Whisky Advocate

Every once in a while, a pleasant surprise (Irish whiskey review included)

September 18th, 2009

Slane CastleSo, unsolicited, today I recieve a bottle of blended Irish whiskey called “Slane Castle.” Metal screw top, picture of a castle on the label, no age statement, and 40% ABV. I never heard of this. As expected, the back label says it was distilled at Cooley (being the only independent Irish distillery and the distillery where most private Irish whiskey labels come from.)

Sure, I know that Cooley has made some delicious blended whiskeys lately,but still…I am always a little wary of “branded” whiskeys. You never know who’s deciding what goes in the bottles.  Let me tell you: what a pleasant surprise! And at a very affordable price. You want a value whiskey? Here’s one. My formal review follows.
Slane Castle Irish whiskey, 40%, $23
Great malt flavor for a blend–and creamy–with honeyed vanilla, soothing caramel, lively summer fruits, golden raisin,  subtle date, and butter cookie. Well-balanced, very clean with no harshness, and very drinkable!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 80

According to my contact, here’s the scoop on availability:

The product only landed in the US in July.  We have begun the distribution process, but it coincided with the Constellation brand shuffle, which has slowed many of my wholesalers down.  I will begin broad based sales in January, and I am “spot starting” in MA, SC, CT, FL and IL.

Because it is scarce right now, I am going to provide her contact information. Maybe she can give you more information on availability. Her name is Anne Zamitalo, and her email address is:

If you like Irish whiskey, here’s one to track down. And at this price, you can stock up. The picture shows it on the rocks, but I was enjoying sipping it neat.

9 Responses to “Every once in a while, a pleasant surprise (Irish whiskey review included)”

  1. Doug Fischer says:

    Well I would find it a pleasant surprise if just about any bottle of liquid nirvana showed up on my doorstep, but I know you’re rather used to such shipments yourself, John 🙂

    My experiences with branded whiskeys hasn’t been very good but it sounds like this is one to put aside biases for and give it a fair shake. And for the price it’s not asking a lot to do so either.



  2. JC Skinner says:

    Can’t say I’m mad on it myself. It’s cheap, but there are much nicer Cooley blends, in my opinion, and many at the same or similar price point.

  3. sam k says:

    Personal taste…if it wasn’t so subjective, we’d all be drinking Kessler’s!

  4. JC Skinner says:

    I’m not familiar with Kessler’s.
    I am familiar with Cooley blends, though. I’d rate Slane below the Michael Collins which it very much resembles and significantly below Cooley’s own house blend Kilbeggan.
    I know that Lord Mountcharles hopes to expand his range to include other superior whiskeys in time, and I look forward to that.

  5. John Hansell says:

    Oops, sorry guys. I rushed typing up my review this morning and didn’t proofread it closely enough. (Sick dog, vet visit, etc., you know how these things go sometimes.) I’m back in the office and noticed that I typed in the wrong rating before I rushed out. Nothing else has changed about my review. I still like it, but that was supposed to be an 84. Sorry about that. I made the correction in the original post.

  6. John Hansell says:

    Oh, and JC, I agree with you, I do like some of the distillery bottlings better. (Althouth not the Kilbeggen 15, which I think just has too much wood on the finish.) And you are entitled to disagree with me.

  7. David says:

    You have (or will have soon) another couple of Cooley blends in the US: Kellan and John L. Sullivan. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on these too.

    For myself, I didn’t warm to the Slane Castle but the Kellan was rather palatable. I’d happily drink it neat in a bar. The John L. Sullivan I haven’t tried yet.

  8. John Hansell says:

    David, yeah, this whiskey is simple enough, but I do like how all the flavors come together. Nothing fancy, just pleasant. And it is a good price, if it indeed sells at that price point.

  9. John Hansell says:

    I want to tell everyone that I went back and re-reviewed this whiskey. The reason for this is that I conducted this review during a three-day period where our 10 year old retriever became gravely ill and died.

    It was the only whiskey I reviewed during this period and I wanted to make sure my review was not influenced in some way by what was going on in my personal life at the time. (In hindsight, I shouldn’t have reviewed any whiskeys at that time.)

    I believe in being honest. I think I was influenced by what was going on. While I still like the whiskey (and my tasting notes are still spot on), I don’t think this whiskey is worthy of an 84 rating. (Apparently, some of you feel the same way.) I have made my adjustment accordingly to what I feel the rating should be: an 80.

    I apologize for misleading anybody. I’ve never changed a rating before, and I don’t plan on doing it in the future. Four points may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me.

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