With the welcome news this week that the popularity of Irish whiskey is booming, it is timely to focus on a wee drop of the uisce beatha – that’s the Irish translation for whiskey, which means water of life.
The first Irish offering up for review this week is Glendalough Double Barrel, a single grain distilled in a Coffey still from a mash bill of Irish malted barley and corn. This four year-old whiskey spends three and a half years in American oak first-fill Bourbon barrels before being finished for six months in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks, hence the double barrel. It is handcrafted in small batches and cut with Wicklow mountain water.
Glendalough brands itself as Ireland’s first craft distillery. It began with poitín before branching out into whiskey and then seasonal wild botanical gins.
For some reason I’d never purchased a bottle of this, despite spying it regularly on the shelf in my local. I still haven’t, this bottle was a gift from a good friend and whiskey lover – and man, did he pick well!
APPEARANCE: Light, straw-like.
NOSE: Up front, it’s light and floral, with honey and fruit. What makes the nose more interesting is a lovely touch of warming Christmas spice which follows – and that spice is topped with a dusting of vanilla.
PALATE: Butterscotch comes to the fore with a mixture of toffee, caramel and hazelnuts. The spice is also evident to the taste, but it’s subtle and adds nicely to the stewed dark fruits, which come through as it lingers. There’s a hint of crème brûlée as it all blends together for a rather nice finish.
OVERALL: This is a fine Irish whiskey indeed. It has a nice creamy texture which coats the tongue with all the lovely flavours brought together by the double barrel process. It has the darker side from the Bourbon barrels with a sweeter touch from the sherry casks. What makes this whiskey work, however, is how well it all blends together. It has a bit of everything. It’s sweet, then dark, then both combine for a lovely finish. You could also be forgiven for thinking there could be some rum cask influence, which comes from the hint of brown sugar and molasses that pops up at the end.
Now that I’ve finally got Glendalough in my life, there will be more. I tried the 7 year-old whiskey recently and it was lovely too. I’ll get to the 13 year-old in due course!
PC RATING: 87/100 ( (B+).
TASTING NOTES from Glendalough:
The nose is slight but undoubtedly rich with dark fruit; cherry, raisin, fig (with Christmas pudding notes on the nose for those lucky enough to know what that is) along with floral lemongrass and a touch of nutmeg.
The taste is sweet and creamy on the palate, with butterscotch, honey and peppercorn bringing along sweet Bourbon Cask notes with dried fruit returning through notes of maraschino cherries and a pinch of brown sugar.
The finish has lingering notes of ginger spices with a faint glimmer of almond to end a complex Irish Whiskey from start to finish.