Back in November, I was supposed to be one of the lucky whisky enthusiasts invited to a Walsh Whiskey Tweet Tasting, as usual organized by the indefatigable Steve Rush, from The Whisky Wire. Buuuut… I missed my train back from a business trip, and was back unfortunately too late to attend the tweet tasting. Oops, since I really enjoyed the previous ones I attended, like the A.D. Rattray or the Bimber. Anyway, let’s discover who are the people at Walsh Whiskey and taste the four drams they sent us.
A Bit of History
Bernard and Rosemary Walsh funded Walsh Whiskey back in 1999. But they didn’t bottle whiskey at first. In fact, they found a way to create a good and consistent Irish Coffee, and so they created the Hot Irishman. It seems Rosemary had the idea during a trip in France where the hosts of the ski chalet she was hosted at served an Irish Coffee to the 20 to 30 guests, and that was quite labour-intensive.
Later in 2005, they created The Irishman – the Irish cream liqueur, then in 2006, they signed a whiskey supply agreement, on the long-term, and with the whiskey distilled as per their requirements. 2007 would be the launch if the two first Irishman whiskeys, named The Irishman 70 and The Irishman – Single Malt. The first one was a blend of pot still and single malt, with 70% of the malt selected by Bernard Walsh, hence the name. The next year, they launched a cask strength version.
But they didn’t stop here, things continued to accelerate. They launched Writers’ Tears in 2009 then The Irishman in 2012, starting with a 12yo. In 2014, they started the construction of Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Carlow, in the south-east of Ireland, in partnership with Illva Saronno, an Italian company producing several liqueurs. 2017 and 2018 saw the launch of several Irishman Cask Series, and in 2019, the partnership with Illva Saronno ended.
Writers’ Tears Double Oak
This release, a marriage of Single Pot Still and Single Malt Irish Whiskey, is the latest one in the Writers’ Tears core range. The maturation was made in American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and French Oak ex-Cognac casks from the Allary Cooperage in France. There is no age statement and the whiskey is bottled at 46% abv. You can find it for 58€ in France at Prestige Whisky, or in the UK for around £45 at Master of Malt. Or a very interesting 35€ in Germany at Getraenkewelt-Weiser.
Nail polish remover appears at first but is soon joined by vanilla. Fruits notes of pear and plum and some spices, with cinnamon. There is also an herbal side, with wet grass.
The arrival is sweet and slightly spicy. Cracked pepper and cinnamon for the spices side, and citrus. Oak is a bit too much present.
The finish is warm, on oak and dark chocolate.
This is a nice dram, tasty, and good value at the German price. I wouldn’t pay almost 60€ for it, though. A bit too woody unfortunately.
Writers’ Tears Cask Strength 2019
The 2019 batch of Writer’s Tears Cask Strength is a vatting of Single Pot Still and Single Malt. It is triple distilled, non-chilled filtered, and matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at 53% abv, this release has an outturn of 3 780 bottles, all individually numbered. I couldn’t find any shop with availability for the 2019 release, but previous releases can be found on Master of Malt, TWE or Nickolls & Perks around £110 and in France at La Maison Du Whisky at 120€.
The nose is spicy with pepper and cinnamon. You know just at nosing that the abv is higher than the Double Oak. It is also sweet, with honey and caramel.
The arrival is sweet, with a creamy mouthfeel, then you get a hit from pepper. Honey and a slight sourness of orange peels come along, with a touch of oak. With water, the palate is oakier.
The finish is warm, on oak with a pinch of salt.
This is a very good dram, with a good abv that allows you to drink it neat, it doesn’t need water at all. Very good, the pepper packs a punch, but unfortunately too expensive in my opinion.
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Marsala Cask Finish
This first Irishman today has been matured in both American oak ex-Bourbon casks and Sherry Oloroso butts. Then, it has been finished for 15 months in Marsala hogsheads from the Florio winery in Sicily. It is triple-distilled and non-chilled-filtered, but I’m not sure about the colour. It is bottled at 46% abv and is supposed to be an exclusive to some Irish airports. Some shops in the past had some but unfortunately it’s out of stock everywhere I looked.
Oh it smells really good. Honey and dried fruits at first, then cherries, some oak but discreet, and hints of nail varnish remover. Once the glass is empty (it will happen quickly you’ll see), you’ll find cigar tobacco leaves notes.
The palate in sweet, with honey at first, then a slight sourness appears with grapefruit. There are touches of ginger, and the mouthfeel is slightly drying.
The finish is medium long on sour grapefruit with a spoon of honey, and is warm on the tongue.
This whiskey is very likeable, with a sweet nose and a good palate. I really liked its sweet and sour feeling, too bad this is an airport exclusive only available at Dublin and Cork airports, I’d have loved a bottle of this.
The Irishman 12-year-old
This whiskey is a 12-year-old single malt matured only in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks. The outturn is limited to 6000 bottles a year and it is bottled at 43% abv. You can find it at La Maison Du Whisky for 65€ and on the Celtic Whiskey Shop for 68.95€. There’s no stock at Master of Malt nor The Whisky Exchange but Amazon seems to have it for £67.20.
Amontillado with a golden hue.
Vanilla and freshly mowed lawn at first, then spices with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. There’s also a fruity side with stewed apples and pears covered with honey.
Caramel and honey, then oak, followed by a bit of citrus before going back to the oak. Black pepper and dark chocolate are present on the back.
The finish is medium long on pepper and oak with hints of caramel, honey and grapefruit.
This whiskey is okay, but in my humble opinion not as good as the Marsala Cask Finish, but maybe it’s my sweet teeth! It’s a solid dram anyway, flavourful. Maybe it missed a couple percent of alcohol.
It’s really a shame that I missed this Tweet Tasting, as I really enjoyed those whiskeys and I’d loved to ask some questions to the team behind them while discovering them. The Irishman Marsala and the Writers’ Tears cask strength were for me above their counterpart, but everything was quite drinkable. Too bad I can’t find this Irishman Florio Marsala cask finish.