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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    During my visit to Charlotte, NC, I had the opportunity to visit a traditional Irish Pub called Ri-Ra (Gaelic for "Uproar"). Not having a decent bourbon selection, I asked for a whiskey list and was presented with a laminated and bound book of Irish Whiskeys. I selected a flight of single barrel offerings including Old Bushmills 12, Old Bushmills 18 and Tyrconnel. I generally dislike that petroleum distillate (fusel oil?) taste, but the Bush 18 was very smooth, woody, spicy with a little hint of sweetness. I couldn't help think that they had that young, grainy White Dog taste in all of them. It made for an interesting afternoon amongst all the Pre-Super Bowl Hoopla.
    Next time, its Middletons, Black Bush, Jamesons and a few others.
    If your in the area, check it out. Ri-Ra

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    Good notes, the oily taste of many Irish whiskeys is not in my view attributable to fusel oil or other congenerics. Irish whiskey with rare exceptions is distilled three times. This level of purity would seem to exclude strong petroleum-like flavours from that source. I think what is happening is that the raw barley used in Jameson and similar pot still whiskeys (i.e., all those made at Midleton in the South) leads to that oily flavour. Michael Jackson (the well-known whisky and beer writer) refers to unmalted barley being a "robust" material, and likely it would be more so were two distillations used. Bushmills is a product of Ulster and their single malt is made from an all-barley malt grist. It is distilled three times, hence its light body (relatively) but the absence of raw barley in the mash likely explains the lack of that distinctive petroleum-like taste, one personally I have never quite come to terms with. Bushmills is really a kind of Lowland scotch, being unpeated and multiple distilled. (This makes sense due to the historic links between Scotland and Ulster). One Southern distiller, Cooley, also eschews raw barley but exceptionally for Ireland uses peated malt in some of its whiskeys. I like Powers for a taste of the true Irish pot still character, the oily/fresh leather taste is there but is moderated due to the blending. This whiskey is, I understand, made from about 70% pot still and the remainder is a lighter grain whiskey. The pot still part is made from 60/40 raw barley to barley malt, so the traditional taste derives therefrom but again the blending makes it appeal to those who don't like too much of that signature. I agree with you that Irish whiskey does recall American white dog, and some younger bourbons or ryes (I would add). Youngish rye whiskey (e.g., the excellent Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye whiskey) to me persistently recalls many kinds of Irish whiskey. I would like to think this is because the Scots-Irish (Ulster emigrants) and Irish (from what is now the Republic) came to America in the 1700's and began distilling rye and corn but with the memory of Irish whiskey still fresh in their minds..

    Gary

  3. #3

    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    The sad part is that we can not get Paddy's Irish in the USA, and I have yet to hear a good reason why not

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    Gillman,
    Thanks for the insights. Retrospectively, I think you're right about the raw barley flavor. Its probably not fusel oil. That was a guess. Its an interesting departure to sample other whiskeys, so similar to each other and yet so different from their American cousins. I'm going to continue to sample these, when I can, and report on my impressions. I feel some obligation based on my heritage. Irish whiskey doesn't have the following of SC***H or our beloved bourbon. Its sort of an odd man out. I'll have to try Power's.
    Thanks Again

  5. #5
    Enthusiast
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    Ed,

    I too would like to try the Powers one of these days. I've read good things about it.

    You mentioned that you had the Tyrconnell. I was wondering what you thought about it. I think it is pretty good, but I prefer Connemara, which has quite a bit of peat influence in its flavor.

    Bob

  6. #6
    Advanced Taster
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    Feb 2001
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    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    Had a wee dram of Powers last night and was pleasantly reminded of why I purchased it in the first place. Good whiskey at a good price.

    But, if you want a taste of true Irish pot-still whiskey, try Redbreast 12yo. Even better still (IMHO), if you have the cabbage or a generous friend with a yen for Irish whiskey, I would recommend the Jameson 15yo Pure Pot Still--like tutti fruitti in a glass.

    I have tried only two Midleton releases: 1994 and 1996. They were on close-out at about half the regular price. The '94 was good, but not exceptional. The '96, however, was a truly delicious whiskey featuring a prominent peach flavor. Yummy stuff...but, sadly, gone. I have heard recent releases are very good to excellent.

    SpeedyJohn

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I believe there are but three active distilleries on the Emerald Isle. They are Bushmills in the north, Cooley in Dublin and Middleton in the south. The Bushmills plant gives us the Bushmills range. Cooley provides Kilbeggan and Tyrconnell (both distributed by Heaven Hill), and Middleton makes all the rest (Jameson, Powers, Paddy, etc.). Of the three, the newest is Cooley, which opened in 1994, and the biggest is Middleton. The very modern and highly automated Middleton plant was the model for what is now Heaven Hill's distillery in Louisville.

    This is not to say that there aren't still some products around that contain whiskey made at Irish distilleries that are now dark, but for the most part anything you can buy came from one of these three plants, with most of it coming from Middleton.

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    There is a side to Irish pot still that features a fruity nose and palate and those are my favorites too. Green Spot (which I heard may soon be available in Ontario) can exhibit that quality although bottlings vary. Jameson 15 year old is outstanding, likely close to the best Irish whiskey available before the Second World War. The signature "waxiness" is there but swathed in as you say a tutti-fruity flavour, that and a suave maltiness from the barleys. The special Midleton reserve releases you mentioned (which I believe always contain some grain whisky) are to my mind never as good as Green Spot at its best and Jameson 15 year old. Redbreast is good but it has dollops of the waxy pot still character. As a friend put it, this is a whiskey that expresses an Opinion.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Irish Whiskey Flight-Charlotte

    This is my understanding except I believe Cooley's distillery and warehouses are in Riverstown, Cooley an area in the east of the country. The head office is in Dublin. Also, Bushmills and Midleton are owned by one company, Pernod Ricard which purchased Irish Distillers, a merger in the 1960's of three famous houses, including Jameson, whose brand names are all produced today at Midelton. Bushmills produces all the malt whisky in Antrim in Ulster used in its brands and where grain whisky is added it is sourced from Midleton.

    This may be a good place to correct or at least qualify a statement I made earlier that the waxy quality of Irish pot still is due to the raw barley used in the mash. It was drawn to my attention on the forum at www.whiskymag.com that Jim Murray, an expert on Irish whiskey, has written that even though three distillations are used, the stillmen manipulate the cut so as to allow more of the heavy oils to remain in the whiskey. I am speaking here only of traditional pot still whiskey because many types of whiskey are made in Midelton's famous linked stills. There is speculation on the forum that raw barley nonetheless has some influence on the classic "oily" taste of heavy pot still Irish.

    Gary

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Kilbeggan

    Many of ya, on this fourm have evolved into knowledgable conoisseur's of the trade, however, I will be the first to admit I am not the conoisseur that is expected from me

    This is one product (Kelbeggan, Irish Whiskey) that I really like. The first time it came down the line I took a "cap full" sample...Hmmmmmm...I went back for another...Hmmmmmm...and another. Good stuff Nuff said

    We ran this a few weeks ago. I asked for a bottle, for a special friend who is coming to visit us, this weekend. I hope he likes it, but if he does not that's fine, he can give it to one of his friend that likes Irish Whiskey. It ain't bourbon, but I like it

    Must be a little Irish in me somewhere...I know for sure, that I'm German and Indian. I'm adding Irish for extra measure. I can offically decare that nationality cause I named my first born, Patrick and I had a man wearing a kilt, pick up one of my shoes, pour beer in it and drink it dry

    Bettye Jo

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