For our October tasting, Waterford Whiskey Society were delighted to welcome Ronan O’Neill, international manager from Walsh Whiskey. This was a long-awaited tasting and it did not disappoint. Walsh Whiskey are the makers of the Irishman and Writers Tears ranges, the Champagne of whiskey using single malt, single pot still or a blend of the two for their whiskies.
Bernard and Rosemary Walsh started Walsh Whiskey in 1999 by releasing the Hot Irishman, a perfect blend for Irish coffee and then followed on with the Irishman Crème Liqueur. In 2006 Irishman Founders Reserve was released and the brand has gone from strength to strength ever since. Of their two ranges, the Irishman is the more premium whiskey range mainly malt focused while the Writers Tears range has a more contemporary approach, mainly pot still.
The first tasting was Irishman Founders Reserve a blend of 70% single malt and 30% single pot still. It is triple distilled and aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels, a mixture of 1st, 2nd and 3rd fill and aged for between 5-8 years. It is 40% ABV. On the nose this whiskey has lots of black pepper, spice with floral and fruit notes. On the palate it is spicy with hints of digestive biscuits, vanilla, chocolate and toffee with a very long finish with oak and butterscotch.
Next came the Founders Reserve Caribbean Cask Finish. This is the Founders Reserve whiskey finished for 6 months in premium rum cask from St. Lucia. It is 46% ABV. On the nose there is tropical notes of banana and pineapple. On the mouth there is spice, tropical fruits and black pepper. It has a long finish with figs, oak spices.
Finally, in the Irishman range we tasted the Irishman Single Malt Marsala Cask Finish, which was bottled exclusively for Dublin Airport – 24 casks and 10,000 bottles. Aged in American Oak Bourbon Casks and Oloroso Sherry Casks, this whiskey is triple distilled, non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV. It is finished for 15 months in Marsala hogshead from Florio winery in Sicily. On the nose this whiskey is floral with notes of honey and vanilla. On the mouth it is dry on the palate with biscuit, cereal notes and spiciness with a long and balanced finish.
We then moved onto the Writers Tears range named for the famous Irish playwrights, poets and writers that would have drank this style of whiskey.
Firstly, we tasted Writers Tears Copper Pot a blend of 30% single malt and 70% single pot still. This whiskey is aged in American Oak Bourbon casks for between 5 – 8 years and is bottled at 40% ABV. On the nose this whiskey is light with notes of green apples and pears. On the palate there are notes of gentle spice, ginger and orchard fruits with a creamy mouth feel and a long elegant finish.
Next on the Writers Tears list was the Double Oak. This blend of single malt and single pot still whiskey is aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels and French Oak Cognac casks. It is 46% ABV and a vatting of Writers Tears Copper Pot and is non-chill filtered. On the nose, this whiskey is sweet vanilla, cinnamon, plums and poached pears. The taste is of grapes and citrus zest. It has a finish of chocolate undertones and lingering spice.
Moving on we tasted the Japanese Mizunara Cask Finish Writers Tears. This consists of a vatting of single pot still and single malt American Oak casks and finished in Japanese Mizunara Oak for 9 months. It I non-chill filtered and bottled at 55% ABV. On the nose this exceptional whiskey has notes of green apple, pear, cloves and spiciness. On the palate is has hints of exotic oriental notes, coconut, spice and sandalwood. The finish is initially dry and then creamy.
Finally, we tasted the Dick Macs Seaweed IPA Cask, finished for 14 months in seaweed IPA barrels and bottled at cask strength of 56.3% ABV. Again this was a exceptional whiskey and unusual , light on the nose with hints of sea salt on the palate with a dry salty finish.
There wasn’t a clear favourite of the evening, but the general consensus was that of the Writers Tears range the Double Oak and the Marsala Cask whiskeys were a real winner. Of the Irishman range the Seaweed IPA and the Mizunara casks were the firm favourites. This is a fantastic range of whiskeys at a very reasonable price.
It was another successful zoom meeting and we thoroughly enjoyed our chat with Ronan. We look forward to more exciting things to come from Walsh Whiskey and would also like to thank all that attended.
Waterford Whiskey Society Committee.