.
Leave a Reply