Tag Archive: Ireland


Bushmills: 2000 The Causeway Collection – Port Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 20 Years: 54.1% ABV)

Visual: A deep heavy gold with fast, thick streaks that come from the spirit.

Nose: Summer fruit gateaux. Raspberry and strawberry. Smooth but recognisable alcohol. Plums. Pencil shavings. Lightly citrus fresh behind that – jiff lemon. Honey cakes. Crunchy nut cornflakes. Water makes very smooth. Clearer honey. More wood notes.

Body: Slightly drying alcohol. Sticky, yet smooth in how it delivers the alcohol character. Plums. Honey. Treacle. Fig rolls. Strawberry. Clean feeling sheen. Red cherry and black cherry. Water makes super smooth. Toffee. Spotted dick. More strawberry. Light greenery.

Finish: Fig rolls. Sherry. Golden syrup sponge cake. Lightly peppery. Soft citrus sheen. Water adds much more red fruit, especially strawberry. Light butter note. Thin sulphur candles air. Light charring.

Conclusion: Ok this is so port dominated – shocking I know for something that has spent 20 years in port wood – but what is actually surprising is somehow that base Bushmills character is still just about there underneath it all. This is so very unusual for a Bushmills but you can still recognise it as one.

Neat it is especially unusual, the 20 years age and triple distillation keeps the alcohol smooth despite an over 50% abv, but it is drying and sticky in a way that I have never encountered in Bushmills or even Irish whiskey before. It is pleasant, somehow managing to not be harsh even it indulges in this very unusual mouthfeel.

Here it leans towards darker fruit, with figs and plums and such like, with some lighter red fruit notes darting around that. It is quite heavy flavour, yet there is still a clean, lightly citrus note that is a recognisably Bushmills feel and flavour. It isn’t super obvious, just a light sheen under the far heavier notes. There is honey sweetness to treacle under everything, holding it all together which makes for a very different and sticky dram.

Water adds a much more recognisable smooth Bushmills character and really helps the red fruit notes shine out. Even more water, as this can take a lot, brings out a light sulphur note in the finish. There is so much room to play with the water here, you can keep neat or just with a few drops and keep the dry stickiness, or go deep with water and get super smooth and still rewarding.

Genuinely a great example of a whiskey, great use of the cask strength for mouthfeel and range of flavour, great use of the unusual barrel ageing to unlock huge flavours and somehow still got notes that marks it as a Bushmills even if that part is not the most obvious, it is still impressive it has not been utterly overwhelmed by the port ageing.

I am so very impressed indeed.

Background: Ok, I have been a Bushmills fan for a long while, but the odder releases tend to be very hard to get. Then I saw this in the Whisky Shop in Bath – 20 years old (Well possibly 21, it says bottled 2021 so hypothetically it could have an extra year but as it is distilled right at the end of 2000 it seems unlikely), aged solely in Port wood – first fill at that – and at cask strength – all very unusual elements for a Bushmills. I was a tad nervous at first fill unusual casks for such a long time in case it utterly dominated the character, but after much thinking – as this was a pricey one – I succumbed and bought it and hoped. Like many Irish whiskeys this is triple distilled which tends to lean towards a lighter smoother character, again something that should be interesting to see how it interacts with the high abv and unusual wood. Music wise I went with Pure Hell: Noise Addiction – I had just been watching Wendell and Wild and noticed a Pure Hell sticker on a cassette player in it, so had the urge to listen to them again. Also that is a great movie with a great soundtrack.

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Midleton: Red Spot (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 15 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smooth toffee and honey. Touch of cherries. Vanilla. Grain fields. Barley cakes. Light fish oil. Water adds fudge cakes and apples.

Body: Apricot. Smooth. Honey. Apples to apple pie fillings. Raisins and sultanas into Madeira notes. Cherries. Light oak. Slightly drying. Water adds more apples and makes very smooth. A touch of liquorice comes out along with shortbread and rice crackers.

Finish: Madeira. Light oak. Plums. A gin air. Slightly drying. Water adds apples, honey sponge and a light menthol touch.

