Monday 31 December 2012

Celtic Cask

The Celtic Whiskey Shop has quietly revived a lost tradition in Irish whiskey and is creating some exciting new whiskeys in the process.

Back in the day, the big wine importers like Mitchells and Findlaters would import sherry by the cask. When the cask was empty they would bring it to a whiskey distillery to be filled with spirit and then consign it to their own warehouse to mature. That practice died out by the 1970s as both the wine and whiskey makers switched to bottling their own products.

© Celtic Whiskey Shop

The Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street is really just the whiskey half of a larger shop. The other half is called Wines on the Green and it has developed strong relationships with various wine houses around Europe. As a result, they are able to procure casks used during the wines' maturation and bring them, empty, into Ireland.

The first few casks were sent to Cooley to finish some of their malt whiskey and bottled under Cooley brands. There were two Ànima Negra-finished Tyrconnell single malts (2010 and 2011) and one Emilio Hidalgo Amontillado-finished Connemara single malt (2011).

Now the shop has gone one step further, and launched its own label: Celtic Cask. The first two releases are called Aon (meaning "one") and Dó (meaning "two"), which bodes well for a long, continuing series of bottlings. I will describe these whiskeys in the next two posts.

Both of the new releases are Cooley-distilled spirit but the shop's owner, Ally Alpine, says he has three different types of whiskey from three different Irish distilleries currently maturing in casks from Madeira, Marsala, Burgundy, Rhone, Jerez, Tuscany and Mallorca (more of the Ànima Negra).

With its own label and bottling arrangements, and sourcing from multiple distilleries, it is fair to describe the Celtic Whiskey Shop as an "independent bottler" of the sort we know from Scotland, for example. And by going the extra mile, and sourcing its own casks, it is also restoring the contribution that the wine merchant made historically to the taste of Irish whiskey.

See also: Celtic Cask Aon 1996 Single Malt, Celtic Cask Dó 2001 Single Malt