I had a splendid time visiting the Irish Whiskeys booth at Bottle Market this year! During my stay, I had a nice chat with my old buddy Thorsten Frahling (Ball of Malt Tastings) and his partner-in-crime for the weekend, Daithi O’Connell from Irish indie bottler W. D. O’Connell Whiskey Merchants. As we talked about heavy metal music and high percentage beverages, I sipped a wonderfully smooth 10-year-old grain whisky from Daithi’s top-class spirits portfolio. And when I left, I took with me four awesome samples that Thorsten had filled for me. Besides his own single cask bottling The Folk Singer’s Choice No. 1, he also poured me generous portions of three drams distributed in Germany by Irish Whiskeys: Clonakilty Crossroads Imperial Stout Cask Finish, W. D. O’Connell’s Bill Phil – Batch 03, and The Friends’ Collection – Release One. In the evenings following up on Bottle Market, I savored them one after another. And now I am finally ready to share with you my tasting notes for this highly enjoyable Irish whiskey four-piece! So, without further ado, here we go … !
The Folk Singer’s Choice No. 1
(Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey • Bourbon barrel • 59% • 68 bottles)
Some of you might know Thorsten Frahling as the friendly face behind Ball of Malt Tastings. Others might know him as the loud voice of The Dirty Old One Man Raw Folk Experience. And a few might even remember him from his work with the underground doom metal band Tortured Spirit. With The Folk Singer’s Choice No. 1, he adds another entry to his resume: whiskey bottler! For his first own release, Thorsten picked a heavily peated 5 Years Old from a secret Irish distillery. The powerful dram opens with a heavy, fumy nose that covers a broad range of flavors: from salt-crusted ham and dried herbs to aromatic wild honey and, of course, dense peat smoke. In the mouth, The Folk Singer’s Choice No. 1 presents itself sweeter and more savory. Here, it offers salted caramel, banana chips, cocoa nibs, beeswax, and vanilla. Plus a big and bold whiff of smoke. The finale lasts long. Before he leaves the stage, The Folk Singer performs a crowd pleaser of good length. His final offerings to the audience include chewy toffee, jellied orange, aromatized zest, semolina porridge, and – you might have guessed it – smoke, smoke, smoke (not on the water though).
Clonakilty Crossroads Imperial Stout Cask Finish
(Single Malt Irish Whiskey • Beer cask finish • 57.7% • 714 bottles)
Now that’s a combo you don’t see all too often: an Irish whiskey (by Clonakilty Distillery) finished for 18 long months in Bavarian beer casks (by Crossroads)! The result is a strong, honey-colored malt with a prominent nose full of caramel sauce, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and roasted barley. After a while, these thick and sturdy notes get accompanied by bright fruits: apples, peaches, plums – all a bit aged and mushy. In the mouth, I first sense a flood of chocolate milk. Bit by bit, this heavy key note gets pierced and punctured by lighter and fresher sensations: Juicy pear. Golden kiwi. Spritzy lemon. Creamy vanilla. And also some zests and grains. The finish is smooth and pleasing, but also alive and kicking. It produces long-echoing notes of jelly bananas, toffee chunks, mint leaves, white choc flakes, and pear compote. Delish, delish!
Bill Phil – Batch 3 by W. D. O’Connell
(Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey • 1st fill American oak • 47.5% • Small batch)
Under the Bill Phil banner, go-getting indie bottler W. D. O’Connell releases its peated Irish whiskey expressions. Batch 3 of the series comes with an elevated ABV of 47.5 per cent and an exclusive maturation in 1st fill American whiskey barrels. Its intriguing bouquet brims with citrus and medical smoke as well as apple, pastry, ash, and moist stone. The palate is characterized by a very satisfying mixture of sweetness (vanilla flan, sponge cake) and peatiness (rich smoke, fresh band-aids). Plus green and yellow fruits; and an ounce on finely pulverized white pepper. The lengthy aftertaste provides lemon jelly, apple puree, marzipan, malt, and fresh wood – wrapped up in an all encompassing veil of medical smoke. If, like me, you first and foremost tend to look towards Islay to still your peaty cravings, Bill Phil by W. D. O’Connell will broaden your horizon and show you: There’s excellent smokers to be found in Ireland, too!
The Friends’ Collection – Release One by Irish Whiskeys
(Single Malt Irish Whiskey • 1st fill Bourbon cask • 59% • 253 bottles)
The Friends’ Collection has a telling name in more than one regard: First, it was released by three friends, namely whiskey distributor Mareike Spitzer, spirits consultant Julia Nourney, and folk singer Thorsten Frahling. Second, it was created to be enjoyed in good company and shared among friends. “Release One” is a 5-year-old single cask bottling from an undisclosed production unit in Ireland. It clocks in at 59 per cent ABV and changes hands for 60 bucks per 0.7 liter bottle. Character- and aroma-wise, the whiskey starts off with a very creamy nose that bursts with vanilla pudding, clotted crème, banana mash, green tea, and toffee chunks. Then follows a pleasing degustation in the course of which is high ABV tickles the tongue a little. The offered flavors include mouth-watering notes of malt, pastry, brittle, almond, and brown sugar. The good aftertaste is medium long and easy going. As the juice descends down the throat, it becomes a little brighter. Now I taste honey cake and caramel sauce on the one hand as well as spring twigs and kernel on the other. Plus lime peel, pineapple juice, and almond paste. This mixture works very well – and while I already enjoyed the whiskey s lot on my own, I can imagine that it tastes even better when shared with friends. Slainte!
The Folk Singer’s Choice No. 1 (Single Malt / Ireland / 5yo / Bourbon barrel / 59% / 85 Euro*)
Clonakilty Crossroads (Single Malt / Ireland / NAS / Stout cask finish / 57.7% / 65 Euro)
Bill Phil by W. D. O’Connell (Single Malt / Ireland / NAS / 1st fill Am. oak / 47.5% / 60 Euro)
The Friends’ Collection – Release One (Single Malt / Ireland / 5yo / 1st fill Bourbon / 59% / 60 Euro)
* Includes a free CD of Thorsten’s music, too.
Irish Whiskeys @ Web: https://www.irish-whiskeys.de
Irish Whiskeys @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/irishwhiskeys
Ball of Malt Tastings @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ballofmalt
Clonakilty @ Web: https://www.clonakilty.ie
W. D. O’Connell @ Web: https://wdoconnell.com
*** I got the samples for free at the
Irish Whiskeys booth at Bottle Market. ***