Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bushmills - 12 year old "Distillery Reserve"

Hello my whisky friends,

Back again, as promised, with another quick review.  

The whisky, or should I say whiskey, that's made it to the blog for this update is the Bushmills 12 year old "Distillery Reserve", which I'm sure is a dram that few of you have had the chance to sample.  

Getting your hands, or lips, on this version of Bushmills is a privilege only available to those who make a visit to the world famous distillery on the beautiful north Antrim coast here on the island of Ireland.  A visit that I can wholeheartedly recommend.  

Bushmills Distillery, Co. Antrim
My trip to the distillery took place a couple of years ago and I found it to be a truly enjoyable experience.  Unfortunately I managed to mistime my visit and arrived when the stills were not in operation, due to annual cleaning, but this was happily overlooked with a fine tasting session that me and my girlfriend managed to be treated to.

For those of you who do not know, Bushmills distillery is usually known the world over as "The Oldest Distillery in the World".  Well this isn't exactly true.  It is true that a licence to distill was granted to the area back in 1608, and I've no doubt that whiskey was produced in this area from that time, but the actual distillery itself was not built until 1784.  As a side note Kilbeggan distillery, in Co. Westmeath, Ireland, can claim to be the oldest actual distillery in the world as it was founded in 1757.

Bushmills traditionally produce triple distilled malt and their core range includes Original Bushmills blend, Black Bush blend, Bushmills 10 year, Bushmills 16 year and Bushmills 21 year.  Incidentally the grain whiskey that makes up the Bushmills blends actually comes from Midleton distillery, the home of Jameson Irish whiskey.

As I mentioned this 12 year old is only available at their distillery and is a triple distilled, single malt that has been matured mainly in ex Spanish oloroso sherry casks before being bottled at 40% ABV.

Since my visit to Bushmills I have slowly but surely worked my way through the bottle and to be perfectly honest it has taken me a while to get to grips with it.  I have always enjoyed the Bushmills 16 year old, and the Bushmills 21 year old is heavenly, but this 12 year old had me puzzled for quite some time.

Maybe it was down to the fact that the 16 and 21 year old's each have gorgeous finishes, port and madeira respectively, or maybe it was something else.  While searching for answers I came up with the possibility that it could be simply down to an honest lack of experience of triple distilled single malts.  This was backed up with memories of the very few Auchentoshan's I've sampled where, again, I just didn't really get them.  Now, before the 'toshan fans start a full blown hate campaign against me, I'll hold my hands up and fully admit my experience of Auchentoshan is very, very limited so there's no way I'm writing it off, I just need to sit down and really get to know their spirit better.

Whatever it was though that held me back, I think I'm slowly working my way around it and as a result I'm now, finally, beginning to understand the Bushmills 12 year old.

Onto the whiskey itself:

Nose - Delicate…..extremely delicate. Honey, toffee apple, light floral notes, faint ripe banana, some fizzy orange, almost sherbet like, lemon candies, light grain, sweet malt and some dried fruit with gentle spice.  With water the citrus notes become even lighter to the point of nearly disappearing.

Palate - Sweet arrival backed up with some clove spice. The spirit is light in the mouth and shows off some more fruit with orange returning. There's some light oakiness and again the faintest hint of dried fruit.  With water the spices ease to highlight the light floral / fruity notes.

Finish - Short, sweet and slightly warming with a late arrival of red apple.

Overall, and I have to be honest, whilst I feel I'm understanding this whiskey better, than when I first tried it, I still feel Bushmills could do more.  In my opinion I feel this whiskey is crying out to be bottled at 46% ABV rather than the current 40% ABV.  A craft finish to this malt would really give it the oomph it needs to become a great purchase for visitors making the journey to the distillery.  At the moment I get the sense that Bushmills / Diageo are pumping it out as a standard presentation knowing everyone will buy it anyway and I suppose they're right, but surely it wouldn't hurt to put a little extra into the production and give all their fans the sense of nabbing a true reward for coming along and saying hello.

Aw well, at least I still have the 16 year old to fall back on.

And on that note I'll head off again.  I'll be back again soon though when I shall be getting round to a review I mentioned was on it's way a while back - the return of the "Dunville's Irish Whiskey" brand, and as promised I've some extra info from Echlinville Distillery who are behind the return of this long lost name.

