Showing posts with label Irish Whiskey Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irish Whiskey Reviews. Show all posts

Glendalough 13 Years Review - Bushmills 16 Years Review - Teeling Small Batch Review

“Ireland Special”


Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the coming months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific country like today or with specific bottlers, regions or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. Today's special will look at 3 Irish Whiskeys. Enjoy!

Whisky Review # 689

Country: Ireland
Distillery: Cooley 
Brand: Glendalough
Type: Single Malt Whiskey 
Age: 13 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Apparently First-Fill Bourbon casks 
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 75-100 (February 2018)     
Buying Advice: 😒 Too expensive for what it offers. 

Colour: Light Golden (Uncoloured or Perhaps lightly Coloured)

Nose: There's a first waft of Varnish or Thinner but it decreases over time so be sure to give this Glendalough enough time in the glass. I must admit that I most likely wouldn't have identified this as a Single Malt in a Blind tasting as I get a distinct Cereals Aroma. Some First-Fill casks are clearly recognisable via lots of Vanilla and Cinnamon. I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Porridge, Grass, Straw, Resin, Apple Pie with Nuts, Lemon, Tangerine, Tinned Pineapple, Milk, Fresh Herbs, Mint and hints of Clove and Banana Ice Cream. Most of these Aromas are quite muted. The Nose is quite similar to the 7 Years. Perhaps a bit less Edgy and not quite as Fruity. The Alcohol is still noticeable despite the 13 years in the casks.

Palate: Bitter-Sweet and a little Unfinished. The similarities to the 7 years are quite remarkable. I find Malted Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Hay, Grass, Vanilla, Varnish, Nuts, Pear, Banana, Lemon, Grapefruit, Seville Oranges, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Herbal Tea and a hint of Chocolate.     

Finish: Short, slightly Bitter and quite Hot and Spicy. Again, the Alcohol is quite present. I find Varnish, Thinner, Cereals, Vanilla, Caramel, Charred New Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Grass, Pear, Apple, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, a few Mineral and Metallic notes and hints of Tinned Pineapple and Milk Chocolate. Again, quite similar to the 7 Years. The extra six years of cask time didn't do a whole lot extra to the Spirit. I wonder if all casks used were in fact First-Fill.  

Rating: 80.5      

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20    


Quite disappointing really. At this price-level you would expect a better quality product. I'm not sure if it's the Spirit or the casks or both but there are quite a few weird off-notes to be found. The 13 Years is also remarkably comparable to its younger sister, the 7 years. So I would suspect that at least a part of the casks was not very active. I'm not really a big fan of most of the Irish Whiskeys as I consider them to be blend when compared to Scottish Malts. There are some exceptions of course like the Bushmills 21 Years but this Glendalough 13 Years just doesn't work for me, certainly not at his price level.


Image result for bushmills 16

Whisky Review # 690

Country: Ireland

Distillery: Bushmills
Brand: Bushmills
Type: Single Malt Whiskey
Age: 16 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon and Oloroso casks with 6-9 months Port Wine Finish  
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 90-110 (February 2018)     
Buying Advice: 😐 Good if you like Port Wine. I prefer the 21 Years! 

Colour: Golden Amber with shades of Red (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Quite a difference with the Glendalough as could be expected of course given the totally different maturation process. The Sweetness of the Oloroso and Port casks is quite overwhelming. In the 21 Years I found more balance between Spirit and casks. Still, if you love Whisky, Sherry, Port Wine and Madeira you're gonna love this Bushmills 16. I find Dark Red Fruit like Berries, Cherries and Red Grapes. I also detect Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Maple Syrup, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Apple and Banana, Papaya Cream with Cassis, Dusty Road, Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, light Menthol and hints of Tobacco, Marzipan and Espresso. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. As the ABV is clearly too low for a Whiskey of this age, you actually get the feeling you are Nosing a Fortified wine. I clearly miss a bit of balance here. 

Palate: The delivery is way too Thin as a result of the low ABV. The Fortified Wine influence remains very strong. From time to time It reminds me of older Bourbon as well. I find Malted Barley, Toast, Vanilla, Dark Red Berries, Toffee, Dark Chocolate, Rum Soaked Sultanas and Raisins, Red Wine, Nuts, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Grapefruit Juice, Licorice, Tobacco and Herbal Tea.         

