Our Whisky Lady host regaled us with tales of the bounty to be discovered at the Celtic Whiskey Shope & Wines on the Green in Dublin. She and her husband had their attention focused on the goal of finding a unique Irish whiskey to bring back to Bombay… asking, trying and finally simply being guided by the knowledgeable staff to pick this bottle, available only in that store.
So what is Glendalough?
It is a newer craft distillery in the Wicklow Mountains that makes Whiskey, Gin & Poitín. The man on their bottle is St Kevin, who is credited with founding in the 6th century a monastic settlement in Glendalough. While of Irish royalty, the monk sought out the wilderness and the image is inspired by stories of his standing in water for hours, arms outstretched in prayer… til a blackbird laid her eggs on his hand, which he then took as a sign, continuing to stand until they hatched. Or so the story goes.
And what made this particular whiskey unique?
Aside from being bottled for the shop, it was their use of Mizunara Japanese oak in the finish, after aging in ex-bourbon casks…
But what matters most to us is… What was the whiskey like?
Glendalough 13 year 46%
- Nose – Pineapple, sea salt & caramel, a bit of dusty sawdust – white wood – fresh and dry, floral, honey suckle, frangipani, orange and lemon drops, bright and cheerful.. as it opened more, the sweeter it became… dripping with honey, shifting into caramel… then we discovered apple sauce, mango bite candies, vanilla candle wax. Setting aside to come back much later – it was pure marshmallows!
- Palate – Yum! Citrus, mandarin orange segments, honey, touch of spice, smooth yet with substance, not heavy but a nice orchard fruit swirl, a mix of light sweet spices like clove, allspice, etc.
- Finish – Continued with the sweet spices, medium, warm and sweet
- Water – Didn’t even consider it!
A friendly late summer dram, becoming sweeter as it opened. In the end we pronounced it a delightful “dreamy” dram. An easy one to return to, sipping, simply enjoying with no complication or fuss.
And what do the folks at Glendalough have to say?
Extremely rare, and expensive, our virgin Japanese mizunara, comes from Hokkaido, the rugged most northern island of Japan. It is coopered to order in Japan’s only independent cooperage, by Japan’s oldest cooper. Mizunara amplifies much of what is already there while layering on more vanilla smoothness, sandlewood notes and even a little coconut, or gorse flower if you’re from our neck of the woods.
This whiskey has very different and exotic flavours compared with what you’d expect from an Irish single malt. And there’s not a lot of it around! This is one to snap up and savour.
- The nose. Honeycomb, vanilla, apricot, and citrus.
- The taste. Velvety smooth with more vanilla, fudge, rock candy, peach and marmalade followed by sandalwood, cinnamon, and oriental spices.
- The finish. Put it this way… “The longest milk chocolate finish in the history of Irish Whiskey” Jim Murray.
In case you are curious, it can be found for €100.00 at – where else? – the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines on the Green.
Here is the Irish trio our Whisky Lady brought back to Mumbai for our sampling pleasure:
- Glendalough 13 year Mizunara finish 46% – This post
- Brabazon Port 49.5% (Series 2)
- Brabazon Sherry 49.5% (Series 1)
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