Conclusion: This is so smooth and yet such a rewarding whisky. 46% abv so a tad above the norm and yet still even neat it is super smooth and just two drops of water brings out everything perfectly

It mixes between the smooth honey and toffee backbone and the other notes that then dance over that backbone. Initially light apple notes … dominate seems the wrong word considering how they are nicely subtle … are most prominent is probably the best way to put it. It is a refreshing, easy drinking dram but over time the red fruit and heavier dark fruit notes show their way through to make this a really rich and rewarding experience.

It is like you get the best bits from a fruity speyside, a rich highland and the smooth as silk Irish whiskey all in one glass, with a bit of unusual barrel ageing love on top. Water adds both a fresh menthol touch at the end, but also a more shortbread like slightly more robust middle which makes for a more substantial whiskey overall.

On the down side water also adds a slight rice to rice crackers like character mid body. Nothing too bad, a light not quite right touch, but that is the worst I can say about it. The rest of the whiskey is fantastic.

This is genuinely one of the greatest Irish whiskeys I have tried – all of the smoothness you would expect and with the extra age and barrel ageing bringing such depth of character an already great spirit.

I am so very impressed.

Background: During a short trip with the family around Ireland we ended up with some time in Arklow and not much to do so we poked our heads into a pub called The Old Ship. I asked what irish whiskeys that they had that tended not to leave Ireland and they showed me a delectable set that included this Red Spot and 21 year Red Breast. After much umming and ahhing I went for the Red Spot. It was close. The person pouring accidentally put ice in when I had asked for no ice, and so removed the ice and gave me extra Red Spot to make up for it. I have zero complaints about this at all. Top notch. I was not going to do notes on this as I had no paper, but my parents both supplied paper, and picked up the cost of the whisky. Far too kind. Many thanks. Anyway the whisky, this is single pot still whiskey that has been aged in a mix of the usual Bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, but also Marsala fortified wine.

Kinnegar: Black Bucket (Ireland: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black body with a good sized creamy brown head.

Nose: Citrus. Pineapple, grapefruit and lime. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cocoa. Brown bread.

Body: Prickly. Pineapple. Vanilla touch. Tart grapefruit. Dark malts. Sour dough. Light cream. Quite tart. Light charring and charred bitterness. Peppery. Brown bread.

Finish: Charring. Slightly rough bitterness. Bitter black coffee. Grapefruit over that. Raspberry tartness. Bitter cocoa. Peppery to rye crackers.

Conclusion: This is a Black IPA that leans towards my preferred take on the style. While it is dark of body and backed obviously by the darker malts, the first impression you get is citrus heavy, fresh and quite tart in the hop expression.

The main elements in the lead in are pineapple and grapefruit notes, but late on in the body into the finish you get a spritzy raspberry like set of tart notes that I would not have expected at all. It is all very refreshing and prevents the roasted hopped stout take that a lot of BIPAs head towards.

Initially the freshness controls the front, with hints of darker malts behind, leading into a much more evident charred, bitter finish sprinkled with a touch of pepper. However as time goes along you get the malt rising in the middle with a bready base, more peppery rye character and more bitter charring, becoming more like the finish for the full BIPA experience.

It’s not quite got the balance of the best black IPAs, that hard to describe touch that makes them so good – but it is still darn good. The rye is mostly used well, initially quite quiet allowing you to appreciate the open beer, it builds to a heavy rye cracker and peppery presence by the end – possibly a tad too heavy at the end for me – it mutes the brighter, slightly tarter notes, but generally a decent progression of flavour over time for an enjoyable BIPA.

Pretty satisfying.

Background: This was found while heading around Dublin as part of a holiday in Ireland. Oddly, the pub I had intended to hunt out was shut down, so I stuck my nose into a place called Tapped that boasted 50 taps, figuring that should have at least something I want to try. A good chunk of the taps turned out to host cocktails and wine, which were not to my taste, but I noticed in their can list they had this – which was in ratebeer‘s top 50 beers from Ireland, so I figured I would give it a go. It’s a rye black IPA – I am an utter sucker for BIPAs, and a rye touch never hurts so I had high hopes – especially as the BIPA seems an underused style these days which makes me sad…

Waterford: Hook Head 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 50% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened grain to gold spirit with medium speed and thickness streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily, slightly nutty. Clay. Lime touch. Peppery. Lightly earthy – turmeric. Water adds light grassy and menthol notes.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Oily nuttiness. Earthy – turmeric. Light lime touch. Light apricot. Moderate thickness body. Water makes even smoother, a more oily nut character. Touch of strawberry.

