Wednesday 8 September 2010

Tyrconnell AN Mallorcan Wine Cask Finish

Just released last week, this is a 10-year old Tyrconnell single malt aged normally in an ex-bourbon cask then transferred for the final 16 months to a wine cask for "finishing". It's 46%, non-chill filtered. Just one cask of this was bottled, though there is one more awaiting a similar fate. Here are the two casks sitting in the warehouse at Cooley:

Malt maturing in Mallorcan wine casks.
They were supplied by the Celtic Whiskey Shop which stocks the wine these casks once held. It's a red wine, from the Ànima Negra winery, on Mallorca, and it spends one year in oak before bottling.

The Irish Whiskey Society had an exclusive preview of this whiskey at our last tasting. We polished off two bottles and it was comfortably voted the favourite whiskey of the night.

Cooley have released some great 10yo finished Tyrconnells in the past (The port is my favourite, followed by the madeira; there is also a sherry). This red wine finish might be the best yet.

The shop's tasting notes describe it thus:
Incredibly complex aromas of rose, fruit cake, marzipan, honey, ginger bread, and rum 'n' raisin ice cream! The palate is chewy and mouthfilling with flavours of fruitcake, all spice, vanilla, chocolate fudge. A superb finish with dominant vanilla and red fruit flavours.
It's certainly as flavourful as it sounds. Interesting to me was a finish reminiscent of sherry. This, apparently, is down to the European oak which imparts quite a different flavour to whiskey than the American oak of bourbon casks. This sherry effect is quite restrained and pleasant here. It can overwhelm whiskey sometimes.

I hope there will be more of this red wine style in the future. The winery claimed half of the output of about 360 bottles so there is little enough on sale at the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin (for €70 a pop). There is another cask, as I mentioned, though it is bound to taste a little different.

The emptied cask is due to be filled again this week. The wood will have a diminished effect this time around but maturation could be extended to compensate. It will be very interesting to compare two whiskeys from the one cask, a rare opportunity indeed.

And, for fans of finishes, there is more good news: the Celtic Whiskey Shop has two sherry finishes in the works at Cooley - one Palo Cortado and one Amontillado. They were filled earlier this year.