Finish: Middle-Long and Very Sweet. Some Bitter and Sour Fortified Wine notes towards the Dry end. I find Sweet Barley, Heather-Honey, Dark Red Berries, Port Wine, Orange-Flavoured Bitter Chocolate, Rum, Nuts and Dried Fruit, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice, Menthol, Herbal Tea, Creme de Cassis and hints of Tobacco, old Dusty Leather, Resin, Struck Matches and Strong Espresso.        

Rating: 82.5     

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5     


Like the 21 Years, the Bushmills 16 Years suffers from the ridiculously low ABV. They both easily deserve 46%. The 16 Years has one other major flaw when compared to the 21. It misses balance. The Oloroso, and, even more so, the Port pipes take total control over the Spirit. It's not at all a bad Single Malt and Fortified Wine lovers should certainly have a go at it. But for me it's a little over the top. I'll stick to the 21 Years if I want to drink a well-matured and balanced Bushmills.


Whisky Review # 691

Country: Ireland

Produced by: The Teeling Whiskey Company
Distillery: Cooley
Brand: Teeling Small Batch (Bottled 2015)
Type: Blended Irish Whiskey
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Refill Bourbon casks with Rum Cask Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 35-45 (February 2018)     
Buying Advice: 😒 Not a sipping Whiskey. Suited for mixing.

Colour: Golden (Possibly lightly Coloured)

Nose: Be sure to give this Teeling sufficient air time to get rid of strong initial wafts of Alcohol and Thinner/Nail Polish Remover. The Grain Alcohol is clearly noticeable despite the slightly higher (35%) Malt content of this Blend. I get lots of (Tropical) Fruit Aromas but they are more artificial like in Candies. I find Pear, Apple, Pineapple, Mango and Blackberry. I also get Toast and Margarine, Icing Sugar, Vanilla, Toasted Cereals, Refill Oak, Grass, Straw, Nuts, Dusty Road, Orange Peel, Resin, Dried Fruit like Apricot and Raisin, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Grapefruit Juice, Young White Rum and a few Floral notes. Moist of these Aromas are mere hints. The main drivers are Grain Alcohol and Fruit Candy.

Palate: Young, Thin and Sugary Sweet. Almost like Young White Rum. I find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Candies with Artificial Fruit Flavours, Apple-Vinegar, Grapefruit Juice, Lemon, Caramel, Vanilla, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, Paint Thinner, Grass, Straw, Refill Oak, Resin and Herbal Tea.       

Finish: Middle-Long and Sugary Sweet. More Bitter - and Herbal notes towards the Dry end. A light Alcohol bite. I find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Caramel, Lemon, Seville Orange, Candies with Artificial Fruit Flavours, Refill Oak, Cider, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Cinnamon, Grass, Paint Thinner and Vanilla.   

Rating: 77.5      

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5     


I understand this Blend has a 35/65 Malt to Grain Proportion. I'm pretty sure that Corn is part of the Mash bill. After around 6 years of maturation the Malt and Grain Whiskeys are married and then finished for another 6 months or so in Ex-Rum casks from Central America. I'm not impressed by this Teeling. It often feels like a Young White Rum and it's totally dominated by Grain Alcohol and Candies with Artificial (Tropical) Fruit Flavours. Not good enough as a Sipping Whiskey. This is for Mixing Purposes only. To end up on a positive note: The Bottle, Label and Packaging are really nice!

Drinking Advice:
Due to the fact that I merely had small samples at my disposal, I only Nosed and Tasted these three Irish Whiskeys neat. As most of you know by now, I'm not a particular fan of Irish Whiskey in general although I did taste a few very nice ones. I'm sorry to say that the three expressions tasted today were not able to change my general opinion in this respect.

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 22, 2018

Related image
Cooley Distillery

Crested Ten Review

“We 'll Drink…..Until We Sink”

Country: Ireland
Region: N/A
Brand: Crested Ten
Type: Triple Distilled Irish Whiskey
Distilled by: Jameson
Age: NAS (Contains 7-8 Years Old Pot Still Whiskey)
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 578
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. If you like Jameson, the Crested Ten is a good option. It's nothing special though.