Finish: Grit air. Light smoke wisp. Peppery. Dry white wine. Water makes smoother oily character and adds a peach air.

Conclusion: As only the second Waterford whiskey I have had, it fell to this to really show how much difference a single farm origin, a terroir as they say, can have on a whiskey. I already knew that I very much enjoyed Waterford whiskey from my first encounter with it – it was so high quality, especially considering how youthful it is – but I had yet to work out if it could live up to its base conceit of showing how much difference an environment could make to a whiskey.

Anyway, short answer to that. Yes. Yes it does.

It has similarities to the Ballymorgan 1.1 which I first tried – For one it is still far smoother than a 50% abv 3-4 year old whiskey has any right to be. It also still shows some nice fruity bright elements, though admittedly the fruit is more muted here so expresses itself differently.

So, with the similarities out of the way, how is it different? How does this show the influence of the barley? Well it is pretty darn striking. It is more oily, with a savoury oily nuttiness, and in general it has a more grounded, less bright character. There is a light earthy, peppery character than came across in a way I can’t help but think of as “clay” like after I read up on the soil where the barley was grown. Darn my easily influenced mind.

On a personal level I prefer the brighter character of Ballymorgan but this is very high quality with such a different style to play with, even a wisp of non peat related smoke there. So lovely to examine.

Waterford again proves itself as one the THE distilleries to watch at the moment.

Background: Been meaning to do notes on this for a while. I had my first Waterford a while back, and grabbed this a few months back as well. Waterford’s raison d’etre is that each release is made with barley from a single named farm, to explore the terroir of whiskey. Awesome idea and awesome whisky – the quality is so high, especially considering the age is no more than 4 years odd for each release. Initially each bottling was aged, etc the same way to keep them as similar in production as possible, but now each is aged and blended to best show off the influence of the barley. If you go to the website using the code on the bottle you can get the full detail on exactly how it was aged and mixed and details on the farm – up to an including the sounds of the farms in some cases. Anyway, I settled on this as my second bottle of Waterford as it had won ISW Gold, which seems a good start. I finally got around to doing notes on this after Independent Spirit did a horizontal tasting of six of their whiskies – and trust me, it gave me a new appreciation of exactly how different each bottle could be – it helped that several members o the Waterford team where there to answer many many questions. So, with new energy from that I finally sat down and did these notes.

Clonakilty: Single Batch (Irish Blended Whiskey: 43.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain colour, with fairly slow puckering coming from the spirit.

Nose: Vanilla. Crumpets and butter. Light wholemeal bread. Lime in a zesty fashion. Light menthol. Water makes a tad more neutral and a touch of grain spirit style.

Body: Smooth and light. Strawberry. Vanilla fudge. Orange crème sheen. Lightly oily. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallows. Light cooked grains. Light lime. Water makes cleaner, more citrus notes and more buttery.

Finish: Vanilla. Cream. Cooked rice. Toasted marshmallow. Water makes for a similar experience, with a touch more gentle menthol.

Conclusion: This is a very easy going, very smooth, take as is and don’t add water whiskey. Trust me, there is no need for water here, all it does is make the flavours kind of lighter. I mean even with water it isn’t bad, it is still very drinkable, but it is a better whiskey neat.

Neat it is just thick enough, it is smooth, very smooth and quite light and easy going but managing to avoid coming across as empty feeling.

It has got a gentle sweetness of toffee and vanilla, with some citrus notes laid over, but they are matched with a kind of toasted bready and toasted marshmallow character that managed to make it feel, well not heavy, but more substantial that the deliciously smooth character would otherwise.

