Amazing how similar the words ‘blend’ and ‘bland’ are when you really get down to it.
This Kilbeggan NAS release seems to be the flagship of this particular range out of County Louth’s Cooley distillery in the Eastern climes of Ireland. Kilbeggan also produces 15 and 18 year variants from what I’ve read, but on Canadian soil they’re either non-existent or as rare as our camera-shy local celebs, the sasquatch and Ogopogo. Having said that…if the profiles of those two drams are much in keeping with that of this NAS offering I doubt I’ll be scouring far and wide for ’em.
I don’t want to get too down on this one, ’cause it’s not an offensive whiskey by any means. If you’re a fan of Irish whisky in its entry-level incarnations (Jameson, Bushmills, etc), I’m sure you’ll find this almost as drinkable. My own personal gripe with this one is simply that it’s just far too run-of-the-mill and unabashedly underripe. Young whiskey is fine…so long as the spirit is of highest quality and it boasts a profile that is hitting high notes in its infancy (big cask strength sherry bombs and peat monsters immediately spring to mind).
I should also note that when a bottle such as this is labeled as ‘our finest blend’, it doesn’t exactly light my fire for much else in the range. Just sayin’.
Nose: Sharp, crisp and clean grain. Youngish, but rather decent blending, I’d say. Very light fruits. Citrus zest. floral or perfumed. Almost rye-like spices (just big clean grains, I think?).
Palate: Oh, wait. What happened here? Very drying. Sauvignon blanc. Walnut and Brazil nuts. Raw grains. Not bad, but I wouldn’t say this is something I’d really ever reach for. Grassy and tea-like at the back end.
Thoughts: All that was promised on the nose falls flat on the palate. Sooooo disappointing. Light enough to suit those unaccustomed to the inticacies of Scotch single malt, I suppose, but those who have a more demanding palate will be shouldering this one aside for something with a little more complexity.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
A lot of blends, even expensive ones, often have the disadvantage of valuing wide palatability over the big flavours that would detract from it (but attract people who like flavour) – sort of going on the retrograde theory that products that offend no one must be “good”, when what they are, as indicated here, is simply being inoffensive. I liked the review of these Cooley products, but it does confirm to me that I can give the Connemara 12 a pass with no damage done. I still do have some Bushmills Black Bush left over from my “pre-giving up NAS days” and I like to add it to hot black coffee – the effect’s somewhere between that of a whiskey and a liqueur.
And although we’ve moved on from the recent discussion about NAS, we really can’t move “away” from it because it IS in the context of that discussion in which a lot of young product is being made and marketed. The noted big peat and sherry bombs aside, welcome to the future of young whisk(e)y: neither horrid nor great, usually a little more expensive than its quality, if not scarcity (who knows?) should command, and almost always lacking the development supposedly unimportant age lends to other up-market expressions for which you will always be charged.