Saturday 20 September 2008

Danny Boy Irish whiskey released

The aforementioned Danny Boy whiskey began shipping last month. Although this is not a Cooley brand, it is a 15yo Cooley single malt. I had high expectations for this, therefore, given that the best Irish whiskeys I have tried have been the Tyrconnell 14/15yo single cask, single malts from Cooley.

Although Danny Boy is matured alongside Tyrconnell, and in identical ex-bourbon casks, it won't be the same for several reasons. First, it is a vatting of multiple casks to produce a limited annual run of 2,500 bottles. Second, it is 40% ABV rather than the 46% of Tyrconnell 15yo. Lastly, to ensure clarity of the product at the lower ABV, Danny Boy has been chill-filtered, which must have some effect on taste.

Another startling difference is the price. Tyrconnell 15yo can be had from The Whisky Exchange for GBP£46. Danny Boy goes for £75. You would typically expect the non-chill filtered, single cask whiskey to attract the premium but that's not so here. Perhaps the pricing strategy will be different in the US. Certainly the Danny Boy brand will have a far greater resonance there where the song of the same name is much loved.

Presentation is also a factor. To quote a Cooley representative:
The packaging for Danny Boy reflects its pedigree with the crystal style decanter and gold cap and each bottle coming in a high quality presentation box with a signed certificate from [Master Blender] Noel Sweeney personally guaranteeing the provenance of the whiskey.
Anyway, the important question is: what's the whiskey like? It certainly held my interest, though I can't rate it above the Tyrconnell 15yo (or, indeed, the Tyrconnell 10yo port finish). For the more formal tasting notes, I'll hand you over to noted connoisseur and collector of Irish whiskeys, Adrian Phelan:
Sweet and syrupy, ripe white flesh fruits (apple and pear) and vanilla cut with the sharpness of citrus (lemon). A touch of salt and also some wood presence.
A bit bitter to start then a slight burst of wood spice but quickly mellows out to some gobstopper sweetness. Then back to burnt marmalade. 
Dry at first with a touch of perfume but the sweetness is there too. A bit short though.

For a different take, here are the notes supplied by Cooley:
Fresh grain with an unmistakable barley fragrance. Ripe fruit, all spice and even toffee... reminiscent of a rich fruit cake. 
Silky smooth but intense on the pallet, with all of the classic pointers of the Cooley DNA, honey and lemon. 
Clean oak evident in the after-taste due to the influence of the ageing and amazingly complex in a range of subtle afternotes... liquorice being one.