Here’s another review in my series on value blends some of which can be outstanding, and some not so much. The West Cork Distillery is a new (opened in 2003 as an experimental “pet project” and then expanded to its current location in 2013) and actually independent Irish distiller, unlike the previous poster-child for Irish (whiskey) independence, Cooley, which sold to Beam Suntory in 2011. Among other things, West Cork bottles this blend and a 10 year-old Irish Single Malt.
The Original Classic Blend is your pretty standard Irish blended whiskey: a blend of single-malt and grain whiskey aged for an unpublished (read: very short) amount of time in ex-bourbon barrels and bottled at the baseline of 40% ABV. While it’s quite easy on the wallet at around $27 a bottle, I should point out that you can get other, better blends for less.
Nose: Very light, but with a piercing acetone note. Hay, lemon, vodka, and not much else.
Palate: Thick, syrupy body. Quite hot at first, which recedes to reveal cashew butter, chewy nougat, and salt-water taffy (vanilla).
Finish: Medium-short. Malty, with a hint of milk chocolate and a reprise of the acetone/vodka from the nose, alas.
With Water: A few drops of water make this smell, if possible, more like whisky-tinged vodka. The water also thins the palate, adding nothing. Skip the water here.
Overall: Huh. On one hand, it’s light traditionally-styled Irish blended whiskey with a heavy basket full of nutty flavors to surprise the tongue. On the other hand, it has one of the least successful aromas of any whisky I’ve come across, a short finish, and is very hot on the tongue (some would call this “not smooth”). I can’t recommend it for anything, although when mixed into one of the few cocktails requiring Irish whiskey, you’ll likely not be able to tell the difference. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?