January 2016: Irish Single Malt Whiskey

by Dr. Stephen Benson

Often overlooked due to its Scottish neighbors, Irish Single Malt whiskey is rich in variety and quite delicious. The art of distilling in Ireland goes back more than 1,500 years. It is thought that Irish monks traveling back from the Far East brought the art of distilling back with them. The general rules for Irish whiskey are that it has to be distilled in Ireland, distilled to less than 94.8%, and aged for at least three years in wooden casks. There is a burgeoning microdistillery movement in Ireland that only serves to raise the bar in the years to come. Slainte!

  • Cocktail:
    • Name: Ginger Toddy
    • Ingredients: 2oz Irish single malt, 2oz ginger beer, 2oz sweet/sour (made with simple syrup, 1 cup fresh lemon juice, ½ cup fresh lime juice), 1 tablespoon honey, cinnamon stick
    • Recipe: In glass put whiskey, ginger beer, sweet/sour, and honey. Fill with hot water and garnish with cinnamon stick.
  • Bottle 1:
    o Name: Hyde 10 yo President’s Cask 
    o Distillery: Hibernia
    o Proof: 92
    o Mash Bill: 100% malted Irish barley
    o Price: $50-60
    o Purchase location: www.masterofmalt.com, although now available at Jacob’s
    o Tasting Notes:
     Nose: The virgin oak from the first fill bourbon barrels is dominant after ten years of maturation. There is also some fruit as one would expect from the sherry influence which reminds me of dark Irish Fruitfield Marmalade.
     Palate: Tasting, the initial impression is malt heavy with a warm and full mouth fill. Again, the oak is quite pronounced along with some bitter-sweet dried fruits and orchard fruits, burnt oak notes and black pepper spiciness.
     Finish: The finish is long and is dominated by burnt oak and pepper with a hint of bitter chocolate in the background. The Oloroso Sherry Cask finish has definitely added some real magic to this ten year old malt.
    o Why this bottle is featured: Limited edition single malt named after Douglas Hyde, the first president of Ireland. Named best Irish Single Malt at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Bottle 2:
    o Name: Connemara Peated Single Malt – Distillers Edition 
    o Distillery: Kilbeggan via Cooley
    o Proof: 86
    o Price: $ 50-60
    o Purchase location: www.masterofmalt.com, and now available (not Distiller’s Edition though) at Auburn Hills
    o Tasting Notes:
     Nose: Smokey peatiness balanced by heather floralness with hints of honey and oak.
     Palate: Silky smooth with a honey sweet start, followed by more complex aromas of malt and fruit giving way to the intensifying full bodied peat. A well-balanced yet complex taste with vanilla oak notes.
     Finish: A long and glorious finish with golden honey notes and deep peat spreading across the mouth and palate. Hints of chocolate vanilla and oak leave a mouth-watering taste!
    o Why this bottle is featured: Numerous award winner. The only peated Irish single malt available. Excellent flavors. Worth the price.
  • Bottle 3:
    o Name: Glendalough 13 Single Malt 
    o Distillery: Glendalough Distillery
    o Proof: 92
    o Mash Bill: Irish malted barley and corn
    o Price: $100
    o Purchase location: www.drinkupny.com or www.masterofmalt.com
    o Tasting Notes:
     Nose: Deep butterscotch, honeycomb and rich lemon meringue balanced with citrus fruits and just a hint of a clove spice.
     Palate: Jumps to the front with an intense vanilla fudge luxurious sweetness and almost rock candy mixed with touches of fruit – lemon citrus, peach and dried apricot. This is followed by deep spices; red peppercorn and light cloves. A truly velvety mouth feel that just hovers on the palate.
     Finish: The spice is left lingering with under-layers of robust malt characteristics and deep oak notes. And again vanilla fudge reoccurs with a finish that lasts an eternity.
    o Why this bottle is featured: Bottle was recommended by the Irish bartender at Ri Ra in Georgetown. Wonderful flavor. Closest thing to a micro-distilled single malt that I could find. Found out afterwards that it had won numerous awards in 2015. Definitely worth the price.
  • Bottle 4:
    o Name: Teeling 21 yo Vintage Reserve – Silver Bottling 
    o Distillery: Teeling
    o Proof: 92
    o Price: $200-225
    o Purchase location: www.masterofmalt.com
    o Tasting Notes:
     Nose: Aromas of white grapes, cut grass, apricots and white chocolate
     Palate: Silky smooth, with flavors of fig jam, honey, apricots, white chocolate and crisp saltiness at the end to balance the sweetness off.
     Finish: Long and mellow.
    o Why this bottle is featured: Limited bottling (5000)…first of the Vintage Reserve collection. Also, whiskey was distilled in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Sauternes casks…this is the first batch believed to be the first ever Sauternes-finished Irish whiskey.

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