Cooley 21, Peated (Cadenhead)

I know very little about Irish whiskey and I’ve not had very good luck with most of the Irish whiskies I’ve tried (and reviewed). I don’t know much about the Cooley distillery but am hoping this 21 yo will continue my recent positive Irish experience with the Redbreast 15 and be better than the last product of the Cooley distillery that I’ve reviewed (this Teeling). Okay, what do I know about Cooley? I know they make Tyrconnell and Connemara and are the source of a terrible whiskey with a Minnesota connection: 2 Gingers. Connemara is their peated line and presumably this Cooley 21 is basically what would be super-aged Connemara if released officially. I say this because I’m not aware of the distillery itself releasing whiskey under a Cooley brand. This one was bottled by the estimable Cadenhead of Campbeltown, Scotland. It was bottled in 2013 from a single bourbon barrel and was very well-received. Let’s see what it’s like.  Continue reading


Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch

Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch
No, this isn’t Teeling whisky from Guadeloupe and it isn’t 8 years old. This is a NAS Irish whisky—it’s just that the sample is from avant garde mixed-media artist, Sku. You may think I’m making fun of him but consider the fact that this sample is of an Irish whiskey finished for 6 months in rum casks. Here’s the short version of the Teeling story: new distillery; hasn’t released any of its own aged spirit yet; in American style is selling purchased whiskey (from Cooley) under its own name; who the hell knows if what they are distilling themselves, once it’s ready to be bottled, will taste anything like the stuff they’re putting out now.

I gather they have more recently put out a single grain whiskey and a single malt whiskey; this one, however, is a blend and it was first released in the US about two years ago . Will it improve my sorry record with Irish whiskeys? I can only hope it will. Let’s see.  Continue reading

Tyrconnell NAS, 40%

TyrconnellTyrconnell is an Irish single malt whiskey. I am not sure if there was ever a distillery of that name; the current Tyrconnell is a brand owned by the Cooley distillery. I am not sure if it is triple or double-distilled but I believe Tyrconnell is made with entirely unpeated malt (at any rate I am pretty sure this one is unpeated). I don’t know very much more about Irish whiskey as a whole than I do about Tyrconnell. I’ve had a couple of recent releases from Redbreast, and the occasional Bushmill’s and Jameson’s but have never been very moved to try and educate myself further. I put this down to the fact that my friends in graduate school who were most likely to drink Irish whiskies at bars were also very likely to enjoy stepdancing and/or the music of Enya. In short, my ignorance is entirely justified.

I came across this particular whiskey at our local pub some weeks ago, and quite liked it. As it is both very affordable and locally available I decided to get a bottle and pour from it at our local whisky group’s recent monthly tasting for June. I was expecting it to be a crowd-pleaser with its fruit-forward profile. Much to my surprise, while 2/3 of the group did in fact like it the other third really did not like it. Where most of us found fruit they found chemical notes of plastic and paint-thinner. A couple of members pointed out that there is some crossover between those notes, and so it is possible that the same notes triggered slightly different receptors and associations.

There are also some wine finished Tyrconnell’s on the market. As these are much more expensive than this entry-level NAS bottling I am not sure if I am likely to take a flyer on any of them if I can’t taste a sample first.

Tyrconnell NAS (40%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Acidic; mildly fruity–melon, peach/nectarine, a little bit of lime, kiwi; a bit of over-ripe banana maybe. Some grassy notes too.

Palate: Light, acidic fruit first, and then a big malty wave–roasted malt, with strong notes of chicory that present a reasonable facsimile of smoke. With time the fruitiness gets quite “thick” and a little tropical–mostly melon with a little hint of mango. Some honey too. Goes down very easy.

Finish: Short and a little thin. The same acidic fruit as on the nose and palate, washing out to a peppery woodiness. A little more butyric on the finish than on the palate.

Comments: Nothing remarkable and not a whole lot going on, but it is very pleasurable and an excellent malt for summer evenings. At its price (<$30 in most American markets) it is, in my opinion, a very good value–especially if you like fruity whisky. I would love to taste this at 46% or even 43%–the fruitiness would probably be much more intense, and with greater viscosity in the mouthfeel this would be quite excellent, I think.

Rating: 84 points.