Irish whiskey is certainly booming. Everywhere you look these days there are endless articles in newspapers, and online, about the way in which Irish whiskey is moving from strength to strength.
New companies seem to be popping up every other month and one that has appeared over the last year or so is Hyde Irish Whiskey.
Situated in West Cork, in the far south of Ireland, Hyde are using a model adopted by many. Whilst patiently waiting for their own whiskey to mature they have bought up single malt whiskey from another distillery, finished it themselves and are releasing these bottlings to build up much needed capital.
The first release is the Hyde No.1 - Sherry Cask Finished - 10 year old Irish Single Malt.
This first release has also been named "The President's Cask" in honour of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland, who was sworn into office on 26th June 1938.
Hyde whiskey state that West Cork provides perfect maturing conditions and this first release has spent 10 years in a first fill bourbon barrel before finishing off for 9 months in an Oloroso sherry cask.
They have then brought this down to 46% ABV, avoided chill filtration, and bottled 5,000 bottles, which have been individually numbered.
Not that it really matters, but for the serious knowledge hunters out there, it seems, from the press release, that only the sherry cask maturation has taken place in West Cork with the previous 10 years presumably having taken place in Co.Louth where this Single Malt originates from.
Onto my notes:
Nose - Straight from the off I always love the strange initial smells I get when I immediately pour a whiskey into the glass, and this is no exception, with a very faint initial hit of damp newspapers. Let me assure you though that this is not at all a bad smell and is probably coming from the sherry casks. The fresh / tropical fruits of the spirit are here along with the obvious touch of sherry cask and they work quite well. Looking to the spirit side of things there's fresh apple, prominent ripe banana (maybe over ripe), a little fresh pineapple and some lemon / orange citrus. Very much a fruit salad. There's a slight buttery creaminess that leads into the sherry flavours but just before there's a little perfumed floral note. The sherry influence is restrained but obvious. The damp newspaper I got has now levelled out to a traditional dusty old wood effect. Strawberry, raspberry and a bit of a youthful kick that brings some spice into play. Over time the distinction between spirit and cask becomes less noticeable and the cask takes over. The only thing that seems to happen with a touch of water is the fresh fruit gets a boost for a moment or two.
Palate - Initially soft and sweet that leads into strawberry chews. A little on the thin side but all the flavours from the nose are here. The dusty wood can be found in the arrival and the youthful spice takes over. Orange, lemon, strawberry, raspberry and red apple which combines with the sweetness to give a taste of toffee apple. Drying off quickly into the finish and with water the flavours are killed off quite quickly. Best leaving water out of this.
Finish - A little short with some more fresh fruit. To be honest, the finish is a little on the average side, but to be fair to Hyde I do not blame them in the slightest. I have always found the finish, on most whiskeys from Co. Louth, to be on the average side, regardless of how it's been handled.
Overall this is a very decent whiskey that's been finished well to provide a nice balance of original flavours from the spirit with some fruity notes from the cask.
When reviewing new whiskeys I always try to think about price as well, and this Hyde whiskey is currently on sale, in a well known Irish Whiskey store, for a fraction under £50.
If I'm being honest I think this is too expensive for a 10 year old whiskey. I understand the need to raise funds but this is a bit on the high side for my liking and for that reason I'd probably not buy it.
That said, that is the only reason I would not buy it. Flavour wise I think this hits the right notes and shows off the Co. Louth spirit whilst allowing Hyde to express themselves through a nicely managed finish.
As with a lot of the new companies I think Hyde have an excellent platform on which to build and I'm eagerly anticipating their new release which is due out very soon. This will be their "Hyde No.2 - Rum Cask Finished - 10 year old".
Rum cask finishes are something I'm starting to come round to, after recently trying a single cask version, so I'm intrigued to firstly see how Hyde manage it and secondly, if the spirit is from the same distillery, how the already abundant tropical notes combine with a tropical finish. Exciting stuff and hopefully the Hyde team will be at Whiskey Live Dublin to allow me to try some.
I would lastly just like to say a big thank you to Conor Hyde for the generous sample.
Until next time,