Nicely complementing the bready notes is a light buttery character, subtle neat and works well – but it becomes more evident with water to a degree that I feel it hurts it slightly. I much prefer the subtle character it adds neat.

Overall this is a lovely, easy drinking, Irish whisky. Nothing quite makes it a top end must have, but it is very satisfying to drink as is and a nice one to relax with.

Background: Independent Spirit did a Clonakilty tasting a while back, and very nice it was too. I was a bit burnt out at the time so didn’t do any notes at the event, but they did also give us a mini to take home. Which is what this is for me. So I decided to do notes on it, so I had a least some record of the event. So here it is. I have to admit I can’t remember much of the info picked up at the tasting, mainly that is was tasty, so not much to put here. This is listed as double oak so most likely aged in both bourbon and sherry casks. Was still listening to the same UK Subs album as in the last tasting – there were a lot of tracks to appreciate on that album so I had to give it a good few spins.

St James’s Gate: Guinness: Draught 0.0 (Ireland: Low Alcohol: 0% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black and still. A creamy inch of a head.

Nose: Roasted. Nutty. Bitter cocoa. Milky coffee. Thick. Milky to milk bottle sweets.

Body: Creamy. Milk bottle sweets. Milky chocolate. Caramelised brown sugar. Very milky coffee. Slight savoury bread dough.

Finish: Milky. Light bitterness. Mild gingerbread. Slight charring. White sugar and brown sugar. Milky chocolate and cocoa. Toffee.

Conclusion: Ok, it has been a while since I last had draught Guinness, or to be honest any Guinness, so take this with a pinch of salt but … this isn’t a million miles away from tasting like draught Guinness.

It is fairly thick, in fact thick enough to make me think that this was initially brewed at normal strength and then the alcohol artificially removed as beers naturally brewed at low abv tend to be a lot thinner. I could, of course, be wrong. It is very creamy, and I would say sweeter than I remember Guinness being though. Not quite the savoury liquid bread that I remember Guinness being. Of course, these are old memories, so again, take with a pinch of salt.

There is some milky coffee and chocolate in there, not unusual for a stout but again slightly sweeter than I would expect with a kind of white and brown sugar backing, as if dissolved into the beer. While not as blatant it reminds me of when I try standard American bread which is far sweeter than the stuff I am used to here. This is similarly sweeter but I can still recognisable for what it is.

So, to summarise. Creamy as heck and sweeter than you would expect – the milk chocolate and coffee show the stout style, and there is a recognisable, liquid bread (Even slightly savoury dough at the back) style recognisable Guinness character.

It isn’t bad actually. Guinness is far from my favourite stout in general but this does the job well, and works a lot better than I ever expected it to. It also works very nicely if you half and half it with Nanny State. Which I expect is an experiment that will lead to many death threats and hate mail from purists.

So, a nice low alcohol surprise for me today

Background: So, I saw a pack of 4 cans of alcohol free Guinness at Sainsbury’s and I couldn’t help but wonder. How? This notoriously thick and stodgy Irish stout, how were they going to make an alcohol free version of it? So I grabbed a pack to try. I am easy to sell to. As mentioned in the notes I had before tried making a half and half with Nanny State with this to see what happened. It was nice. So by the time I got to this I was on my final can, so I decided to pull my thumb out and actually do notes. I didn’t bother doing the proper Guinness full slow pour, leave, come back and finish the pour for this. I just couldn’t be arsed. I did take my time over the pour in general though, just couldn’t be bothered with the full ceremony. Put Public Image Ltd: Compact Disk on as backing music. I was tempted to do something from Ireland to keep some thematic link going on, but eventually plumped for PIL as I was just in the mood for it. Not much else to say, I’m guessing we all know what Guinness is, right?

Bushmills: Caribbean Rum Cask Finish (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Noticeable alcohol. Spicy. Dark rum. Sugar cane. Strawberry. Rhubarb touch. Cake sponge. Water makes cleaner.

Body: Smooth. Light lemon cakes. Dry grain alcohol. Strawberry. Red raspberries. Toffee. Sweet, dark rum. Vanilla. Water makes smoother. Adds grapes. Soft lime. Cherries. Brown sugar.

