Day 14 of the 2019 Boutique-y Whisky Advent calendar offers up batch 2 of Irish Single Malt #1 13 year old. We reviewed this back in 2018 so are presenting an updated version of that original post for you today. Batch 2 batch consists of 2,200 bottles delivered at 48.4% ABV. They’re available for £58.95 from Master of Malt (a little over a pound cheaper than this time last year). Whilst the distillery this whiskey originates from is undisclosed - being an Irish single malt, the choices, in terms of the style and age, limit this to either Cooley or Bushmills. I’d certainly err towards the latter.
This is one of my favourite Boutique-y labels – most of you will be aware of the origins of the super psychedelic horse - but, if you’ve been living under a rock, here’s one minute of comedy gold that might make everything clear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYzVMcgWhg. Oh, and like all Boutique-y labels, different batches/releases come with subtle label differences – I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen Brand Ambassador Dave Worthington counting the number of sugar cubes on this one.
Nose: Breezy and nimble with plenty of gummy sweetness (apples, pears and stone fruits) and good kick of ex-bourbon-led aromas – honey and vanilla. Grassiness is paired with cereals – this has certainly has its Weetabix. Reduction further emphasises breakfast with honey porridge and creamed rice.
Taste: The arrival has an appealing oiliness to it, that’s packed full of defined fruitiness – apples, apricots and marinated peaches. It’s also highly sweet - not quite sherbet, but sharply (and to my taste overly) saccharine. The mid-palate broadens the flavour profile to include caramel wafers, which roll into tea-like spicing – cinnamon bark, nutmeg and pepper with an underlying floral aspect (geranium). These become more sour and acerbic towards the end of the development and sit alongside a slightly underdone gluey flavour. The addition of water smooths out the ride, removing the initial sugar-rush and the closing bitterness. It adds pleasant creaminess with crème caramel and barley water.
Finish: Short to medium in length with jelly babies, natural barley sugars and drying oak.
Irish whiskey is in the ascendant - not only are there over thirty new distilleries in various stages of planning or construction across the country – demand (particularly for longer matured early 90’s ‘fruit-bombs’) is soaring. This has a knock-on effect on pricing – single cask Irish whiskey has become a finite and largely expensive option. Boutique-y’s Irish Single Malt #1 13 year old seeks to offer a balance between the current zeitgeist for fruit-driven Irish whiskey and prices that are not out of reach of most of the malt drinking population. To that end, it’s generally successful, presenting fruity flavours that are lively, fresh and characterful, whilst retaining elements of youthfulness that in turn prevent this from costing a small fortune. As with most things in life – everything is a compromise.