Today I decided to confess my sins to the church of whisk(e)y. To put it all out in the open for those to see. But do not judge, for only he who is without sin may cast the first stone. May the church say “Amen.”
With that being said, in full disclosure, I’m about to sound blasphemous to some people. And by “some people” I mean “a lot.”
Are you ready?
You’ve been warned.
Of the big five whisk(e)y regions (Scotland, USA, Canada, Japan and Ireland), Irish whiskey is probably my least favourite. That’s right, I said it. To put it in context, if I were Peter Griffin, Irish whiskey would be Meg. That means not only would I cast aside my own heritage, I will officially claim my pet dog as a superior being to my own daughter.
Maybe that was a bit harsh, because if I’m to be completely honest with you, and myself I guess, Irish whiskey isn’t even my least favourite whiskey. That title proudly belongs to rye. Irish whiskey is just my least favourite of the big regions. Confused yet? Can’t blame you.
Don’t get me wrong, when I was in college, Jameson was all the rage. Hell, in
some many respects, when it comes to shots of whiskey, Jameson is still all the rage. Yet, if you were to give me a choice of whisk(e)y I actually want to sip and enjoy, I will more than likely chose Irish whiskey last. And that’s not due to me despising it, oh no, not at all. To this day I can attest that Yellow Spot is bloody delicious. I even wrote an entire spiel on my experience with it. Perhaps it’s because I just don’t know enough of the land that lays claim to the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, or simply because Irish whiskey just doesn’t have the market that Bourbon, Japanese and Scotch has, so I’m not exposed to it. Or maybe because I’m not Irish. Whatever. Point is I don’t gravitate to it.
Anyway, my rambles finally lead us here; the entire reason I’m even writing this.
My last visit to Smoke & Barrel – Whisky + Architecture’s unofficial home – was well received. It had honestly been a while since I last stepped foot in the Adam’s Morgan stalwart. In fact, not since before our second event had I been in there to sample from the selection that I’ve grown so familiar with. As it turns out, things had changed. For the better. As I sat down, JVR unleashed his latest acquisitions: Glendalough 7, Glendalough 13 and Glendalough Double Barrel.
Now, as a little history, Glendalough Distillery is relatively new. Founded in 2011 by 5 friends from Wicklow and Dublin, this small craft distillery has been making moves ever since, trying to, as they say, “recapture Ireland’s lost heritage of great spirit production and create new, exciting and contemporary brands”.
But back to the whiskey.
I don’t claim to be an expert, nor an aficionado of whisk(e)y. I just enjoy it a whole lot. I know what I like, and what I don’t like. Glendalough? I like. If you’re following us on Instagram (and if you’re not, shame on you), you’ll know that during my #DCWhiskyTrail I stopped by Ben’s Chilli Bowl with a bottle of Glendalough 7. It is, to this day, the only bottle of Irish whiskey in my collection (because I can’t afford Yellow Spot, and rather spend my money on Scotch). That may need to change, because after sampling the other two offerings from this distillery, I’m a believer. Irish whiskey is fuckin amazing.
Single. Malt. Need I say more? Yes. I will say more. The 7 is what started it all for me. Strangely, I never had it until May of this year. For those who came out to our first event, you may remember sampling this beauty. I’m not one to call drinks “smooth” when describing them (mainly because I’m trying to improve my whisk(e)y vocab), but this thing is smooth. Just like a silk. It has just enough spice to differentiate it from the rest of the pack, with a pleasant warmth during the finish. Over ice (yes ice, a little dilution to this isn’t a bad thing, but if you rather not, you can always check out sipdark for some great chilling accessories), this thing is a great relaxing drink. I’ve actually grown very fond of it. Truth be told, because I own this offering, I decided not to taste it when JVR offered. Instead I opted for its older brother.
The 13 is so different from the 7 year, you would swear it’s a completely different distillation process. But really, the additional 6 years just amplifies every single quality that the 7 possess. The sweetness this thing has, the punch of vanilla, the rich spice at the back end. Jesus. JVR asked how I liked it and I couldn’t do anything but smile. Yes, I like this very much. And still, it pales in comparison to the last (and most recent) offering from Glendalough Distillery.
Glendalough won. They just fuckin won. Their Double Barrel offering is bloody fantastic. Seriously, this may be my new favourite Irish whiskey. As I’m sure you know, Double Barrel means exactly what you think it does. It’s aged first in one barrel, in this case American Oak for three and a half years, then again in a second barrel. Glendalough, being so young, can afford to experiment. And their experiment pays off. This bad boy spends its last 6 months (making it a 4 year old offering for those bad at math) in Oloroso casks, giving it a delicious sherry flavour. Sherry and W+A are as symbiotic as peanut butter and jelly. Hell, Finn lives for this stuff, and all three of us owe our love of scotch to Macallan, which is known for its sherry. So you can begin to imagine why I fell in love with this thing upon first sip. This is not without its spice of course. But the spice of the Double Barrel (and 7 and 13) is not overwhelming like that of rye. It’s merely tickling, letting you know it exists. Yup. My next purchase will have to be this one.
So there you have it folks, Glenda-bloody-lough. I will like to apologise to all of Ireland for doubting the magic that is their whiskey, because these guys have made me a believer again. So excuse me while I adorn my clichéd green pants and reminisce on the loveliness of these drams.