Perplexing peat? Connemara NAS 40%

1st up in our original Mumbai whisky tasting group‘s October session was a no age statement dram from Ireland. Unlike most Irish whiskies, Connemara uses peat, hence it was an interesting choice to start the evening with.

We sampled it blind, the bottle freshly opened, and didn’t know what to expect!

connemara

Connemara NAS 40%

  • Colour – Bright pale yellow
  • Nose – Initially quite pungent, harsh, wood varnish, sour curd, then as it aired took on some vanilla, spice, hint of citrus while still retaining a sharp quality and dash of sawdust, settling down further it became increasingly sweet
  • Palate – Salt caramel, peat or coal (for some), wood, unidirectional, very oily. As our palates became better acquainted with it, there was an almost dry waxy quality
  • Finish – There was a finish, however surprisingly subtle. It retained some of the oils, with a sweet pine after taste

Overall we found it relatively thin, so assumed it must be 40%, no more. While it lacked depth, there was an oily quality which gave it some character.

Now here is the thing… there was a bit of a debate on the peat element. One of our members simply did not get a trace of peat whereas others found hints, but not a clear stamp.

During the reveal there was surprise. Those familiar with this whisky recalled a much more direct “in your face” type peat, not this gentle tease. Leading to speculation that perhaps Connemara has been tinkering with the recipe? Or something else what at work?

After sampling all three whiskies for the evening, we returned to the Connemara to see if we could solve the perplexing peat question.

This time, when another glass was poured, instant recognition of peat.

Now… was it in contrast with the Glenlivet? Did we not all have our peat detectors fully switched on with the initial go? Or did it need time to fully reveal its peaty character?

While it still did not have a strong peat quality, there was no doubt it did indeed have some peat.

For a previous review on Connemara, check out what fellow Whisky Lady Lina Sonne has to say:

What all did we try in our October session?

  • Peat – Connemara NAS 40% (this post)
  • Sweet – Glengoyne 18 year 43%
  • Light – Glenlivet Master Distillers Reserve NAS 40%*

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Mixing things up – Connemara, Glengoyne, Glenlivet

After more than five years, our original Mumbai whisky tasting group has become known for pushing the boundaries with a focus on discovering new and different whiskies.

We’ve had home-made experiments with aging, phenomenal food pairings, independent bottlers, country specific themes, unique blends and more!

Which meant it was high time to revisit slightly different avatars of well known whiskies, completely blind to avoid the influence of advertising and pre-conceived notions.

glenlivet-connemara-glengoyne

What did we try?

No strangers to these brands, we’ve even previously had a session focused on Glenlivet, a couple of Glengoynes over the years and most have separately sampled Connemara.

What made it interesting is the order…

Traditionally, we would start with the lightest (Glenlivet) then sherry (Glengoyne) and close with a peated whisky (Connemara).

Here we did the exact opposite – peat, sherry, light! With some interesting results.

Related tasting sessions:

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Irish Night – Connemara NAS 40%

Just to ensure we didn’t miss Ireland’s peated offering, the lads n lasses evening included Connemara!

(Six Mumbai 2015)

(Six Mumbai 2015)

Lina Sonne is our last Whisky Ladies of Mumbai guest whisky reviewer for our Irish Night… 

An escapee academic, Lina heads the Mumbai office of Okapi and its consulting portfolio on innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work focusses on enabling inclusive innovation, social entrepreneurship and start-ups across South Asia and she has traveled widely across the region.

Lina has developed a bit of a reputation for preferring whiskies with a bit more ‘hair on the chest,’ veering towards more robust and peated profiles. On a recent trip back to Sweden, she zeroed in on Mackmyra’s peated Svensk Rök as THE whisky she wished to share with Mumbaikars. 

Here is what Lina has to say about the Connemara….

  • Nose – Definitely seaside, distinct peat and plenty of wood.
  • Palate – Smooth and very light on the palate – a puff of wind on your tongue and it finishes! Where did all that peat go?
  • Finish – Light sweet finish, but with some bitterness and maybe a walnut hiding in there somewhere.
  • Water – Add water and old wood comes out, with a little spice to tickle your tongue.

Overall we found that the Connemara had a great peaty nose promising plenty, but failed to deliver on the palate, with the peat all but disappearing. While still an enjoyable dram, we had hoped for a bit more drama. Instead, it’s quite dry and makes you want to go looking for water.

brandImageConnemara

Kilbaggan website

Here’s what the folks over at Kilbeggan distillery have to say about their Connemara:

Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions, Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey.

Connemara is the most decorated Irish whiskey with a huge collection of Gold Medals and has been honoured as the “Worlds Best Irish Single Malt”. Connemara allows you to unearth the Peated Pleasures of Ireland.

Last but not least, more guest reviews by different Whisky Ladies of Mumbai:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Irish Night – When the BMC + Whisky Ladies unite!

To the casual observer, it may seem slightly absurd that one woman living in Mumbai could be part of three whisky tasting groups. Yet each are unique and completely delightful.

Particularly our Whisky Ladies group attracts quite a bit of… ahem… gentlemanly attention with many men wishing to crash our female only party.

However the lads over at our Bombay Malt & Cigar club are a rather more civilised lot. Clever gents, they knew the best way to enjoy an evening with the ladies would be to extend a gracious invitation to the mysterious whisky women of Mumbai.

And thus the Irish night was conceived!

While it didn’t take 9 months for this momentum occasion to become a reality, many  most amusing efforts went into selecting more sociable Irish whiskies, with the gentlemen taking full charge of sourcing everything from the whiskies to pipettes to acquiring more Glencairn classes to even glass covers!

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

Bushmills Distillery 21 May 2016 (Photo: Arti)

At one point some 10+ whiskies were being bandied about as options, however in the end they settled on:

Then a few more were added as ‘bonus’ whiskies:

As always, the proof of what proved most popular is what was consumed most during the evening… in this case, the evidence is quite clear! The Bushmill’s 21 year beat the pants off the entire competition. Followed by the 16, 10 and Steamship lagged behind…

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Bushmills Steamship, 10, 16, 21

Our venue host personally cooked an Irish stew as the focus entrée of a fabulous sit down dinner which followed our slightly inebriated pronouncements about the various drams. We even had an Irish themed assortment of music and naturally much merriment was had by all!

To say the lads fully embraced our Irish evening is a wee bit of an understatement.

As for the lasses? Let’s just say we are plotting how to return the courtesy… with a theme that may completely disrupt normal notions of what defines a good dram!

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on: