Irish whiskey is experiencing something of renaissance. There are over thirty new distilleries in various stages of planning or construction across the Emerald Isle. It’s hard to imagine that in the mid-1980’s there was only two distilleries in operation – Bushmills in the north and Midleton in the south. The rebirth can be traced back to the late 80’s with the refitting of Cooley distillery and it’s move to double distillation rather than the triple pot still distillation practiced at Bushmills. The fruits of this endeavour have taken a fair few years to truly flourish, but by 2014 the number of operating distilleries had risen to eight. By 2016 it had nearly doubled again to seventeen.
Today we're taking a look at That Boutique-y Whisky Company's first batch of 'Irish Single Malt'. This is a 24 year old whisky with an outturn of 264 bottles - and a super psychedelic label, even by Boutique-y standards. The colourful horse is a reference to Father Ted – specifically the episode ‘Song for Europe. Those still in the dark, here you go, enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYzVMcgWhg.
Whilst the distillery this whisky originates from is technically undisclosed, there’s enough information here to take a logical guess. As we’re looking at a 'single malt whisky' and not a 'pot still whiskey', that, I believe, limits our choices down to either Cooley or Bushmills distilleries. Either way, the vivid horse with its floating sugar cube are not just a reference to Irish culture, they're a big hint of what we might expect once we get stuck into this dram...
Nose: Pronounced and highly expressive delivering an abundance of fruits. Apples, pears, peaches and melons provide fresh notes, whilst candied lemon and orange peels and pineapples supply a real vibrant sweetness. The fruits are underscored by distinct herbal and vegetal notes – a hint of green pepper gives a real feel of greenhouses growing both fruits and vegetables at the same time. There’s a slightly mineral steely note that cuts through both fruits and sweetness offering a pleasant sharpness.
Taste: Saddle up and prepare to get all of your 5 A Day in liquid form! Rich, mouth-coating and sweeter than the nose suggests, straight from the off we’re in fruit explosion territory again. A similar profile to the nose, but with some subtle differences – the fruits are sweeter, favouring more stone and tropical flavours – and they’re all wrapped up in some zingy sherbet. There’s a wonderful balance delivered from more bitter fruits such as grapefruits and limes – this prevents the overt sweetness from becoming cloying.
Finish: Medium-long with some very agreeable wood influence coming to the fore including both pepper and cinnamon, and a slight tang of salinity to wrap things up.
Dynamic, balanced and packed full of delicious fruity flavours. This bottling has more than enough complexity to reward those of you of an analytical persuasion. There’s been quite a few late 80’s / early 90’s Irish fruit bomb whiskies released over the last year and Rubens over at WhiskyNotes has taken a look a fair few of them if you’re interested in this particular style. Alas, this, Boutique-y Whisky bottling sold out very quickly – but if you get any opportunity to obtain one at a fair price, or try a sample, don’t even think about hesitating. My favourite release of 2017 so far.Score: 92/100