Irish whisky isn’t normally my scene. In fact, before this tasting, the most Irish whisky I’d had was a couple shots of Jameson while quoting references to The Wire. But Dan brought me back three miniature bottles of Connemara - a peated Irish whisky - from a trip he took this summer, and I thought it was time to give them a try. The Connemara website is currently undergoing a redesign, but here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Cooley Distillery, which produces Connemara:
What makes Cooley’s whiskey distillery distinctive is their use of small copper pot stills with very large necks. These cause the spirits to take 50 percent longer to pass through, and the distillers believe that the result is a more refined product. In addition, many Cooley brand whiskeys are distilled only twice as opposed to the more common Irish method of distilling the spirits three times. This gives Cooley’s products much more flavor than most Irish whiskeys. The whiskeys are matured in the 200 year old granite warehouses of Kilbeggan Distillery located in County Westmeath, some 60 miles away.
The Ireland Whisky Trail also has some nice background on the Cooley Distillery.
I’ve never been a big fan of triple distilled whisky, so this sounds good to me. So here we go - a quick tasting of three expressions of Connemara peated Irish whisky.
Color: White wine - like a Pinot Blanc
Nose: A light, pleasant peat. Tiny hint of fruity sweetness and some spice.
Taste: Light smoke. Very smooth and slightly sweet, but more malty than fruity on the palate.
Overall: An easy drinking and tasty introduction to peated whiskies. Maybe even better than Ardbeg Blasda in this regard.
Connemara (No Age Statement)
Color: Copper, slightly orange
Nose: Lightly fruity. Peppermint in the back. No hint of phenols …
Taste: Bad licorice. Burned rubber.
Overall: I’m seriously wondering if I got a bad batch. The nose is interesting, but the taste completely falls apart. There is no peat at all evident in this whisky. It just tastes wrong.
Connemara Cask Strength (No Age Statement)
Color: pale yellow. A hint of green
Nose: Sweet. Some grass and flowers.
Taste: Hot and floral. The smoke is light and mostly on the finish, almost like a Springbank 10.
Overall: More peat than the NAS, but still not peaty enough for my taste. It’s better than the NAS overall, but worse than the 12 year old.