Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Nothing As It Seems: A review of Ardbeg Ten Year Old Single Malt Scotch

I love the movie The Big Lebowski. The 1998 Coen brothers film is funny, touching, dramatic and far more profound than it appears at first viewing. Maybe my eighteen year-old brain didn't have the prerequisite knowledge or popular references to understand everything that was going on in the film. Maybe I didn't have enough life experience to "like, really get it, man". But having watched it several times since then, I can see a lot of things going on. Intergenerational relationships, curious juxtapositions (could The Dude and Walter really be friends?), socio-economic commentary, it's all there. Or at least, that's like, my opinion, man.
I'm not reviewing white Russians.
So things aren't always as they appear. An apparently simple crime comedy can also be complex social commentary. Much like the Coen brothers' film, Ardbeg is often dismissed as simple. Big, bold and smoky. But there's a lot more to their "standard" ten year old expression than meets the eye, or nose, as it were.

Ardbeg: the untamed spirit of Islay

According to their promotional materials, Ardbeg is "as close to perfection as makes no difference". That's a bold claim. It's also similar to claims made by pretty much every scotch whisky distillery. So what sets Ardbeg apart from the others? Is it just the peat? Is it the cool, mysterious-looking packaging? According to Ardbeg, it's a combination of "the most phenolic malt in the business, soft pure water from our own water source plus dedication and passion". Fair enough. Ardbeg's malt is peated to a level of 50-55 ppm (parts per million). For a comparison, Laphroaig is generally around 40 ppm, Lagavulin is about 35 ppm and Caol Ila is around 30 ppm. Now keep in mind, this is a measurement of the phenols in the malted barley. The resulting whisky is affected by a myriad of other factors, such as the yeast type, the barrels used for aging, the cut points and the alcohol level of the final product. A younger spirit tends to display more a phenolic character (smoke and peat) than older expressions as the wood tends to mellow out some of the aggressive tones. Bruichladdich's Octomore series, a 5 year old whisky, is the most peated whisky I know of, with some expressions registering peat levels around 165 ppm. Over the years, Ardbeg has made some, shall we say, interesting marketing decisions. They've named a whisky in honour of a whirlpool (Corryvreckan), one in honour of the Loch whence they source their water (Uigeadail) and even one for a shape-shifting water-spirit (Kelpie). Their videos even wink at the confusion arising from the Scottish accent itself. See this video for their promotion of their new expression "An Oa" (which is named in honour of the Mull of OA near the Ardbeg distillery). So how does Ardbeg's "standard" Ten year old taste?

Tasting notes

Nose (undiluted): Sweet vegetal peat, charcoal barbecue smoke, seaweed (iodine), brine, a light citrus note, there's another grassy note in there as well. This is a well-layered nose that develops as the whisky sits in the glass.

Palate (undiluted): mouth-coating, yet light and bright, but not thin or watery. Very balanced. No rough edges. You wouldn't guess this is 46% ABV. There's citrus, pear and some malt/cereal sweetness under the big peat and smoke you expect from Ardbeg.

Finish: very long finish, cigar ash, dark roast coffee, licorice and a bit of pepper. If you're unsure about peated whisky, keep this one for later in your journey. You will taste Ardbeg for hours after you finish it, which, to me, is a wonderful bonus.
Adding water to Ardbeg Ten thrusts the iodine/seaweed and brine notes forward on the nose. It's like walking on a beach and smelling the remnants of a campfire. Delightful. The sweet malt notes and the pear flavours are also more apparent with some water added. Drinking Ardbeg is a gratifying experience with or without water.  There's a lot more going on than smoke and peat.


Pearl Jam's Binaural album was underrated. The chorus from the lead single, "Nothing As It Seems" sums up Ardbeg's Ten Year Old expression.

It's nothing as it seems, the little that he needs, it's home
The little that he sees, is nothing he concedes, it's home

Having a dram of Ardbeg is a small comfort at the end of a hard day. It's unmistakably, unapologetically Islay. But it is no one-trick pony. Pouring a dram and taking that first sniff, you'd be forgiven for thinking peat and smoke was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But Ardbeg is not as it seems. It's bold and complex, yet not without subtlety. Much like the eponymous character in "The Big Lebowski" was not the self-made man he claimed to be, Ardbeg is not the simple, straightforward smoke-bomb some think it is. Though unlike the movie's titular dour character, Ardbeg is more than it seems. I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4/5 moustaches

Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst and can’t tell the difference.

