Another day passed and yet another bundle of joy (no, not a small child. We already have those bases covered with our respective Urchins) was delivered to my man, G-LO. For whatever reason, this quarter has been quite bountiful with regards to boozemail and there’s almost too much for us to review (like that’s EVER a thing. There is never too much, there is only not enough!) in a timely manner.
In the latest package, we received samples of Irish Whiskey from the fine folks at Tipperary Boutique Distillery via our friends at Impex Beverages (before you get all crazy and try to beat down G-LO’s door for a taste, the photos up above are just a representation of the full bottles. What we received are smallish sample bottles of each expression which you’ll soon see in the photos below). This distillery sold its first bottle in 2015 and has a current run of three single malt expressions, all bottled at 47% and derived from only six casks each: their first offering, the Rising (an 11 YO), the Knockmealdowns (a 10 YO) and the Watershed (NAS). We’ll be reviewing the Knockmealdowns and Watershed expressions.
Before we get to our reviews, here is a bit more information about the Tipperary Boutique Distillery courtesy of an April 20, 2017 article in the Irish Examiner:
Planning has been granted for a distillery (on the Ahearn farm which is situated about 15 minutes from Clonmel, near Grange village), with plans to start construction this year, but it will be 12 months before the copper stills are in place. It is hoped the farm will provide all the distillery’s grain needs, with 12 jobs expected between sales, production and administration.
“Expense is of course a huge barrier to entry, not only the capital cost, but the cost of laying down spirit for at least three years before it can be sold as whiskey,” says Jennifer (Nickerson).
And so to the whiskey. Already, a hint of what Tipperary Boutique Distillery hope to produce is on the shelves.
“Irish whiskey casks were sourced, with a minimum age of 11 years, our whiskies were then cut to bottling strength, with water from Ballindoney farm, so our customers have a unique link to Tipperary and our land. We released our first expression, ‘The Rising’ in March, 2015. This is an 11-year old single malt Irish whiskey, matured in ex-bourbon barrels. We also launched a Non-Age Statement single malt Irish whiskey, ‘Watershed’, so named because it is the first whiskey to be cut to bottling strength with water from our family farm at Ballindoney. A 10-year-old single malt, Knockmealdowns, celebrating the land in Tipperary, also cut to bottling strength with water from Ballindoney. We don’t chill filter any of our whiskies, to retain all the flavour of the spirit and wood. We individually number every bottle, each one is special. We have plans for limited edition runs over the next few years. Some limited edition whiskies matured in ex-sherry casks in various finishes, and our own poitin, distilled from grain from our own farm in Tipperary. A very special product indeed”
With all of that out of the way, let’s get down to business…
What they say…
The first of our Limited Edition Mountain Range, “The Knockmealdowns” is created from only 6 casks, matured in Ireland for 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels. The whiskey is cut to 47% with water from Ballindoney farm in Tipperary, owned by our co-founding family, the Ahearns.
- Appearance: Pale, golden yellow color.
- ABV: 47%
- Limpd: A bit of antiseptic vapors at first. Then, come the sugars and the honey and a bit of vanilla and a bit of wood.
- G-LO: Fruity, grassy, and herbally all at the same time. Getting peach preserves, fennel, fresh cut grass, vanilla custard, and a hint of mint.
- Limpd: Not as hot as I had expected and very sweet (not off-putting) but tasty with a bit of citrus and maybe some honeysuckle before the black pepper kicked in. The finish is a little longer than average with a nice blend of heat and sugar.
- G-LO: Medium mouthfeel with a somewhat oily texture. This isn’t at all like I was expecting it to taste. There’s a slight bit of heat at the start, but not at all overwhelming. I definitely get some of the fruitiness, but there’s also some peppery spice and a bit of an almost peaty taste coming through. It’s very subtle and makes me think of a toned down Connemara or a Ledaig 10. The flavors are pretty consistent from start to finish. The aftertaste brings some tobacco and a touch of mint.
- Limpd: I am a big fan of Irish whiskey and have found that that is what I usually bring to the table. Not as soft as the typical Irish whiskey with a little more complexity in terms of flavors. This was a very nice sample and would make a nice addition to the current roster.
- G-LO: I’m really liking the growing variety in the Irish Whiskey segment! While it’s tough to get a real read on a whiskey from half a sample, I definitely enjoyed what I tasted of the Tipperary Knockmealdowns (I pronounce it Knock-meal-downs. I wonder how you’re really supposed to say it!) which is much different from the standard issue Jameson that most think of when someone says Irish Whiskey. I like different. I like it very much.
What they say…
Only six first-fill bourbon casks are chosen for each batch of Watershed, carefully selected for quality by our Malt Master, Stuart Nickerson. After being cut to 47% with our Ballindoney water, we number every bottle individually, so each one is special.
Try Watershed, and taste Tipperary.
- Appearance: Once again, a pale, golden yellow color.
- ABV: 47%
- Limpd: Not much in the way of alcohol vapors. Vanilla, confectioner’s sugar and stone fruits and then a hint of the grain and a hint of the barrel.
- G-LO: Much more pungent and earthy than the Knockmealdowns. Also a bit more alcohol vapors at first. Getting chili peppers, lemon zest, licorice, dark chocolate, some light smokiness, and fresh cut grass.
- Limpd: Velvety, syrupy and sweet upfront. Then, a big blast of the wood and a hit of pepper. Not much of a finish. Pleasant enough but short.
- G-LO: Not as viscous as the Knockmealdowns. Starts off lightly sweet with a good bit of pepperiness. Vanilla, licorice, and a touch of smokiness in the middle. Gets hotter at the finish (no, not Finnish) with the pepperiness intensifying. Some cocoa notes come through too with a lightly warming and mellow aftertaste.
- Limpd: I kind of wish that I had tried these in reverse order as the Knockmealdowns checked all of the boxes for me. I found the Watershed to be a little out of balance. The flavors were there but just not layered. There wasn’t enough of a blend or a complement as compared to the Knockmealdowns. I guess I’m picking up on the extra time in the barrel. That was time well-spent.
- G-LO: It’s weird. Both of these whiskies had a bit of a mismatch between the nose and the palate. While I enjoyed them both, the Watershed smelled better while the Knockmealdowns tasted better. I found the Watershed to be less intense on the palate, so if I had to pick a winner between the two, I’d have to go with the Knockmealdowns (which I’m sure will Knock-Me-Down on my ass after drinking several of them in a row!).