Saturday, March 22, 2014

Irish Whiskies: Another Look



For a change, this year I decided to be well-prepared for St. Patrick’s Day.  That’s why I attended a tasting at The Astor Center Of New York City called Irish Whiskey Revival so I would know which brands to buy in order to properly celebrate the big day.

Upon entrance, we were immediately greeted with a welcome cocktail called The Emerald.  Basically, The Emerald is identical to a Manhattan, except for the fact that the rye which is typically used in a Manhattan is substituted with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey; the other ingredients included orange bitters and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth.  Although we were not scheduled to include Jameson’s in the evening’s tasting, it was appropriate to at least acknowledge the famous brand in a cocktail because of its longevity and popularity – for every three bottles of Irish Whiskey sold worldwide, two of them are Jameson’s.    


Irish whiskies come in different styles:  Some are double – distilled, while others are triple – distilled.  Some are peated (like Scotch), but most are unpeated.  Some are blended, others are not. 


Beginning the evening’s tastings was Greenore.  Aged eight years, it is a single grain whiskey, 80 proof.  Light in color and gentle in flavor, it has a mild aroma; some detected honey or even a fruitiness in its scent.  Aged in oak casks (formerly used for bourbon, like scotch casks).  On the tongue, it has a slightly viscous feel; we were told this came about as a combination of the distillation, aging and amount of water. 


Next was Kilbeggan, manufactured in Cooley (located in northeastern Ireland).  A blended whiskey, its nose is somewhat similar but richer.  Its taste is more flavorful, with a nutty, soft feel.  Kilbeggan is a blend of grain and malt, containing Irish barley. 

This was followed by Green Spot Pot Still out of New Midleton and has not been around for very long.  Aged for eight years, 75% of the time in ex-bourbon casks and 25% in casks formerly used for sherry. 

We then moved on to Redbreast, a cask strength whiskey aged for 12 years; of all the Irish whiskies tasted this evening, it was the highest in alcohol at nearly 120 proof.  Also out of New Midleton, it is triple-distilled, in comparison to most American whiskies, which are double-distilled.  Half of its aging is done in ex-bourbon casks, while the other half is done in ex-sherry casks.  Because of its high alcohol content, it is highly recommended that you add a drop or two of water when sipping this one. 

Ransom Emerald lowers the alcohol content considerably, but at 43.8% alcohol by volume, it’s still a bit higher than many.  Aged for a total of three years, it consists of approximately two-thirds malted barley, but also contains rye and a small bit of unmalted barley.  Its color comes directly from the barrel in which it was aged; no caramel is added, unlike some other whiskies, which add caramel to enhance the color of their spirit. 

Last but by no means least, we were given Bushmills, a company that’s been around for over 200 years.  Aged 21 years, it’s a triple-distilled single malt whiskey.  Its aging process is very interesting – half of it is aged for 19 years in ex-bourbon casks, while the other half is aged for the same length of time in ex-sherry casks.  In the final step, the two are married and finished for two years in ex-Madeira wine casks.  Despite its velvety feel on the tongue, I found its finish to be somewhat reminiscent of a pair of wet socks. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!