Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Several years ago we posted a note on Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey and it’s about time we revisit it. Back when we originally penned some notes our knowledge of Irish Whiskey and Scotch was not quite as advanced as it is today. Peated whiskeys are a rarity in Ireland and Connemara is one of the few. This 80 proof whiskey gets it’s name from an insanely beautiful area in Ireland which you should visit at some point in your life. Unfortunately the whiskey is made nowhere near it’s namesake, but that should not stop you from visiting the area and certainly should not stop you from trying this whiskey. The peat has the interesting characteristic of being both strong and subdued at the same time. The sweetness of the malt shines in both the aroma and the flavor and as the peat lessens with time and consumption the complexity of the aroma and flavor keeps you engaged.  It has the sweet characteristics which are the hallmark of many Irish Whiskeys and the peat which permeates the region from chimneys during cooler times. If you have ever visited Ireland you would be a fan of both and if you have not visited the Emerald Isle yet, plan your trip now as it is a magical place. I recommended you give this a try a few years ago and now this is a solid buy. At 45 beans a bottle it is worth a spot in your bar.

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Old Pulteney 12 Year Single Malt

Not long ago the ABC system put Old Pulteney 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky on sale for $39.95 so I picked up a bottle. It took a bit of searching to even find the bottle in the first place and so I was rather excited when I finally had a chance to crack it open. That was where the joy ends, this one just wasn’t exciting or flavorful enough to keep me interested. It has a very light aroma and flavor of peat which was not off-putting, but just didn’t bring much to the party. The post consumption alcohol warming was similarly out of whack. It was just a bit hot for only being 86 proof.  The sweetness which you normally find in a Single Malt which is not peat centric was MIA and the finish was darn close to bone dry. This is the Whisky for someone looking for a touch of peat and a dry alcoholic finish. If that is what you are after than snag a bottle of this, however if you are like me, this is going to be a pass, especially at a 40 bean price point.

Paddy Irish Whiskey

Found a bottle of Paddy Irish Whiskey at the local liquor store, probably on sale, and decided to bring a bottle home. The 40% ABV Irish Whiskey is triple distilled and the aged on oak according to the label. Unfortunately that is where this one diverges from really great Irish offerings. The aroma and flavor does contain the oak as promised, but it lacks depth and actually has an odd off characteristic of plastic which I attribute to the oak aging. The plastic character is present in both the aroma and flavor and even without that being present this would not be worth the price of admission. My suggestion is to let this remain on the shelf for some other unsuspecting rube and to spend your hard earned money on something better. Sorry folks, this one is a pass.

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Tomatin 12 Year Scotch

Earlier this year  Tomatin 12 Year Scotch Whisky was on sale for 30 beans with NC ABC and I was unable to find a fifth near me. I asked a friend in another county to pick up a bottle for me and was excited to give it a whirl when I finally got my hands on it. The aroma was filled with butter, caramel, light spice, and sherry. The flavor did not diverge from the aroma with the exception of a big of brown sugar, leather, and a light lingering presence of alcohol. At 86% it was never hot and even the warming post consumption was restrained. This Scotch is aged in both Bourbon and Sherry casks, but Sherry is front and center. At 30 bucks it is a nice bargain for a Single Malt, but I wish it had a little more complexity. It is just on the edge of being wonderful, but with so much restraint needs a kick in the pants to showcase what it truly has to offer. If you have not tried it, find some and give it a whirl.

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Wild Turkey Longbranch

I picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey Longbranch after seeing a post where someone mentioned they liked it. At 40 beans a bottle it hits a price point where you have to carefully consider if you will spend the coin or not. The Boubon was the brainchild of the good folks at Wild Turkey in conjunction with Matthew McConaughey and incorporates Texas mesquite in the flavor. I struggled on my first four or five glasses finding the mequite, but as the bottle contained less contents the flavor was more pronounced and easier to distinguish. The flavor of this 86 proof Bourbon is restrained and has an aroma of leather, oak, cinnamon, mesquite, pear, and just a hint of nail polish. The flavor showcases brown sugar, caramel, black pepper, mesquite (at a subtle level), oak, and caramel. The alcohol is restrained throughout and only really plays a part post consumption. While I did not find this overly complex, I really did find the flavor grew on me over many samplings. At $40 it is just on the line as to something to keep around all the time, or something to have as a one and done. Any less than $40 and the decision would be to keep it full time because of the light mesquite. Any more than $40 and it should stay on the shelf as opposed to following me home. If you see it at a $40 or less price point then snag it and give it a whirl. If it is more, wait for it to go on sale.

