Tag Archive: Ireland


Red Breast: Cask Strength 12: 2018 Edition (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 12 Year: 58.2% ABV)

Visual: Bright honeyed gold, streaks come down as a thick sheet.

Nose: Dried apricot. Vanilla. Honey. Green grapes. Sultanas. Thick and smooth. Shredded wheat. Smoke wisp. Water makes more gentle. Touch of liquorice. Golden syrup sponge.

Body: Honey. Warming alcohol. Apricot. Plums. Mince pies. Water adds oats and muesli. Lots of honey. Buttery. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Honey. Apricot. Vanilla toffee. Brandy cream. Fig rolls. Water makes a more spirity air. Buttery.

Conclusion: This is very rich and strong – as you may expect from a cask strength whiskey this has more alcohol weight that your average Red Breast, but thankfully still manages to come across fairly smooth. The flavours are pushed up a bit as well – fruity apricot notes matched with a huge amount of sherry influence, giving lots of dark fruit and brandy cream styled notes.

Neat it is intense and fruity, full bodied despite the smoothness. It has a tad too much alcohol, but generally great. I minorly prefer their exceptional Lustra Edition of Red Breast for overall balance and smoothness. This however has a weight and quality all of its own. Water makes it a little smoother, but with that it loses a lot of the range, weight and joy that makes it special. Still, it has a lot to offer even then – still lovely with crumpet like notes and toffee, more gentle sweetness and because of that more towards a standard 12 year Red Breast. Which is still good. However if you have gone to the effort of getting a Cask Strength I would guess you want that, otherwise you could just buy a standard edition.

So, if you want this, accept its weight and the alcohol that will come with it and all that comes with that. This is a rough edged gem if taken as it should be – neat – but gives you plenty in exchange.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal.
Now this is something interesting as it is hard to find since Jim Murray labelled this batch, Batch B1-17, as best best Irish whiskey and best Irish pot still whiskey. As was pointed out at the tasting this year’s batch will be out soon at far more reasonable price and for far less cost (for a while at least). I’ve become a huge fan of Red Breast over the years, so this was a rare treat to check out.

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Red Breast: Lustra Edition (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep rich gold with fast, thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Brandy cream. Rich sherry. Pencil shavings. Warming alcohol. Brandy snaps. Honey. Spirit soaked raisins. Water makes lighter and citrus touched. Lime notes.

Body: Smooth, but warming. Honey and toffee. Sugared orange sweets. Madeira cake. Brandy cream. Custard slices. Spicy sherry. Fig rolls. Sweet chocolate liqueur. Water adds soft lime, soft orange and lot of caramel.

Finish: Fudge. Spicy sherry. Madeira cake. Slight chocolate. Slight oak. Orange jelly sweets. Choc toffee. Spirit soaked raisins. Water makes much more chocolate and choc orange and brings out honey.

Conclusion: This is smooth, but so big! So sweet, but with spicy sherry keeping it grounded. It has so much of the Irish pot still whiskey mouthfeel evident, that lovely smooth but robust character, here expressed in a richer and fuller way than I have previously seen for a Red Breast.

Neat it is full of different spirity notes – brandy cream mixed with honey, and the time in a Oloroso sherry cask has given it lots of sweet and spicy sherry notes here. It very full on for such a smooth dram. Here, taken neat, I love it. Such a rewarding spirit flavour, with (again spirit soaked) dark fruit notes that feel like they belong to a heavier whiskey but are delivered so smooth,

With a touch of water this becomes even creamier – full of caramel and fudge notes. The honey notes that existed in the neat whiskey now is accompanied by a host of sweet notes to fight against the spirity character. Like this I love it! Smooth as silk, matching big sweetness and creaminess with everything that came before, just mellowed out. So very rewarding.

More water makes it lighter, allowing some of the more traditional Irish whiskey elements to come through – most notable some light and smooth citrus notes. Now all the elements are toned down for an easy drinking citrus, but still chocolate and sherry touched thing. Gentle orange notes mix in to bring out choc orange joy late on. So, yes, like this I love it.

Such a good whiskey all the way through. I recommend it without hesitation.

Background: Ok, first up – the background of the box describes this as having an “Endless” finish. I have tested this empirically and the finish has, as you may have guessed, ended. The lying toerags. Anyway, that aside, this is a version of the single pot still whiskey that has spent time in American and European oak before being moved into Lustra’s first fill Olorosso sherry casks. Been enjoying revisiting Red Breast recently so this very much caught my attention when I saw it in Independent Spirit. Was fairly warm again when I was drinking this. I hate the heat, so had fans on all around trying to keep the air moving. Went with Getter – Visceral for music while drinking.