Slainte !!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

And Your Bird Can Sing: A review of Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength

Question: What is The Beatles' best album? Did you say Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ? Wait, you said The Beatles (aka The White Album), right? What if I told you I thought Revolver was at least as good as those two, maybe better? Would you think me mad? Hear me out. Revolver was The Beatles last studio project before retiring from live performances altogether. As such, they were free to explore the most advanced recording technology of the time without giving pause to consider how they might recreate these soundscapes live. This is the approach that gave us the surreal "Tomorrow Never Knows", the backwards guitar solo in "I'm Only Sleeping" and the seafaring silliness of "Yellow Submarine". Some really great things on this album fly under the radar. I'm sure everyone knows "Eleanor Rigby", but few know that Paul McCartney insisted on "close-miking" the string instruments (violins, cellos etc.) to achieve a bold, more biting sound. A subtle difference to some, but not so subtle for the members of the string octet.

Irish whiskey seems to share the fate of Revolver when it comes to whisky enthusiasts' preferences. Single malt scotch and bourbon dominate while Irish Single Pot Still gets relegated to also-ran status. This, like the under-appreciation of Revolver, is unfair. Irish Single Pot Still has so much going on, it's just not as well known as Sgt. Pepper's, er, I mean single malt scotch. And in the sweet, rich world of Irish Single Pot Still, there are some not-so-subtle whiskies that really give you a more "biting" experience. Enter Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength whiskey.

Enter the Birdhouse (what is Redbreast?)

*from the Redbreast website (abbreviated)

Redbreast is the largest selling Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey in the world. A significant number of Irish whiskey lovers consider it the definitive expression of  traditional Irish Single Pot Still. The whiskey was originally a product of  W & A Gilbey, a London-based company. When Gilbey's started to gain some measure of repute, they expanded to Dublin as "wine-importers and distillers". They later started selling some of their ex-sherry casks to Irish whiskey makers John Jameson & Sons. Jameson filled these sherry casks with Irish whiskey which was shipped back to London for storage, or stored in their Dublin bond-houses. The first official mention of "Redbreast" was in 1912, when Gilbey's referred to the sale of "Redbreast" J.J. Liqueur Whiskey 12 Years Old whiskey. "Redbreast" being a nickname given to one of their whiskeys by Gilbey's then chairman, an avid birdwatcher, in reference to the robin redbreast. In 1968, Irish Distillers (owners of Jameson) opted to phase out the supply of bonded whiskey to merchants such as Gilbey's. This threatened the future of the whiskey brand, as Irish Distillers controlled all of the whiskey distilleries in operation in Ireland at that point. However, after many pleas from Gilbey's, and a few good donnybrooks (allegedly), Irish Distillers agreed to continue to supply distillate for the production of Redbreast.The last bottling of Redbreast under the Gilbey's banner occurred in 1985. In 1986 Gilbey's, who had long since stopped maturing Redbreast in their vaults in London, entered into an agreement to sell the Redbreast brand name to Irish Distillers.

What is Irish Single Pot Still?

Pump the brakes: Gus N Bru isn't a real whiskey !
In case you've forgotten (or haven't read) my review of Fionnan O'Connor's excellent treatise on Irish Whiskey (A Glass Apart), Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey differs from Single Malt Scotch mainly in the type of barley used. While single malt scotch uses only malted barley, Irish Single Pot Still uses a combination of malted and unmalted barley. This practice was started (or at least popularized) when the English started taxing malted barley in the 18th century. The Irish, always one step ahead, decided to reduce their costs by adding unmalted barley to the mashbill. The result was glorious. Irish Single Pot Still is rich, oily and spicy. If your only experience with Irish whiskey is doing shots of Jameson on St. Patrick's Day the way Wayne, Squirrely Dan and Daryl shoot Gus N Bru on Letterkenny, you need to try some single pot still. To be fair, (to be faa-ii-hhr) you wouldn't judge The Beatles' legacy strictly on the strength of  "Love Me Do" now would you? Of course not. Figure it out.

What does "Cask Strength"  mean?