Until next time,



Sunday, 26 January 2014

Belfast Whisky Retailers

Since starting this blog I've had a few different people ask me to recommend where is good to buy decent whisky in Belfast.  It may, or may not, come as a shock to hear that Belfast is still very much behind the times when it comes to buying good single malts, grains and blends.  It's also very much the same problem when it comes to the drinking of good whisky but what is also clear is that we seem to be catching up.  Slowly but surely.

In order to help the budding whisky enthusiasts of Belfast I shall endeavour to highlight where I feel the best places are to buy and drink the spirit we all love the most.  I shall begin with this update where I shall cover the buying side of things by showcasing where to buy and where to avoid.  I shall also categorise these retailers under certain headlines to try define them to each drinkers personal taste.

For info I shall add web links to each retailer at the very end.

Here we go...

"CREAM OF THE CROP" - The Vineyard, 375-377 Ormeau Rd, Belfast

Located on the ever busy Ormeau Road, in South Belfast, is "The Vineyard".  Now I could be seen as being a touch biased in my top selection, as this is also my local off sales, but in my opinion it truly is the best in Belfast for buying top notch whiskies.  

They boast a fine range of drams and go a bit further than your typical entry level whiskies.  They are the only retailer, I can find, that have a full range of Teeling whiskies and to accompany these they have an excellent selection of other Irish brands including most from Midleton, Bushmills and Cooley / Kilbeggan.
Fine range of Irish whiskies - The Vineyard

On the Scotch side of things they stock another fine range with Ardbeg, Edradour, Laphroaig and Glenfarclas the best represented.  The Scotch they have in stock would be better than your entry level malts but not up into the crazy, prestige, collectors bottles.

Scotch cabinet - The Vineyard
On top of what they have in store they can also provide the service of "If we don't have it, we'll try and get it".  I recently tested this out when looking for a bottle of Bruichladdich Islay Barley.  They were able to source this for me and I even had an option of choosing when I'd like it to arrive.  Now, if you want a bottle ASAP then be prepared to pay for it but if you can hang on until they are putting in their own bulk order then you should be able to get what you're after at a reasonable price.  I found my bottle to be the same price as most online retailers but without the cost of P&P which is still a huge saving in my eyes.

The only slight criticism I have is that when I popped in a few weeks ago they had nothing in terms of world whiskies but in opposition to this I know this is very different in the run up to key events, like Christmas, when their cabinets are close to bursting point.

"DECENT RANGE" - Makro, Kingsway, Belfast

Makro may be a retailer that is completely forgotten about when thinking about getting your hands on decent whisky.  It could be a combination of being out of the way and a misconception of thinking you need a Makro card to buy anything in store.  While the latter is true for the main store the off sales operates a different system where you can buy anything you like as long as it's not in bulk which is perfect for us who are only looking for a bottle or two.

Now, whilst there's nothing really here to blow your mind there is enough here to give you a little choice.  Again, as with all retailers, world whisky is not represented at all but then again I did say we were behind the times.

"WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON" - The Wine Company, 303-305 Ormeau Rd, Belfast

This is one of two retailers I've listed as worth keeping an eye on for different reasons.

I have added the The Wine Company as, whilst their selection is small, they had a few bottles not seen anywhere else.  These were, Tamdhu, Glenrothes and The Laddie Ten.  

Maybe over time this could be a retailer who can rival The Vineyard for choice and something that little bit different.  It certainly would make sense as they are already their rivals geographically.

"ALSO WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON" - Gapwines, 642 Antrim Rd, Belfast
                                                                also at - 75a Belfast Road, Carrickfergus

Established in 2003, Gapwines prides itself as being one of Belfast's leading independent wine merchants.  They also stock a fine selection of craft beers from both local producers and further afield.

In addition they organise various events throughout the year which are held in partnership with The Bay Tree restaurant in Holywood, County Down.  These are tasting nights that showcase a certain type drink whilst pairing it with fine food from the restaurant.  

Now whilst the selection was a touch sparse, when I attended the store, I have added this retailer onto the list as it appears they could come up with a surprise or two around Christmas and Father's day and their tasting events are definitely worth watching out for as well.

When I attended the shop I also got the chance to speak with Peter McBride of Gapwines who confirmed that should the interest in whisky increase they are more than ready to meet demand and react to the market.  All good in my view so get out there and start asking.  