Midleton: Barry Crockett Legacy (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sherry trifle. Alcohol hits in a wave. Almonds. Pencil shavings. Menthol. Brandy cream. Water adds fatty butter notes and pepper. Pumpkin. Slight lime. Apricot.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Alcohol feel if held. Vanilla. Brown bread. Honeycomb. Peppery. Water makes very smooth. Dry cake sponge. More vanilla. Apricot.

Finish: Oak. Sulphur notes. Dry sherry. Peppery. Fatty butter. Water brings out more fatty notes. Slight fatty cheese. Buttery shortbread. Sherry trifle.

Conclusion: This is unexpectedly thick for a triple distilled Irish whiskey, It’s still smooth (for the most part), still packed with those sweet vanilla and caramel notes – but against that it has an odd, slightly fatty and buttery thick note and flavour. It is really hard to describe but gives a more robust flavour and feel than most of the style.

To move back from that for a moment, initial impressions are completely against all that I just said. The aroma comes straight out with strong alcohol against sherry trifle. Two elements that notably do not show up much within the rest of the whiskey. Odd. Go figure. Admittedly there is a little alcohol if you hold this in your mouth, and there are subtle sherry feeling notes that have come from bloody somewhere, I don’t know where, as time goes on, but neither are anywhere as dominant as they first come across.

Neat it does have that touch of alcohol if held, as we just discussed, but a few drops of water quickly remove that. The rest of the whiskey’s character is remarkably resistant to water – keeping that odd fatty feel even up to where I had nearly 50/50 with water,

What water does do is change it from a simple sweet treat to a peppery touched thing that still shows the sweetness, then with a ton of water it becomes a kind of buttery shortbread character, which can become quite empty of any other character if you put in too much water. My preference is to just add a few drops, to add a bit of contrast to the sweetness and lose the alcohol character, but leave everything else intact.

So, is it good and worth buying? Eh, it’s average. The fatty, buttery notes are interesting but not an element I would actively search for in a whiskey. It makes it less easy drinking, but not really more rewarding.

Ok, but there are far better out there.

Background: More whiskey minis! I only really know Midleton from their very rare, so was surprised to see this – a new single pot still expression in Independent Spirit. Even more surprised to see it in a mini. Anyway googling tells me this is a mix of bourbon cask aged and new American oak aged whiskey. I put on the haunting Perte D’Identité by Marie Davidson while drinking.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Single Malt Irish 14 Year: Batch 4 (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 14 Year: 47.6% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear browned gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Pear. Cereal grain. Lightly nutty. Water adds Shredded Wheat. Dried apricot. Dry sherry.

Body: Smooth. Toffee to caramel. Alcohol warmth. Very milky coffee. Pears. Quite thick. Sultanas if held in the mouth. Water adds apricot touch. Light apple. More water adds fruit cake notes.

Finish: Oatmeal. Alcohol air. Crushed walnuts. Water adds milky coffee notes. Slight sultanas. Slightly more alcohol presence. More water makes creamy. Dry sherry. More sultanas. Sherry trifle comes out over time.

Conclusion: This is a very robust Irish whiskey – giving a slightly thicker mouthfeel than normal, along with a bit of alcohol weight. In fact the alcohol never seems to completely go away, even with water, which is unusual for an Irish whiskey.

What water does do though, is give it a very interesting flavour progression. Well water and time, but mainly water. Initially the flavours seemed towards the lighter end of the spectrum with green fruit notes and sweet caramel, that are towards the more common and expected notes for Irish spirit, just with a thicker texture. It can be slightly overly oak touched in the aroma but generally nice.

Water brings out what feels like a lot of sherry ageing influence – there is dry sherry, light nuttiness, more fruitcake and dark fruit notes. It feels like each drop of water darkens the fruit more until finally sherry trifle sweetness bursts out, bringing it to a sweet flip side of the original spirit.

The weight of the whisky feels like Highland Scotch whisky, but it is still smooth despite the weight and depth of character. It feels like a very Scotch whisky influenced Irish whisky, kind of like the older, more sherried Bushmills’ expressions, only with more alcohol weight to give it more to delve into.