Cask Strength means there is no water added to the whiskey before bottling. This whiskey comes out of the cask at 57.2% ABV and goes in to the bottle at the same proof. This means bigger, bolder flavour. Think of it as "close-miking" the whiskey. It is not for the faint of heart, and it may feel like a punch in the mouth to the uninitiated. To those who enjoy bold flavours, cask strength whiskey makes us feel like Kevin Malone opening a candy bar.

Tasting Notes

Cask strength Redbreast: flavour takes flight
Nose (undiluted): surprisingly little alcohol burn, sweet fruits (apricots, figs), rich, sweet toffee, cinnamon buns

Palate (undiluted): rich arrival, very full-bodied, mouth-coating, more toffee, oranges, ginger, fresh dates, a slight citrus note

Finish: Woah ! There's that Cask Strength alcohol burn. But the burn  subsides fairly quickly and leaves rich brown sugar, buttered toast and a nice oakiness.

Adding water really opens up this whiskey. It's still powerful (I dilute it to about 50% ABV) yet the flavours become clearer. Freshly baked cinnamon buns with toffee come to mind. More orange and ginger. Rich, sweet dates on the finish remind us that this was aged entirely in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks. This is simply terrific whiskey.


A great many things are unfairly overlooked. Beatles albums, CraveTV's Letterkenny (if you haven't seen this show yet, you have to watch it. The writing is just brilliant) and Irish Single Pot Still whiskey. Redbreast 12 is pretty iconic among those in the know, but the Cask Strength version is flavour dialed up to eleven. I find it impossible to say anything bad about this whiskey. Every time I have a tipple of it, I'm elated yet sad. The elation obviously stems from the glory of the whiskey, but the sadness stems from the stark and sudden realization that this bottle is a bit closer to being empty. Fortunately, Irish Whiskey seems to be slowly experiencing a resurgence, so this beauty should be available for the long haul. Highly recommended !

Rating: 4.5/5 moustaches

May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live! 

Slainte !

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

If you build it, Part One: Scotch

I visited a friend recently and was quite impressed with his Scotch selection. So much so, in fact, that when he asked what I wanted to sip and sample, I had to let him choose. He chose about six bottles and all but one really impressed me. The selection in my whisky cabinet is far less expansive, but it contains a little something for every taste and the number of bottles is always growing, much to my wife's displeasure. I've also had friends ask me how to start buying whiskies for a whisky cabinet. Which to buy first? How much to spend? Scotch? Irish? Canadian? Bourbon/American? There's a lot of choice out there and it can be overwhelming. So fear not, friends, I'm here to help. I'll break down the categories and include recommendations for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Elite for each.

I recommend keeping some good quality whisky on hand, even if it is not your libation of choice. You know, in the interest of keeping your favourite blogger happy if he visits. But hey, you do you. The first installment in this series focuses on Scotch whisky. If my ramblings bore you, the TL;DR version is at the end. There are a seemingly infinite number of options for each category, so I'll recommend what's readily available where I am and whiskies to please most tastes.  Your mileage may vary. First, let's brush up on some terminology:

Single Malt Whisky: When a scotch is labeled "single malt" it means that it's from a single distillery and that it's malt whisky (i.e. made entirely from malted barley).

Blended Malt Whisky: Means the scotch is a blend of malt whiskies (i.e. made only from malted barley) from different distilleries. A particular blended malt whisky may include single malt scotch whiskies from the Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore and Linkwood distilleries to produce a unique flavour profile.

Blended Scotch Whisky: Means the scotch is a blend of malt whisky and grain whisky. Grain whisky may be made from wheat (most common in Scotland), maize (corn), or, less frequently in Scotland, rye. Grain whisky usually includes some malted barley to kick-start the fermentation process.


Treat yo' self...or someone else
If you're a beginner, you're just learning about scotch and just starting to build your collection. Or you know a few scotch lovers who visit somewhat regularly and you want to keep something on hand to offer them. You may not drink it, but you want to be a good host, right? You're like Tom Haverford: you want to be a great entertainer even if scotch is too powerful for your delicate palate.

First, get yourself a decent blended scotch. I recommend Teacher's Highland Cream or The Famous Grouse. Both can be enjoyed neat, on ice, or even in a Rusty Nail. Then, get yourself an entry-level single malt. I recommend something gentle like Glenlivet 12 Year Old or Aberlour 10 Year Old. These whiskies are unlikely to blow anyone's mind, but nobody should turn their nose up at them either. If you're a bit more flush with cash, Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old is sure to please the most discerning enthusiast.


