Our December Tasting was an incredibly special one. As our last tasting of the year, Waterford Whiskey Society wanted to make it an extra unique one as a thank you to all our members who have supported the Society throughout a strange and tough year. It was an informal evening where chat and banter was more than encouraged and lively discussions and opinions on the various whiskeys were not short coming!!
We presented two mystery whiskeys and encouraged our members to open tasting 1 and sip it throughout the night to see if they could guess what it was and had a whiskey quiz dispersed among the tastings.
To begin the tasting, we started off with Hakushu 12-year Single Malt Whiskey. The distillery was built in 1973 and is set amidst spectacular pine forests close to Japanese Alps. This whiskey is a mixture of peated and non-peated bourbon casks matured and has a PPM of 17 along with an ABV of 43%. Hakushu 12yo has aroma of pears, crushed leafy bracken a hint of citrus. You can enjoy subtle smokiness and the sweet poached pears on the palate. This whiskey was discontinued and is said to be relaunching in some markets in 2021. It started off at a selling price of €45 but can now be bought at auction for around €200.
Next came the Fercullen 16-year Cask Strength Single Malt from Powerscourt Distillery. This extremely limited bottling of Fercullen 16 Single Malt is one of just 1306 released. Bottled at cask strength with an ABV 54.8%, this was matured in fresh bourbon barrels for over 16 years and married with Malt whiskey finished in a Sicilian Marsala Wine Cask to absorb tropical fruit and nut tones. On the nose you get vanilla, honey, pineapple, mango and nuttiness. The sweet, ripe fruit flavours follow through right to the end accompanied by the nutty complexity, delivering a beautifully balanced taste and long finish. Because the distiller Noel Sweeney came from Cooley Distillery, it is said that he picked the best casks that he could to go into this whiskey and he did not disappoint. Now costing around €220 at auction if it can be found this was a treat to taste.
Our third tasting was Glendronach 25-Year Single Malt from Speyside in Scotland. This distillery was pioneers of the sherry casks. This heavy robust spirit from 1992 was released in 2018 for the Taiwanese market and has an ABV 50.8%. On the nose you could get raisins, dates, plum jam, leather along with some sweet notes of white chocolate and vanilla. On the palate, this Scotch was sweet, spicy with old notes of leather, a pleasant mustiness of damp forest and tobacco with a long heavy finish of tobacco and leather. This whiskey was a real favourite of the evening. This bottle now costs around €420 so to taste it was truly a great experience.
A lively discussion on the merits of older whiskeys, fermentation times and the fact that Scotland have great reserves of older stocks ensued.
Our fourth whiskey was the Redbreast Dream Cask 28-Year. The whiskeys used to create the limited-edition Dream Cask were matured for a minimum of 28 years in a mix of ex-Bourbon barrels, an oloroso Sherry butt, and a ruby Port seasoned cask. The liquid was then married in the ruby Port cask. Created by master blender Billy Leighton in collaboration with blender Dave McCabe, the whiskey was the product of four whiskey journeys that date back more than 30 years. An utterly delicious whiskey at €500 a bottle it was another treat to taste. The merits of the Redbreast 27-Year-Old whiskey versus the Redbreast Dream Cask 28 Year Old was discussed and debated with no clear winner at the finish!
Our fifth whiskey was Pappy Van Winkle's family reserve 15yr 107 proof 53.5% ABV. We would very much like to thank Ian Doogue from High Spirits for sourcing this whiskey for us and also for the highly informative and lively presentation of this truly exceptional Bourbon. This bourbon is one of the rarest in the world and made from a mix of wheat, corn and malted barley. This was a real surprise to many of our members who initially said that they did not like bourbon. If anything would convince you that there are amazing bourbons out there to be tasted, this is the whiskey to do it. With a creamy oily mouth feel, the taste is rich leading to a decadent, huge, full-bodied palate with intense caramel, toffee, and peppery brown spice flavours. The finish is a long, complex, evolving fade of spice and wood.
We then revealed our mystery no. 1 whiskey Waterford Distillery Organic Gaia 1.1 which we would really like to again thank Ned and Megan from Waterford Distillery for providing us with this whiskey. It sparked off a lively conversation on the merits of releasing young whiskey in this price point and the collectors versus drinkers of this whiskey world but all agreed that for a three year old whiskey, it is exceptional and we all really look forward to tasting the future releases that Waterford Distillery have to come.
Finally, our surprise whiskey no. 2 was revealed to be Teelings 14 Year Single Malt matured in Virgin Amburana Brazilian hardwood. Again, we would really like to thank Teelings for providing this unique and exciting whiskey which is their first release of their Wonders of Wood range. This unique whiskey had a very distinctive taste of sandalwood, vanilla, cardamom, and walnut. We really look forward to tasting more in this range.
It was a great evening of lively conversation and banter and it seemed like no one wanted the evening to end.
The Waterford Whiskey Society committee would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members who supported us this year and who continued to make our tastings on Zoom a roaring success. We have some exciting things planned for next year and look forward to sharing them with you all.
We would also like to thank the Committee as always for their hard work and dedication to the Waterford Whiskey Society and making it a great community to be part of.
Wishing you all the best for 2021,
Waterford Whiskey Society Committee.