On Friday the 6th of July last I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s newest release, The Irishman Founders Reserve Caribbean Cask. After a “quick” bus trip with the folks from Cork Whiskey Society we arrived to a fanfare of tropical delight. I’m ashamed to say this was my first visit to Royal Oak and I wasn’t disappointed by its setting. Obviously the great sunny weather helped but the setting of the distillery is really picturesque with its great wooden bridge entrance and fields of barley surrounding the distillery. For the launch, the distillery entrance was teleported to St Lucia where we were all presented with a Luau Flower Lei around our neck and were directed to the Tiki bar which was manned by the cocktail expert that is Chris “the cocktail chef” Hennessy.
Here we got our first taste of the night in the form of an Island Swizzles cocktail. This is promptly followed by the second cocktail, a spiced Rum Old Fashioned which I managed to grab before the onslaught from the arrival of the bus from Dublin. The third cocktail I grabbed later in the evening. Have a look at the bottom for details of each.
All in all approximately 90 people were in attendance, mingling, relaxing and taking in the wonderful surroundings. For me it was a fantastic opportunity to put faces to social media profiles and to meet many fans of the blog. I was a little taken aback by how many people recognised me to be honest! Its a strange feeling!
Once settled in we were shepherded down to the waters edge where the official launch was taking place. John Kelly, the Commercial Director for Walsh Whiskey Distillery welcomed us officially started the evening.
With an introduction of the Irish Distillery Manager of the Year awardee, Lisa Ryan, John went on to tell us that the capacity of the distillery is 8.2 million bottles, much needed with their growth in the past year. In addition to that the staff number is now at a huge 37. Once finished it was onto Stuart Caffrey, one of the Brand Ambassadors for Walsh to take us through the tasting of the whiskey in question.
The plans for this whiskey were laid down back in 2014 when Bernard Walsh, the founder of the distillery, made plans for his cask finishes by traveling the world to source casks for these finishes. Agreement was made for this in 2014 and in 2015, Chairman’s Reserve Rum in St Lucia began aging their rum in 12 casks that were to be destined for Ireland once they were disgorged. That rum was bottled last year in 2017 and the casks made their way to Ireland to be used to finish the fantastic Founders Reserve whiskey. The Founders Reserve itself is a 70% Malt and 30% Single Pot Still blend that is aged for between 6 and 8 years in ex bourbon barrels. For this release the cask strength Founders Reserve was placed in the Rum casks for an additional 6 months before being non chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV. The RRP on this is €65. So what did I think?
Nose – Big hit of rum on the nose in the most pleasant of ways. Took me back to my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic where the all inclusive rum selection was infinitely better than the whiskey selection! Malt comes in after the rum. Loads of apricots, red apple peel and pear. Addition of water dulls the rum unfortunately and enhances the malt for me.
Palate – Soft silky mouth feel. Loads of tropical fruits such as pineapple, bananas and pears.
Finish – Medium to long. The silky mouth feel gives way to a lovely prickly spice. Bit of melon and a honey sweetness in there. Very slight dryness towards the end but only very slight.
Overall – A very very well balanced whiskey that allows both the whiskey and the rum finish to shine independently. I really enjoyed it but then again, who couldn’t with the base whiskey that is being used. The Irishman Founders Reserve is undoubtedly one of the best value whiskeys on the market at the moment in Ireland. At approximately €35 it is a steal for the quality and taste that it delivers. The addition of the Rum finish is bloody lovely but, the next question is; Is the €30 increase worth it for the Caribbean Finish? Well that really is up to you to be honest…..I bought a bottle after trying it. So why not give it a try in your local or pick a bottle up and let us know what you think. Just on the Rum itself. I tasted the Chairman’s Reserve before tasting the whiskey and to be honest, it was very under whelming. Not as sweet as I expected but to give it credit…..it makes one dam nice whiskey finish!!
A blend of Jamaican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Guyana, Nicaraguan and Fijian Rum with fresh lime juice, white grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup.
Spiced Rum Old Fashioned
St Lucian rum, dWb allspice dram, muscovado, demerara, orange bitters and mace tincture.
Sippin’ Safari Style Manhattans
Irishman Founders Reserve, Martini rosso, dWb allspice dram, kirsch, dWb cacao tincture, teapot bitters and spanish bitters.
This sample was provided free of charge by Walsh Whiskey to the author. No monetary reward was received for the review. The review, as with all reviews, was written subjectively and not influenced in anyway. The Walsh Press release can be read here