You've gone past the beginner stage and rather than simply keeping some single malt on hand for entertaining, you may be dipping your own toe (or tongue) in the scotch pool. Don't think you've got to run out and spend a fortune just yet. Price and quality aren't always directly correlated. Tread lightly. Here's what to do at this stage:

  • get yourself two or four Glencairn glasses or Copitas. You want to look the part, right? Old Fashioned tumblers are okay, but these are far better. If you're in Canada, I recommend contacting for your drinkware needs.
  • add a blended malt (that's a blend of single malts) such as Monkey Shoulder or Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old. Blended malt whiskies are very interesting and often overlooked.
  • add a better blended scotch to your cabinet, something such as Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend or Great King Street Artist's Blend is ideal. To be an "advanced intermediate", get your hands on a quality blended grain scotch whisky, like Compass Box Hedonism.
  • add a single malt from another region of Scotland. As you build a collection, you want to represent as many different regions and distilleries of Scotland as possible. Since the single malts I recommended in the Beginner section are Speyside whiskies (well, Bunnahabhain is an unpeated Islay whisky, but that's not important), I'd recommend a Highland (or Island) whisky such as Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old, Oban 14 Year Old, Highland Park 12 Year Old or Old Pulteney 12 Year Old.

Caution intermediate, caution
So the intermediate hasn't conquered the world yet, but like Ragnar Lothbrok in Season I of Vikings, at this stage, you've defeated Earl Haraldson (i.e. gone beyond the beginner stage) and have staked your claim to (potential) greatness. But be careful, you aren't invincible. And don't cast out Lagertha, that's a foolish thing to do. She isn't just a pretty face, but a bad-ass warrior in her own right. But I digress...she has absolutely nothing to do with whisky.


By now you probably have a decent selection. It's time to choose some more polarizing whiskies. Perhaps a scotch with a vintage rather than an age statement, such as Balblair 2005 (or Balblair 1990 if you're flush with cash), or a scotch without an age statement* (see end note) such as Ardbeg Uigeadail would add some spirited discussion to your whisky sessions (see what I did there?). I also recommend you keep at least one Islay whisky on hand at all times. My preference is Lagavulin 16 Year Old but Laphroaig 10 Year Old or Ardbeg 10 Year Old will fit the bill as well. You also need to know about distilleries that fly under the radar, but produce great malts, like Clynelish 14 Year Old, Deanston 18 Year Old, or Isle of Arran 18 Year Old. Don't ignore Cambpeltown either. Get something from Springbank. They do pretty much everything the right way, so you can't really go wrong with them (Springbank also produces whiskies under the Longrow and Hazelburn names, btw). If you're looking to the Lowlands, Auchentoshan 21 Year Old is a safe bet or, if you're a high-roller, maybe a Rosebank 20 Year Old. You should probably consider a big, sherried whisky or two as well. I'd recommend Glendronach 15 Year Old or The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak. The advanced should keep a nicer blended scotch on hand, for those who prefer it; Dewar's 18 Year OldChivas Regal 18 Year Old, or Compass Box This Is Not A Luxury Whisky if you really want to impress.

Independent bottlers are kind of a big deal
If you want to be advanced, you'll want to track down some independent bottlings as well. This allows you to act like you're a big deal. Watch and learn: "Oh, you like Caol Ila? Well I wasn't really a fan, but when I got this Gordon & Macphail bottling of their Cask Strength 2004 Vintage, I gained a much deeper appreciation for their distillate. It's so much better than their official bottlings." Now, that sentence doesn't have to be snobby, but it can be quite Burgundy-esque if you so choose. Actually, to be advanced, you should have several cask strength (or close to cask strength) whiskies on hand. Aberlour A'Bunnadh is wonderful. Benromach 10 Year Old 100 Proof is another great one. So is Lagavulin 12 Year Old Cask Strength. At this stage, you should probably be familiar with the various scotch whisky flavour maps such as the ones found here, here and here. These maps may help you find the types of scotches more suited to your palate, or even find a scotch which shares a flavour profile with something you may not be able to find. It also helps build your whisky vocabulary in order to impress (or bore) your friends.


