The JJ Corry brand of whiskey hit our shelves back in 2017, with a little bit of head scratching from whiskey fans. A distillery in Clare we thought….surely we’d have heard of it. And yet when the name Chapel Gate Whiskey Company was mentioned, I had only heard whispers of it. The launch of JJ Corry “The Gael” hailed the return of the genuine, bona fida Whiskey bonder to not only Clare, but to Ireland. With it’s founder Louise McGuane at the helm, those who heard of Louise knew it wouldn’t be half arsed. This straight talking, no holes barred lady has a tremendous history in the drinks industry and has worked for some of the biggest brands and players there is, and not just in Ireland but all over the world. It’s first release proudly announced, “here we are, lets do this!” by winning a gold medal in the Irish Whiskey Awards in 2017 and then doing it again in 2018 for Irish Blended Whiskey €60 or more. This was no half measure….it was the full dram (see what I did there…..).
We’ll get into the history of Chapel Gate itself and the JJ Corry brand in the new year when we visit Louise on site, but for today’s review we are looking at their second release, JJ Corry The Flintlock. So I have to say, Chapel Gate is based in Louise’s family farm in County Clare, not far from the banks of the Shannon and actually, right across the way from my home village of Ballylongford (our banks are better, hon the kingdom, yada yada yada). The bonded warehouse is based in an old barn and while they were refurbishing it for use, a small Flintlock pistol and gunpowder carrier was found. No doubt it dates back to the days when Munster was a rebel stronghold against imperial rule. I wonder has Louise traced the origin….note to self, ask her!! Great to have a wee story behind the release name ain’t it!
So what is it? The Flintlock is a blend of three partially degorged casks that are each 16 years old. For this, Chapel Gate selected and purchased three full casks of single malt from the same Irish Distillery and in laymans terms, took some from each cask to make the blend and left the remainder for other projects. Being all single malt and from the same distillery, it makes it a single malt whiskey and not a blend in the sense of the technical file. The Flintlock is a very limited release of only 650 bottles which was increased from 400 due to mahoosive demand.
Louise told us over email that “it’s just small scale blending in reality but it’s very precise because we know all our casks by flavour as we don’t have millions of them……at the moment!”.
And O boy does this level of precision ring true! Winner of Best Irish Single Malt 2018 at the Irish Whiskey Awards, this was a huge hit with the whiskey fans and was one of my favorite whiskeys of Whiskey Live 2018! Bottled at 46% ABV., it comes in a 500ml bottle as opposed to the previous 700ml release of “The Gael”. So onto my notes;
Nose – Bursting with vanilla that is immediately apparent before the copita gets to my nose. Citrus, followed by citrus and complimented by citrus. Orange, lemon and lime all appear. Slight honey sweetness in there too.
Palate – Honey sweetness more apparent in the taste but all those citrus elements reappear after a moment in the mouth. Some green apples, actually apple skins in there too with a slight spicy white pepper note.
Finish – Medium to long finish that has a ginger note as it lingers for a few moments on the side of your tongue.
Overall – A well balanced and very well blended whiskey. Easy to see how it did so well at the Irish Whiskey Awards. The finish lead me to believe that the liquid was from Bushmills and after speaking to Louise, she graciously confirmed that and allowed me to print it. Only problem with this whiskey is that the 500ml bottle isn’t enough and while the RRP of €100 may seem steep, it isn’t. This is a beaut and worth every penny. Chapel Gate are on their second home run as far as I’m concerned and I’ve a feeling their next releases will be in huge demand.