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Sweet Cereals, Malt, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Resin, Hay, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Honey Melon, Dried Apricot, White Chocolate, Citrus Peel, Raisins, Nuts, Nectarine, Cinnamon, Ginger, Fresh Mint, New Oak and a hint of Dust.  The Sherry casks are certainly noticeable. The Alcohol is not fully integrated but it doesn't really interfere with the Nosing procedures. On the Nose, the Crested 10 is quite pleasant and easy-going but don't expect a lot of depth and complexity. It's funny but after 15 minutes or so I thought I got a light hint of Sweaty Socks. Nothing serious though! Maybe I'm just drinking too much whisky!

Palate: The delivery is on the Thin side and the Alcohol is more noticeable now. The relative youth of the Spirit becomes quite clear now. It's mostly Sweet but with a little Bitter Herbal note towards the end. I find Sweet Cereals, Toffee, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Resin, Straw, Heather-Honey, Toasted Oak, Melon, Orange peel, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint and Dried Herbs.   

Finish: Short and a little Edgy. It's mostly Sweet but a little Bitterness pops up towards the end as well as a light Metallic off-note. The Alcohol is quite present here as well. I also find Sweet Cereals, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, Heather-Honey, Nectarine, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Melon, Charred Oak, Dusty Road, Cocoa Powder (Toddy), Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint and Ginger. 

The Crested Ten does not improve with added Water. It simply becomes too Thin.

Rating: 81.5 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The Crested Ten was launched in 1963 and is a Blended Irish Whiskey, made with Grain Whiskey and a fairly high percentage (60%) of Single Pot-Still Whiskey, partly aged in Ex-Sherry casks and partly in Ex-Bourbon barrels. Recently the Crested Ten has been replaced by the Crested. Name, bottle and presentation are new but the Blend itself remained the same. It is priced at an average 40 US dollars (November 2016) but it's not easy to find outside Ireland.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: The Crested Ten is perfectly drinkable, even dangerously so. But it's also a little Harsh and Thin and I did find a couple of odd off-notes. It's a tad better than the standard Jameson but it suffers from something I find in almost all affordable Irish Whiskey. It completely misses the Wow factor. As soon as you swallow the stuff you have forgotten all about it. It's a drinking Whiskey but not a sipping Whiskey. If you love Jameson you can't go wrong with the Crested Ten. If you're looking for an Irish Whiskey that is a little more special, you might consider Yellow Spot, Green Spot or Redbreast.  

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 24, 2016

The Old Jameson Stills

Connemara Peated 2001 Review

“A Missed Opportunity”

Country: Ireland
Brand: Connemara 2001 Peated Single Cask
Type: Single Malt Whiskey
Age: Slightly over 10 Years
ABV: 46%
Whisky Review # 554
Sample provided by Jan from the Netherlands. Many thanks! 

Colour: Chardonnay (Artificially Coloured). Based on the Colour I would say that Cask # 1075 was not a very active one. 

Nose: While the Alcohol is noticeable, it doesn't seriously affect the nosing procedures. The Peat and Smoke are there of course but not in an aggressive way when compared to the standard Peated Connemara. The Peat also smells different when compared to the Islay Malts. The Connemara Peat reminds me more of a Car Repair Shop with Aromas such as Rubber, Diesel, Metal and Plastic. I do get Soot and Ashes as well. Among the other Aromas I find Toasted Barley, Straw, Heather, Nuts, Dried Herbs, Citrus, Pear, light Vanilla and a hint of Aniseed. The Nose confirms that Cask # 1075 has not been very active. While not bad, I had slightly higher expectations of this Cask Strength expression. It's all a little bit understated. 

Taste: Good delivery thanks to the correct ABV. Sweet with a light Bitterness for Balance. I find Earthy Peat, Burnt Grass, Straw, Toasted Cereals, Rubber, light Plastic, Diesel, Vanilla, Pear, Lemon, Grapefruit, Marzipan, Pepper, Aniseed, Oak and Toasted Nuts.   