I'm not here yet. Heck, I'm not even truly advanced yet. But if you've got more money than whisky knowledge, allow me to help. It should be understood that to be Elite, price is irrelevant. In fact, to be truly Elite, your personal preferences are irrelevant. Scotch in this category can be an investment, or just something you keep on hand to offer (and impress) people. But you should maintain a Tony Stark level of cool detachment from the fact that your Scotch collection, at this price point, is worth more than most people's homes.

"I don't CARE how much it costs"
At this level, you really want to branch out and get some whiskies which may be pricier or harder to find (in some places). From Islay, I'd recommend Laphroaig 32 Year Old, Ardbeg 17 Year Old, Bowmore 25 Year Old and a thing (or eight) from the Bruichladdich Octomore series. I'd also recommend you keep a case of something like Highland Park 25 Year Old in your mansion or tower. It's always a crowd-pleaser. To be elite, you should also have several bottles of something iconic in your collection, regardless of how you feel about it. I'm referring to malts like Macallan 25 Year Old Sherry Oak or Glenmorangie Signet.  To impress your whisky-loving friends (or to inspire jealousy), you should also have a few bottles of something discontinued on hand, like the limited edition Old Pulteney 35, the very limited Port Ellen Feis Ile or anything from the much-vaunted (yet sadly mothballed, but soon-to-return) Brora distillery (bonus points if it's 30+ years old).

Her majesty thanks you, Mr. Stark
The Elite also have whiskies they never plan on drinking. Malts like The Dalmore Selene 58 Year Old  or Macallan Lalique 65 Year Old are showpieces rather than daily drinkers. Just remember, you're elite, it's no big deal. Bonus points if this whisky was a gift from the Queen or the President of the United States as a token of appreciation for saving the world from an alien invasion.

Build Your Scotch Cabinet: the TL;DR version

Here's an example of what to buy, in order

  1. The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch 
  2. Glenlivet 12 Year Old Single Malt 
  3. Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old Blended Malt 
  4. Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend
  5. Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old Single Malt
  6. Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt 
  7. Glendronach 15 Year Old Single Malt
  8. Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt 
  9. Balblair 1990 Single Malt 
  10. Clynelish 14 Year Old Single Malt
  11. Aberlour A'Bunnadh Single Malt
  12. Springbank 15 Year Old Single Malt
  13. Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old Single Malt
  14. Benromach 10 Year Old 100 Proof Single Malt
  15. Rosebank 20 Year Old Single Malt
  16. Bruichladdich Octomore 7.1
  17. Old Pulteney 35 Year Old Single Malt
  18. Highland Park 25 Year Old Single Malt
  19. Port Ellen Feis Ile
  20. The Macallan Lalique 65 Year Old Single Malt


So there you have it, folks. My advice on how to begin (or expand) a whisky collection or cabinet. I would also avoid overthinking it too much by reading 1 000 reviews about every scotch you purchase. There are so many opinions on the internet that you may succumb to paralysis by analysis. No scotch will please everyone and no scotch will be universally hated. Building a collection is all about trial and error. Buy a little at a time, taste it, make notes and come back to it. Whisky's flavour evolves with time and exposure to air. Your perception of flavour will also evolve with time and experience. Enjoy the journey!

May you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune ere bestowed,
and may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed.

Slainte !

*My objections to the marketing song and dance, and the deceitful creative labelling of No Age Statement (NAS) scotch remain unchanged, but I'm of the opinion that NAS whisky is here to stay. No sense in getting too worked up over what is essentially a luxury product. Yes, the marketing is less than transparent, but some of the whisky is quite good. Age still matters though. Don't let anyone fool you. Older is different, not necessarily better, but age does matter. Proceed with caution when it comes to NAS. I generally feel safe buying anything from Aberlour, Ardbeg and Laphroaig. The Macallan, not so much. But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Atonement: A Review of Fionnan O'Connor's "A Glass Apart"

I've been dismissive of Irish whiskey in the past. I've called it inferior to scotch. I've claimed Irish whiskey was weak, without character, and far worse. I was wrong and the fault was my own. Much like my previous dismissals of Canadian whisky, I simply hadn't tasted the good stuff, and I'd rushed to judgement. However, the past eighteen months have provided me with a true awakening, a rebirth of sorts. I've met some people who encouraged me to venture beyond my scotch and bourbon comfort zone and try some stellar Canadian whisky and some great Irish whiskey. Looking back on some of the derogatory comments I once uttered, I feel as though I should be paraded through the town square, or through the lobby at a whisky convention, whilst Conor McGregor and a mountie follow me chanting "Shame ! Shame !" à la Cersei.