"BEST SUPERMARKET" - Marks and Spencer, Forestside, Upper Galwally, Belfast
                                                                  Donegall Place, Belfast City Centre

The simple reason why I have selected M&S ahead of Asda, Tescos and Sainsburys is again for the ability to get something that little bit different.

They stock a Glengoyne 14 and a Glenfarclas 2003 vintage, both of which are exclusive to M&S.  In addition they have Compass Box - Spice Tree, the Irish blend Writers Tears and a single malt from the English Whisky Co. of St. Georges Distillery.  To accompany these they also have a nice range of aged, own brand whiskies from the Highland, Islay and Speyside regions. 

Each store has a couple of nice little tasting gift sets and the city centre branch impresses with the additions of Balblair '03, Kilchoman "Machir Bay", Compass Box "Great King Street" and anCnoc.

"OTHER SUPERMARKETS" - Asda, Tescos and Sainsburys

Each of these has their own plus points.  

Asda has a good range of single malts and I shall have an updated list of what's available next week but I can say that they have their own range of seriously old blends named Tasgall with a 25 year old setting you back £50 and a 30 year old costing £60.  I think these are pretty good prices but they may come down further.  If they do I'll update this again.

Sainsburys have all the main Irish whiskies covered along with a good range of Grouse and Grants but not much in the way of Scottish single malts but, as of 04/12/14, they did have Aberlour 10 year old on offer at £20.

Tescos have a pretty standard range but have got some excellent offers on at the moment (04/12/14) with the highlights being Cardhu "Gold Reserve" - £30, Auchentoshan "American Oak" - £25, Laphroaig "Select" - £25, Old Pulteney 12 year old - £25 and Singleton "Spey Cascade" - £25.

Where these retailers really come into their own though is with offers and discounts.  Throughout the year each will have different deals on their whiskies and it's not just at Christmas and Father's day.  While they may not have the selection of Makro, or the quality of The Vineyard they will beat anybody for price should the malt you're after be on offer.  My advice for shopping at these stores is simple….keep your eyes on their offers and snap them up when they arrive.

One last point I'll mention is that their range can change from store to store so be sure to call into various stores if you happen to be passing.

"THE COLLECTOR'S PARADISE" - Lavery's off sales, Bradbury Place, Belfast

If money is no object then this is the store for you.

Whilst they have some affordable whiskies in store the majority of their cabinets are stocked with bottles starting at the £100 price range going all the way up towards the £500 price range.

Glenfiddich 30yr old, old Midleton, old Johnnie Walker and old Jameson are there in force.

A lot of value in this cabinet in Lavery's, check out the Midleton first shelf up

On show, they also have a large range of Japanese whiskies, that are a touch more affordable, and also a bottle of Old Comber standing proudly in the window.

The more affordable drams include some nice bourbons and a full range of Irish including Green Spot, Yellow Spot, most Bushmills, most Connemara and a good few independent Irish blends.

"SUPERMARKET BEST AVOIDED" - Lidl, Montgomery Road, Belfast
                                                          High Street, Belfast

I nipped in to this store in the hope that I'd find some surprises similar to what can be found in Aldi over in the mainland.  

While Aldi have some amazingly aged single malt at incredible prices, Lidl have nothing more than a dodgy looking Irish blend and some equally bad looking bourbon.

They have recently updated this though to included an basic Scottish blend, a 5 year old Scottish blend and a slight surprise in the form of a blended malt named Abrachan.  

Abrachan is bottled at 42% ABV, which isn't bad, and is triple matured with bourbon and Oloroso casks being used along with tawny port pipes.  Only costing £15.99 this isn't a bad gift for the amateur whisky drinker or someone looking to get started but beware, whilst not bad on the nose this is very young on the taste.

'DON'T EVEN BOTHER" - Winemark, Russels Cellars and Wineflair

These off licences can be summed up easily.

While driving back from Makro, along the Lisburn Road, I was shocked to note that there was not one decent off licence along one of the most affluent shopping strips in Belfast.

The only off licence in amongst the fine shops was a lonely Winemark and while I knew not to get my hopes up I still thought that out of all their stores this one would have a half decent selection due to it's location and potential buyers.

How wrong I was, all they had in store was a single Laphroaig, a single Highland Park and two different Jura.


