I’ve not been very high on very many, if any, of the few Irish whiskies I’ve reviewed on the blog but my most surprising review may have been of the regular NAS Tyrconnell, which I didn’t think was great but liked more than most people seem to. This probably means my response to Irish whiskey is anomalous and not worth paying attention to. You will therefore find very enjoyable my review of yet another Irish whiskey, also a Tyrconnell, this time 10 years old and finished in madeira casks.
Tyrconnell 10, Madeira Finish (46%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A combination of citrus and wine cask notes (red fruit, incense). A bit of grassiness and some salt as well. It doesn’t take very long for the madeira notes to come to the top and it now smells very much like a generic red wine cask finished whisky. Some oak spice and some other resinous wood emerge too. With more time the red wine notes recede a little and the citrus returns (orange peel) along with some mild floral notes and a bit of caramel.
Palate: The wine is very apparent, floating on top of some grassy, spicy notes. Rather sweet (cherries, cherry liqueur). On the second sip the grassy note turns metallic and expands. Much later the red fruit abates a little and there’s some lime now. The metallic note is still rather prominent though. Hmmm after being left alone for a good 20-30 minutes it seems to be more balanced with the red fruit and citrus mixing well and the metallic note less prominent.
Finish: Long. The red fruit sweetness hangs around for a good while, but that metallic note makes it all taste rather artificial and with time it gets somewhat bitter. Improvement here with time too but the metallic note re-emerges.
Comments: The nose was not bad at all but it fell apart on the palate with the wine and whiskey not playing very well together, though it did get more balanced with a lot of time and air. If you generally like red wine finished/matured whiskies, however, you may well like it more from the get-go. Oh, I added a bit of water towards the end but all it did was emphasize the metallic, grassy notes on the nose, palate and finish–I’d pass on the water.
Rating: 81 points (<80 without the benefit of a lot of time/air).
Thanks to Florin for the sample.
Here are my notes from the top of the bottle. You got your sample from the second half – I don’t think that time in the open bottle did it any favors.
Nose: sweet, aromatic, tiramisu, stewed tropical fruits; relatively thin body; palate: sweet, simple but with tropical flavors. The finish is very well integrated into the whisky. However, the result is somewhat smoke & mirrors – a elusive, feminine rather than a straightforward masculine whisky – it always feels like it’s trying to hide something. Clearly very well done, but not on my taste.
I have to say I’ve never really understood the feminine/masculine whisky thing. Does Mrs. Florin know that the feminine for you is characterized by “smoke and mirrors”, elusiveness and “trying to hide something”? Or that these things are not to your taste?
Your objection is entered into the record. Also, for the record, I love my wife precisely for her feminine self and generally deal pretty well with the ying-yang of the interaction of the sexes. I just generally don’t need these qualities in my whisky. For the same reason you like to spend time with your dogs, not your cats, at the end of the day.
Speaking of feminine whiskies, you didn’t much like the Hedonism. What’s your take on Brenne?
The Hedonism is a feminine whisky too? Is that true of the Maximus edition as well?
Haven’t tried Brenne yet. Is there anything other than the gender of the person who owns the brand that makes it feminine?
Yes. I don’t know. Yes.
I don’t want to get into a holier than thou discussion. What I mean by feminine whisky is something along these lines:
a- A whisky that is lighter/delicate rather than robust, in ABV or texture or depth of flavor
b- A whisky that is “perfumed” in some way, not immediately traceable to the grain
c- A whisky that is elegant rather than raw
d- A whisky that empirically appeals to women more than it does to men.
Hedonism satisfies a,c,d; Brenne and Bastille satisfy a,b,c,d; Tyrconnell satisfies a,b.
I haven’t had Hedonismus Maximus. Springbank and Laphroaig are not feminine.
This term is useful to me – it may not work for you. It is not meant to denigrate, stereotype, or otherwise devalue women. Heck, some of my best friends are women.
Florin, I was mostly just giving you a hard time. But to take it more seriously, those associations don’t work very well for me because, for one thing, I associate elegance as much with men as with women; and, for another, most of the whisky drinking women I know prefer strongly peated, high abv or otherwise robust whiskies. Also, what do you do with a whisky that is light in abv but deep in texture, perfumed but raw? Even though you don’t mean it that way at all, I do think these kinds of associations rest on stereotypes of masculinity/femininity and I don’t know that this sort of gendered description adds much to the description of the qualities of a whisky.
I’m sorry I missed out on this discussion. Aware that words have connotations that are influenced by social and gender constructs, I found Brenne to be very feminine, but I think part of that was due to the fact that Allison Patel herself is marketed along with the whisky. Plus many, if not all, of the non-male whisky bloggers have been hyping it via twitter since the whisky hit the market. On the other hand, Brenne’s white chocolate, flowers, and orange cream notes feel like it’s on the other side of some sort of spectrum from Laphroaig. To use a potentially more offensive word, it’s the daintiest whisky I’ve ever tried.
Also my experience is much different than MAO’s. I’ve met maybe a dozen women who like scotch whisky and only one of them enjoys the peated stuff. Is this a warm climate versus cold climate issue?
We’re all operating with very small sample sizes here, I’m sure. In our local whisky tasting group of about 18 people (60:40/male:female) gender is no predictor of response to peat (or any other aspect of any whisky). The one profile that everyone likes very much is fruity whisky; interestingly, fruitiness per se doesn’t seem to be a marker of “femininity” in the whisky description game even though in related areas (cocktails, for example) fruitiness is seen as pandering to a female palate.
I’d say again that calling a whisky “feminine” or “masculine” doesn’t convey much useful information. If we want to say that a whisky is perfumed or pungent or delicate or elegant or robust or floral or whatever just using those words seems more direct.
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