Friday, 24 January 2014

Celtic Cask - Sé - Review

On Wednesday past I was lucky enough to be involved in a very exclusive little "Tweet Tasting" which was kindly hosted by The Celtic Whiskey Club of Dublin, Ireland.  The online tasting was highlighting the launch of the latest addition to their Celtic Cask range - Celtic Cask Sé.

Last Saturday I posted a blog update to give you all some background regarding the story behind this whiskey along with some insight into the Celtic Whiskey Club itself and The Celtic Whiskey Shop which is also based in Dublin, Ireland.  In case you missed the post you can find it by simply clicking here.

As for the the whiskey I think it's only fair that I recap what Celtic Cask Sé actually is.  It's a 22 year old, single malt whiskey that was born in September 1991 and bottled in November 2013.  It has been double distilled and is from from an unnamed distillery that normally practices triple distillation.  The cask, number 1916, came to the company courtesy of the Teeling Whiskey Company and has been finished, for about 4 months, in one of their Anima Negra wine casks.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and another interesting note is that the initial spirit was distilled from crystal malt, which is more commonly used in brewing to add colour and body to ales.  It is retailing for €195 and can only be bought at the Celtic Whiskey Shop either in store or online.

Now, during the last update I gave my opinion as to where, I felt, the whiskey had originated from.  Although the Celtic Whiskey Shop has stated that it is from an unnamed distillery they have given away some clues by stating that the distillery normally practices triple distillation and that crystal malt was used in the making of this whiskey.  These clues led me to believe that the whiskey was in fact from Bushmills, and now, after sampling the Bushmills 12yr and 16yr, either side of the Celtic Cask Sé I am in no doubt.  The similarities are there for all to see in style and taste.  The main differences are obviously the red wine finish and the fact that Celtic Cask Sé has been presented at 46%, with presumably no colour added and no chill filtration.  I also have an opinion on the double distillation as opposed to the triple but I shall leave that for my review of the Bushmills 12yr, which shall be coming up soon.

Onto the tasting notes for Celtic Cask Sé -

Nose - The first hit is that of undiluted blackcurrant juice such as Ribena, fresh banana, ripe oranges, light spices and a very light menthol note.  An underlying nuttiness runs throughout and with time more tropical notes came through including fresh pineapple.  The red wine finish, whilst present, did not take away form the overall fruitiness of the spirit and the nose showcased this through great fruity complexity.  With water the experience became more citrus with more orange and now some lemon.  Beautifully, rich malt also made an appearance.

Palate -  JUICY, JUICY, JUICY!!!  Big red fruit arrival.  This is accompanied by sweet malt and warming spice in the form of clove.  Whilst the spice was warm it was not the slightest bit harsh.  Stewed apples and oranges with a touch more menthol.  Red fruit continues with more blackcurrant and maybe raspberry.  With water the spice is toned down and the red fruit is amplified.  I also noted a continued sweetness throughout the palate towards the finish.

Finish - Medium to long with clove spice and a lasting taste of more rich, juicy red fruit.

Overall - This is without doubt one of the most fruit laden whiskies I have ever had the pleasure of sampling.  Not as heavy as a sherried malt but fresher and juicier.  At €195 you will certainly have to save up a few pennies to get your hands on this whiskey but I'll put it in another light which might influence your decision.

For me this whiskey is not a million miles away from the Bushmills 21yr which can retail anywhere between £120 - £140, depending where you shop.  Translated this is roughly €145 - €170.  When you consider that the Bushmills 21yr is bottled at 40% and chill filtered with maybe some caramel added I think I'd rather spend that little bit extra and snap up a bottle of the Celtic Cask Sé which has been presented in a far better light and is also a 22yr old single cask.

Fantastic stuff.

Well that's all for this update.  Like I said I shall be back soon with not only a review of the Bushmills 12yr but also an insight into an aspect of the Belfast whiskey scene, namely the retailers.

Lastly I would like to, once again, thank the Celtic Whiskey Club for the sample and also for hosting the tweet tasting.  Hopefully there will be many more highlights throughout the year.

Until next time,



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