Monday 17 February 2014

Dunville's - Very Rare - Irish Whiskey - Review

A while back I brought you a bit of an internet exclusive with the news that the Dunville's Irish Whiskey Brand was returning to our shelves via the new Northern Irish distillery Echlinville, which is based not far from Belfast in a small town called Kircubbin.  

For those of you who missed it you can check out that blog update by clicking right here.

Back in the "Dunville's Irish Whiskey is back…sort of" update I mentioned I would be buying a bottle for review and also seeking out further information on the whiskey.  

Well there's been success on both fronts so here we go.

The new style bottle of Dunville's
The whiskey itself is a traditional 20/80 blend of malt to grain and due to their current confidential supply agreement Echlinville are unable to state from which Irish distillery(s) it has originated from.  In my opinion I would say that both grain and malt are from the Cooley distillery stock.

The grain whiskies are 4 & 5 year old and the malts are between 5 & 8 years old, however they have deliberately made no mention of aging as they are planning to release aged malts in the fullness of time.

The whiskies were brought to the distillery, in their separate casks, where they were blended straight from cask and bottled.

It has been bottled at 40% ABV and without doubt there's some caramel added and presumably chill filtration.

The ‘Very Rare Irish Whiskey’ notation on the label is a reference to the limited quantity of bottles available so to this extent when it’s done - it’s done!!

With regards cost the bottle I bought was priced at £29.99.

The distillery also informed me that in time they are confident that their maturing stock will move Dunville’s Irish Whiskey into the 21st century.

It is this last statement I wish to focus on as, after trying the offering they have bottled for this relaunch, I don't feel they have quite hit the mark just yet.  Hopefully "in time" they can live up to their confidence and release their own matured spirit to make their mark on the Irish whiskey scene, after all variety is the spice of life.

Onto the tasting notes:

Nose - Light grain spirit, some hints of sweet malt, honey, fresh apple, light oak which I would even expand to say has a touch of smoke / char / toasted wood.  Light spice, hint of vanilla and banana.  To be honest the nose is quite enjoyable.  Good mix of fruit and toasty notes.

Palate - Again it's a light, young spirit.  The wood influence that came through on the nose is completely invisible here.  The few flavours I could find were pepper, orange and more apple.

Finish - Short and non-existent apart from a blast of heat.

Now for a conclusion which I shall take a little time over.  

Firstly I've never sampled a whiskey that has such a pleasant nose with a such flat taste.  The nose was quite fresh and definitely had a nice wood touch yet the taste simply did not match up.  The palate was flat and quite frankly a non-event.  I don't really know what the problem is but I would speculate that, as I feel this whiskey has come from Cooley, the original owners of the spirit (Beam Global) have sold on whatever they had lying so as not to impact on their own stocks.  Even though the wood in the nose is quite evident I get the feeling that the casks used, in maturing this whiskey, were on their last legs.

Secondly, if the whiskey has come from Cooley then, a fair comparison to make would be with the Titanic 5 year old.  The Titanic 5 is much more the finished article compared to this Dunville's Irish Whiskey.  With a bit more thought a possible answer to this is that the Belfast Distillery Company, the creators of Titanic Whiskey, managed to secure the whiskey for their product prior to Beam Global taking over Cooley meaning they maybe got a better deal or a better selection of casks.  

To be honest this is all pure guess work but thought it best to give you some form of opinion based upon possibilities.

Lastly all I would like to say is this.  I am without doubt very grateful that Echlinville Distillery is here.  Anything that brings jobs and investment to this part of the world is nothing but good and for it to be in the form of whiskey production is all the better.  With this in mind though I really do hope they go that step further and match their ambition with a high quality product of their own.  I fully understand the need to get the brand out there with this initial release but I feel if they are to release other bottlings, prior to their own spirit being matured, then, cost permitting, they should secure some matured whiskey that will really start to add a touch of quality to their brand.

In it's heyday Irish whiskey was a force to be reckoned with and with a little bit of luck we can get back to that proud standing but if we are to get there then our new distilleries need to aim high and create genuine competition for the Yellow Spot's, Redbreast's and Bushmills of this island.  I for one shall have my fingers crossed.  

Well, as I said, I'll shall be continuing to push on with more reviews and thankfully I've enough to keep me going with samples of the new Discovery Road range and a few wee other gems too.  These shall be happily dissected and brought to you all in Whisky Belfast form ASAP.

Until next time though,



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