Wednesday 10 June 2015

An Púcán / Teeling Single Cask Single Malt

The revival of Irish whiskey is usually quantified as the number of working and planned distilleries. One indicator I'd like to hear is the number of whiskey bars in Ireland, where a "whiskey bar" would have a minimum of, say, 100 whiskeys on the shelf. (And, of course, bar staff who can explain the virtues of each.)

The supply of whiskey is assured into the distant future but we have hardly begun to stimulate a matching demand. As the fresh spirit is laid down, we need to be forging new whiskey drinkers ready to soak it up.

The small craft producers will need a local fan base to support their work in the early days and to act as unpaid evangelists at home, abroad and on social media. The responsibility for recruiting this volunteer army rests with the bars of Ireland.

Some have already embraced the task. An Púcán, in the centre of Galway city, for example.

Photo courtesy of An Púcán
I haven't been in Galway since the bar was relaunched in June last year but, as I understand it, this is the standard welcome for first-time visitors...

Eoin. Photo courtesy of An Púcán
The bar stocks over 200 whiskeys. The emphasis is on Irish but Scotland, America, Japan and others are accorded generous shelf space too. During the Rugby Six Nations, the pub brought in whiskeys from each country and held tasting battles. Customers can enjoy food matched with whiskey or attend whiskey-related events such as a recent talk on The History of Distilling in Galway.

An Púcán has considerable whiskey cred, obviously. But they recently kicked it up one more notch with their very own whiskey. It's a single cask, single malt produced especially for the pub by the Teeling Whiskey Company.

Photo courtesy of An Púcán
It was distilled in 2002, spending most of its life in a bourbon cask before being transferred to a Carcavelos white port pipe for 12 months. To my knowledge it's the only Irish whiskey ever finished thus. It was bottled in March (making it 13 years old) at cask strength (56%) in a very limited edition of 140 bottles. It sells for €125, or €12.50 per measure at the bar.

The tasting notes on the bottle are:
White chocolate with citrus zest and a subtle fruit sweetness. 
Exceptional mouth feel - rich, warm and inviting. Lemon meringue, subtle soft spice with vanilla and toffee notes. 
Warm and satisfyingly long with gentle toasted oak and spice.
Cyril Briscoe, of An Púcán, very generously gave me a bottle to try. I liked it with a little water, which brought apples and strawberry jam out on the nose and enhanced that lingering gentle toasted oak.

It's a Teeling-labeled bottle with An Púcán branding. The small print additionally dubs the whiskey Revival. Teeling have literally revived distilling in Dublin but the tag can apply equally well to the renewed appreciation for whiskey shown by pubs like An Púcán and then instilled in the rest of us.

The back bar at An Púcán. Photo courtesy of An Púcán. 

One of many whiskey cabinets. Photo courtesy of An Púcán.

The coin wall. Photo courtesy of An Púcán.

The stairway to heaven. Photo courtesy of An Púcán.