Having first started in 2003, West Cork Distillers are a company I have heard different stories about without actually ever getting a chance to try any of their whiskeys. I was therefore only too happy when I recently got the chance to get a couple of samples and see exactly what they have to offer.
Like I said the company has been on the go since 2003 and in 2013 they moved their distillery into larger premises based in Skibbereen, West Cork.
They are responsible for a range of whiskeys, vodka and liqueurs with brands such as Drombeg, Two Trees, Lough Hyne, Kennedy and of course their West Cork Whiskey.
With regards to the whiskey side of things, they can boast an ever increasing range with two blends to accompany a range of aged and finished malts.
Moving on to this review, one of the samples I recently received was of the West Cork 12 year old Single Malt - Port Cask Finish.
From looking about online, it's pretty hard to get much detail behind the whiskey but it seems that it has had a short finish in a port cask before being bottled at 43% ABV. They are very clever to neglect to mention whether the malt is double or triple distilled so as to obviously disguise the origin of the original spirit.
I am not sure where the company are at with their own distilled spirit but I would probably guess that the current range may have started it's life in Co. Louth (if you know what I mean).
As with a lot of other new Irish whiskeys I've no doubt that West Cork are carrying out the finish themselves so there is still a lot of room for them to stamp their own flavour onto the whiskey. The question is can they deliver? Let's find out.
Onto my notes:
Nose - Initially this is a bit tricky to get to grips with as the obvious tropical notes battle with the port finish for dominance. As it develops the tropical flavours win the battle with fresh banana, banana cream, a little green apple and a touch of lemon zest zing. The Port still finds time to come through with a little blackcurrant and raspberry. It would almost put you in mind of "Fruits of the Forest" yoghurt with the cream notes still coming through also. Any idea of spice is very restrained with only the mildest of pepper lingering under the fruits. With time the darker Port fruits marry with the citrus element to bring out a little orange. Very nice actually.
Palate - Initially it's all more of the same with citrus and banana giving way to red berries and a little more spice. Deeper lemons and oranges are to the fore with the black pepper and clove coming through nicely. The berries are also a lot deeper with distinct blackcurrant tailing off into a little more green apple. The fruits on the palate are definitely a lot more richer in nature and I have to say this works really well.
Finish - Deep, juicy, Port wine berries, a little dry spice and sour apple sweets to finish.
Overall I have been pleasantly surprised by this whiskey. Like I said I had heard a lot of different things about West Cork Distillers but it's only when you actually try a product should you form your own opinion.
What I've discovered is that they certainly seem to have good malt whiskeys under their control and they also seem to know how to pack some extra flavour into them with good finishes in good casks.
The price point is also very decent too with the 12 year olds setting you back about €50, or about £45 at current exchange rates.
At these prices I'd definitely recommend this whiskey and West Cork Distillers are a company I shall be keeping a close eye on as they move forward.
Until next time,