Irish whiskey

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by DaleB, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    So how did I not know how good an Irish whiskey can be?

    After all this time, I had never really tried one. I started drinking bourbon years ago. Tried Scotch and thought it was horrible... until I tried MacCallan, which was OK, but nothing to write home about. Then a coworker introduced me to Lagavulin... Oh, my goodness. Just heavenly. So now I'm a fan of single-male Islay Scotch, and still like my bourbon. But still hadn't tried Irish whiskey. Even though my ancestors carried the family name here from Ireland. Not that I knew that until fairly recently, but that's another story.

    Somewhere along the way I tried some Jameson, and was completely unimpressed. Then my son had me try Powers. Night and day. Amazing stuff. I'm going to have to take a trip over to Ireland and see what other treasures lie there. There probably hasn't been a member of the family set foot on Irish soil from before the Revolution until two years ago when my son took his new bride there (her family is all Irish; by now we're only a small fraction) but the family name & crest still waves in the breeze over Galway.

    Happy Saturday night, everyone.
     
  2. tspear

    tspear Cleared for Takeoff

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    @DaleB

    It depends on what you buy. By its very nature, Irish Whiskey will be smoother, sweeter and less smokey. Scotch only uses a two step distillation process, while traditional Irish uses a three stage system. At the same time the smoke peat used for flavoring the initial barley in Scotch produces both its great smoke flavor, but also its harshness. There are really two ways to moderate the rough flavor of the smoke. Age it a really long time, or mix/dilute it.

    Find a local Scotch aficionado who has samples of both the regular and the good stuff. Standard Johnny Walker (red label) is like firewater compared to Johnny Walker Blue Label. With Cask Strength being even better. For both Blue Labels, the harsh flavor has mellowed into a full wonderful flavor that is great to savor. You will find the same thing with MacCallan, normal 12 your is rather rough, but get a chance to try the 21 and it is very smooth, no harsh flavors and does not leave a scratched throat behind, with MacCallan master Series going a notch further. I could go on and on....

    Now for Irish Whiskey, Jameson 12 is a little rough but popular. If you can find it, Jameson 18 is much smoother and touch sweeter. You will notice that Irish Whiskey to get just as smooth does not have to age as long. I think this is from the combination of not have the peat smoke and triple distillation process. A recent Irish Whiskey discovery for me is Johnny Walker Island Green; a Scotch whiskey made in the tradition of an Irish Whiskey :D Another good brand is RedBreast, but try and stay with the 15 year and higher. This is where the harsh flavor starts to moderate. Another good one but harder to find is Midleton, go for the single pot versions. They have a nice complex flavors, but dominate with very cool vanilla initial hit. A more main stream choice is Bushmills, I am pretty sure you would like Red Bush this is finished in bourbon casks! Otherwise, for the single malts, I stay with 16 years and higher if you want a smooth flavor.

    Tim
     
  3. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Johnny Walker Red is not really to my liking. Have not tried Blue. Black is OK; Double Black -- if you can find it -- is really nice for casual sipping or company. My go-to is Lagavulin; I like Laphroiag, just not as much. Highlands are OK, but just not enough to get me away from bourbon. And you're right about the age -- ideally I'd like my Scotch to be old enough to drink itself, but within a reasonable budget -- 16 years is a good starting point. I'm just glad I haven't developed a more discriminating taste for wine.

    I'm going to leave the serious tasting for a trip to Ireland. We'd planned one for last year, but the schedule just didn't work out so we went to Denmark instead. Awesome place, by the way, I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. But Ireland is next on the list.
     
  4. tspear

    tspear Cleared for Takeoff

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    @DaleB

    I forgot to mention, there is a rather long and complete Bourbon and Whiskey thread on BeechTalk if you want people who are experts. I do not drink very often (usually a glass every month or two with company) so my collection is rather limited or enough chances to try that many :D

    Tim
     
  5. Scrabo

    Scrabo Pattern Altitude

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    Scotch is over rated , I wouldn’t even use it to clean my old paint brushes

    Kavanagh Single Malt 12yr Irish Whiskey is excellent, Redbreast is good or my personal favs ... Bushmills 16 or 21 year old single malts.

    Picked up a few bottles of each on the last trip and they shipped them stateside, not having to play VAT offset the shipping costs
     
  6. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Been to Jameson a couple of times and Bushmill once. Learned a lot. Standard stuff is 4 years old. The older barrels are better. No surprise. In the affordable range Jameson is playing with Caskmates for variations in flavor. It's nice. Bushmill Irish Honey is also nice. I like Irish whiskey, don't care at all for Scotch whiskey, and prefer Anerican ryes. A premium rye is better than a premium Irish to me, but I enjoy a good whiskey bar to keep trying new things. My fav whiskey bar is in Killarney. :)
     
  7. Scrabo

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    Been a while since I been in Killarney, maybe 3 trips ago. The smaller villages are the best, always a good atmosphere
     
  8. skier

    skier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree with you on Powers and the nice thing is that it’s very affordable compared with decent Scotch.
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Of course, in just about any spirit, there's a difference between drinking the mass market stuff and the good stuff.
    It matters little if we're talking beer or wine or any particular spirits.
     
