Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been on an Irish kick lately. This is due in part to my love of Single Pot Still as a category (Redbreast, Green Spot, Powers John’s Lane, etc.) and part to my wife giving me an Irish whisky tasting set for Christmas. 🙂
The Quiet Man, a new brand partnered with Luxco for distribution, is the first Irish whiskey bottled (and soon, distilled) in Derry, Ireland in more than 100 years. While the distillery is under construction (slated for completion around now, early 2018), the brand sources Irish whiskey with a “high” (undisclosed) malt percentage, and marries the blend in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. “Finishing in first-fill bourbon” is something that sounds good on a label, and is unusual for a blend, but it’s also a pretty minor thing in the scale of single malts that we’re used to. I couldn’t count on two hands the number of single malts that are aged exclusively in first-fill ex-bourbon.
As always, the source of sourced whiskey is hard (or impossible) to pin down. The malt component is very likely to be from Cooley, as the brand’s creator has said it is not made in Northern Ireland (Bushmills). It’s possible that the grain component is also Cooley (Greenore), but that’s conjecture. The first-fill ex-bourbon barrels come from partner Luxco.
The Quiet Man is triple-distilled, aged for at least (probably exactly) 4 years, and bottled at the bare minimum 40% ABV. It retails for a pretty reasonable $23 to $30, which makes it cheaper than The Irishman. The brand also has an 8 year-old single malt, which I hope to review soon.
Nose: Definitely a blend. Grain up front, with an interesting zesty lemon-lime high note (lime is not a note I commonly find in any whiskey). Moderate caramel aromas form a base for a round, if not deep, profile.
Palate: Thin body. Some young grain notes (glue, vodka) offset by a mild oak influence (caramel, pecan) and a very tame tongue burn. Certainly easy to drink (aka “Smooth”).
Finish: Of medium length. Sweeter than expected, with vanilla buttercream frosting and hazelnut butter. Lingering, with a tinge of coconut and lime peel on the tail end.
With Water: A few drops of water amp up the nose tickle, requiring a rest to calm down. After the rest, I don’t detect any changes. Water optional, but at 40% I wouldn’t bother.
Overall: I was prepared to write this off as another sourced blend trying to build a brand name out of somebody else’s whiskey (to be fair, until the distillery output reaches bottling age, that’s exactly what it is). Still, there’s an interesting high note in the aroma, a mild baseline of caramel thanks to the finishing in first-fill bourbon, and a rather tasty sweet finish. Not too shabby for a blend, and it can go toe-to-toe with the big boys any day. The one major flaw I find is the vodka note on the entry, which is par for the course with young blends anyway. If found for under $30, you would be hard-pressed to find a daily drinker that beats this. It will be interesting to see how the quality (and price?) are affected when the new distillery’s output comes of age.