Peated Irish whiskey from the Cooley distillery in County Louth, Ireland. Yep. Peated Irish whiskey. Somewhat of an anomaly, this. It’s not often you’ll encounter peated whiskey coming out of the Emerald Isle. Fun stuff.
First things first…this is a rewrite of a review from several years back. (Anyone remember sister site, Liquorature, where this whole blog thing originated from?) I thought it was high time to write some slightly updated tasting notes and pretty the whole thing up a bit. Lipstick on a pig, if you will (I refer to my own writing, not the whiskey). Anyway…
Irish whiskey is typically – though not always – triple distilled. This is one of the truly defining characteristics of the style and region. It is often recognized (and occasionally lauded) for its clean, sharp and fruity barley sugar profile. Unfortunately it is also known (fairly or otherwise) to be primarily bottled at a meager 40% (or thereabouts), chill-filtered and pumped out in massive young batches. Again, though…not always. Connemara, however, is a double distilled Irish whisky, putting it more in league with its Scottish brethren (successors?). Double distilled and peated, huh? Ok, then. Let’s explore this a little further…
This is really clean peat. Considering Islay is a mere 30 miles off the coast of Ireland, it’s sort of surprising how different the DNA of the bog is. It’s more leathery and lacking all of the briny, medicinal and tarry notes so prevalent in Scotland’s most infamous smoky drams. This earthy, peaty blanket sits like a heavy leather drape over a basket of fruit and soft grains. Personally, I think the fruits and grains are pushing back against the peat. It’s not really all working together. Not a bad whisky overall, but a bit of a conundrum that’s keeping me puzzling a bit.
Nose: Leather, green apples and peat. All three in abundance. Soft sugar cookie notes cushion the seeming youth. Honey and heather. Some slightly floral notes. A touch barny too. Horse blanket.
Palate: Drying and nutty. Peat. Apple skins. Honey. Thick, fresh pressed apple juice mixed with smoky distiller’s beer (wash). More apple skins. Somewhat wine-y. Putty. Grassy finish.
Thoughts: I’m not entirely convinced the peat is really working here. Would love to try this whisky sans the bog influence. There’s a lot of good stuff going on though. The peat and sweet never seem to dance in step, seeming somehow at odds.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
FYI: I’ve heard various conflicting stories about the source of Connemara’s peat. Some say Islay (Port Ellen Maltings), some say Wales (!), some don’t really know and just assume it’s Irish. I’d like to think it was Irish, but I expect to be disappointed on that point. I sent the question to the company and I’ll share the answer here if I get one.