Finish: Alcoholic jelly touch. Red fruit medley. Dry rum. Brown sugar. Treacle touch. Alcohol air in general. Water makes burnt brown sugar. More clear rum. Dry rice.

Conclusion: This is rum finished, rather than fully aged in a rum cask like the Travel Exclusive Steamship edition. This is a blended whisky with grain whiskey in it unlike that Single Malt Steamship, and the classic 12 Year Caribbean Rum finish travel exclusive Bushmills. It is a no age statement whisky, similar to the Steamship but unlike the 12 year.

So, with all that said, you would expect the Steamship Rum edition to be superior and probably closer to the classic 12 year right? Yet, somehow it is not. Which is a long way around saying that this blended rum cask finish is pretty cool.

So, let’s get the bad side out of the way first. I’m not sure how much grain whiskey was used in this, but the neutral, rough grain kind of spirit is evident here. Not a great look, especially in the finish where it hangs around. Water mutes that but also takes down the vibrancy of the whisky a bit. So, the choice, especially for the aroma, is slight grain alcohol tingle or a more muted character.

That said, this feels pretty joyous despite its flaws. There are light citrus notes that are familiar to the Bushmills spirit that are evident there – lemon and lime notes particularly make a show. Now these citrus notes are by far not the main show, this is very much about the rum finish, but it does show one of the reasons I prefer this over the fully rum aged version – it gives more room for the native Bushmills character to show alongside the unusual ageing and give more complexity and range to the whiskey.

The rum is very present but not overwhelmingly dominant, showing as a mix of red fruit, rum itself obviously, and burnt sugar. Lovely and vibrant, yet the base Bushmills character gives that fresh contrast and make it pretty smooth overall despite the grain rough edges.

So, to no surprise, the 12 year old single malt Caribbean rum finish that now only exists in my idealised memories of it, is better than this. However, this, nearly 20 years on, is still slightly cheaper than that was – and we have had a long time of whiskey getting more expensive in the mean time. It is a heck of a lot easier to get than that was and , oh yes, this still exists – unlike that one.

So, go in expecting the grain edges, a slight rice in the finish and accepting it won’t be a classic and you will find a fun rum finished Bushmills. One that will do as a stand in while I plead for them to pull their damn finger out and remake the proper 12 year single malt take again. It is far from perfect, but a decent price point for a fun dram, so it does the job for me.

Background: Ok, this one has some background indeed, as has been hinted at in the main notes. The travel exclusive 12 Year Caribbean Rum Cask Finish Bushmills Single Malt was one of my first real great whiskeys I tried. So, since that was only available for a short time, I have spent the years since trying to find something similar. So, when I found this, a blended no age statement Bushmills, with that cask finish, at Independent Spirit I had to grab it and give it a try. Since it was calling back to a more innocent age I went with The Eels: Beautiful Freak as music. Loved that album and hadn’t listened to it for a while.

Walsh Whisky: Writer’s Tears – Copper Pot (Irish Blended Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smooth. Honey and toffee. Honey nut cornflakes. Shreddies. White grapes. Butter on crumpets. Fresh cut apples. Water adds trail mix and dried apricot. More green fruit.

Body: Smooth. Honey to golden syrup. Moderate thickness. Only gets warming if held for a while. Bready late on. Apples to apple pie. Pear to pear drops. Malt chocolate. White chocolate. Water adds more white chocolate and some grain like rough edge.

Finish: Malt drinks. Honey on toast. Margarine on crumpets. Chocolate cake. Apple pie. Water adds slight rice and grain rough edges.

Conclusion: Ok, this may be just because it is what I was told, but I can 100% believe that this is Bushmills whiskey in here. In fact a very short and sweet description would be that this feels like a better take on the charred bourbon barrel travel exclusive Bushmills I had a while back.

It is smooth, but with a bit more grip that I expected in an Irish triple distilled whisky, especially at 40% abv. Also it is, to paraphrase a comment used to recommend it to me, much juicier in how the cask influence feels. The green fruit feels bigger, the sweetness as well, and just in general juicier that most of this style.