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Ezra Brooks 90 Proof Bourbon

After finding some wonderful inexpensive Bourbon recently someone suggested it may be similar to Ezra Brooks 90 Proof so I went out and snagged a bottle. At $12 a bottle it was not much of a stretch to give it a whirl, but unfortunately it was so boring neat it requires a mixed drink to even begin to shine. Every attribute of this Bourbon was so restrained it really isn’t worth the time to dry to describe them. This is a great bargain for mixing with ginger or another Bourbon based cocktail where the Bourbon does not need to shine, but otherwise I would find something more interesting.

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Bushmills Black Bush

Not long ago I spotted a bottle of Bushmills Black Bush for around $30 a bottle and decided to give it a whirl. It came with a free bottle of Red Bush and everyone should now know I think that Irish Whiskey is rubbish. Black Bush is a much different story. This 40% ABV Irish Whiskey is aged in Oloroso Sherry casks and it is actually quite taste. The aroma is filled with Sherry, brown sugar, and hints of leather. The flavor follows suit with an alcohol presence which is understated and well-balanced. I works very well in so many ways and I’ve found myself recommending this Whiskey on more than one occasion already. At first on the palate it presents a bit too sweet, but after a few sips that impression passes and the complexity of the Whiskey draw you in and leave you with a very enjoyable aftertaste. I know I’m going to keep my eye out to find this one at a great price and once I do I will restock the bar. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

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The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Not long ago I happened upon a fifth of The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey with a tag along bottle of Bushmills Red Bush. At less than 30 beans for a Single Malt I figured why not give it a whirl. The 40% alcohol by volume Irish Whiskey came in a really cool bottle, but unfortunately that is about where the love affair ends. Turns out this really cool hexagonal black bottle is a pain in the butt to pour from and the color makes it near impossible to tell how much remains after pouring. While that is a minor annoyance, the monkey juice ester which is prominent and everlasting is just a bit off-putting. I am not a fan of bananas as a fruit so why the heck would I want them to overpower the aroma in my Irish Whiskey? Oh well, after you get past the jungle juice vibe you can pick up caramel, brown sugar, peppery spice, and a hint of leather. The flavor was middle of the pack with more brown sugar and leather and a nice presence of spice. Had this been a 20 bean bottle of Irish Whiskey I might have had a different impression, but I can think of several bottles which have a lower price point and better aroma/flavor. For me it’s a pass on a second bottle and as I mentioned earlier the airplane bottle of Red Bush, even at free, was too high a price. I’d suggest you skip it unless you really want a cool bottle to have an hold which really shouldn’t be used for housing Whiskey or pouring.

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Memorial Day 2018

Never forget the reason for Memorial Day and all those who fought and died to give you the freedom you enjoy today in America! If you know a Veteran, tell them thank you for your service, if you are a Veteran, I thank you for your service.

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American Cemetery at Normandy overlooking Omaha Beach – photo taken May 5, 2018

Kirkland Signature Irish Whiskey

Once again I ran into a handle of Kirkland brand liquor at Costco and had to give it a try. Kirkland Signature Irish Whiskey was less than $30 for a half gallon and aged 4 years according to the label. The aroma wasn’t very complex, but had a light cedar spice and honeysuckle with a light waft of alcohol. The flavor was filled with a light sweetness, more honeysuckle and cedar, a light characteristic of citrus, and bit of caramel. Also in the flavor was a distinct alcohol burn which wasn’t oppressive, but could have been more restrained for my palate. At 80 proof I didn’t expect it to have no alcohol, but like the better Irish Whiskeys I expected it to be more retrained. Unfortunately this was worth about what I paid for it and for just a few bucks more there are better and more complex Irish Whiskeys out there. If you are like me and have to try everything you might as well give it a try, but I know I won’t be running back to purchase another handle.

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