Finish: Quite Long. Sweet at first but Dry later on and with a light Bitterness towards the end. I find Earthy Peat, Smoked Meat, Soot, Ashes, Rubber, Plastic, Diesel, Straw, Grass, Caramel, Toasted Barley, Pepper, Ginger, Salted Nuts, Licorice, Pear Drops, Lemon and a touch of Vanilla. 

With a couple of drops of water the Nose becomes very Grassy. I also get an image of Smoked Pears. Quite unusual! On the Palate, Grapefruit Juice, Pepper and Ashes come to the front. I find a little Milk Chocolate as well. As usual I prefer to sip it neat but you can carefully add a few drops of Water if you like!

Rating: 82.5 

Nose: 20.5 – Taste: 20.5 – Finish: 21 – Overall: 20.5 

Bottle # 142

General Remarks: The Connemara Peated Cask Strength Whiskey is part of the standard Distillery Expressions. The Single Cask I'm tasting today however was especially selected for the International Whisky Festival that took place in the Grote Kerk in The Hague from November 18 - November 20, 2011. Ex-Bourbon Cask # 1075 was distilled on March 13, 2001 and bottled on September 13, 2011. My sample was drawn from bottle # 142. Connemara is double-distilled at the Cooley Distillery that is owned by Beam Suntory since 2012. The peated Malt is actually bought from Port Ellen at Islay. I'm pretty sure there will be a few bottles of this special edition around but I have no idea of the prices. At the time it was sold at around 70 US Dollars but I would expect the price to be considerably higher today.

Drinking Experience Straight: Good but slightly below expectations.  

Conclusion: As you all know I am in general not a huge fan of Irish Whiskey. I believe that Triple Distillation takes away too many Aromas and Flavours. But this Connemara is only Double-Distilled and bottled at 46% so my expectations were higher than usual. I must admit though that I was slightly disappointed although this Connemara is not at all a bad Whiskey. First of all there's the Peat. It's in no way aggressive but it does have these Diesel, Rubber and Plastic characteristics that you have to like. It's kind of weird as Cooley buys the peated Malt from Port Ellen on Islay. My second issue is with the cask. Most of the Aromas and Flavours I found are quite understated and the Toasted Grain and Pear are still quite evident. The cask was not able to supply lots of additional impressions to the Spirit. With a better cask this could have been a great Irish Whiskey. As it stands, it's good but not special.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 August 29, 2016

Cooley Distillery

Connemara Turf Mor Review

“Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”

Country: Ireland
Brand: Connemara Turf Mor
Type: Single Malt Whiskey
Age: NAS (Most likely around 3 Years)
ABV: 58.2%

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine 

Nose: The Cooley Distillery bought the heavily Peated Malt from Port Ellen on Islay so you would expect a similar Nose as, say a young Ardbeg or Laphroaig. But that is not the case. The Peat and Smoke are there of course but they don't remind me of Sea, Wet Earth or Campfire. It's more Artificial and Metallic. It reminds me of a Car Repair Shop. I get Rubber Tyres, Diesel Oil and Plastic. The Spirit itself still has a New Make feel to it with Pear, Cherries and lots of Barley. It's mostly Sweet and some Floral, Herbal and Farmyard notes come through like Straw, Cow Shed and Heather. Finally I find some Leather, Nuts, Cooked Cauliflower and Citrus. The Alcohol is there of course but it didn't bother me a lot while Nosing. The Nose of the Turf Mor is not bad but I had expected a lot more from this Connemara.

Taste: Young, Bitter-Sweet and Edgy with Grass, Hay, light Smoke, Burnt Rubber, Plastic, Struck Matches, Diesel, Cereals, Smoked Salty Bacon, Bitter Grapefruit, Nuts, light Vanilla, Pepper, Dried Herbs and a hint of Aniseed.   

Finish: Quite Long, Medicinal, Dry and slightly Bitter with Dirty Earth, Plastic, Soot, Ashes, Burnt Grain, Caramel, Smoked Sausage, Nuts, Citrus, Pepper and light Licorice. 

