When this came out the thing I first did was look up what the rulings and regulations for Irish Whiskey are. Amburana is, as you might have guessed, not oak. It’s a Brazilian kind of hardwood not often used for maturing any type of spirit. In Scotland this would immediately disqualify the contents of being whisky, but in Ireland, as it turns out, there is no such regulation.
It’s no surprise the whisk(e)y industry generally sticks to oak, since it’s one of the hardwoods that tends to not leak. Amburana is different and casks have to be handled very carefully. As far as I know this is only the second cask of Amburana wood from Teeling, with the first being a distillery exclusive.
So, whiskey after all! And with a spirit like Teeling, which is generally of very high quality, this was an interesting one to dive in to! A bottle share was created, some samples were sold. But even within my bottle-share club of fellow whisky nerds, not too many people were enthralled by what a different type of wood maturation could bring to bear.
Initially this worried me, but after having tried the liquid, I’m actually quite glad to be stuck with some more of it. Why? Just read on!
Initially it starts off with that typical Irish Whiskey candy-like sweetness. Wine gums and peardrops and such. But quickly therafter there’s a veritable mountain of marzipan and dark wood. Almond flour, tonka beans, a whiff of mocha too.
Quite some peppery heat, with loads of marzipan and tonka beans. Some dried fruits including a bitter tinge from the fruit stones. A spiced cake like sweetness, almond flour and freshly ground espresso.
The finish is very consistent with the palate. Slightly more mellow, and long. After a few minutes the tonka beans and marzipan start waning, and more typical woody notes come through.
It’s not very uncommon to get notes of marzipan in whiskey. In this case there was a boatload of it, and that’s something new. The notes of tonka bean, though, those pulled me right in. It’s a very unique whiskey, and I can imagine the strangeness taking some time to get used to, but I absolutely love it.
Some real innovation that is not solely based on casks being used for a different kind of wine than normal, or a more efficient type of barley at the cost of depth of flavor. I highly recommend getting a bottle and getting stuck in!
As with the Ailsa Bay from a little while ago, I am very much considering to get a second one of this, for later.
Let’s hope quality booze like this paves the way for more innovative approaches in the future!