Ever since I attended a Cadenhead masterclass at this year’s edition of Kiel Whisky Fair, I have been looking forward to my next trip to Berlin – the location of one of the two stores that Scotland’s oldest independent bottler operates in Germany. Luckily, my excursion fell onto a weekend on which they offered a tasting of six Irish whiskeys. A memorable evening through which our host Andreas lead us with outstanding expert knowledge.
The tasting started with a whiskey dedicated to Ireland’s most popular folk punk band of the 1980s: The Pogues. This blended whiskey consists of 50 per cent malt whiskey and 50 per cent grain whiskey partly matured in sherry casks. A product of West Cork Distillers, this blend is most likely not much older than three years and contains a lot of very sweet, fruity and malty notes. Personally, I have to admit though that I wouldn’t have minded the alcohol to step a bit further into the background in this one. Up next was a twelve years old Tullamore DEW matured in bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. This whiskey is full of red fruits, cherry marmelade, toffee and vanilla. It is also rich with perfectly integrated spices.
Before the half time break, we got to try a single pot still whiskey that was originally made for a department store chain. The delicious Redbreast 12yo is a very spicy dram with notes of nutmeg and ginger. In the background, there is also a profound fruitiness. After the third dram, the guests grabbed some fresh air outside, while the team of Cadenhead’s refilled our water jars, bread baskets and – most importantly – whiskey glasses. When we went back to our chairs, we were sent across the border to Northern Ireland with a ten-year-old Dunville’s. Although it already has the name of this very old brand attached to it, this whisky is not yet produced in Dunville’s new-found distillery. After its maturation time in an ex-bourbon cask, it got finished in a PX cask. While you have a distinct spiciness as well as a lot of berries in your first sip, light-colored fruits such as lemons and yellow plums shine through at a later point.
Back in the Republic of Ireland we got to try a little souvenir from the country we visited before. The Knappogue Castle 16yo spent 14 years in an ex-bourbon cask before it got its finish in an Oloroso cask for another 21 months. Though it is labeled as an Irish whiskey, it was actually distilled at Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland. This excellent pour offers spicy and nutty notes as well as a variety of ripened red fruits. The finish also brought forth delicious sherry notes. The last dram of the tasting was a twelve years old Powers Single Pot Still Whiskey. Partly matured in sherry casks, it invites you to a small café where you are served both coffee and cocoa accompanied by a bowl of dried fruits.
All in all, we had a wonderful evening with our host Andreas, who enriched our sensation of each whiskey with a wealth of background stories. So whenever you are in Berlin, I would definitely recommend you to visit Cadenhead’s Whisky Market in Friedrichshain. Even if you are not fortunate enough to catch one of their regular tastings, the shop is worth a visit anyway. On this particular evening, I also had the chance to get to know Andi and David of Berlin-based blog Whisky & Vinyl. The very nice conversation I had with them rounded the experience off perfectly.
The Pogues Official Irish Whiskey (Irish Whiskey / NAS / 40% / ~30.00 Euro)
Tullamore DEW 12yo (Irish Whiskey / 12yo / 40% / ~30.00 Euro)
Redbreast 12yo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (Irish Whiskey / 12yo / 40% / ~40.00 Euro)
Dunville’s VR Old Irish Whiskey (Irish Whiskey / 10yo / 46% / ~50.00 Euro)
Knappogue Castle 16yo (Irish Whiskey / 16yo / 40% / ~70.00 Euro)
Powers 12yo Single Pot Still Whiskey (Irish Whiskey / 12yo / 46% / ~50.00 Euro)
Cadenhead’s Whisky Market Berlin @ Web: www.cadenhead-berlin.de
Per the 2014 Technical File dealing with Irish whiskey, production of Irish whiskey must take place “in the geographical area of the island of Ireland”. It explicitly includes Northern Ireland. Thus, Bushmills is properly labeled as Irish Whiskey.