I’ve started to wonder if the phrase “Founder’s Reserve” means the owner held back the good stuffTM, and released this instead. I kid, I kid. Seriously though, when the most inexpensive offering from a company claims to be a “reserve” of some sort, it strains credulity that the whisky deemed not good enough for this bottling was what… dumped down the drain?
The Irishman is a brand of sourced Irish blended whiskey released by the Walsh Whiskey Distillery Ltd. (which is, as pointed out in the comments, officially distilling as of March 2016 – this bottle is sourced whisky, however). Walsh 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. (Writers’ Tears is 40% and 60%, for comparison.) These components are both triple-distilled and aged in ex-bourbon casks. The final product of uncertain age is bottled at the bare minimum 40% ABV.
At $28 to $40 a bottle, this represents a discount of $5 to $10 off of the price of Writers’ Tears, for a different grain profile.
Nose: Peach, marzipan, and honey. Bubblegum. Markedly grainy, with a hint of grassiness and a little glue / industrial solvents, but less so than cheaper blends. The fruit is well-balanced and light, and the sweetness is present but not cloying.
Palate: Syrupy body. Grain-forward, like too-young malt whiskey, but with more honey and bubblegum. Less fruit than on the aroma, but still lightly sweet. Very low tongue burn, but a little two-dimensional.
Finish: Raw honey, tropical fruits (kiwi), and a little drying barrel tannin and charcoal bitterness. Fades with dry woodiness and herbal bitters.
With Water: The addition of a very few drops of water adds banana custard to the aroma and brings out more grassiness on the palate and finish, emphasizing its youth. I would skip water with this one.
Overall: Much better than your typical bottom-shelf Irish blend, but doesn’t rise as high as the better malts or pure pot stills like Tyrconnell or Redbreast. Still, it has a nice balance of lightly sweet and fruity notes with a mild “green malt” graininess that doesn’t ruin the experience. I think I would personally pay the extra $5 to $10 to snag Writers’ Tears, which has a higher proportion of pure pot still, or just go whole-hog and get a much better whiskey with an age statement by buying Redbreast 12-year.