Updated: Feb 2
Waterford Whiskey Society were delighted to invite Louise McGuane from JJ Corry Irish Whiskey Bonders to our August tasting. Unfortunately, due to changing restrictions, we had to move our tasting online but it definitely didn’t diminish the excitement of the tasting.
Louise founded JJ Corry Irish Whiskey bonders in 2015 after a long career in sales and marketing in the drinks industry worldwide. Upon seeing the re-emergence of craft distillation in Ireland, she decided that it was the right time to return to Ireland and get involved in this new and exciting time for Irish whiskey.
Louise gave us the history of distillation and whiskey bonding in Co. Clare where she hails from, particularly West Clare. The history goes right back to the Patterson family of Kilrush (originally from Scotland) who opened a distillery two years before the famine hit. They made unpeated malt whiskey. Following on from that, JJ Corry was born in 1890 in Cooraclare, one of 13 children. Originally an auctioneer, he moved into whiskey bonding. He died in 1932. When his daughter Bridy Corry passed away in 1983, the shop JJ Corry set up was sold to the Broom family who put all the whiskey labels etc on Ebay to sell. It was here that Louise saw the labels and start her research into the whiskey bonding of the area and JJ Corry, leading to the adoption of the name.
Our first sample was Hanson Batch 2. This is a whiskey that is in JJ Corry’s permanent portfolio. The liquid comes from two distilleries – 70% of 10-year old malt from Cooley Distillery and 30% 4-year old malt from Great Northern Distillery. This is 46% ABV and non-chill filtered as are all their whiskies along with no artificial colours. The whiskey comes from first fill ex Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve Bourbon casks. This whiskey is a peppery, spicy dram with elements of ginger, Christmas cake and wood on the palate. It has a creamy mouth feel and opens up on the nose with a short but sweet finish. This whiskey was named after JJ Corry’s son-in-law, married to Elizabeth. He was known as John Andrew “The Gauger” Hanson a excise tax man in the area.
The second sample was Gael Batch 3, again a permanent feature of the JJ Corry portfolio. This was the first whiskey that was blended by Louise and her team and holds a special place in her heart. This whiskey comprises of 60% malt and 40% grain and is 46% ABV. The malt is made up of 2002 & 2006 Bourbon cask malt and 1991 Sherry cask malt. The grain comprises of 9 – 11-year-old liquid. On the palate this whiskey has a slight medicinal taste, though not unpleasant at all. It is very fruit forward tasting of Granny Smith apples, peaches with overtones of bergamot and white tea. The finish is long and juicy with candied sweets on the tongue.
Louise mentioned that she is a huge fan of peated whiskey and hopes that in the future they will work with a small Irish distillery to produce an Irish based turf / peated whiskey for JJ Corry – certainly one to watch. They are also looking into the solera system as well as introducing some Jamaican rum casks into their collection, so it seems there are many exciting things to look forward to from JJ Corry.
Our third sample was Flintlock 2 which we were delighted to sample as it has yet to be released later this year. The definite favourite of the evening, this is a single malt made from 1 cask of 14-year old whiskey and 3 casks of 18-year old whiskey from the same distillery and rom 2nd and 3rd fill Bourbon casks. This too is 46% ABV with so much flavour it is hard to process it all. The overall palate is autumnal, harvest, fruity flavours with biscuit, liquorice, linseed oil, eucalyptus overtones. Unlike the first two samples, this whiskey has an oiliness to the palate rather than the creaminess previously tasted. This whiskey has a long finish with hedgerow fruits. Louise told the story of the name Flintlock. While renovating the barn on the farm, originally built in the 1700’s, they removed the roof shingles. A flintlock pistol from 1790 with the shot still in it fell from the rafters, safely hidden there from the days of the Black and Tans. This has now been sent to America to be preserved and encased.
Louise shared with us that they now measure everything by weight and volume of density when blending their whiskey and they leave the whiskey tell them what the optimum percentage to dilute the casks down is.
Our fourth sample was Banner Batch 2 which can only be purchased in Co. Clare and was blended by JJ Corry’s very own Eric. This whiskey blend is made up of 70% grain from a vatting of 2010, 2011 and 2016 casks and 30% 2006 malt. This whiskey is very floral on the palate, with reminders of spring with hints of citrus, berries, green apples and a warm, sweetness to the finish. This whiskey is 46% ABV and won an award in the World Whiskey Awards.
Finally, the last sample was the Lock In regular strength. During the Covid lock down, the team at JJ Corry were looking at how to connect with their consumers and get their whiskey to their fans and came up with the idea of an online Zoom tasting where the audience decided which whiskey they should release next and at what strength. Irish Malts sent out 250 sample packs of three samples and the zoom meeting was held on 7th June. The feedback from the audience was fantastic and sample 3 was chosen to be released at cask strength. 434 bottles were released at cask strength and then further bottles were released at 43.86% ABV. This whiskey has ginger and banana on the palate and is made up of 70% blended 2011 & 2016 grain and 30% malt.
We would like to thank Louise for a very open and honest discussion on her whiskey, her hopes for the future and her thoughts on the Irish whiskey industry. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and look forward to meeting Louise in person and a tasting in the future for Waterford Whiskey Society. We would also like to thank all the committee members for their efforts in putting the tasting together.
Best regards from the committee at Waterford Whiskey Society.