With a couple of drops of water the Nose gets less Peaty and more Fruity with Pears and Green Apples. On the Palate and in the Finish, the Turf Mor almost becomes a peated Obstler (German Fruit Liqueur). You can certainly experiment with a bit of Water. The more you add however, the less the Turf Mor resembles

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 – Taste: 20.5 – Finish: 20 – Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The Turf Mor was released in 2010 and is the 2nd expression in Connemara's Small Batch collection. The Phenol level of over 55 PPM is quite high and similar to Ardbeg. The peated Malt is actually bought from Port Ellen at Islay. The Turf Mor is not Chill-Filtered and bottled at Cask Strength. It basically matured in Ex-Bourbon Casks but I would not rule out that a couple of Sherry Casks were used as well. Connemara is distilled at the Cooley Distillery that is owned by Beam Suntory since 2012. The Turf Mor costs around 80 US Dollars and that's very expensive for such a young Whiskey (July 2015).

Drinking Experience Straight: Okay/Interesting/Different 

Conclusion: It was certainly interesting to try a sample of this Connemara Turf Moor. But no way I would spend 80 US Dollars or so on a full bottle. While Nosing and Tasting, I thought a couple of times that this Spirit could be an interesting basis material for a true Whiskey. Because the Turf More tastes unfinished and edgy and would clearly benefit from a longer cask maturation. 
The Spirit deserves that as it shows potential even at this young age. The Turf Mor is quite different from your average young Islay although it uses the same Peated Malt from Port Ellen. Don't expect Bonfires on a Sandy Beach because you will be disappointed. But people who repair cars might feel at home with all the Rubber, Plastic, Soot and Diesel. In this respect, the Turf Moor is certainly a different type of Whiskey. Not really my taste though. And without any doubt too expensive!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        July 9, 2015

Bushmills Black Bush Review

Country: Ireland
Brand: Bushmills Black Bush
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: NAS (Probably around 8-10 years for the Malt content)
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Golden

Nose: It's Triple-Distilled and it shows. Quite clean, crisp and relatively light Nose with Malt, Buttered Toast with Black Currant Marmalade, Lemon, Dried Fruits, Grass, Straw, Oak, Apples, Toasted Corn, Vanilla Toffee, light Alcohol and hints of Sherry, Banana and White Grapes. You have to dig a bit for the Fruit but it's quite nice when you find it. There is a slight Metallic feeling to the Nose but not as noticeable as in the regular Bushmills.

Taste: A bit Thin, slightly Metallic and quite Spicy with Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cardamom and Cloves. There's also Honey, Malt, Sherry, Butter, Cocoa, Biscuits, Nuts, Oak, Licorice, Lemon and a hint of Milk. Never got that before!

Finish: Rather short and a bit sugary with Biscuits, Grapefruit, Nuts, Oak, Licorice, Caramel, Apricot and Spices like Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom.

A few drops of Water take the raw edges of the Nose. But Palate and Finish are just watered down.

Rating: 82.5 

Nose:  21.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:  The Old Bushmills Distillery is located in the Antrim County in Northern Ireland. Since 2005 it's owned by the Diageo Group. In 1608 a licence to distill was granted by King James I which makes Bushmills the oldest licensed Distillery. That's why the year 1608 is printed on the label. The Distillery produces a whole range of Bushmills expressions including the Original or White Label as it's often referred to, the 10, 12, 16 and 21 Years Single Malts and the Special Edition 1608, released in 2008 to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Legal Distilling at Bushmills. The Black Bush is a Blend of Malt - (80%) and Grain (20%) Whiskies. It is Triple-Distilled and matured in Ex-Bourbon (Grain) and Ex-Oloroso (Malt) Casks. It's not expensive at around 35 US Dollars.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: It's a step up from the regular White but not by a whole lot. The Nose is the best part with lots of Malt, Toast, Lemon and hidden Fruits. Be sure to nose this dram from every angle. There's quite some Alcohol in the middle of the glass. Taste and Finish are quite Spicy and I'm not a fan of Licorice and Metallic Notes. It' s not a bad Whiskey for sure but also not one I will drink on a regular basis. I guess that, with a few exceptions like the Redbreast 12 , Irish whiskies are just not my favourite drams.

Jan van den Ende                                                                March 15, 2013