Sunday, February 23, 2014

Go Irish! Contarf 1014 Irish Whiskey

The tag line on this blog is "The ridiculous pursuit of Bourbon (...and other whiskies)" and in the other whiskies column would sit Irish whiskey.  I've slowly added numerous expressions of Irish whiskey to the bunker over the last couple of years.

Full disclosure, this review is from a sample received from the PR firm representing Castle Brands which distributes Clontarf.  The fact sheet indicates the whiskey comes from Dublin which would mean distillation is most likely from Irish Distillers Group (Jameson). 

The Gaelic spelling of Clontarf is Cluain Tarbh meaning “Bulls' Meadow.” It refers to an area north of Dublin where a famous and decisive battle – the Battle of Clontarf - between the Irish, under the leadership of High King Brian Boru, and the Vikings, took place in 1014. 

Ireland at the time was heavily forested, rural and rich in natural resources. Large parts of the island that historically had been divided up among many fractious clans were controlled by the
High King (the Ard Ri) named Brian Boru. There were also coast trading cities, such as Dublin and Limerick, built and controlled by the Vikings. And there were some rebellious Irish allies who were against the High King. Boru took them all on and routed the Vikings in a bloody conflict. He himself was killed at the conclusion of the battle, however, the Vikings mostly left Ireland after the battle, hence the pride felt by the Irish in subsequent centuries for this historic victory. 

Clontarf 1014 is a blended Irish making up ten percent pot stilled single malt whiskey; the rest of the blend is a combination of pot stilled and column stilled grain whiskey.  Whiskey is aged 4 years in bourbon casks.  Color is very pale and the viscosity is thin in nature.  On entry, the profile starts off sweet and malty but then turns grainy exhibiting its youth.  Keep in mind that the climate in Ireland is much different than KY when aging whiskey.  The more moderate and wet climate means the whiskey does not age as aggressively as say Bourbon or Rye whiskey.  Additionally, I don't know if first or re-fill bourbon casks are used.  My guess would be re-fill casks as there is little barrel influence in the profile.  The finish is short and just a tad bitter. 

Castle brands recommends this be enjoyed neat, with a dash of water, on the rocks or mixed with ginger ale or ginger beer.  My recommendations is don't add water or ice.  At 80 proof it's already a very easy sipper and adding more water doesn't make sense.  

As a whiskey, it's light and easy to drink and at about $20 this is one for the bar or to share among friends.  As I say in all my posts where I get samples provided to me, I call it the way I see (or drink) it and this one will get the same consideration.  For me, not one I would carry in my bunker as it's simply too light and young a whiskey.  Taste being subjective, others may find this is what they're looking for.  

In the coming week, I'll be adding three more reviews from Castle Brands; Knappogue Castle 12 year, 14 year single malt twin wood, and 16 year single malt sherry finish.

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