What Whiskey? Athrú, pronounced Ah-roo. From Ireland.
I never heard from them, and after looking things up it still is quite mysterious.
It’s an Irish whiskey brand, currently bottling whiskey they bought from other distilleries, but also creating their own spirit. The distillery, called Lough Gill Distillery, was commissioned in 2019.
Billy Walker, formerly of BenRiach, GlenDronach and GlenGlassaugh, currently of GlenAllachie, acts as a consultant but isn’t part of their official story. At least, not on their website. I guess that’s a good thing if they want to start their own thing.
Of course, with the distillery being a recent start-up, they don’t have their own whiskey yet, but they have bottled three 14 year old releases. Currently there are some recent 16 year olds and a 6 year old. These latter three are cask strength, single cask releases.
I got samples of the three 14 year old bottlings from Whisky Center, a little while ago. I planned to review them sooner, but my son knicked my tasting-note-booklet, and forgot about that afterwards. It took some doing to dig it up again…
So, Athrú. From Ireland’s north west coast. Let’s dig in!
Athrú Annacoona, 14yo, PX & Oloroso Sherry Casks, 48%
Quite malty on the nose, with hints of toast, digestive biscuits and green apples. Later on the apples get a bit older, more corky and red, but there’s also a hint of dry apples.
Quite sharp on the arrival and still rather malty. Toast, stale bread and apples in as many forms as there were on the nose. A touch of vanilla and honey, more smooth with some time. After a couple of minutes there are raisins on the palate too.
The finish is a bit more sweet, but also brings some other fruits like sweet grapes. Honey, cider and apple sauce.
Decent, but with this being a sherry finish, it feels like it’s limping a bit. It’s like it cannot decide between the bourbon and the sherry casks, and that harms the balance a bit.
Athrú Knocknarea, 14yo, American Oak and Oloroso Sherry Casks, 48%
Massively spicy on the nose, with cinnamon toast, nutmeg and cocoa powder. Not typical for an Oloroso cask, but with the wine gums I generally get with Irish whiskey. Somehow, it makes sense with the candy sweetness being off-set by the spices. Ground almonds too.
A rather intense dryness that soon becomes a bit more sweet. Baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisin twigs and almonds. Slightly funky with some walnuts too.
The finish has more nuttiness than the palate with baked pecans and caramel.
Utterly weird and based on the rating on Whiskybase, I like this a lot more than most people. Then again, I really like spicy whiskies, so that seems to make some sense at least.
Athrú Keshcorran, 14yo, American Oak and Tokaji Casks, 48%
Not entirely surprising, but this one is again quite dry and very malt driven. Slightly more harsh with a dark and sweet funkiness. Black cherries, blackberry compote. The dryness is like raisin twigs and grape seeds.
Dry with a slight syrupy texture. Some raisins and vanilla, cinnamon. Quite autumnal, and it mellows nicely after the initial dry bite.
The finish has quite a lot more wine-like sweetness, with overripe fruit. The Tokaji makes itself known.
This one is more like the first full-sherry finish, and has some issues with balancing the flavors. Although, having said that, it’s still a very decent dram.
For a new brand I find that they’ve released quite some interesting whiskies already. However, the problem with this is that they’re rather expensive at € 130-ish per bottle.
Let’s find out whether it’s going to be an Ardnamurchan or an Annandale in regards to pricing their initial own releases…
Thanks to Whisky Center for sending the samples!