After all of the industry shake-ups in the last few years in Ireland, it’s hard to tell who owns who and what they make now. Cooley Distillery, founded by John Teeling in 1987, making it the only independent distillery in Ireland. Then in December 2011 the company was sold to Beam Inc., which was later bought by Suntory. Then, when the old Kilbeggan Distillery began renovations, Cooley’s name was changed to the Kilbeggan Distilling Company, although the distillery facility itself kept the Cooley name. So, that means that Beam-Suntory’s Kilbeggan Distilling Company produces Greenore (and other previous Cooley brands) at its Cooley Distillery location. Got it? Great!
Greenore made waves when it was first released and single-handedly made a name for single-grain whiskey in a market dominated by blends and single malts. Made from a mashbill of 95% corn and 5% malted barley (for enzymes), Greenore is sold in a range of ages, with the 8-year being the most widely available. The whiskey is aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 40% ABV. My sample came from my Flaviar Welcome Pack (although current Welcome Packs no longer include it). The sample was collected from a bottle in December 2014.
Nose: Heavy grain notes – hay, white glue, industrial solvent (paint thinner). Some faint notes of vanilla and sugar cookies. After a lengthy rest in the glass, the weird notes are partially covered up by sweeter ones… now it’s sweet glue, sweet paint thinner, etc.
Palate: Syrupy body. Mild caramel, heavy dried coconut and coconut water, more industrial glues.
Finish: Short. Faintly sweet, with a lot more vanilla and some honeyed notes. No bitterness or really any oak tannins to speak of.
With Water: A few drops of water have no noticeable effect. I would skip the water, especially at the anemic bottling strength of 40% ABV.
Overall: It’s hard to get past that paint thinner on the nose, but once you do the experience is like a milder, subtler, simpler Redbreast 12, especially with those strong coconut flavors. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this as an introduction to any type of spirits (even single grains). Order a glass at a bar if you want some education in why grain whisky needs more time in the barrel than malt does.