Tullamore Dew Original Irish Whiskey

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.

Tullamore Dew Original Irish Whiskey
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $20-$26
Acquired: (50 ml miniature)

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  • nice to see the site up and running again. sounds like at this price range, there are much better whiskey to be had. sorry to hear that the minatures are not working out well.

  • I couldn’t tell you where the bottle even came from. It’s one of those items that just “showed up” at some point. Because I agree with your assessment overall, I would be willing to put its arrival at the date of a particular party. It was left behind on purpose. I looked it up just now because, lacking a better alternative, have just used it to put the NOG in my Eggnog. Yes, rubbing alcohol-ish but doable when you’re in a bind.

    • @Mystic Indeed. Blends with high volumes of low-quality young grain whiskey (in cases like this, effectively barrel-aged vodka) are really only suited (and intended) for mixing into drinks where you can’t taste the liquor. That’s not to say all blends (or Irish whiskey – see Redbreast 12) are bad… just all of the cheap ones. 🙂

    • Hi Liz,
      I’m glad you posted this. Snobbery is an inherent problem with the appreciation of any category of consumable goods – wine, beer, chocolate, burgers, whatever. My job, as a blogger, is to share my opinions, negative or positive, to help readers make informed choices when selecting from among the hundreds of options available to them. If I sang the praises (however slight) of every product I reviewed, I might as well not bother writing anything at all, as I would perform no service to my readers. Furthermore, if your opinion was the ultimate one and every whisky of at least Tullamore Dew’s level of quality was “very nice”, I could tell people to go into any liquor store, pick any bottle off the shelf, and they will be pleasantly happy with their purchase. This is patently not true, and most people who try something like Tullamore Dew next to something like The Balvenie DoubleWood will notice an extreme difference in quality. My job as a whisky blogger is to point out which end of that spectrum each product lies upon. Tullamore Dew, no matter how you slice it, lies on the bottom of that continuum. You, dear reader, should be very happy that your taste buds allow you to enjoy Tullamore Dew, as it will save you tons of money in future purchases of whisky.

      • Of course you will taste a difference between Tullamore dew and balvenie double wood. Lol!!!!! You will also spend almost triple the price. For 30 bucks…. It’s better than a lot of 30 dollar scotches. Imo

        • I like it also, compared to others in the price range. I have a pretty undeveloped palate, unlike the author. I find it to have a weak nose with some of the described rubbing alcohol and nondescript fruitiness. I enjoy the full bodied sweetness, with the lack of tannins, smooth mouth-feel which continues through to finish. It is not oaky nor peety. It’s just a pretty enjoyable sip, not a rock star nor incredibly interesting. I guess I equate it to music with a really sweet groove that doesn’t present any amazing musicianship. But I’m just a noob(newbie, that is). Drink on my friends, and lets not fat girls. They are nature’s scooters that get us by until we can get a really sweet ride.

    • Best answer ever, I agree. Had my first drink of this with a bunch of old guys. They broke it out like it was the best ever. Smoothest I’ve ever had. Bunch of snobby nerds

  • I had the 12 year old version and I was unimpressed enough to give the nearly full bottle away to a friend who does like this one. My read on its nose was this strange sort of “inside of an airplane” smell (I know that sounds weird, but I can’t put it any other way) combined with cheap maraschino cherries and the taste was not much better. You’re reinforcing my suspicion that the original version is not something I’d like.

    • More like the smell of the inside of a bus. A bus that had some floor shelf hooch spilled by a bum trying to hold the bottle steady while puking. And then the bus driver sprayed a little cheap carpet cleaner on top…HA HA HA HA

    • Jameson is so overrated it’s ridiculous. TD is the only mass produced Irish Whiskey worth drinking. And that ain’t saying much. TD may smell like bus puke with a topping of carpet cleaner but it tastes like minty molasses. I’ll take it over Jameson. Jameson tastes like leprechaun farts in rubbing alcohol.

  • I think the original post on Tullamore DEW is slightly harsh its cheap and cheerful, you can have it with a few cubes of ice and sip it or mix it, I like it with a splash of soda water.

    Its sweet with loads of vanilla and not bad.

    In Northern Ireland an extra £5 upgrades you to Black Bush which is a good investment!!

  • great taste, but on the sweet side. I love my whiskies with a little club soda and ice. this is not bad. 1 out of ten it gets a 7

  • Perhaps my palate is not as refined as some, but I thought your review was a bit harsh. I found T Dew to be smoother than Jameson and more interesting than Powers.

    “unripe pears”? “overripe banana peels”? Should I trust someone’s palate when they apparently can’t figure out how to eat fruit correctly?

    For a $22, 750 ml bottle, this whiskey is darn good.

  • The reviewer is spot on. Bought this to fit the cash in hand on offer in Sainsburys at £16. Very disappointed. To me it is an Arthur Daily of a whiskey – smooth but no taste.

  • Great Review.
    I’ve had whiskey and bourbons of many different manufacturers. Yet it too surprised me of how lacking in quality taste this is, especially at the price point. It feels like the company is trying to advertise a mid range or even perhaps high range product when really its bottom shelf. Can’t recommend this unless you get it on sale.