It would be best for everyone involved if I remained fully clothed, though. Trust me. Owing to my newfound love for Redbreast, Green Spot and their ilk, I couldn't help purchasing a book I chanced upon a few weeks ago. Fionnan O'Connor's "A Glass Apart" focuses on the resurgence and glory of Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey. O'Connor briefly discusses other types of Irish Whiskey, but Single Pot Still is the focus of this tome.

What is Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey?

For those who don't know, Single Pot Still has a legal definition in Ireland. Irish Government regulations stipulate that "Irish pot still whiskey" is to be:

  • distilled from a mash of a combination of malted barley, unmalted barley and other unmalted cereals
  • in a pot still, such that the distillate has the aroma and taste of the materials used
  • using a minimum of 30% malted barley, and 30% unmalted barley
  • up to 5% of other cereals such as oats or rye may be used if required
  • aged in wooden casks for a minimum of three years

A sight for sore eyes
Traditionally, triple distillation is used, though double distillation may also be employed. Single Pot Still, also known as Pure Pot Still, is made exclusively in Ireland. Whereas single malt scotch is produced from 100% malted barley, Single Pot Still whiskey uses a mix of malted and unmalted barley. This mixed mashbill is mainly responsible for the whiskey's distinctive spiciness known as ‘pot still character’. As of this writing, Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey is made almost exclusively at the Midleton distillery in County Cork. How does one distillery produce so many different whiskies? O'Connor is happy to take you on a journey to find out.


Fionnan O'Connor isn't simply reviewing Irish whiskey. He's giving his readers a guided tour of Irish history and culture with his colourful, clever and engaging prose. O'Connor takes us through a proper appreciation guide and a detailed view of the production processes before getting to the detailed notes of the pot still profiles. Unlike most other books on whisky, O'Connor doesn't shy away from controversial opinions. He refers to caramel colouring (E150A), chill-filtration and sulphured casks as "gremlins". He isn't afraid to shed light on some of the less savoury aspects of whiskey marketing, though his treatment of the subjects are always fair and supported by sound logic.

A Confession

As an avowed history nerd enthusiast, I confess that upon purchase I skipped directly to the history section of this book. It did not disappoint. O'Connor takes his audience on a journey which extends far beyond whiskey. He is a true raconteur; weaving his spirited tale with social and political reference points for context, yet is not afraid to temper his tale with levity. He even answers the age-old question: Who invented whiskey; the Irish or the Scots? (spoiler alert: neither). Ove Grunner's photography is no less captivating than O'Connor's prose. Historic buildings, landscapes, ocean views are all included to give us the full Irish experience. I've never visited the Emerald Isle, but drinking Redbreast while looking at these photographs made for an eminently enjoyable substitute.

The Pot Still Profiles

History geek or not, this is bound to be any bon vivant's favourite part of the book. O'Connor's description are so precise, so detailed, you can't help but salivate at the thought of all the wonderful notes. Here's a brief excerpt from the review of Redbreast 12 Cask Strength:

Like a Jackson Pollock of dates, dried orange figs, pot still gingers, lime-and-pine sours,
and alcohol bristles, all dripping in the splattered viscosity of the spirit itself.

I have to admit, it's better than anything I've ever written. If the vivid descriptions aren't enough for you, O'Connor also awards certain whiskies the distinction of being "A Glass Apart". These are, in his opinion, the pinnacle of what Single Pot Still whiskey should be. They are the whiskies that made the author's jaw drop. I've already added these whiskies to my wishlist.


Irish Single Pot Still whiskey is an amazing style. It is every bit as unique as Islay single malts, Canadian rye whisky and American bourbon. It's a big world out there, and there's always room for great whisk(e)y. Fionnan O'Connor has done a masterful job of promoting Ireland's newly re-born whiskey industry. If you're a fan of whiskey, if you're planning a trip to Ireland (there is a detailed section on great Irish pubs) or if you simply like great writing, you owe it to yourself to buy this book. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5 moustaches

May the saddest day of
your future be no worse
Than the happiest day of your past.

Slainte !