These retailers need us to vote with our feet and shop elsewhere.  Only then will they see the need to widen their range and become more aware of what we want in the way of a decent choice of whisky.

Well that's about it, I hope I have highlighted some stores that you were not aware of so you can all get out there and start enjoying a proper choice when it comes to buying whisky.  

All I'll say in conclusion is that Belfast still has a long way to go in terms of a love for whisky but as some of the stores mentioned here have shown we seem to gradually be going in the right direction.

I'll be back again later in the year to cover the best Belfast has to offer in the way of whisky bars and I shall also be back sooner with some more reviews and maybe some news.

Until next time,



Web Pages:

The Wine Company -

Friday, 24 January 2014

Celtic Cask - Sé - Review

On Wednesday past I was lucky enough to be involved in a very exclusive little "Tweet Tasting" which was kindly hosted by The Celtic Whiskey Club of Dublin, Ireland.  The online tasting was highlighting the launch of the latest addition to their Celtic Cask range - Celtic Cask Sé.

Last Saturday I posted a blog update to give you all some background regarding the story behind this whiskey along with some insight into the Celtic Whiskey Club itself and The Celtic Whiskey Shop which is also based in Dublin, Ireland.  In case you missed the post you can find it by simply clicking here.

As for the the whiskey I think it's only fair that I recap what Celtic Cask Sé actually is.  It's a 22 year old, single malt whiskey that was born in September 1991 and bottled in November 2013.  It has been double distilled and is from from an unnamed distillery that normally practices triple distillation.  The cask, number 1916, came to the company courtesy of the Teeling Whiskey Company and has been finished, for about 4 months, in one of their Anima Negra wine casks.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and another interesting note is that the initial spirit was distilled from crystal malt, which is more commonly used in brewing to add colour and body to ales.  It is retailing for €195 and can only be bought at the Celtic Whiskey Shop either in store or online.

Now, during the last update I gave my opinion as to where, I felt, the whiskey had originated from.  Although the Celtic Whiskey Shop has stated that it is from an unnamed distillery they have given away some clues by stating that the distillery normally practices triple distillation and that crystal malt was used in the making of this whiskey.  These clues led me to believe that the whiskey was in fact from Bushmills, and now, after sampling the Bushmills 12yr and 16yr, either side of the Celtic Cask Sé I am in no doubt.  The similarities are there for all to see in style and taste.  The main differences are obviously the red wine finish and the fact that Celtic Cask Sé has been presented at 46%, with presumably no colour added and no chill filtration.  I also have an opinion on the double distillation as opposed to the triple but I shall leave that for my review of the Bushmills 12yr, which shall be coming up soon.

Onto the tasting notes for Celtic Cask Sé -

Nose - The first hit is that of undiluted blackcurrant juice such as Ribena, fresh banana, ripe oranges, light spices and a very light menthol note.  An underlying nuttiness runs throughout and with time more tropical notes came through including fresh pineapple.  The red wine finish, whilst present, did not take away form the overall fruitiness of the spirit and the nose showcased this through great fruity complexity.  With water the experience became more citrus with more orange and now some lemon.  Beautifully, rich malt also made an appearance.

Palate -  JUICY, JUICY, JUICY!!!  Big red fruit arrival.  This is accompanied by sweet malt and warming spice in the form of clove.  Whilst the spice was warm it was not the slightest bit harsh.  Stewed apples and oranges with a touch more menthol.  Red fruit continues with more blackcurrant and maybe raspberry.  With water the spice is toned down and the red fruit is amplified.  I also noted a continued sweetness throughout the palate towards the finish.

Finish - Medium to long with clove spice and a lasting taste of more rich, juicy red fruit.

Overall - This is without doubt one of the most fruit laden whiskies I have ever had the pleasure of sampling.  Not as heavy as a sherried malt but fresher and juicier.  At €195 you will certainly have to save up a few pennies to get your hands on this whiskey but I'll put it in another light which might influence your decision.

For me this whiskey is not a million miles away from the Bushmills 21yr which can retail anywhere between £120 - £140, depending where you shop.  Translated this is roughly €145 - €170.  When you consider that the Bushmills 21yr is bottled at 40% and chill filtered with maybe some caramel added I think I'd rather spend that little bit extra and snap up a bottle of the Celtic Cask Sé which has been presented in a far better light and is also a 22yr old single cask.

