Wednesday 2 October 2013

The Palace Bar Fourth Estate Single Malt

Many Dublin pubs still proclaim themselves "whiskey bonders" on their signage, a throwback to the days when they could buy loose whiskey from distilleries to bottle themselves and serve to their customers. That practice had died out by the 1970s as the distillers took bottling and branding in-house.

One of the great Dublin pubs, The Palace Bar, revived the tradition in 2011 with a Palace Bar 9-year old single cask single malt from Cooley. It's a good whiskey and still stocked behind the bar.

Today the pub has announced a new collaboration with the Teeling Whiskey Company. The Palace Bar "Fourth Estate" Single Malt is the first in a series of exclusive releases. The whiskey was selected by third-generation owner, Willie Aherne, and bar patrons, and hand-bottled and labelled by Willie along with his father, Liam.

There are 1,000 bottles at 46% ABV (non-chill filtered, of course). It's a combination of several casks, of which the press release reveals few details except that it includes some whiskey over 21 years old. In this it sounds similar to The Gathering from a few months back, also created by Teeling. I haven't tried the new whiskey yet so I can't offer an opinion on the family resemblance.

As a single malt, it all comes from the one distillery, and I don't think it's giving away any state secrets to say it's not a Cooley this time around.

The name, "Fourth Estate", refers to the Palace's status as a watering hole and "office" for Dublin's journalists and newspaper workers in the 1940s and 50s. (It's a nice coincidence that the bar's address is Fleet Street, which is another catch-all term for the press in the UK.) The label reproduces a 1940s illustration by Alan Reeves of the denizens of the Palace's back lounge. The original still hangs there and you can have fun picking out Smyllie of The Irish Times and various other well-known journalistic and literary wordsmiths.

It's a nice, unforced homage to Dublin history and to the Aherne family's role as host and lubricator. The journalists may have dispersed or sobered up but it's good to know you can still order a measure of something special at the bar.

There will be more exciting whiskey news from The Palace in a couple of weeks' time, so stay tuned.

Palace Whiskey bottled by Willie Aherne's grandfather in the 1950s or 60s