A very rewarding, slightly dry whisky. Don’t grab it if you want a more traditional Irish easy drinking smooth thing, but if you want an Irish whiskey you can really dig into and dissect then this is a good one to go to.

Background: I’ve had a tad of free time finally recently so dropped over to the Hideout to take advantage of their awesome whisky selection again. They had just got in a bumper selection of new That Boutique-y Whisky Company expressions in, think it is about twenty five expressions. I am becoming a fan of that lot, they are reasonably priced, and put out some brilliant expressions in weird and wonderful colourful bottles that are so unlike the usual sombre and reserved bottles. This one is an Irish Single Malt from an unnamed distillery – I’ve been wanting to grab more Irish stuff for a while so this was a nice chance – If I had to guess I would say this was Bushmills, but my knowledge of Irish single malts is significantly less than the Scottish stuff, so take that with a pinch of salt.

Powers: John’s Lane Release- 12 Year (Irish Single Post Still Whiskey: 12 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Medium intensity gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sherry. General red fruit. Redcurrants. Smooth. Golden syrup touch. Lightly floral. Pencil shavings to heavier oak. Honeyed apricot. Water makes nuttier and adds crushed grains.

Body: Smooth. Honeyed apricot. Light alcohol warmth. Buttery shortbread. Golden Grahams cereal. Slightly rocky notes. Water adds more shortbread. Buttery puff pastry. Slight orange notes. Sherry notes.

Finish: Buttery shortbread. Light alcohol. Viscous sheen. Toffee. Very biscuity. Savoury bready notes. Water adds jelly babies. Dried apricot. Red fruit and sherry trifle.

Conclusion: This is a mix of that Irish whiskey smooth, lighter character combined with a slow building viscosity from the extra abv that gives it a thicker, more gripping sheen over the tongue than would be expected for a lighter whiskey. That extra grip brings some more sturdy expressions of the flavours – which gives a lot to dig into, so let’s examine it and see what we get.

Initially it hits very heavily on the sherry and red fruit notes in the aroma, before settling into a more apricot fruit middle with shortbread to crumbly pasty notes adding to the feel. It is very gentle in feel, very smooth, with a very buttery pastry character that crumbles away to reveal a surprisingly viscous finish that is simple but lasting.

Time lets the viscosity build up and the flavours with it. Water lets the whiskey open and and the notes spread out. In combination that shakes up the experience quite a bit. A simple but smooth whisky now opens to reveal those sherry notes that the aroma promised. Red fruit rounds out the body and finish creating complex pastry dessert imagery.

This is a whiskey that hits a lot of bases. Irish whiskey light and smooth early on that is dangerously easy to drink, it slowly gains mouthfeel over time before becoming viscous and tongue coating by the end that makes it hard to imagine it was ever so light at to almost unnoticeable at the start. The easy going apricot at the start ends up full on shortbread meets sherry trifle by the end, given time and water. This is easy going but ends up very flavoursome, walking the balance between easy going Irish and full on sherry aged fullness.

I am very much impressed.

Background: Think I have tried standard Powers before in a pub, but I’ve not had much experience with it. This is a single pot still whiskey – which if I understand right means it is from a single distillery, and uses a pot still in a similar manner to Scottish malt whisky, but it can use unmalted barley, or even in small amounts other cereal grains in the mash. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and I put on B. Dolan – House Of Bee’s Vol 2 while drinking. I love the track “Which Side Are You On?” and in general it is a great album. Also, this is my first set of notes done in 2019! Woo, happy new year!

Midleton: Green Spot (Irish Pot Still Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bright yellowed gold. Fast sheet from the spirit, then thin secondary streaks.

Nose: Slight alcohol and grain. Bright lime notes and kiwi notes. Later on dried banana comes out. Dried apricot. Slight golden syrup and pencil shavings. Adding water makes very light.

Body: Smooth and light. Honey. Slight alcohol. Custard. Pears. Water adds apples. Makes lighter. Adds more pears.

Finish: Pears. Custard. Apricot syrup. Honey. Light tannins. Light oak. Water adds a green fruit sheen. Slight cardboard. Banana.

Conclusion: Darn Irish whiskey is smooth, especially this one we have here. Even with the small amounts of grain and alcohol notes from what I presume is younger spirit, this still is super smooth, light and easy to drink. Just what I need as a change after having a few heavy duty Islays over the past few weeks. Water manages to take out the small alcohol harshness pretty much completely as well.