Fantastic stuff.

Well that's all for this update.  Like I said I shall be back soon with not only a review of the Bushmills 12yr but also an insight into an aspect of the Belfast whiskey scene, namely the retailers.

Lastly I would like to, once again, thank the Celtic Whiskey Club for the sample and also for hosting the tweet tasting.  Hopefully there will be many more highlights throughout the year.

Until next time,



Saturday, 18 January 2014

Celtic Cask Sé - Tweet Tasting Preview

On Wednesday 22nd January, at 7:30pm, the Celtic Whiskey Shop / Celtic Whiskey Club shall be taking to twitter to host a tweet tasting showcasing their new release in the Celtic Cask range - Celtic Cask Sé.

This can be followed via their twitter pages @CelticWhiskeyCl and @Celticwhiskey or by following the hashtag #celticcask6.

The Celtic Whiskey Shop, based in the heart of Dublin City centre, is without doubt the finest whiskey shop on the island of Ireland.  First opened in June 2003 it has spent the last 10 and a bit years building strong links with all producers of Irish whiskey and can boast the most comprehensive whiskey range in Ireland with Irish, Scotch and World Whiskies (many rare & collectable). They also stock a fine selection of other spirits from around the world from armagnacs to grappas, rums to schnapps and plenty more. The shop has another side to it and in the other half of the store they also have an excellent wine section which has been re-branded in it's own right to become "Wines on the Green".

Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dublin, Ireland
With the additional strong links, via the wine side of the business, the company has also been working closely with fine wine producers and in 2009 they sourced wine casks from Anima Negra, in Spain, and further matured Tyrconnell Single Malt in the casks.  These bottlings were released under the Tyrconnell Label and the success of this whiskey encouraged the company to go even further and with this they sourced barrels from Madeira, Marsala, Burgundy, Rhone, Jerez, Tuscany & more from Anima Negra in Mallorca.  

This is when the Celtic Cask range was born.  The Celtic Cask range is a range of Irish whiskies that have been obtained by the Celtic Whiskey Shop and have been finished, to varying lengths, in one of the fine wine barrels they have in their possession.  The Celtic Cask range is highly exclusive and to date there have been 6 releases with each release being named after the Irish numbers corresponding to which release it is: Aon = 1, Dó = 2, Tri = 3, Ceathair = 4, Cuig = 5 and Sé = 6.

Celtic Cask Sé is the most recent of these releases.  It is a 22 year old, single malt whiskey that was born in September 1991 and bottled in November 2013.  It is a double distilled whiskey from an unnamed distillery that normally practices triple distillation (my guess is that it's from Bushmills).  The cask, number 1916, came to the company courtesy of the Teeling Whiskey Company and has been finished, for about 4 months, in one of their Anima Negra wine casks.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and another interesting note is that the initial spirit was distilled from crystal malt, which is more commonly used in brewing to add colour and body to ales (Bushmills are known for having used crystal malt in the past).

Celtic Cask Sé is retailing for €195 and can only be bought at the Celtic Whiskey Shop either in store or online.

A wonderful Xmas gift I received last year was a membership to the Celtic Whiskey Club which is also attached to the company.  Set up in 2013 it's aim is to promote Irish Whiskey, in a fun and enjoyable manner.  Members get voting rights in the Irish Whiskey Awards and every two months members receive a special tasting sample, which will usually be a new release, a cask sample or an exclusive limited edition single cask.  Celtic Cask Sé was my first sample and what a first sample it is to receive.

As the year progresses I look forward to seeing what other delights come my way and without doubt I shall keep you all well informed as and when they arrive.

I have added some links to the bottom of the page highlighting the Celtic Whiskey Shop's website and the Facebook pages for the shop and club.

Until next time all I can say is don't forget to tune in to Twitter on Wednesday 22nd January at 7:30pm for what promises to be a great insight to a truly unique Irish Whiskey.



Celtic Whiskey Shop website -

Celtic Whiskey Shop Facebook -

Celtic Whiskey Club Facebook -

Monday, 13 January 2014

Kilchoman - Machir Bay 2012 - Review

About 18 months ago, during my last visit to the wonderful city of Edinburgh, I came across a whisky that I had read lots about but had not yet had the pleasure of tasting.  The whisky in question was Kilchoman.

