'An Introduction to Irish Whiskey' with Mark McLaughlin

Mark Twain once said “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough”. This was certainly the case at our last whiskey tasting night, with a great selection of whiskies sampled!

We were very fortunate to have Mark McLaughlin of the Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin, conducting the tasting entitled ‘An Introduction to Irish Whiskey’. The intimate setting of the bar provided for great whiskey conversation, as everyone nosed and tasted the whiskey selection. Tickets were in demand with a limit of 20 issued, but those who did get to attend were treated to an intriguing and captivating tasting.

Mark explained the history behind each whiskey, the stories and how they came about. First up was Knappogue 12 Year Old. Mark explained how the whiskey was nicely balanced with fresh and light fruity characters. Flavours of lemon, apples and spices were expressed by the tasters. The finish was rich and spicy. One of the favourite parts of the tasting was actually the aromas. Scents of vanilla, freshly baked bread and even bread and butter pudding were enjoyed.

Up next was the Tullamore Dew, 12 year old whiskey. This had won ‘Best Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of less than €60)’ at this years Irish Whiskey Awards. All the whiskies in this blend are matured in bourbon and sherry casks. In particular, the sherry cask finish adds a sweet nuttiness to the taste. There was even a hint of Christmas cake and lemon in the aroma! The palate was smooth with some woody undertones and a hint of spice. The finish was slightly dry with some sweet and citrus notes lingering. It is important to point out, that Glencairn glasses were used for the tasting. This glass is considered the best for focusing and holding the whiskey aroma due to its inward-curve design.

As the evening progressed and whiskey conversation was in full flow, tasters sampled some Powers John’s Lane. Mark explained how this comprises mostly of a ‘robust, heavy pot still spirit’ and is aged in ex-bourbon casks with some sherry cask ageing. It is intended to reflect the ‘old style of whiskey that was once made in Dublin’. The scent gave distinctive cocoa and mocha overtones with hints of dried apricots, orange peel and marshmallow. Tasters remarked how it was smooth and crisp. Flavours of marmalade and toffee apples were experienced. When water was added, it revealed a more citrusy nose and fruit aromas were released.

To finish off the evening, Teelings Single Grain whiskey was tasted. This whiskey was awarded ‘World’s Best Grain’ at the World Whiskies Awards in 2014 and ‘Best Single Grain’ at the Irish Whiskey Awards in 2013. Interestingly it is matured in Californian red wine barrels, which give it an intensely fruity liquid, amber in colour with berry notes. The whiskey has a sweet/fruity taste with vanilla, butter and honey flavours and was enjoyed by most of the tasters.

Attendees were thrilled to leave with a wealth of knowledge on the four whiskies sampled. They also each received their very own Garavans Glencairn tasting glass, to continue their exploration of Irish Whiskey in style! Make sure you don’t miss our next tasting event! Join our mailings list for upcoming events and whiskey news.

Sláinte!