If you run a business or offer a service, you know that you are on the right track when your customers keep coming back to you. Since Saturday’s “Irish Whiskey” tasting at the Jungfernstieg in Hamburg was the 3rd time I booked a tasting with Norbert from Whisky Experience, I guess I can say that he is doing a pretty good job. Including our host, we were 11 whisky connoisseurs that evening. Some of us had already attended a fair share of whisk(e)y events, while others were looking forward to their first guided degustation. The chemistry within the group was great, the selection of whiskeys was neat and the 3 hours we spent with Norbert were super-good fun. Everybody was eager to share the scents and tastes they found in the differing drams with the rest of the group and the lively discussions went on for quite a while after the actual tasting was over.
Our 6-glass exploration trip through Ireland started in the very South of the Emerald Isle with a West Cork that was matured for 12 years in bourbon barrels and finished for 110 days in sherry casks. While we all agreed that the sherry influence was a little shy in this otherwise mighty fine whiskey, the tastes we discovered differed quite a bit from one person to the next. Personally, I sensed a creamy note that reminded me of strawberry toffee. Second in line was the Hyde No. 5. In direct comparison to the twice-as-old West Cork, this single grain whiskey from a Burgundy cask was a lot fiercer and wilder. It paired particularly well with dark chocolate. Next up was another West Cork, namely the 10yo from their core range. It was sweet and sugary with a smooth finish.
Whiskey number four wowed the entire group with its complexity, spiciness and long finish. The Redbreast 12yo Single Pot Still – a product of Middleton Distillery – was one of the definite highlights of the evening! While our first four whiskeys were single malts or single grains, the final two drams were blends. Both the Traditional Irish Blend by The Quiet Man and the Small Batch Rum Finish by Teeling turned out to be very enjoyable “everyday whiskeys”. Next time your buddies pop in for a visit, put a bottle of either of these on the table and you will have a fun time! Though the Quiet Man and the Teeling completed the selection Norbert had prepared for us, they were not the last drinks we had. As is tradition at a Whisky Experience gathering, Norbert gave everyone a generous sip of their favorite whiskey as an encore.
If you are still not fully convinced of the quality of all six whiskeys served, here is one last anecdote: After the tasting, Norbert did not have a carry a single bottle home. He brought an extra bottle of each whiskey except for the Teeling, which he has not yet stocked in his online shop – they all found new owners quickly. And even the sample bottles were either emptied during the little sit-together we had afterwards or taken off Norbert’s hands for a special price. Thus, we all did not only leave the tasting in high spirits, but also with various new treasures for our whiskey collections.
West Cork 12yo Sherry Cask Finish (12yo / Irish whiskey / 43% / 35 Euro)
Hyde No.5 Single Grain Burgundy Cask (6yo / Irish whiskey / 46% / ~35-40 Euro)
West Cork 10yo Single Malt (10yo / Irish whiskey / 40% / 30 Euro)
Redbreast 12yo Single Pot Still (12yo / Irish whiskey / 40% / 41 Euro)
The Quiest Man Traditional Irish Blend (NAS / Irish blended whiskey / 40% / 29 Euro)
Teeling Smal Batch Rum Finish (NAS / Irish blended whiskey / 46% / 29 Euro)
Whisky Experience: https://www.whisky-experience.de/
West Cork Distillery: http://www.westcorkdistillers.com/
Hyde Whiskey: http://hydewhiskey.ie/
The Quiet Man: http://thequietmanirishwhiskey.com/