Since being founded in 2005, towards the west coast of the island of Islay, Kilchoman distillery has been gaining quite the reputation for producing quality whisky that's made in a very traditional way.  Not only was it the first distillery to be built on the island in 125 years but they are also one of a few distilleries to practice the tradition of floor malting.  In addition to these accolades they can also boast that they grow their own barley on site at Rockside Farm which makes them unique in the ability to carry out all aspects of production at the distillery from "barley to bottling".

Having heard these outstanding facts you can imagine how glad I was when I found a bottle of their 2012 Machir Bay release standing proudly behind the bar I attended that evening in Edinburgh.

As you can see the whisky has been presented extremely well with a very handsome bottle and as for the liquid itself it has been bottled at 46% ABV, with no chill filtering and is natural colour.  

The make up of the whisky, I'm led to believe, is as follows:

60% - 3 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels
35% - 4 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels then 2 months in ex-sherry casks
5% - 5 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels

After trying this dram there was no question as to what one of the purchases was going to be that I brought home to Belfast.

Here's some tasting notes that I jotted down last week.

Nose - Earthy peat, peat smoke, slight dampness of wet straw.  Menthol, pine and some salty lemon citrus.  After time a rich buttered toast nose develops along with toasted oats.  Also a delicious waft of smoked kippers.

Palate - Arrival is tangy and quite citrus like with more zesty lemon.  Then the peat arrives with more turf and now some spice which gives a great warming feeling.  This then fades away to sweet malt and more citrus but now more emphasis on fresh orange.

Finish - Slightly drying and once the smoke dies down there's an amazing last surprise of intense orange barley sweets.  As the whisky dies away completely there's a light ash aftertaste which is actually very nice.

Overall this is is a fantastically fresh, young, peated dram.  A real cracker of a whisky.  It has great complexity for it's age and I can advise that with a touch, and only a touch, of water the peat is more subdued and allows the more fresh fruit flavours to come through.  I truly can't wait to work my way through more of the Kilchoman range as and when I can.

With regards the Machir Bay range itself, they have since released a 2013 expression and a 2014 expression should be released in spring this year.

Well that's all from me on this bitterly cold winter's morning.  Hopefully this review has warmed you all up a bit with thought's of getting back home to a warming winter dram.

Until next time,



Thursday, 9 January 2014

Writer's Tears - Irish Whiskey - Review

Towards the end of last year I was lucky enough to receive a few bottles of whiskey as my birthday and Christmas both fall in the month of December.  When a lot younger this used to annoy me greatly as I saw it as a time when presents would be watered down in order to cover both occasions.  I obviously had this opinion with complete disregard towards my parents finances and often demanded that both events had a large haul of gifts so as to make the month of December make up for the present-less hardship of the rest of the year.

Whilst now, it still would be nice to receive a momentous amount of gifts, my tastes and demands are much more restrained and I am more than happy to just enjoy the time of year and count off becoming another year older.

Nonetheless gifts still appear and are now becoming more and more related to my ever growing love of whiskey.  As a result a bottle I received last month was that of Writers Tears Irish Whiskey.

This is a blend of pure pot still whiskey and single malt and has been bottled at 40% ABV. Now whilst most references to this whiskey would state that it is completely a product of Midleton Distillery those of you who are well educated in the way of all things Irish will know that Midleton does not produce single malt whiskey.  Unconfirmed sources would state that the malt involved here actually comes from Cooley Distillery in County Louth.  I'm sure though that the whiskies have been blended and bottled in Midleton.  

I'm undecided whether the malt comes from Cooley or Bushmills but what I do know is that the producers of Writers Tears are certainly not going to reveal the secret.

For those of you unsure of what pure pot still whiskey is I shall allow the Writers Tears people explain themselves by way of an excerpt from their website: Pure Pot still came about in 1802 as a reaction to the introduction of Tax’s by the British on Irish Malt Whiskey. Irish Whiskey accounted for 90% of all the worlds exported whiskey and was seen as a cash cow by the British. By introducing this tax they hoped to “Cash in” on their neighbors good fortune. However in an effort to avoid taxes the Irish Distiller decided to use a higher percentage of unmalted barley (as opposed to Malted Barley) into the still. This resulted in a very different style of Whiskey and one which we have come to know as “Pure Pot Still".

