Irish standard – Tyrconnell Single Malt 40%

A few nights ago was up on the 42nd floor of one of Mumbai’s few truly ‘high rise’ residential buildings to sample… what else? Whiskies.

Our host admitted to enjoying an Irish whiskey or two, however the other gents dismissed drams from this land completely. There were decidedly STRONG views in favour or against whiskies from Ireland. Sure the country is known for pot still whiskies, for triple distilling (or 2 1/2 depending on who you ask!), and using less or no peat. Once upon a time, Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit in the world!

What I’ve found is it all depends on what you expect. If you are looking for a sociable dram, a whisky that may not be massively complex but eminently approachable and, let’s be honest here, also more in the affordable category, then some Irish offerings may be right up your alley!

The January host for our original tasting group’s spouse travels to Ireland quite often. So I’ll admit I was expecting a purely Irish night! As this group strictly samples blind, we had no idea what we were in for… and this Cooley distillery offering kicked off our tasting.

Tyrconnell 10 yrs

Tyrconnell Single Malt 40%
  • Nose – Very sweet, floral, some fruit, light clover honey – all a clear sign matured in ex bourbon cask. As it aired, light banana and coconut, vanilla and toffee emerged. Caught of a whiff something softly sour like hung yoghurt, then citrus spice – like sweet cinnamon. Has a beautiful nose that keeps opening and evolving.
  • Taste – Initially a bit of cardboard, slightly chewy, bitter, astringent… realised it actually is quite smooth and not in the least bit harsh
  • Finish – Has some capsicum, melons, a bit bitter then simply peters away
  • With water? A bit dry, doesn’t do much and wouldn’t recommend adding
  • Overall – Light, elegant whisky with a dry finish

However did it really DO it for us? To be honest the nose was far more promising than the palate. While pleasant, simple and straight forward, there wasn’t much substance and none of the complexity most of our merry malt group prefer.

What do the distillery folks have to say about their whisky?

  • Nose: Full and fruity aroma with a citrus – spiciness taste
  • Taste: Well structured with honey notes hanging from the nose. A tang of oranges and lemons, a strong malt presence that balances well with the oily sweetness
  • Finish: A long finish with the malt becoming more dominant to the end without the soft fruits and honey, which helped make up the middle.

It would be interesting to sample this flagship Tyrconnell NAS 40% with the 10 year Madiera Cask we tasted nearly a year ago. After properly recalibrating expectations for something simple, light and above all – affordable, wonder how the two would compare?

For me though, I must admit that of the Beam Suntory Irish stable under the overall Kilbeggan family, my preference leans more to the peated Connemara

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On a lighter note… Tyrconnell, Clynelish, Speyburn

Most whisky aficionados have a ‘preferred’ profile. It could be bold peaty or sweet sherry or a craving for complexity where nothing else will do!

One of our original malt group members is partial to lighter more delicate whiskies. He seeks a little nuance and elegance in his dram.

So when it came time to host our 1st tasting session for 2016, he selected whiskies that he hoped would achieve such an approach.

2016-01-27 Oak League

Our evening had a decidedly light sprightly feel with:

However don’t be fooled! Just when pegged into a particular ‘type’, purely for contrast, our host shared that when he’s had a hard day at work, only something a bit rougher, tougher and robust will do.

That’s when a Wasmund’s 12 month 48% was pulled out! Because we all need a little ‘bad boy’ to spice things up once and a awhile.

Me? I’m terribly mood dependant. Some could say I can’t make up my mind, but it is simply that I enjoy the range of profiles.

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Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask 46%

And we are off to the races!

Tyrconnell was once the Cooley (now Kilbeggan) distillery‘s flagship whisky. Once an independent Irish distillery, the label celebrates the Wyatt family champion ‘Tyrconnell’ racehorse – best known for winning in 1876 at odds of 100 to 1 the Irish “The National Produce Stakes.”

In the last few years I’ve started to explore more Irish whiskies… and am quite impressed with the results of the ‘single pot still’ method that  produces the remarkable Redbreast and Yellow Spot.

The Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask won the Irish Whiskey of the Year in Jim Murray`s Whisky Bible 2008.

So… I was both intrigued and delighted when a friend from the UK included this in my ‘Irish whiskies’ shipment on her trip to India last year.

I first shared it with our tasting team on 14 June 2014 together with Ledaig Island and Talisker Dark Storm.

Tyrconnell 10 year Madiera (Whisky Lady)

Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira (Whisky Lady)

And what did we find?

Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask 46%

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Tamarind, fruit and flowers, copper, sour dough, chikoo, a sense of being a bit ‘young’
  • Taste – An initial sharp nip then spice, coconut, leather, pronounced exceedingly ‘nice’
  • Finish – Alas nothing spectacular… a hint of light leather and mild fruit, while it doesn’t dash off instantly, it does not have the long linger some reviewers boast!
  • Add water? – Don’t… does nothing to improve and with such a light whisky not needed at all

In our blind tasting session, we speculated that while clearly young, it showed ‘nice’ promise.

In my recent revisit, it re-inforced the impression of a light pleasant whiskey. The mood is that of a gentle cantor in a ladies saddle rather than a fast and furious dash to the finish line.

While certainly enjoyable, it doesn’t have that extra distinctive and complex character that I find most attractive.

And I’ve come to learn the 10 year has been discontinued and newer offerings are now are either a standard NAS Single Malt or 15 not 10 years… perhaps an older incarnation of the Tyrconnell will gain those additional elements that can transform a whisky from merely ‘nice’ into ‘oooh baby!’

Special ‘nod’ to a fab lass who was our delightful ‘mule’!

Tyrconnell 10 year (Whisky Lady)

Tyrconnell 10 year (Whisky Lady)

What others are saying:

Other Irish whiskies sampled til date:

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