Review: JAMESON Gold Reserve – #79 hit

Jameson Gold Reserve challenges the stereotypical consensus that all Irish whiskeys are smooth one-dimensional spirits that are to be enjoyed only in a mixed drink or a shot glass.jameson_gold_reserve

Ironically, to me at least, the regular Jameson Whiskey, which accounts for far most of the 20 million bottles sold annually – and thereby puts Jameson as the best selling Irish whiskey in the world, is not only the most popular but also the worst. When I say worst I clearly mean worst in the Jameson family. The quality doesn’t even come close to what you get from the 12 year old, 18 year old, and Gold Reserve bottling. Of course, this is not unique to Jameson. Most whiskeys, although there are quite a few exceptions I must add, gain in quality as they age. What I am trying to convey here is not that the regular Jameson is bad, but rather that the rest of the family stand superior – especially the Gold Reserve.

One of the most striking differences with Gold Reserve compared to the rest of the Jameson family is that it has been matured in American virgin casks. This explains the astringent taste imparted by the tannins, defining the palate just after a wave of vanilla and scrumptious marshmallows. As the whiskey poured into my mouth this bittersweet mix of dry herbaceous notes with soft vanilla and fudge culminates almost synergistically into a very rewarding and long finish. The softer notes disappear towards the end and are replaced by pines, citrus, and wet mossy soil.

I love it! The taste is so unique with its combination of extreme sweetness and bitterness where neither becomes too dominant. The balance and complexity here is astonishing – one of Ireland’s finest!

VERDICT: Given that I am genetically dispositioned towards Irish whiskeys it comes as no surprise that I am highly addicted to this particular bottling. The bittersweet combination, that defines this whiskey, is very rare and perfectly executed. I highly recommend Gold Reserve, especially if you are into the Irish drams.

   (8.1/10)

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Review: BUSHMILLS 16yo – #77 hit

While being the oldest licensed distillery in the world – granted by King James I in 1608 – the Old Bushmills Distillery is also the only operating whiskey distillery left in Northern Ireland. You would think that having 406 years in mastering the art of whiskey-making would generate pretty damn good whiskey!?  bushmills 16

I want to start off by stating that I SIMPLY LOVE the 16 year old Bushmills! I think it had me even before I opened the bottle with its mouthwatering text, “Aged in oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, then finished in port wine casks for a combination of rich fruitiness and malty nutiness”. I must stress however that this Irish Single Malt is not for everyone. I have had friends that were not too impressed with the taste. You may argue that they weren’t “experienced” enough but in the end it all comes down to the subjectivity of taste. Personally I have never come across a whisk(e)y like this (or even close). Like with all unique flavor profiles you either love it or hate it.

What makes the 16 year old Bushmills so special in my opinion is the remarkable synergy that has been achieved by combining two completely different flavor profiles. On the one hand you have mahogany wood, earthiness and Hazelnuts. Then on the other you have black currents, caramel, fudge, peaches and hints of vanilla. All these different notes work so well together and form an extraordinary experience. On top of all this the finish is very very very long.

VERDICT: Not many whiskeys can boast about being matured in three different casks. The end result is a very unique whiskey with a myriad of flavors were you get the best from both worlds. The Bushmills 16yo does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion and I can highly recommend it.

  (8.3/10)

Review: GREEN SPOT – #76 hit

For a long time Green Spot and Redbreast were the only two Single Pot Still (SPS) whiskeys commercially available. However the interest in SPS whiskeys has been growing and in 2011 Powers John’s Lane and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy joined this exclusive club. SPS whiskey uses a mixed mash of malted barley and unmalted green barley that are tripled distilled. Since this process is very different to the making of Single Malt whisky you would expect a completely different end product. This is also the case.Green Spot

If you were to place all the worlds whiskies on a “flavor map” Green Spot would be far away from the rest. Some would probably also mistake it for being something completely else than whiskey; it is THAT different. It is one of those drams you either love or hate.

I love Green Spot but it took me some time to get used to the unusual taste. If I were to describe its complexity in one sentence it would be “a whiskey filled with vegetal notes”. More specifically barley, green grass and citrus fruits. At the same time various spices and cereal flavors appear on the palate. The combination works well and considering it is a below 10yo whiskey it is surprisingly smooth (even for a triple distilled).

VERDICT: You want to try this SPS whiskey if you are ready to try something completely different to what you are used to. It cannot be compared to Redbreast or anything else I have tried but is very good nonetheless. Price is also reasonable around 60-70$.

  (7.6/10)

Review: REDBREAST 12yo – #13 hit

Out of the four distillers still operating in Ireland New Midleton is the only one producing whiskey like in the 18th Century: Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Nowadays it is referred to as Pot Still Irish Whiskey and the 12 year old bottling of Redbreast is, at least in my opinion, the best that have come out of this distillation method. Instead of only using malted barley like in single malts, Pot Still Irish Whiskey allow the addition of unmalted barley before proceeding with the triple distillation. This gives the finished product a more natural barley flavor which is especially apparent in this very outstanding Irish whiskey.redbreast 12

With the 12 year old Redbreast it was love at first sight….or rather taste. No wonder this whiskey appears on so many top 5 lists. The palate opens up with something that tastes like earthy hazelnuts that have been dipped in maple syrup and rolled in caramelized vanilla. Delicious. Then you have a later entry introducing sharp notes of citrus fruits and pine needles followed by subtle notes of sherry. Still the taste is very unique and hard to put an exact finger on. On top of all this you have the oily creaminess that Irish whiskeys are so well-known for.

VERDICT: In regards to Irish whiskeys this is definitely the breast..I mean the BEST!

(8.4/10)