Thursday, 9 February 2017

Dunville's - Three Crowns - Review

"Until recently the only place you could find a bottle of Three Crowns was at auction.  Now, we’re reviving this great whiskey to bring its flavour to a new generation."

Bold words indeed, but these are the words that greet you on the Echlinville webpage dedicated to the upcoming re-launch of this once revered Dunville's brand.

Since 2013, when they received the first Northern Irish distillers licence in around 125 years, Echlinville Distillery has been going from strength to strength with their new distillery / visitors centre and the introduction of some fine whiskey and gin to local market.

This has been further backed up with their PX finished 10 year old single malt being awarded "Best Irish Single Malt (12 years and under)" at the recent Irish Whiskey Awards.

Exciting times certainly lie ahead and we won't have to wait too long to enjoy what they have to offer with the upcoming launch of Dunville's "Three Crowns".

As Shane Braniff, founder of Echlinville Distillery, proudly states on their website - "It is one of the founding goals of our new distillery to bring Dunville's whiskey back to the world."

The original "Three Crowns" was introduced way back in 1830's and lasted around 100 years before being discontinued.  Many bottles are still in circulation and the original style of the whiskey was similar to Dunville's "VR" with the "Three Crowns" using more sherry casks for the maturation.

Fast forward to the present day and what "Three Crowns" delivers this time around is a fine blend of malt and grain whiskeys. 

Echlinville are very kind in letting us in on some of the detail by stating that the whiskey is made up with 4 year old grain, 10 year old malt and 15 year old malt finished in Oloroso casks. 

The whiskey has then been bottled at 46% ABV, which I'm sure you will agree is a pleasant surprise for a blended whiskey.

Thinking about the original style of "Three Crowns", I've no doubt that the use of the Oloroso finished malt, in this modern interpretation, is possibly a small nod to the whiskey that came before.

I for one have been waiting a while for this whiskey, ever since I first knew about it's impending release, as I know the people at Echlinville are extremely passionate about what they produce and I am hopeful that this blend delivers as expected.  Let's see.

Onto my notes:

Nose - Initially sweet with malt but this quickly gives way to fresh, crisp, grain spirit.  Crisp green orchard fruits, lemon biscuit and light toffee.  The sherry element is light but evident, with a little dark fruit gently wrapped around the fresher notes.  A slight hint of old oak comes through and this brings a certain richness to the nose.  You get the sense that the higher strength has benefitted this whiskey.  A little stewed orange and light pepper, which feels like it has arrived courtesy of the casks.  This displays a great balance and you nearly forget it's a blend you are nosing.  All the while the spirit retains a nice intensity and with time the sherry has little more of a say with a dash of dried fruit.

Palate - Initially sweet with malt barley, and you get a little more of the older oak, before the crisp grains and gentle spice take over.  Light citrus orange, lemon and green apples.  Pepper and clove are the main protagonists when it comes to the spice and these are backed up with a hint of dry wood spice.  The sherry element is harder to find, than on the nose, but appears towards the end in the merest of forms.  The palate is all about the younger grain spirit, which is vibrant and challenging, in a good way.  You need to take your time with this whiskey.  Don't go rushing in to it as you would with a basic supermarket blend, allow it time to open and use a little water which will allow more of the sweeter malt to shine through.

Finish - Medium to short with green apple, sour green apple and a decent dry sweetness.

Overall I have to say I'm really impressed with this blend.  The nose starts off all malt before moving into the lighter spirit notes of fresh fruit.  The addition of the older, Oloroso finished, malt is a smart move as it brings enough richness to balance the whiskey out while maybe rounding off some of the slightly rougher notes, that may have been found prior to it's addition, but hey that's one of the reasons behind blending.

In my opinion the nose is, without doubt, superior to the palate but don't let that worry you, the palate holds up perfectly in it's own right.

What this presents is a whiskey that delivers a little more than you would expect from the majority of other blends.  This isn't a whiskey to quaff at your leisure, but one that demands a little  more time and attention.  The higher strength is definitely a major player behind this, and I for one I'm happy it's at 46% as 40% might have flattened this whiskey.

What we have here is another fine example that Echlinville have arrived onto the local whiskey scene meaning serious business.  They are determined to make their mark by producing whiskeys that pack serious flavour and I for one think they are getting it spot on.

I can't wait to see how things move along when their own spirit is ready for release, I think it could be something very special indeed.

Until next time,



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