It has a mix of the juicier and more natural feeling fruit notes, and a more artificial, sweeter notes. Apple vs apple pie and pear vs pear drops being the most notable examples. It is an interesting and refreshing mix.

There is a lovely, sweet honey base, but also a bready and margarine savoury thickness which gives a mix of weight and easy drinking sweetness. Nothing too heavy, just a bit more weight than usual.

Now, there are some bad points – for one somehow water really doesn’t help here. It brings out the more grain edged, rougher, dry rice kind of character that was hidden when it was neat. Thankfully it isn’t a huge issue, as it is smooth enough neat – it doesn’t need water and that is lucky as water just makes it a little worse.

So, what we have so far is smooth, with nice thickness – lots of show from both the sweeter bourbon ageing, and the more fruity spirit character. It is a really solid set.

It may seem expensive for a blended Bushmills based whisky, but it compares well to the ten year in quality – and shows a very different aspect by concentrating on the bourbon ageing. It is better than the bourbon cask version aged before, doing that thing’s main point better than it ever managed.

Overall a lovely easy drinking dram.


Background: So, I have it on good authority that the whiskey for this is sourced from Bushmills, of which I am already a fan. This is a mix of single pot still and single malt whisky, both triple distilled as is common in Ireland, then aged in charred bourbon casks. Fairly simple, and what I was looking for as I wanted a nice easy drinking whisky. I will note that this was described as feeling like it had a “Juicier” cask than some other of the whiskies I was looking at, and that did seem to hit home when I did notes, so I will admit I may have been influenced by that. This was bought from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Noctule: Wretched Abyss, a Skyrim influenced black metal album from the lead singer of Svalbard. I’m a huge fan of Svalbard so was definitely going to check this out. It is heavy and awesome.

Waterford: Single Farm Origin: Ballymorgan 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. A very varied mix of streaks come from the spirit – from slow puckering, fast sheet like chunks and thin streaks.

Nose: Lively. Alcohol is noticeable. Strawberry. Tart rhubarb. Pear drops. Nail polish. Butterscotch and vanilla toffee. Heather. Honeycomb. Water smooths to tart white grapes.

Body: Tingling. A young spirit feel. Pears. Peppery touch. Gooseberry. Dry rhubarb. Lightly waxy. Strawberry crème. Water adds vanilla custard. Sweet green grapes. Toffee.

Finish: Peppery. Malt chocolate to choc orange. Sweeter rhubarb. Strawberry crème. Water adds chocolate toffee and choc lime.

Conclusion: Damn I love this. Ok, maybe I should have saved that for the end, as I have just given everything away but… damn I love this!

So, to balance out that wild enthusiasm (this is 2020 you know, we can’t be having any enthusiasm or happiness) let’s get the bad points out of the way first. Neat this feels slightly young in a few elements of its character. Now it doesn’t have an age statement, and it it is fairly smooth (I would presume from Irish triple distilling practices, but their website seems to indicate they do a double distillation, so what do I know), but the character does have a few elements that would make me think this is pretty young. It is partly from a few rough edges, evident if not too harsh alcohol, considering the 50% abv – but more than that it has a very bright flavour profile which I associate with young whisky. So, it doesn’t have the refined character you may expect for the cost.

Now, water does smooth a lot of this out, but also changes the character massively as we are about to examine.

Neat it has that bright, youthful spirit character. It is very lively and very fruity – coming out as pear drops, rhubarb, gooseberry and the like over a quite clean base, with slight peppery notes. It is slightly rough, but generally all about those bright notes. Even with those rough edges it is utterly wonderful to explore and surprisingly easy to drink considering the abv.

Water changes it to a still interesting, but completely different style. Now there are loads of vanilla, toffee and some malt chocolate notes at the base. Far smoother, and sweeter, with far less fruit – though there is still a little there as high notes to contrast.

Neat is more exciting, and with far more to examine, but is rougher. Water is smoother and has a new complexity, but loses a lot of what really makes the neat whisky stand out. Both are worthy experiences and with those two options this stands out as a whisky with a great range of experiences – If this is what single terrior does then I am all for it. An absolute gem that I can recommend without hesitation.