As a whiskey it is mainly a game of two halves, with the emphasis of the whiskey decided by if you have added water or not.

One side is light, sweet honey and golden syrup. The aroma promises banana, but the actualisation of this is put off until much later. Generally it is sweet, easy going, but with a subtly honeyed weight. The very, very slightest weight, In general this is soft and easy drinking.

The other side is paying off a lot of what is promised by the aroma, but this side is only shown if water is added. Soft green fruit comes out, initially lime in the aroma, then apples and pears in the main body. As mentioned, neat it really doesn’t show too much of this but water brings it out in full flow. However this does come at the expense of a lot of the honey notes vanishing, along with the slightly thicker texture. It feels just a tad too light here in mouthfeel.

So, on balance I would say this is just slightly better neat. It is not as complex, but the extra grip to the mouthfeel makes it such a pleasant one to spend some time with. I wonder if a slightly higher abv would help or hinder this? Dunno, but I would love to try it to see.

So you have to pick between great texture, or good variety of flavour – it never quite manages to bring both at the same time, but still a fine easy sipping whiskey.

Background: I have been meaning to do notes on this for a while. I tried an unusual barrel aged version of this at the #Brisdram event a while back and it was great, then I tried Green Spot at The Hideout during an amazing Midleton whiskey tasting event. So, when I saw a mini of this in Independent Spirit I grabbed it to bring back and give a proper going over. The name of the whiskey relates to the markings they used to use on barrels to indicate their age – Blue was seven years, Green ten, Yellow twelve and Red fifteen. However a quick google indicates that the age statement has been removed from green spot whiskey recently due to it now using a mix of between seven and ten year old whiskey. Cheeky if so. I’d been re-watching new Doctor Who recently before drinking this, and had noticed one of the character’s had a Slayer t-shirt on, resulting in me using Reign In Blood as the background music for this, despite it not exactly matching thematically.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: #3 Char Bourbon Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to grain. Clear. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Quite strong alcohol. Lime. Pumpkin. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Crumpets. Burnt sugar. Butter. Light charring. Water adds an aniseed touch.

Body: Creamy. Alcohol warmth. Vanilla toffee. White chocolate. Buttery. Toasted teacakes. Water adds fudge. Light pepper. Very smooth. Creamy lime.

Finish: Toasted teacakes. Butterscotch. Buttery. Creamy lemon. Creamy lime. Water adds more creamy lime. Slight caramel. Aniseed.

Conclusion: This a very gentle Bushmills’ flavour-wise compared to the huge cask ageing influence of the previous two steamship expressions I have tried. That is something that seems somewhat of a mixed blessing here, for as much as a gentle, easy drinking Bushmills can be a cool thing it feels like there is some quite young spirit in this which makes it feel a tad alcohol rough up front and runs roughshod over the lighter flavours.

Neat, and on first pour, it is a bit alcohol rough and empty behind that. It is creamy in feel and taste, but it is hard to dig into the whiskey and get any depth from it. Time helps, clearing the rough fumes and gets this one going. The gentle Bushmills’ spirit character is there now, and showing very clearly the bourbon cask influence. Lots of creamy, buttery character with white chocolate and bready toasted teacakes flavours.

It is very much about the Bourbon influence though – the base spirit seems to give only gentle lime notes and a smooth but solid character to work at as the base.

Water helps bring out the creaminess and adds a touch of peppery spice that gives a bit of pep the whiskey needs. This is where it is at its best – creamy and easy drinking with more of the creamy lemon and lime notes coming out, against the bourbon influence of soft fudge and caramel sweet notes, but with just a few spicier notes. Now, at 40% abv and gentle you need to be careful not to add too much water, and what you get is not unexpected for Bourbon ageing, but here you do get a very clear expression of what that charred bourbon oak can do. It feels for the most part that the base spirit is just a delivery system for that experience.

Not the greatest Bushmills – lacking the range or vibrancy of their best expressions – It seems that pure ageing in charred oak isn’t the best use of their spirit to accentuate its strengths, but it is still an easy drinking and creamy whiskey that really shows the cask. Ok, but not a must have.

