June 15, 2011
Tullamore Dew, a blended (meaning it uses unmalted grains distilled via column still, as well as a small amount of pot-still spirit) Irish whiskey, is a common sight on the bottom-shelf of liquor stores. The name evokes verdant green glens, dripping with misty Irish rains, and delightful bearded characters sipping local spirit from brown ceramic jugs. Unfortunately, it turns out (at least via the sample I tried) to be more mass-market industrialized “fast-food” whiskey, suitable only for mixing. At the price point, this is certainly the intention of Irish Distillers, makers of the excellent Redbreast and Jameson, as well as Tullamore Dew (which is distilled at their New Midleton distillery, while the brand is currently owned by William Grant & Sons).
Nose: Ripe and pungent. Upfront there is rubbing alcohol and banana. A little green fruit (apples, unripe pears) gives way to dusty hay. A dash of water dulls the nose.
Palate: Round and sugary, with an initial dose of light brown sugar, root beer, corn syrup, and cola. A dash of water brings out some banana and makes it palatable, but does little to elevate the muddy, sugary flavors. The brand calls this “distinctively smooth” as it’s not particularly rough, but the flavors aren’t well-integrated, and none of the maturity of oak or malt shows through.
Finish: Medium-length, overripe banana peel, malted milk, and more stale cola.
Overall: While there is a hint of the oily, savory quality apparent in nicer Irish whiskies like Redbreast, the column-still grain whiskey in this blend is young, brash, and has too much of that rotten banana flavor – perhaps a consequence of sulfur in the barrels, or maybe a bad batch of miniatures (a common experience for me, lately). There is nothing balanced or interesting in this, and a few drops of water don’t help. I would suggest using this one for mixed drinks, only.