It’s time for another monthly meander through some of our favourites, old and new. It seems summer is finally making its presence felt as we focus on fresh, delicately composed whiskies, two of which are ideal for mixing (there’s even a cocktail recipe). With that in mind it comes as no surprise that we are featuring a couple of blends and two bottlings from the sometimes stereotypically delicate Irish whiskey category.
For us at least, we are talking about an English summer so it’s best to also make provision for the odd (cough) rainy day. Such duties are covered by a rather lovely and typically sherried Glendronach that is already a favourite of many a maltophile. There’s a real spread of prices on show here as well and I felt, given that two of this month’s selections are under £20, I would go slightly mad and totally blow the budget on what is perhaps the crown jewel of the Irish Pot Still revival. Enjoy!
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
I spoke briefly about this much admired bottling in my recent review of the 18 year old “Allardice". There is a degree of batch variation of course, but on the whole this is a serious “bang for the buck” whisky. The distinctly old fashioned, elegant sherry brings together both fresh and dried fruits, beautiful notes of old balsamic, bouillocn and kirsch, all wrapped in a distinctly oily waxiness.
£39.49 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
They say you can't judge a book by its cover but I'm a sucker for good packaging and, with this redesigned bottle, Tullamore Dew have done a fantastic job of drawing me in. It lends this ever popular Irish blend a classy, classic and yet modern appearance. The liquid inside is as approachable as ever and it's not just the packaging that has made me pick this one out this month - it's the weather. You see, summer has finally arrived in my little corner of the globe and that always makes me think of cocktails. Whiskey cocktails can be a tricky one because when you chill whisk(e)y it suppresses some of the flavours, accentuates others and, with some blends and characterful single malts can have an unbalancing effect that makes the whiskey flavours in question jump out of the mix in a forceful and unpleasant way. This is why many mixologists favour quite neutral whiskies such as Canadian ryes. At room temperature Tullamore Dew has plenty of character but, on the nose it has a distinct thread of neutral grain which might be part of the reason it behaves itself so well when chilled. Try it in an Irish version of the classic "Manhattan" - sometimes known as a "Paddy"; one part Tullamore Dew, one part sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. Stir over ice, strain into a chilled glass and add a maraschino cherry. I did and I'll be doing it again!
£18.75 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
I know this is well above the price-point we normally feature here, in fact it’s far from cheap, but I just can’t help myself. The revised Single Pot Still range from Midleton is laced with excellent whiskey, and for those in the market for something a bit special there is this wooden-box clad beauty. It’s a wonderfully fresh and summery example of this esoteric, characteristically Irish style with blend of sweet peach, pineapple, mixed herbs, clean oak and that deliciously distinctive Pot Still oiliness.
£137.95 at www.whisky-online.com
If you're searching for a nice blend at a nice price then you really can't go too far wrong with Bailie Nicol Jarvie by Glenmorangie. This 8 year old Blended Scotch boasts a high malt content – with malts from Glenmoragie, Glen Moray and others – carefully balanced with well selected grain whiskies to produce a fresh, lively dram with a distinct Highland profile. A lot of green fruit and freshly cut barley shows on the nose, with delicate wisps of light heathery peat lingering in the background. A nice easy drinking summer-dram with a good mouth feel and tangy finish. Top notch for this price range!
£18.52 at www.masterofmalt.com
Prices correct on date of publishing