Thursday 28 August 2008

Dundalgan whiskey

As we slide inexorably into recession the German discounter, Lidl, has suddenly become the Irish supermarket shopper's best friend. An elegant weblog, Lidl Treats, shows us tasty morsels we can create from the unfamiliar cut price brands.

Recently, Lidl Treats has been reviewing wine. Inspired by their example, I grabbed a bottle of Dundalgan, Lidl's own brand of Irish whiskey. Dundalgan is a historic place name from County Louth so it's not hard to guess that this whiskey is made by Louth distiller, Cooley.

At €18.99 for 70cl (compared with about €26.99 for Jameson) we might guess that this is pretty young whiskey. Nevertheless, the nose is not unpleasant - a synthetic, new car interior smell.

It all falls apart on the palate, however. There is no centre to the whiskey, and a slight bitterness around the edges. It's not redeemed by the finish either. This is not a whiskey to be drunk neat. It is most definitely not a drop in replacement for Jameson.

But I didn't really expect to find a great sipping whiskey on the shelves of Lidl. It's far more likely that Dundalgan will be served with a mixer, or at least with ice. So let's not write it off yet.

A good whiskey should never be taken with ice since this dulls the taste buds, and also waters down the drink. But that could work to our advantage here. A few cubes of ice and... we are no better off. This Dundalgan is remarkably persistent stuff. For comparison, ice kills the initial Jameson taste dead but you still get a warm, round, mouth-filling finish that is perfectly enjoyable in a social setting.

How about ginger ale? Aha, now we are getting somewhere! This mixer seems to supply the missing centre and it neutralises the bitterness. This works! And that's with only one part ginger ale to one part whiskey. I'll even go as far as to say that I preferred Dundalgan to Jameson in this test.

To finish, I tried Dundalgan and red lemonade, a popular mixer in Ireland. I didn't like this but I didn't like it in Jameson either. Maybe I just don't like red lemonade.