Now that's been cleared up I shall move onto the whiskey itself:

Nose - Light, clean and fresh. Crunchy green apple, ripe banana, citrus zest but nothing definitive.  Delicate floral notes, pear and some sweet honey vanilla but the focus is firmly on fresh fruit.  With time an oaty biscuit appears.

Palate - Fruity arrival giving away to sweet malt with some gentle spices.  Rich, freshly cut orange, oak spice, vanilla, honey and caramel.

Finish - Warming spices in the form of light ginger and cinnamon that are sweet and slightly drying.  As the spice dies away the fruit returns with a rattle of apple and peach.

Overall this is a light, clean whiskey that, in my opinion, could do with a bit more "oomph".  I'm aware of the cask strength version, which I've yet to try, and I believe that the extra % might serve this whiskey well.  That said though this dram is extremely enjoyable and should go down fantastically well once the warmer weather returns.

Hopefully I shall soon get a try of the cask strength version at which point I shall promptly offer some comparison.

Until next time,



N.B.  Throughout these blogs you shall notice that my spelling shall jump from whisky to whiskey when writing.  This is simply done to try to refer to the whisk(e)y as it should be in it's country of origin e.g whisky for Scottish and whiskey for Irish.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Dunville's Irish Whiskey is back…sort of

Bout ye (or hello, how are you),

How's everyone keeping out there in the whiskey world?  I hope you all had an amazing New Year which was spent with friends, family and your favourite dram.

Yet another late night blog update but there's a method to my madness.  I'm sitting here typing away furiously in the hope I have a whiskey exclusive.

It appears that the "Dunville's Irish Whiskey" brand is back on our shelves after maybe 60 odd years.

Whilst perusing the whiskey cabinet at my favourite Belfast off sales my attention was drawn to a bottle of Dunville's Very Rare Irish Whiskey which was sitting neatly on the top shelf priced at £29.99.  Now whilst most people would faint at the thought of such a bargain (original bottles can go for anything up to £1000) my eager eyes also noted that the label and seal on the bottle were most definitely brand spanking new.

Upon asking an employee to open the cabinet, to allow me to examine further, he promptly went behind the main counter of the store and picked up one of three other bottles that happened to be sitting there..not such the exclusive I thought I was on to.  Nonetheless my interest had been roused and my primary goal was now not to nab what I thought was an utter bargain but to work out what exactly I was looking at.

Examination of the label on the back revealed a little bit of the mystery.  Smack bang in the middle were the words Echlinville Distillery.

Now, what or where is Echlinville Distillery, I hear you ask.

Around the start of June 2013 a distillers licence was granted to Echlinville Distillery, which is situated on the Echlinville estate in the small town of Kircubbin, County Down, Northern Ireland, and with this it becomes the first distillery to receive a licence in Northern Ireland for over 125 years.

Around the same time a planning application was approved for a state-of-the-art distillery complex complete with visitors’ centre, restaurant, bar, distillation hall, maturing warehousing and museum.  At the moment it would seem that they have 1 still already in operation and have also filled their first barrels.  Plans are afoot to further increase the operation by adding an extra 2 stills by September this year and hopefully the visitors' centre should be open in a couple of years time.

The driving force behind this venture is a man by the name of Shane Braniff, a businessman from the local area, who is also responsible for bringing you the Feckin' Irish Whiskey brand.

Now that I hopefully have covered a bit about Echlinville I shall return to the whiskey.  

Unfortunately not much else was shown on the label apart from the statement that it was produced in Northern Ireland and has been bottled at 40% ABV.  Without tasting the whiskey it looks like it's a very basic blend with, no doubt, some colour added, but as to the contents I have no idea.  I shall guess however that, since Feckin' Irish Whiskey comes from the Cooley Distillery then this, possibly, could also could be from a batch from Cooley sold prior to Beam Global taking over.  

I have already set about finding out more info for you all and intend to buy a bottle ASAP to return my opinion on what the contents are like.

Whilst waiting for the further updates I've added a few images and linked up the Feckin' web page and Facebook page for further reading.  These can be found at the bottom of this post.

Until next time,



Location of Kircubbin which is found by travelling east from Belfast, through Newtownards and then south east  on the other side of Greyabbey.

Echlinville estate.

For Feckin' Irish Whiskey Facebook page click here.

For Feckin' Irish Whiskey Webpage click here.