The Irishman is a brand of sourced Irish blended whiskey released by the very-much-not-a-distillery Walsh Whiskey Distillery Ltd., which also sells the very popular Writers’ Tears. Like Writers’ Tears, this is actually not a “blend” in the typical sense. It is a mixture of 70% single malt Irish whiskey with 30% single pot still Irish whiskey, with no column-still grain whiskey in sight.
What makes this unique is that the unmalted Canadian rye (about 80% of the mashbill) and unmalted Canadian wheat (the distillery is working towards sourcing local grains) is distilled with a portion of malted barley from Wyoming that has been smoked with California cherry wood. This is a concerted effort by the distiller to create the effect of a barrel-aged Manhattan without using any additives (wine, bitters, etc.). The distillery uses alembic copper pot stills, and double-distills its whiskies.
Produced by the same bottler (NOT distiller) who sells The Irishman blend, Walsh Whiskey Distillery Ltd., Writers’ Tears is a novel vatting of 40% triple-distilled Irish single-malt whiskey “probably” from Cooley (but the source is unknown), and 60% triple-distilled Irish single pot-still whiskey from Midleton, the only distiller of mature single pot-still whiskey — for now!. The vatting is aged for an undisclosed amount of time in ex-bourbon American oak casks and bottled without chill-filtration at 40% ABV.
On a very serious business-related trip, for business, my wife and I dragged ourselves (complaining all the way) up to picturesque Sonoma County, California, to trudge through a tour of Sonoma County Distilling Company’s facility and reluctantly down a bunch of samples. For business.
Sonoma County Distilling, located in Rohnert Park, CA and opened in 2010, uses direct-fired copper alembic pot stills for its whiskies, which are twice-distilled (like most single-malt scotches, which are also distilled in pot stills). The West of Kentucky Bourbon No. 2 has a mashbill of Midwest yellow corn, unmalted Canadian wheat, and malted barley from Wyoming.
Sonoma County Distilling, located in Rohnert Park, CA and opened in 2010, uses direct-fired copper alembic pot stills for its whiskies, which are twice-distilled (like most single-malt scotches, which are also distilled in pot stills). The 100% rye in the mashbill is a combination of unmalted Canadian rye and malted rye from the UK.
Author Fionnán O’Connor has assembled a beautiful coffee table style hardcover book entirely about the magic of Irish single pot still (previously called Pure Pot Still) whiskey. In the author’s own words, “It’s worth repeating that there aren’t really that many of them. What’s left from the past can be difficult to find and, although the future looks brighter than it has in a century, what’s bottled at present is still relatively slim. … that’s also why this book seemed worth writing in the first place and I can only hope that that same narrowness of scope might offer me a little more room to give each of these tipples the attention they deserve.”
In a refreshing departure from mainstream bourbon brands releasing LDI/MGP rye under their own labels and then claiming some kind of “heritage” of rye distillation, Brown Forman’s Woodford Reserve actually went out and – gasp! – made themselves a rye! … made from a combination of pot-still rye whiskey from the historic Woodford Reserve distillery and column-still rye whiskey from the Brown Forman distillery in Shively, KY.
…Green Spot isn’t cheap to start with. Nor, presumably, are empty grand cru Bordeaux barrels from Château Léoville-Barton. Midleton has taken the classic Green Spot and aged it for an additional 1 to 2 years in the French oak Bordeaux casks, before bottling at 46% ABV.
Way back in 2011 … I was called out in the comments by Woodford adherents that I was doing the whiskey a disservice by reviewing it based on the sample bottle. I had an opportunity to revisit Woodford Reserve recently – this time from a full 750ml bottle – and thought it would be appropriate to review it again for National Bourbon Heritage Month. Does my review from 4 years ago hold up?