View Full Version : Irish Whiskey...what else!
I do not have an extensive collection of Irish but tonight I am enjoying Black Bush. I find it to be a bolder and more complex Irish whiskey than the white label (as expected). It is different in character than the Jameson, a little spicier and sharper. Jameson Gold is an excellent tasting whiskey...if you like the idea of a little honey overtone on the palate. I noticed in Binny's 3 new whiskeys...the name now slips my memory..1 is a peated Irish, 2 nd is a sherried Irish and the 3 rd is a single malt. Price wise they are attractive and I must do a little digging on them...tasting notes etc. My next purchase will be Redbreast. Does anybody have personal experience with the famed Middleton?
I bought a bottle of Midleton Very Rare, now consumed. It was the 1999 I believe. The character of the whiskey varies with each bottling. While well made, it is still a blend (of pot still and grain whiskey). The grain element is quite noticeable and did not marry well, in my opinion, with the floral pot still (kind of a honeysuckle quality). Everything comes down to price vs. quality. This cost me about double what I would pay for, say, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, to my mind one of the best blends in the world and far better value than Midleton. If you like the Irish pot still flavor (evident in all Jameson's whiskeys and Powers, but not Bushmills), then Redbreast is an even better value than Midleton because it is 100% pot still (triple distilled, like all Irish, in large pots, but from a mash of malted and unmalted barley). Redbreast can be somewhat assertive though and Midleton, like Johnnie Walker, mediates its best whiskeys through a grain background, which is a good notion if done well). I just find Midleton Very Rare highly priced in relation to most other products issuing from the Midleton distillery. If anyone wants to experience the blending art at its master class level, the Johnnie Walker Gold Label is unbeatable and is comparatively speaking excellent value.
I recently tried the Redbreast and I agree that it's one of the finest whiskeys I've ever had. For a cheaper alternative that tastes quite similer, try the Powers-- a real sleeper.
I fully agree. Power's is reported (by Jim Murray) to have 80% pot still content. It is a luxury blend at a very moderate price.
Based on Jim Murray's recommendation, I plan to try Powers at some point in the future. I've seen it, and the price is very reasonable.
My Irish whiskey stash is very small at this time. In addition to a bottle of the white labeled Bushmills that I've had forever (I'm not overly fond of it http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif ), I recently decided to try a bottle of Tyrconnell Single Malt, which the label identifies as "Pure Pot Still Single Malt", and is imported by Premium Imports, of Bardstown, KY! The Tyroconnell is quite good, and was reasonably priced as I recall. As I like the peated Islay Single Malts, I'd like to try the Connemara, which is made by the Cooley Distillery. They also make the Tyrconnell.
Happy St. Patricks Day! http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif
The Tyconnell is made by Cooley as noted, the only independent Irish distiller. Despite saying "pot still" on the label, the Cooley non-blended whiskeys are not pot still in the traditional sense (i.e., incorporating raw barley grist in the mash), but rather in the Scottish sense of being all-malt distillate made in a pot still process. Connemara is however quite different to Scottish Islay malts - the smoke notes are similar (Cooley uses Scottish peated malt) but there is an absence of the salt and iodine notes associated with aging in coastal warehouses affected by salt winds and nearby cold seas. (An Oregon peated single malt, McCarthy's, is similar to Connemara in this sense).
Irish whiskey if not overly blended has a very definite character, even the ones not strictly pot still. The American writer John Clellon Holmes likened the taste of Irish whiskey to "biting on a new penny at high altitude". This is from the limpid Dublin sketch in his classic essay-work, "Nothing More To Declare" (Dutton).
Thanks for the very informative posts...I have read several reviews saying don't be fooled by the price...Powers is a very good whiskey. I will pick up the Redbreast soon. Slante'
I think it is Connemara that has the three whiskey out now....interesting to note that they are responding to the American market by making Irish whiskey with both bourbon and scotch characteristics.
Along these lines, Happy St. Pats!
Today (Mar.17) is also my younger son's 14th birthday... (sorry, but as I proud father I can't help but mention it).
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The American writer John Clellon Holmes
Do you know where I can get that collection?? The only thing I have ever been able to find (and read) by him was the novel GO.
Hi Tom, great to find another fan of John Clellon Holmes (a writer considered part of the Beat Generation yet apart from it in numerous respects).
Best bet is to buy Holmes' collected essays, which include the one I mentioned, arranged in a three volume set issued by The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville.
The volumes were issued in 1988 shortly after Holmes' untimely death.
One volume is devoted to biographical essays (including his landmark essays on Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg); a second is his cultural essays; and the third collects his travel writing.
He was one of America's finest essayists, and like many, he had a good appreciation of good wine, beer and liquor..