  10. Mike Smith

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    Timely thread. I have been in search of a nice sippin’ drink. I freely admit to having a very unsophisticated taste. I have tried various things and all are too harsh. Admittedly, I haven’t tried high dollar stuff. So far the closest I have come is Crown Apple. As far as straight liquor, Crown Royal has been the easiest to drink. I have tried Johnnie Walker Black scotch, it was terrible. Some rye that my son drinks, not very good. Can’t remember brands, but I’ve tried cognac and didn’t care for it. I did like the aftertaste of the scotch, but the harshness of the first taste was bad. Am I just bound to having to mix my drinks forever? I think the Bushmills Honey might be worth a try.
     
  11. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Add a little water to your whiskey. Just a splash. It may be a game changer for you.
     
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  12. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I like both Scotch and Irish whiskey, but I generally prefer Irish whiskey (Jameson and Bushmills, in that order) to the equivalent quality Scotch.
     
  13. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’m a bourbon drinker ,usually top shelf,however I do like an occasional Irish whiskey. Try Jameson 18 ,smoother but not cheap.
     
  14. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I’m a Scotch drinker. Never cared for Bourbon but the best stuff is tasty. Only had young, cheap Irish whiskey and that was nasty on my tongue. Interested in trying some Rye but haven’t because I really like Scotch!

    Started with Red Label and then went to Black Label and still go back to it when it’s the best available but I’ve been drinking single malts for 20 years now. Talisker 12 year is my current favorite.

    Blends are fundamentally different than the single malts. Blends are carefully designed and adjusted to appeal to the largest possible audience at a given price point. The edges are sanded down, the corners rounded, and even differences in regional tastes can be accommodated. Famous Grouse distributed in the US tastes much different that the same brand blended for the UK market (the Brits prefer a sweeter taste, who knew?).

    On the other hand there seems to be a certain integrity to the single malts. And what makes them enjoyable is the wide range of flavors and bouquets that one can experience. Edgy characteristics have not been blended out. I had a friend raving about his new favorite and since I couldn’t find any locally, he sent me a bottle. I found it undrinkable and still have the bottle as I dole out drams during tasting sessions.

    No one has mentioned the Japanese whiskeys which all seem to come from Suntory. Some are blends (Hibiki, Toki) some are single malts like the Yamasaki but as in most things from Japan, they are distinct from what is done elsewhere. They all taste sweet to me but in a very finely crafted way.

    I drink my whiskeys neat or break them with a bit of water. Low end blends sometimes get the rocks. But I ran into this a few days ago and said the following on FB:

    “Toki Highballs
    As I was reading this I realized that I had a finger or two of Toki and some soda... Refreshing Perfection! Among the Suntory Scotches, I found Toki to be a bit rough and 1 dimensional. Rough for a Japanese Scotch anyway. But in a iced filled tumbler with soda,

    It’s Highball Season. Here’s Where to Try Some of the Best in the U.S. https://nyti.ms/2KJEL0N?smid=nytcore-ios-share




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
  15. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Mike,

    I was never a whiskey drinker at all until a friend and coworker, may he rest in peace, introduced me to just sipping Jack Daniels neat (meaning, straight with no water, ice, etc.) From there I branched out a little. I haven't tried the seemingly hundreds of new "old" fancy bourbons, but I do enjoy Knob Creek, Makers (especially 46) and a few others. I've tried rye and didn't like it, but I may try another variety some day to see if I don't like rye, or just don't like Templeton. And it's fine in a Manhattan, though I prefer those made with Knob Creek.

    I'd tried a couple of Scotches. I hated Dewar's (and still do). MacCallan was OK, but not sufficiently different (in my humble and uneducated opinion) from bourbon to get me to switch. I did find, after being properly introduced, that I do love Islay Scotch, which is very smoky and peaty. There are several types of Scotch, each completely different... you'd be hard pressed to tell that Lagavulin and Glenmorangie from the same planet, let alone the same country.

    But to your statements. First, stop drinking swill. Apple and honey flavors are what distilleries add to the crap that no sane person would drink, to mask the taste. I have a bottle of Seagrams 7 Honey here -- it's OK in iced tea when we run out of Firefly. That flavored crap is OK for mixing in party drinks, but that's it. That's why you've been mixing them with other stuff -- you really have to, they're undrinkable otherwise.

