Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Whisky Discovery #146

Connemara Peated Whiskey NAS (40% abv, OB 2011 70cl)
Irish Whiskey
circa £27.00 70 cl
The golden Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey

This was one of the five whiskies I received in a sample swap and was part of my second Skype Whisky Tasting. I had not come across anything from Connemara in my journey to date and so needed to find out a little more about them:

Connemara is made by the Cooley Distillery, which was established by John Teeling. After studying in America, John concluded that there was a solid market for a new Irish Whiskey brand.

He acquired the Dundalk-based, potato alcohol plant, Ceimici Teo Distillery in 1987 converting it to a whisky distillery, renaming it Cooley, and it was the first whiskey distillery to be founded in Ireland for over a century.

It was not long before the owners began to acquire famous brands and distilleries which had been mothballed. Tyrconnell and Kilbeggan being amongst them. The Kilbeggan was reopened in 2007 and is run in conjunction with Cooley and proffers the company’s storage facilities. In 1989, a pair of pot stills was installed, furnishing the distillery with the means to distil both malt and grain. During the 1990s, the Cooley distillery launched Connemara, Ireland’s only peated whisky. Cooley is was Ireland’s only Irish-owned whiskey distillery, until recent acquired by Beam Global

Connemara Peated Whiskey has been inspired by the ancient Irish tradition of drying the malted barley of peat (or turf as it is locally known) fires, and it is distilled in small batches using copper pot stills.

So what did I think?

I first tasted this during my second Skype tasting session, and it immediately followed two glorious Speyside malts. I couldn't believe the nose I got from this initially, it was so rubber, like the inside of a tyre shop, and even brought back memories of my first summer holiday job working in ITS Rubber Limited in Petersfield, where I trimmed rubber soles for commando boots, rubber grommets for Triumph cars and rubber hoses for Hoover vacuum cleaners! We laughed over the fact that we were going to drink whiskey that smelt so heavily of rubber, caramelised inner tubes was the descriptive we decided upon during the Skype tasting.

I went back to this later and eventually the rubber subsides with a little air, and a honeyed sweetness comes through a peaty smokiness, there's a herbal heather freshness and even some floral notes buried within. However going back to a new dram, the rubber tyre shop hits me first!

It's very smooth on the palate but I still had the rubbery note to this malt, The sweetness eventually comes through with barley and  honey, and perhaps a little vanilla and musty wood too. The finish is long with pungent rubber, honey sweetness and light peat smoke. It was very different to what I was expecting from a peated whisky.

This was a strange one; I don't think I'll be tempted to rush out and add this to my shelf, but I did find it strangely alluring after a little while. I'll certainly look out for it when I'm out and about, and will find the Cooley stand at the next whisky show I visit as I would like to compare this against the other expressions from Connemara. I'd really like to hear from anyone else who found this to be rubbery as I haven't seen any other tasting notes describing this in my searches.

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