Cool! It started out as a fascination with beat writers (esp Kerouac, who hails from the same hometown and High School as I) but has since broadened out in many fascinating directions. I will definately have to look for that.
Wow, you are from Lowell. Do the Dracut Tigers still exist?
Yep, born and raised in Lowell, MA, moved cause my wife wasnt. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif . While attending Lowell High, Jack Kerouac Park became one of my favorite places to skip to, due to its close proximaty to the school ((which is in the heart of downtown) and its peaceful vibe (despite being just of one of the busiest streets in town). One day, feeling bored I actually read what was ON the monuments, and my literary adventure began....
cheesy I know, but quite true LOL.
And no as far as I know they do not. . .sorry http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif .
Tom (fuggin' Dracut. . . .LOL) C
Great picture Tom, thanks, I have visited the park.
I hope some of the old "Canayen" (Canuck) influence subsists in and around Lowell. Kerouac was a complex guy and part of his approach to life and art derived from that part of his background. You may know that the novels that focus on Lowell and the French-Canadian background include Maggie Cassidy and Visions of Gerard. I believe Jack Kerouac ('ti Jean to his family) will be remembered for a long time in Centralville (if it still is called that), Lowell in general and America.
The canadian influence still seems particularly strong in Centralville & Pawtucketville more than elsewere around town.
Yeah its still called that, though it sounds more like "Cennaville" to those in town. I dunno about othe people in Lowell but to me the French Canadian influence is quite alive and well through my parents, and especially my grandparents on my Dads side (my Moms parents were Irish). We were born and spent our early lives in the same neighborhood (Pawtucketville) and even went to the same Parishes (St Louis And St Jeanne D'Arc) and reading the books and stories (esp Maggie Cassady, Visions of Gerard, and The Town and The City, where Galloway equals Lowell and you can take sections of that book and use it as a roadmap around town ) 40 years later, I can tell you they still feel eerily familiar. There are a pair of stories obout Christmas collected in the compilation "Good Blonde & others" that particularly strike home. "Not Long Ago Joy Abounded at Christmas" distills wonderfully the idea of what Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass mean to me. And I can picture exactly the trip he takes (down to current landmarks that stand there) during his walk around Lowell in "Home at Christmas". Usually around the holidays I get homesick for Lowell and my wife has made a bit of a tradition of reading me these stories on the 24th to help me get past it.
I think that one of the things he is most underrated regarding is his discussion of the New England working class way of life of the time of his youth. I tend to find that just as interesting if not more so than the material he is widely known for and famous for.
Tom (former Lowellian)C
My only problem with Jameson Gold is the price...$70 and sometimes more.
Thanks Tom, I enjoyed reading this, very insightful. I know well the stories you mean from "Good Blonde and Others", they are superb (the one also about boxers travelling in small towns in Maine). The writing about Lowell, MA really can't be separated from the "Beat" writing, it is all of a piece, he was writing about (remembering) his life, not like Proust from his sickbed but "on the run", as he said, on the road of course. A sensitive guy not without his faults (he could be racist, for example) he had that gift to connect with people, both in his art and (usually) his life. The story called "Good Blonde" in the collection you mentioned sums him up in my view. It is a wild, sexy kind of story (beautifully written, deceptively simple) but in the end he is talking about how the blonde he met was a real person, a good person too - that is what counted for him, not her razzamatazz. There's a good French word for her, she was "sympathique", and so was (in sum) Jean Louis Lebris de Kerouac (aka Jack Kerouac).
I think it is "Clontarf" (sp?) that has the three expressions. Connemara does also have a cask strength expression which I've heard may come here to the US soon.
I'm actually a big fan of Midleton and only a modest fan of Powers. The most recent Midleton I've had (the '98) is not robust like Rebreast or Powers, but to my taste, the most elegant of all the Irish Whiskeys.
If you love Redbreast, you might also want to try the Jameson 15yo Pure Pot Still--soon. It was a millenniun limited edition and is being replaced by Jameson 18 (blend) this year. Redbreast is my "everyday" Irish pour and I'm very fond of it. It took me about half the bottle of my first J15 to realize I love it even more than Redbreast! It normally goes for about $100. It is available right now for $89 from Town Spirits (RI) and less if you order in bulk. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif
I picked up a bottle of Redbreast...a very nice pot still character Irish..a bit of a nutty taste...will have to add a more thoughtful tasting note. I enjoy the Jameson but have not had Middleton..is it imported to the U.S. or only duty free etc?
Midleton is available at many big or upscale liquor stores. I've even seen it in a few upscale Irish pubs if you want to taste before your buy. It is also a vintage bottling, with the more recent ones being generally more highly praised. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif
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