Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tullamore Dew 10 Years Old
I'm doing an Irish whiskey tasting on September 11 in Somers Point, NJ (e-mail me if you're interested; my New Jersey Breweries co-author Mark Haynie is organizing it, and I'd be happy to put you in touch with him), and one of the new Irish whiskeys we'll be tasting is Tullamore Dew 10 Years Old. There are a number of new Irish whiskeys out, which is fantastic (and yes, I will have that David Quinn/Jameson interview up soon: I'm taking the recording along on my vacation to work on when everyone else inevitably falls asleep before I do).
So here's a preview before we get to the tasting. As you can maybe see in the picture, the 10 is a bit darker than the standard bottling of Dew. It's "aged in Spanish and American Oak casks," which is to say, bourbon and sherry. Let's have a whiff.
It's quite similar to the standard bottling, but fuller; the sherry comes in more as a cushion than an up-front 'yum' kind of thing, an underpinning. There's a bit of vanilla from the bourbon oak, and fresh malt character.
Sip time. The standard bottling first, for calibration: hot, sweet, a bit thin, but pleasant. Oh my, the 10 is quite different. It's fuller, with real body, to begin with, and then the roots show: this reminds me of Powers, distilled at the same Middleton distillery as Tullamore is now. Don't get me wrong: that's a good thing. Because that pot-still character -- be it from the pot still, or the blending, or the raw barley they use in some of their spirit -- is coming through creamy and delish, and I'm liking it. Oh, I am, I'm melting a bit. Going back to the standard bottling: definitely sharper than the 10, though the pot-still is evident now; just not as forward and rich as in the 10.
My boss and mentor, John Hansell, tasted the 10 back in June, and pointed out -- quite correctly -- that the 10 is not particularly distinctive from the standard bottling and the 12 Years Old bottling. Good point. But at $35, the 10's a good deal, and I'd probably buy it instead of the standard bottling, and as John suggests, use it for mixing and sipping both. It's both good enough, and a good enough value, to make that a workable premise. Good stuff.