Category Archives: Connemara

Connemara 12 y.o. Review

Connemara 12 y.o.003

40% abv

Score:  82.5/100


Connemara’s NAS standard offering is a unique and interesting addition to the canon of Irish whiskey.  It’s youth though almost becomes an ingredient in and of itself, providing a razor thin profile of almost ‘too clean’ grains.

Now we’re looking at what I assume is the same malt a few years down the path to maturity.  I came at this one expecting the peated apple and leather profile to be slightly more muted…the grains to be a little less up front…and a little more oak to be forefront.  That doesn’t seem to be quite where this one ended up, but it’s not toooooo  far off either.  Let’s call it a progression on a theme.

Again we have a double distilled, peated Irish single malt.  All sorts of seemingly oxymoronic word jumbles there, but mixing it up a bit is ever a good thing.  Points to Connemara (Cooley distillery) for added something fun to our drinking repertoire.

AT the end of the day though, what the senses tell us about what’s in the glass is all that matters.  In this case it’s a whiskey with a hell of a surprising nose (in all the right ways!) and a rather disappointing palate.  These are always the greatest letdowns.  Still very decent, but feels a bit like an undelivered promise. 

Nose:  Peat.  Pepper.  Chocolate.  Grape.  Apple.  More fruits.  Leather.  Salty.  Just a hint of putty.  Noses bigger then 40%.  …and almost like a youngish Springbank/Hazelburn somehow (WTF?!).  Very, very nice nose.  Smells older than 12 years.

Palate:  Peat.  Pepper.  Slightly nutty again.  Ok…more than slightly.  Like licking leather.  White wine influence.  Grains at the back end with some grass.

Thoughts:  Great nose.  Not as great on the palate.  Still good, but I wish the dialogue betwixt the nose and the palate was a little more…coherent.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Connemara Peated Single Malt Review

Connemara Peated Single Malt131

40% abv

Score:  81/100


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