Irish single grain whiskey is not commonly heard of but for some time now the Cooley Distillery, Co. Louth, has been producing this style of spirit and originally had it on the shelves under the title of Greenore.
Named Greenore, after the port into which the grain, used in making the whiskey, was shipped, the two main expressions, I was always aware of, were the 8 year old and the 18 year old. However after further research I see that there once was also a 6 year old, for the Swedish market, a 15 year old, which preceded the 18 year old and a 19 year old single cask, which was limited release of 300 bottles, released exclusively for the travel retail market and at the time was the oldest Irish single grain whiskey in the world.
With the recent changes in the ownership of Cooley, and the subsequent re-emergence of Kilbeggan as a major brand, the Greenore name is sadly no more and has now been re-named under the Kilbeggan brand.
As far as I am concerned they can call it whatever they like as long as they continue to maintain the high quality and reputation the Greenore name had been building for itself.
Before I go on to my notes it's only fair to mention that recently we have had another Irish single grain enter the market in the recent years and this is of course the Teeling single grain.
Now while details of it shall be reserved for a future review I just want to say that it is also of very high quality and if the overall reputation of Irish single grain continues to grow in this manner it can only be brilliant for Irish whiskey as a whole.
For so long we have been known for our pot stills, our blends and our single malts and now that we can proudly add good quality single grain into the portfolio this completes our set, so to say, and allows us to compete across the board, across the globe.
Onto my notes:
Nose - Green apple, watermelon, ripe banana and fruit salad sweets. Spirit is smooth and creamy and turns the fruits into apple tart with cream and banoffee pie. Feels like great casks have been used in maturing this spirit as there is a distinct, but light, vanilla note and a slightly dry oak spice in the background. A little touch of lemon citrus and a bit of rum and raisin ice cream finish the nose off nicely and towards the end a slight dustiness appears.
Palate - Light, gentle and slightly sour. Crunchy green apples, more banana and the citrus is now more orange in nature. Still undeniably smooth but the youthfulness is more apparent on the palate with a nice kick of spice which, now I think of it, is probably also partly due to the 93% corn used in the production process (the other 7% I believe is malted barley). Still tropical and the oak comes at the end with some dryness and oak spice.
Finish - A little thin and swift but extremely fresh with dry spice.
Overall this is a fantastic whiskey, apart from the short finish. I've never really let a finish cloud my judgement of a whiskey providing the nose and palate are of high quality and in this instance they are. The whiskey has fantastic flavours throughout and if this is an example of what lies ahead for Irish single grain then we're all in for a treat.
What I would say though is that remains to be seen whether this quality will be maintained under the Kilbeggan name? I honestly do not see why it wouldn't but you never know whenever new owners come into town with their new ideas. Hopefully they'll understand the reputation this whiskey has built up and use it as a building block to grow from.
Hopefully I shall have a sample of the Kilbeggan version soon and you can rest assured I'll be checking closely to make sure all that's changed is the name and only the name.
Lastly I'd just like to say thank you to David for the sample which was obtained as a swop.
Until next time,