    Rather than buying bottles of expensive liquor, try some in bars where you can order just one drink at a time. Try them neat. Just try a few sips to see how you like them, then maybe add a few drops of water to see what difference that makes. Most are best straight or with just a couple-few drops of water. No mixer, no bitters and for God's sake no flavors. Then maybe add an ice cube or two if you're still interested. Don't like it? Great, you're only out a few bucks to try it.

    Don't try new whiskies when you're in a hurry, or dealing with the social aspects of a party, or any of that... just take some time to relax, sit back, and appreciate the years it's taken for that corn, rice, rye and/or barley to make its way into your glass. Different people like different things, so don't feel like you HAVE to like what someone else does. You should see the faces people make when they catch a whiff of a potent Islay Scotch! But I love the stuff.

    And as a rule of thumb, the older the whiskey the smoother, more refined and overall "better" it will be. You'll also pay more for it. As whiskey ages in the barrel, some of it evaporates. In Scotland, I'm told, they pay tax every year on the barrels -- not on what's in them. So, on top of the fact that you're storing a barrel for 16-18 years to age it, it may be less than half full -- but they've been paying tax on the whole barrel. That's why this stuff gets so expensive.
     
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  16. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    Try the Jameson black barrel, much much nicer than the standard stuff.
     
  17. Dana

    Dana Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a Scotch guy, never cared for bourbon. One of my hiking buddies' go-to is Tullamore Dew. There are now some excellent American single malts now, too. But the best I ever had was a bottle of 80 year old Longmorn that my son in law's parents brought over for me when they passed though Scotland on the way to visit the US (she's Scottish). Had a hand written label, friends of hers at the distillery tapped the private stock cask for her. Oh my.
     
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  18. Mike Smith

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    @DaleB , I like the idea of trying a particular drink a glass at a time, but a couple of things hinder that. One is, I just don’t get out on the town very much and second, I don’t really think that bars around here are going to have much of a selection of really good scotch or Irish whisky/whiskey. I will heed you advice and try to seek those out where I can though. Thanks for taking the time to answer me with so much depth!
     
  19. tspear

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    Mike, hit a whiskey bar on a vacation. Here is a place I have gone to a few times to find a new whiskey to try: http://jackrosediningsaloon.com

    A few other pointers when you decide to try whiskey, especially Irish and Scottish varieties. A few drops of filtered or distilled water provide a dramatic change in taste for good whiskey. It really does not nothing for the cheap rough stuff. Ice is good to make the whiskey colder, which has the effect of reducing the harsh burn when you drink it. Smoke filled, and strong aromas will through off the taste. A good lemon sorbet or other citrus sorbet is great for clearing the palate between tastings; especially if you get one you do not like. Last point, hunger affects taste. So if you plan to buy what you like from a tasting, do not do it on an empty stomach.

    @Dana

    I am jealous.

    Tim
     
  20. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Yeah, should have mentioned that. Your neighborhood bar probably won’t have much. You’ll want to hit a higher end joint while on vacation or whatever. Cruise ships are good. I was in Vegas for a convention a couple years back, and at least three of the bars at the MGM Grand had a good selection and the staff was reasonably knowledgeable. Don’t always take the bartender’s word as Gospel, though. Some know what they’re talking about, some don’t.

    Generally speaking I won’t buy a bottle of anything unless I really like it. Right now my booze cabinet includes Lagavulin, Johnny Walker Double Black, and Maker’s Mark. And some Gammel Dansk for character building.
     
  21. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Figure out what YOU like. That’s all that matters.

    Bourbon-sweeter (51% corn by law, new toasted barrels, single distilled, differing amounts of rye)
    Rye-less sweet (rye wheat)
    Canadian-mostly rye, but blended so a little sweeter than true rye.
    Irish-least sweet (barley, exactly the same as Irish beer)
    Scotch-nearly identical to Irish (double distilled vs triple distilled) but with smoke and peat flavors since the mash is dried using peat fires vs anthracite coal in Ireland.

    Add a little sweetness to Irish, like Bushmill does? Still better that equal priced bourbons. There are no rules for barrels with whiskeys except bourbon. Bourbon always uses a new white oak toasted barrel. Add flavor to bourbon, like Belle Meade does by finishing legal bourbon in different barrels like XO brandy casks? Mother’s milk! Willette rye? As good as it gets for unadultered whiskey. My tastebuds, my pireps. Yours may differ. Go find what you like.
     
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  22. Mike Smith

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    Just so happens I’ll be in Vegas this weekend. I will be a taste tester.
     
  23. Shepherd

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    I'm a serious single malt kind of guy.
    Jameson 18 Year Old, Tullamore Dew 18 Year Old, Bushmill's 21 Year Old.
    Normally I don't drink Scotch.