The Pogues Irish Whiskey
Released by West Cork Distillers, The Pogues Irish Whiskey is a blended whiskey that has been matured in oak barrels for just three years and one day (i.e. exactly as long as needed to technically call it “whiskey”). The packaging notes that the whiskey is “bottled by West Cork Distillers”, but being a blend and without a statement to the effect, there is no apparent information as to whether or not it is crafted and distilled there too – but you’d hope so! The blend is reportedly a 50:50 split of grain and malt Irish whiskies and was crafted by two entrants in the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame: Irish master blender Barry Walsh and longtime Springbank maestro Frank McHardy. The packaging and bottle is branded with The Pogues lyric “I am going where streams of whiskey are flowing”, so with that, let’s pour some and get it flowing…
M: So many woody smells in there and a sweet lingering something. It’s kinda oaky, kinda piney, kinda something else. Whatever it is, it stands out.
M: A bit harsh upfront with the booze but the woody flavours fade away to some vanilla sweetness. Slightly orangey towards the end.
M: A decent coating of the throat but the flavours do not really hang around. It’s a chest warming boozy delivery but thankfully, without burning a hole though it.
A totally woody nose (which is surprising given its young, young age), which makes way for sweet vanilla, chewy malts and gentle fruit. The classic Irish whiskey ‘mouthfeel’ is there (just) with a little fruit and spice along the way. A touch of water helped to tame the harsher delivery, and whilst it didn’t reveal any other flavours, it did bring out the vanilla sweetness a bit more. It’s an enjoyable sipping whiskey. I’ve grown up with The Pogues’ music accompanying many a boozy evening and was hoping that they wouldn’t put their name to something terrible… and they haven’t. It didn’t blow my mind or anything like that but it wasn’t unpleasant in any way either, but that’s just personal opinion. The fact that it has some slick branding behind it and the backing of an Irish musical and cultural institution will undoubtedly shift the units and I’d be surprised if there were not further releases or variants of this made in the future, following its initial decent sales and positive reviews. At the price point for a good Irish whiskey, it would certainly make for a good gift too… particularly for when the bells are ringing out…
Redbreast 12 Years Old
Crafted at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Redbreast is recognised worldwide as the flag bearer of Irish pot still whiskey. The 12 years old expression is the brand’s staple release and the distinctive squat green bottle with its red and gold packaging can be seen adorning the shelves of any well stocked pub, bar or hotel if someone has looked beyond just Jameson’s or Bushmills for their Irish whiskey source. The spirit is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, before being triple distilled in copper pot stills before then being primarily matured in sherry casks.
M: A soft but rich nose with lots of fruity flavours, like currants and oranges and a little spiciness.
M: Really quite sweet flavours. The dried fruits from the smell are complemented with fresh, sweet caramel and vanilla flavours.
M: Sooooo smooth. The fruit flavours leave for a melted vanilla ice cream coating on the threat – like a boozy cola float.
M: When people say, “I like such-and-such a whisky, because it is nice and smooth” then this will blow their minds and reset the bar for what “smooth” really means. That’s what it did for me, anyway. I knew that Irish whiskey was more renowned for its triple distillation and “creamy mouthfeel” but this is just something else. And that’s not taking into account the nice sherried fruit flavours and velvety sweetness. Definitely one to be savoured at the end of the evening regardless of the season.
Whiskey and Celebrations
Categories: Redbreast, Tasting Notes
Tags: 12 Years Old, County Cork, Ireland, Irish, Irish Whiskey, Midleton, Midleton Distillery, Pot Still, Pot Still Whiskey, Redbreast, Sherry, Single Pot Still, Triple Distilled, Whiskey
…and it has said “Ho ta lah!” – or at least that’s the closest phonetic spelling I can find for the Taiwanese equivalent to cheers!
Yes, the World Whisky Awards for 2015 were held recently to determine the best whiskies in the world across a multitude of categories and they have awarded their top honour of “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” to the Taiwanese distillers of Kavalan, for their Solist Vinho Barrique expression. And anything described as “bourbon-infused milk chocolate” would probably get my vote too. Its a single cask release, making it rare, and is bottled at cask strength, so its certainly not pulling any punches at 58.6% ABV, so keep an eye out in the auction rooms, because this stuff is nowhere to be seen on the shelves!
The full round-up of winners can be found here (http://www.worldwhiskiesawards.com/2015/all.html) but here’s a list of the overall winners from each category:
- World’s best single malt: Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique (Taiwan)
- World’s best grain whisky: Darkness! North British 18 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Scotland)
- World’s best pot still whiskey: Redbreast Pot Still 15 Year Old (Ireland)
- World’s best American whiskey: Thomas H Handy Sazerac Straight Rye (USA)
- World’s best blend: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Whisky #1 (Scotland)
- World’s best blended malt: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old (Japan)
- World’s best scotch blended malt: Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig (Scotland)
- World’s best flavoured whisky: Master of Malt 40 Year Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur (Scotland)
- Best African blended whisky: Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish (South Africa)
- Best African single malt: Three Ships Single Malt 10 Year Old (South Africa)
- Best American single malt: Balcones Texas Single Malt (Texas)
- Best Australian single malt: Sullivan’s Cove French Oak Cask Matured (Tasmania)
- Best European single malt: Mackmyra Iskristall (Sweden)
- Best Irish blended whiskey: Tullamore Dew Phoenix (Ireland)
- Best Irish single malt: Teeling Single Malt (Ireland)
- Best Japanese blended whisky: Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old (Japan)
- Best Japanese single malt: Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old (Japan)
- Best Campbeltown single malt: Longrow 11 Year Old
- Best Highland single malt: Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Year Old
- Best Lowland single malt: Highland Harvest Single Malt Sauternes Wood
- Best Islands single malt: Ledaig 10 Year Old
- Best Islay single malt: Ardbeg Kildalton
- Best Speyside single malt: Benriach 16 Year Old
This seems like another turning point in the story of world whiskies. Comparing this year’s result to last year’s 2014 winner – Sullivan’s Cove French Oak Cask, from Tasmania, Australia (which still won best Australian dram this year) – it seems that not only is the whisky world wide open, but it is thriving and excelling in its craft. That and French wine casks are going to be even more sought after in the coming years.
Some people may challenge the validity of these types of awards, but given that 2015 has seen whisky guru Jim Murray awarding his whisky of the year to Yamazaki’s 2013 Sherry Cask release and has previously awarded his ‘New Whisky of the Year’ to Kavalan, there seems to be a trend forming. For collectors this might be a call to start diversifying your purchases, whereas others may see this as a time to get behind the Scottish and Irish founders of the dram, but whichever your persuasion, you can’t deny that this is a good and vibrant time for whisky makers and appreciators worldwide.
Categories: Whisky Waffling
Tags: America, Australia, Awards, Ireland, Irish, Japan, Japanese Whisky, Kavalan, Pot Still, scotch, Scotch Whisky, Scotland, Single Malt, Sullivan's Cove, Taiwan, Vinho Barrique, whisky, World Whisky, World Whisky Awards