Background: Back in the day I loved the more unusual barrel aged expressions of Bushmills that popped up every now and then and I was sad to see them vanish. Thus when they started doing these Steamship expressions, aged in odd cask, they jumped onto my must grab list – though they are only available through travel retail which has made hunting them bloody difficult. This one was grabbed by my parents for me while they were on holiday – many thanks! It is a more standard expression that the past two (Port and sherry casks) being aged as it is, in charred bourbon barrels. Still, it was one I was happy to grab. Went with Arch Enemy – Will To Power while drinking, and went through a few measures as I contemplated my thoughts on it.

Teeling: Stout Cask (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear golden touched grain colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Strong alcohol. Lime touches. Thick chocolate. Crushed palma violets. Caramel. Raisins. Raspberry yogurt. Spicy rum. Coffee. Water adds slight menthol note.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Port. Cherries. Honey. Smooth chocolate liqueure. Chocolate toffee. Water adds grapes, spiced orange and cake sponge. Smoother chocolate. Praline.

Finish: Chocolate. Fudge. Trifle. Sherry. Cherries. Light oak. Milk coffee. Water adds praline and nuts.

Conclusion: So, this is the second stout aged whiskey I have tried in recent weeks, and damn this is bloody lovely. I think that this has still had rum ageing, and that may be part of what makes it so great. I’m not sure if it is that, the slightly higher abv, or what, but this has much stronger whiskey style at the base that the stout has just added to rather than being dominated by the stout. That extra bit of character from the whiskey means this is far more complex that the already nice Jamerson’s stout aged expression I tried, and this all just comes together for something special.

Up front it is honey sweet, with raisins and spicy fortified wine notes that are very recognisable as Teelings. It is a tad strong in the alcohol neat. But that is very easily soothed over with a few drops of water.

Behind that is a very smooth chocolate liqueur character – very stout like, especially the sweeter of the imperial stout takes. I’ve seen chocolate notes in whisky before, but never so clearly used in counterpoint to the sweeter, lighter main whiskey,.

It’s wonderful – easy drinking despite the slightly higher alcohol strength, even with the slight rougher elements neat, and that is perfectly sorted with a drop of water. There is that wonderful Irish whiskey smoothness and honey sweetness, but the multiple unusual barrel ageings lets it run the range from light Irish citrus notes, spicy rum notes and the dark chocolate stout notes. The spicy rum works well, with the stout it create a real rum barrel aged imperial stout character, and definitely shows the spicy extra character to the main whiskey. It feels like those rum notes act as a stepping stone between the two sides of the whisky – making what could be separate quality Irish whiskey and stout elements become a smooth progression of flavours.

Sp. basically you get the smoothness of a good Irish whiskey, the complexity more associated with the Scottish whisky from the barrel ageing, and together it works so well.

Not stupidly expensive, very high quality, highly recommended.

Background: So, I’ve enjoyed past experience with the Teeling range of whiskeys – and this one caught my eye as something a bit different – from a quick google it starts with Teeling Small Batch as the base, Irish Whiskey that has been finished in rum casks. Some casks that had been used for ageing Teeling Small batch were given to Galway to age Galway Bay 200 Fathoms Imperial Stout beer in. These casks were then given back to Teeling and Teeling Small Batch whiskey was then put back in for a final finish to gain notes from the Imperial Stout. Whew. Think I got that right. Anyway, did notes on this after seeing Epic Beard Men live, so was listening to their new album “Season 1” which you can download free from – http://epicbeardmen.com/. I’m a big fan of B. Dolan, and his work with Sage Francis here makes for some tight tunes. This whiskey was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit.

Jameson: Caskmates Stout Edition (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Moderate gold colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Creamy. Menthol. Noticeable alcohol. Soft lime. Coffee notes. Dried apricot. Brown sugar. Aniseed. Water adds dry honey.

Body: Creamy. Lime jelly. Milky chocolate. Alcohol tingle. Baileys. Aniseed. Water adds vanilla custard. Apricot. More chocolate and baileys. More creamy.

Finish: Milky chocolate and milky coffee. Lime jelly. Shortbread. Light oak. Water adds slight cardboard. Bitter cocoa. Chocolate bourbons. Menthol.

Conclusion: Stout aged whiskey? It had to happen eventually. Stout just makes sense for giving complementary flavours – much more sense in my opinion than the hoppier beers that have already been tried. So how well does it work in this case?

Not bad actually. It is pretty creamy, though with a few rougher alcohol elements, especially when taken neat. While the stout elements, especially chocolate, come through clearly, it dominates the whiskey less than you might expect. You get the chocolate, some small amount of coffee and a big dose of creamy Baileys like character. There is a tingle of fruity Jameson’s spirit character below, but the main kick of that is waiting for water to be added to it can come out better. Instead at this point it has a light aniseed like character that prickles around the edges in a spicy way.

