The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

For a country with such a long and proud tradition, Ireland’s whiskey industry has experienced some serious problems in recent years and almost found itself marginalized as a serious whiskey producing nation. The reasons for this decline are too numerous to recount here. The important thing is that Irish whiskey (notice the spelling with the ‘e’) is on its way back with some truly world class whiskeys.

Ireland has only three distilleries: Midleton in County Cork, owned by Pernod Ricard and the home of Jameson; Bushmills in County Antrim, owned by Diageo; and the independent Cooley in County Louth.

As with Scotland, Ireland produces single malt, blended and single grain whiskeys, although it was only a few years ago that the Republic again started to produce single malts (Jameson’s isn’t a single malt and Bushmills is actually in the North). Unlike Scotland, however, Ireland doesn’t produce its own vatted malts. It does, though, produce a style of whiskey that is unique to its shores - the pot still whiskey - a term that continues to confuse many consumers. Although the majority of malt whisky is produced in copper pot stills the world over, this doesn’t make actually it a pot still whisky. A pot still whisky is one where

Teeling Single Grain Whiskey

The Teeling Whisky Company was founded by Jack Teeling, the son of John Teeling, who founded the Cooley distillery in 1987. The company’s philosophy is to “challenge the norm by creating alternative Irish whiskeys with greater depth of personality and character than the current mass-market options…from a non-aged Irish Whiskey spirit …to our range of very old hand selected casks of Single Malts and all in between”. This single grain is unusual enough as it is, but this is the only one we know of that is matured in Californian red wine barrels, giving it a distinctly red fruits theme.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sugary sweet. Light. Walnuts. Oaky and citrussy.
Palate: Very light and sweet at first, then oaky, becoming ever drier and more peppery before a raspberry theme at the finish.

Retails for around £35-45

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Bushmills Black Bush

Bushmills has been distilling for over 400 years, ever since King James I issued a licence to distil in 1608. It triple distils in the traditional Irish fashion and was, until Cooley’s revival of the Connemara, Locke’s and the Tyrconnell brands, the only producer of single malt whiskey on the Irish mainland. Since being bought out by Diageo in 2005, Bushmills has enjoyed huge investment and is a distillery definitely On The Up.

Black Bush is matured for up to seven years in oloroso and bourbon casks and is an “80% malt premium whiskey”, far more malt-heavy than most blends.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sherry. Honey. Crisp green apples. Grape.
Palate: Light to start with, then a red and green fruit extravaganza. Another nail in the coffin of blends-haters.

Retails for around £25-35

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Green Spot

Green Spot is part of the great Irish tradition of Pot Still whiskies. Pot Still refers to a peculiarly Irish phenomenon whereby both malted and unmalted barley are mixed before triple distillation (as opposed to being mashed and distilled separately). Distilled at the Midleton distillery in County Cork, this is matured in both sherry and American bourbon casks, giving it a soft but hugely fruity and oily nature. Originally available only at Dublin grocer’s Mitchell’s, this is now a) available far more widely, and b) cheaper, presumably thanks to the marketing and production clout of owners Irish Distillers. Hoorah on both counts.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Doughy. Fruity. Crisp and slightly tropical. Blue licorice disks (from licorice allsorts).
Palate: Immediately a fruit juice explosion with a sherbety undertow. Toasted marshmallows. Oily and creamy. Wow!!! If ever you thought whisky wasn’t a refreshing drink, you should try this.

Retails for around £30-40

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The Irishman Single Malt

Green Spot is part of the great Irish tradition of Pot Still whiskies. Pot Given the long and illustrious history of Irish whiskey, it’s surprising that this is one of only a handful of Irish single malts on the market. Triple-distilled in the traditional Irish manner, this is matured in a combination of American oak and oloroso casks.

This 40% strength version (there is a more expensive cask strength version) is over ten years old and is released in “limited” batches of 6000. Irish whiskey, it has to be said is not the cheapest, but this retails for around £40, which makes it something of a bargain in our eyes, considering its quality.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Orange, lemon and lime. Fruit chews.
Palate: Nice balance of richness and citrusy fruits with a chewy and oaky finale. An absolute cracker!! Can’t wait to try the cask strength version.

Retails for around £40-45

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Writers Tears Pot Still

Writers Tears is a nod to Ireland’s great writers, playwrights and poets, of which there were a great many. All writers - except for the liars, that is - suffer from writer’s block and many sought inspiration from a glass of “The Water of Life”, in other words whiskey. According to the packaging, it is said that when an Irish writer cried, he cried tears of whiskey.

Writers Tears is an attempt to recreate the whiskies of yesteryear with a vatting of pure Pot Still and Irish single malt, although the proportions are a closely-guarded secret. Excellent stuff!

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Fruity, soft and crisp. Apples and poached pears. A hint of oak and citrus..
Palate: A stunning balance of oak and juicy fruit with a touch of scorched richness and a nicely astringent finish.

Retails for around £30-35

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