Whisky Advocate

An Irish Explosion

February 18th, 2013

Dominic Roskrow, Whisky Advocate magazine contributor, shares details of an Irish whiskey boom.

When I announced Yellow Spot as Irish Whiskey of the Year, I predicted that The Teeling Company would be bringing some of the Cooley sparkle back to theYellow Spot Whiskey Irish category. And I was right.

What I didn’t predict, though, was that Irish Distillers would seek to take ownership of the unique style of Irish whiskey known as Single Pot Still, and it would do so in such dramatic fashion. After a quiet 2012, it’s all kicked off in Ireland. Not even two months into the new year, there have been an amazing fourteen new release announcements—that’s four times as many as the whole of last year from Ireland. Incredibly, eleven of them are from Irish Distillers, and all of those eleven are pot still whiskeys at cask strength.

The bad news for fans of the style is that the releases are all in limited quantities and have been offered to specific outlets or retailers on an exclusive basis. The first went to The Irish Whiskey Society and is already all but sold out, and the other ten have been sold exclusively under the Midleton brand name to retailers in Ireland, the UK, France, and Germany.  If you manage to get anywhere near them, expect to pay upwards of $350 a bottle.

Irishman WhiskeyWhile we might only dream of tasting these sorts of whiskeys, we should be encouraged by the willingness of Irish distillers to release pot still whiskey in this form. It surely adds weight to the growing view that the company is set for more mainstream single pot still whiskey releases, and that it has reasonable levels of stocks of them.

Meanwhile, Jack Teeling and former Cooley whiskey maker Alex Chasko responded to my calling them ‘mavericks’ when announcing the Irish Whiskey of the Year by giving us a sneak preview of six whiskeys from the Teeling Whiskey Company.

Three samples were works in progress, and may never see the light of day, but the other three are set for release. They are aTeeling Hybrid Premium Blend, which has a high malt content, and has been married in rum casks and bottled at 46% with no chill filtration; a beautiful and classic cask strength Irish single malt whiskey; and the oddest of the lot, a very unusual and groundbreaking cask strength 21 year old single malt finished in Sauternes wine casks, which will be the first release of a new series to be known as Vintage Reserve Single Malt.

With Bernard Walsh, the man behind The Irishman and Writer’s Tears whiskey ranges, set to re-launch some brands and keen to drive an Irish style that mixes single malt and pot still whiskey, and The Teeling Whiskey Company already promoting a Scotch and Irish whiskey Hybrid, Irish whiskey looks set for a roller-coaster year.

“There needs to be innovation,” says Jack Teeling. “Otherwise we, as a category, will not be interesting enough for consumers who are spoiled for choice from other categories which have a much more developed range of expressions to choose from. We have a very exciting few months coming up with the launch of some of our first Irish whiskeys and new taste profiles to both the Irish blended and single malt categories. Expect great things.”

6 Responses to “An Irish Explosion”

  1. Danny Maguire says:

    Thanks Dominic, some interesting things happening in the Irish whiskey world. What are U.K. prices like?

  2. T Comp says:

    Of course one can only read with jealousy being on the west side of the pond but it does bring more hope for us…on hearing of reasonable levels of stock and that the “mavericks” are damn serious.

  3. Mr. Julian says:

    Fortunately, I got my hands on a new Irish Single Pot Still whiskey today: Redbreast Cask Strength! Not opening it for a few days yet, but I remember it was awesome at WhiskyFest NY.

  4. The leveller says:

    Worryingly, the price of Redbreast 12yo (THE entry level pot still whiskey of the last 10 years or so) has doubled here in England – given that, and the other whiskies in the article, its pity that pot still now seems to be an excuse for super-premium pricing – in terms of quality of drink (though they’re obviously very different) , I’d put Redbreast with Johnnie Walker Black which is roughly half the price…

  5. Danny Maguire says:

    Red Breast may be the equivilent of J.W. Black but most of the whisky sold in the U.K. is more like red, Bells 8yo is acyually the top selling whisky here, any pot still is preferable to either of them.

  6. Woody Kane says:

    Got some of that delicious Irishman Single Malt you have up there. If that’s what Irish is offering then I’m loving Irish :)

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