Background: Now this caught my eye. I was lacking a bottle of Irish Whiskey in the cupboard, and I always try to keep one to hand, then this range popped up. A bunch of different whiskeys from Waterford, all concentration on the concept of “terrior ” so all the barley is from a single farm, in this case Ballymorgan.

Now I knew nothing about this difference in farms, so grabbed one pretty much at random, but the concept intrigued me. There is even a specific terrior code on the back you can enter on their website to find out more about the area, which is a nice touch. So, time to find out if it makes a difference. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Dan Le Sac’s These People Are Idiots – lovely chilled beats to drink to – I recommend checking it out.

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

Visual: Pale bronzed gold. Lots of slow, middling thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Evident rum. Pencil shavings. Light sulphur. Oak. Water adds more pencil shavings. Strawberries.

Body: Vanilla and fudge. Noticeable alcohol. Spicy. Tinned tropical fruit. Thai spice. Cherries. Spicy red wine and bitter red wine. Strawberry. Water adds custard. Spicy rum. Liquorice touch.

Finish: Rum. Red cherries. Peppery. Tinned tropical fruit. Oak. Alcohol sheen. Treacle touch. Black licorice touch. Water adds more treacle. Fudge. Tannins.

Conclusion: Ok, first up, and to get this off my chest … This isn’t as good as the classic 12 Year Caribbean Rum Cask finished Bushmills that was a travel exclusive something like 15 years ago. That was one of my earliest favourite whiskeys so I have very strong opinions on this. Now, the fact that it was one of my early favourites may mean I am embellishing it in my mind. However a few elements of this new release, combined with the lack of age statement makes me think this is fairly young whisky. It has a slight rough alcohol edge neat, which is unusual for a quality Irish release, and so it definitely needs water to open it up. Considering this is over twice the price of that age statement declared 12 year release I feel it fair to be a tad irritated by this not living up to some very basic elements.

Now, while I am putting it through the screws it is still fairly decent, just overpriced for what it is. Anyway, let’s look at what flavour qualities it has. Well, it is quite spicy, and, as you may expect, it has a very evident rum character. It mixes that rum style with similar but different bitter and spicy red wine characteristics over time. There are some more gentle and sweeter vanilla and fudge notes, but generally the rum has free rein. Again, to go back to comparing to the 12 year rum finish, that was mainly aged in bourbon casks which gave it lots of time to smooth out and gain a good base to work from, which the well balanced use of rum added to, giving subtlety and complexity – while this feels much more one note and just slightly rough around the edges.

It may feel that I am being unfair comparing the two – but it does emphasise that, nice as this is, it feels like a real price gouge for lesser quality compared to what they used to turn out – even taking inflation and such into account. The original wasn’t that much more than a Bushmills 10, this is more expensive than Bushmills 16 is now.

Anyway it has moderate thickness but it is still reasonably easy to drink – though more weighty and harsher than most Irish whiskey. A lot of that weight is used to express the rum flavour, very spicy and well expressed but does overpower the more subtle sweetness and tinned tropical fruit notes.

Enjoyable, good rum character, but very overpriced for what it delivers. A pity that this didn’t use a bit of extra time to smooth and balance it into what it could have been.

Background: As I mentioned in my main notes, The 12 Year Caribbean Rum Finish Bushmills was one of my first favourite whiskeys. Thus when I heard about the steamship collection doing different aged Bushmills again, after years without, I was hoping for a rum release. Then when it was released, I spent ages searching for it in airports, but never finding this travel exclusive release. I finally found it at Master Of Malt when it finally got released from travel exclusivity. Woo. Master Of Malt have gone downhill a bit recently, but since they were the only place I could find it, that was where I grabbed it from. Rather than just finished in rum casks, this has been entirely aged in first fill Caribbean rum casks. Not much else to add, went with Miracle Of Sound – Level 10 for background music – his collection of his 2019 tunes Always good. Oh, and happy new year everyone – enjoy your drink!

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