So lets set the scene. Its early Summer last year. I’m in Dublin (sigh….) and I know I won’t make my train back. I’ve an hour to kill in the city centre before I can catch the next one. Whatsoever will I do! Easy…..I’ll visit two shops! Not just any shops of course, whiskey shops! Anytime I’m in Dublin I try to make time to pop into Celtic Whiskey and Mulligans. The lads are always welcoming and knowledgeable in both shops and it’s generally where I leave money after me! This day I ended up in Mulligans where Mark introduced me to Tyrconnell 16. “Have a look at this wee beaut” he said as he took an open bottle from under the counter. Now if I’m honest, I had gone off Tyrconnell. The NAS Single Malt had always been a little “meh” for me. Just flat if I’m honest (The newer NAS Single Malt I’ll review shortly….it’s a big improvement with the added 3% ABV.!). So here I was, in a shop surrounded by countless bottles thinking to myself, “does he not have anything decent to let me try!!!”. But boy was I pleasantly surprised. At first I thought it was just that my expectation was low but after a second wee drop, I knew we had a winner. I left the shop with a bottle. Mark – 1, Omar – Nill. I’ve since moved onto a second bottle and it’ll soon be a third I reckon!
So Tyrconnell 16 itself is one of five from the Tyrconnell range of whiskeys. Double distilled in Cooley Distillery, it is bottled at 46%, which personally, I find is best for most whiskeys. Cooley Distillery was founded in 1987 by the famous John Teeling who converted an old potato alcohol plant into the distillery we see today. Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara and Tyrconnell are the notable inhouse brands but as most people will know, they also provide spirit for several bottlers outside of this. Tyrconnell is a brand that stopped production in 1925 but was revived by Cooley in 1988 after they acquired the rights to it. The previous owner of The Tyrconnell, Watt Distillery was founded in 1762, a date that still remains on bottles today. A little misleading in all honesty but they do have “Andrew A. Watt & Co. Est. 1762” written as part of the label so Cooley themselves are not claiming to be established in that year. Make your own minds up on that one. The Tyrconnell name itself comes from a famous racehorse of the same name who won The National Produce Stakes in 1876 at odds of 100 to 1. Even today the racehorse is still shown on the label as is the motto “Victory against all odds”. I like the link to history myself and really like the motto. Bonus points for them retaining it on the bottlings. Cooley itself was sold in 2012 to Beam Inc. who subsequently become Beam Suntory in 2014.
So more importantly than the history lesson, how does it taste??
Nose – Wonderfully fruity nose that explodes out of the glass. Freshly pealed green apples, Honey, Melon and Vanilla. Obviously, a malty nose but seems to be a little buttery also.
Palate – Oily mouth coating. Orchard fruits, caramel and honey shining through followed by vanilla, oak and malt. Addition of water opens up a stronger more malty taste and seems to cover up some of those wonderful fruitily notes.
Finish – Long with a spicy end that lingers in my mouth and not my throat. Drying towards the end but it feels like a dram that could last forever with only a sip needed to top up that lovely finish each time.
Overall – I really like this expression! The 46% ABV works a treat, so much so that I think any reduction would ruin it. I recently read that a new 16 was coming out and I hope the taste profile doesn’t change too much, it really would be a shame. While it seems a little pricey at €95, it’s not too bad when you compare it to other 16yr olds on the market. And this really is its own beast, a very worthy dram to have on your shelf.
Now with all that done I’ll leave you with the quote from the tag on the bottle……till next time, sláinte!
“Here’s to the unexpected, the underestimated and the unpredictable. Here’s to the ones you never see coming, who fly out of nowhere and take victory by storm. Here’s to those who dare to defy the odds…..because they are the ones you never forget”