Water changes things around quite a bit. It soothes the alcohol, though at the cost of bringing out some cardboard like grain spirit notes at the very back. However as a trade off for that it does bring up the notes from the base Jamesons. Now the cream chocolate notes come out around soft lime, vanilla custard and apricot that create a much more rewarding and complex experience. The apricot especially booms. Then soothes into a chocolate and shortbread finish.

So, stout ageing works well, very will in fact. The base spirit has some rough notes, even with water, and some of the more off notes of blended whisky comes through with water. But those are small elements and generally I was impressed by it. As time goes on a menthol freshness comes out around the whole thing, unexpected, mouth tingling and refreshes from the heavier chocolate notes.

Not super refined, but very good flavour for a very good price and definitely shows that stout ageing whiskey is something worth investing time in.

Background: This sample was a gift from a friend from work – thanks Matt! He also did the photo of his bottle so I had something to go here, so double thanks. Anyway, the naming is pretty self explanatory. Jameson’s gave whiskey casks to the Franciscan Well brewery which stored stout in it. This cask was then given back to Jamerson who aged whiskey in it. Makes sense right? I’ve run into IPA aged whiskey before but this is my first encounter with stout aged ones. Put on some Miracle Of Sound while drinking this. I would claim it is because both of them are from Ireland, but really I just love his music. It’s awesome.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: Port Cask (Ireland Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep honeyed gold.

Nose: Brandy cream. Christmas pudding. Plums. Sweet red wine. Pencil shavings. Cake sponge. Water makes lighter and brings out almonds.

Body: Very smooth. Raisins and sultanas. Creamy toffee. Cake sponge. Malt chocolate. Dry port. Dry fudge. Light orange crème notes. Water adds sweet plums and slight grapes.

Finish: Creamy. Sultanas. Christmas pudding. Madeira cake. Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Malt chocolate. Light menthol touch. Orange crème notes. Slight coffee. Water adds plums.

Conclusion: This is very good indeed – it has that full, rich, port aged character, yet still manages to keep the smoothness of Bushmills, and even hints of the lighter Bushmills spirit character under the heavy dark fruit notes of the ageing. It makes for a dangerously drinkable, yet heavy flavoured mix.

Neat it is a tad closed in character, but it is still good – showing a range of raisins and sultanas character, leaning into heavy Christmas pudding notes. There is a light sponge backing and over time slight rye whisky like notes comes out with spice and light orange crème styling – these are however, just light backing notes.

Water is needed to really open it up – but only the slightest tough – this is a very easy whisky to flood and ruin. However, just a touch of water really opens it up into sweet plum notes and also lets the base Bushmills feel and light green fruit to come out to contrast the heavier flavours. More-so than neat it also becomes smoother and easier to drink.

What takes it from good, to great is the subtle heavier backing notes – starting at vanilla toffee and going into malt chocolate before ending with mild roasted coffee notes. It is a subtle weight that lets the dark fruit notes have hints of heavier backing without sacrificing the smooth and light core. The aroma also carries a lovely brandy cream note, but it doesn’t follow into the body so much.

My only disappointment with this is that it isn’t a touch higher abv – at 43-46% abv this would have has a bit more play and room to use water and that would have made it awesome – right now the water becomes too much, too quickly and doesn’t give you room to experiment. Some room to play would have made it so awesome. Still bloody good.

Background: Another hard effort trying to get hold of this one. I adored Bushmill’s 12 year Caribbean Rum cask finish many years ago and was sad to see it vanish – sadder still that Bushmills seemed to move away from unusual ageings completely for many years. Thus this Steamship collection was right up my alley – espeically since I loved their earlier Sherry edition. Both are travel exclusive so you can only find them in airport duty free areas. I saw this on the way out to China, but knew there was no way a bottle would survive my three week holiday and return home – so ever since then I have been trying to get it, to find that every duty free my mates and I hit was too small to have it in. In the end The Celtic Whiskey shop saved my hide as it looks like they got the chance to sell some of it. So I grabbed it. FINALLY! So, fully port aged Bushmills , that is a new one on me. Put on AFI, Burials while drinking this. Mainly because “I hope you suffer” is Jimmy Havoc’s entrance theme in wrestling. I am shallow.

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