Contrary to regular years, in which I visited the shop in Den Bosch regularly for tastings, I now visit the shop semi-regularly to pick up tastings. As in, samples, for later tasting.
I generally get a sample pack of each tasting since it’s a very good way to try new whiskies at a very affordable price. Also, since De Whiskykoning is fiercely independent, and has been for a few decades, he tends to stray off the beaten path and have some stuff in his line-up that I’d otherwise never try. Not always, as you’ll see, but often.
This tasting consists of 6 new Irish whiskies, all released in the last year and a half or so. From big on-brand releases to independent single casks. What you expect from Rob Stevens. Let’s dive in!
The Busker Single Pot Still, Bourbon and Sherry casks, 44.3%
Young and sharp with lots of fresh oak. Very reminiscent of American craft distilleries, in the way the focus is on the sharp wood and the young distillate. Star fruit and a sharp graininess.
Dry and sharp again, but it does mellow quickly. Light and grainy, with apple and sharp alcohol notes. Straw too, and that youthy flavor too.
The finish is slightly more rich and full.
With American craft whiskies that ‘harsh’ flavor is something they tend to get over when the product gets a bit older. Here it is present too, and it too is not a very good thing. This stuff is too young and not matured enough (no, that’s not the same thing).
Kilbeggan Single Pot Still, Limited Release 2019, 43%
Puff pastry with sweet apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. Milky brioche too.
Soft, baked apples with brown sugar. Dry oak and pepper. It starts sweet but gets more hearty and dry as time goes by. Some grains too.
The finish is a combination of dry grains, sweet apple and puff pastry.
It’s a lot more mature than the Busker, but it’s still a tad young. And also, it’s a bit simple. There aren’t too many layers to peel back.
Hinch Single Pot Still, The Time Collection, 43%
Flint and oak on the nose, with grain and apple too. Again, very young, but more rich than the previous two. A bit sweeter (and in my opinion, therefore more Irish too) than the Busker.
Sharp and dry with fresh oak and lots of grain. Slightly spirity with apple, lychee and chalk.
The finish suddenly brings a note of copper and iron. Chemical, apple candy, wine gums and a bit of dryness.
This one is very inconsistent between nose, palate and finish. I’m not entirely sure what they were going for with this one, but I’m not overjoyed.
Writer’s Tears Copper Pot, Florio Marsala Cask, 45%
Initially, lots of wine on the nose and some grain in the background. Fruit, hazelnut praliné, and a whiff of orange.
Sweet citrus with oranges. Hazelnut, clove, oak, grain and wine.
The finish is slightly more balanced than the palate, balanced between fruit, grain and oak.
I generally quite like Writer’s Tears. Especially the higher proof ones and that Mizunara cask of a while ago. This one is a bit too sweet for me, though. The wine just lifts it up too much, in the sweeter regions. Still, it’s a more mature or better made products, and that shows.
Teeling 14, 2005-2020, Brabazon Series 3, 49.5%
Sweet sherry with sweet whisky. Slightly grainy with brown sugar, cinnamon and a hint of molasses.
The palate is a bit more dry, with a hint of red chili pepper. Oak, black pepper, peach. Very sweet.
The finish shows even more sherry, and doesn’t feel very well integrated.
Initially I though I’d find this a little bit better than the Writer’s Tears but that layer of not-so-well-integrated sherry on the finish pushes it back a little bit. Again, too sweet for me. It’s an already sweet whisky (nothing wrong with that) but the PX brings more sweetness, and that’s, again, a bit too much.
The Irishman 17, 2003-2020, Sherry cask 6949, 56%
Scottish in style, with dry hints of straw and grass, grain and oak. Some red fruits too.
Dry with oak and straw. Some chili pepper and black pepper, peaches too.
The finish is full and rich, without becoming too sweet. Fruity, with straw and grass, grain and oak again. The sherry brings nice hints of peach.
I guess this is how it is supposed to be done. A much dryer whisky that can stand up to a sweet sherry cask without getting overly cloying. Very, very good stuff indeed!
So, once more, the younger Irish whisky brands haven’t been able to convince me, while the older ones seem to be going steady in levels of quality and flavor. Especially that last one.
All whiskies are still available at Whiskyslijterij De Koning, just click the images!