Whenever Walsh Distillery invite you down to their distillery for an event you know you are in for a treat. So it was with great anticipation and excitement that we and the Irish Whiskey Society members arrived at the beautiful distillery in Royal Oak, Co. Carlow.
We were warmly greeted by Founder, Bernard Walsh and his team who gave us a tour of the distillery where we were shown the full production process, from milling to distillation in their three pot stills and their column still running side by side, followed by the welcome opportunity to taste the new-make spirit.
Following this, we made our way to the presentation room where Bernard along with Global Brand Ambassador, Shane Fitzharris and newly appointed Commercial Director, John Kelly (ex Diageo), gave a brief overview of Walsh Whiskey progression in the sector and future insights. They confirmed their ambition to expanding beyond the forty territories they are currently in, their cooperation with the IT Carlow's Brewing and Distillation degree, their participation and commitment to sustainability through the Origin Green programme from Bord Bia (Irish Food Board), and the completion of a 60,000 cask maturation building, amongst others.
Onto the new releases!
Both expressions are finished in Florio Marsalla casks for at least 12 months (closer to 14 months in reality). The casks were manufactured in Jerez, Spain from French oak, and shipped to Florio winery where they were seasoned with the Marsala wine. Marsala wine is a fortified wine from the western region of Sicily, Italy. Florio is owned by Disaronno group. The other leading producer of Marsala is Pellegrino.
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – Florio Marsala Cask Finish
As the name suggests this is the classic Irishman Founder's Reserve which is composed of 70% malt whiskey and 30% pot still, and then finished for a further 12 months in the Marsala 500L casks. In total 9 casks were used yielding 2,970 bottles. Unlike the Irishman Founder's Reserve which is bottled at 40% ABV, this is bottled at a welcome 46%. Retail price is €70 and will be available in Ireland, Italy, France, Holland, Switzerland, Travel Retail and Germany. Each bottle in individually numbered.
This is a well balanced whiskey with a dark rich maple syrup colour. There are pepper and spice notes, red berries and plumb, and a beautiful sweetness, with a long finish.
Official tasting notes are:
Nose: Sweet Marsala, zesty spice, vanilla, summer fruits
Taste: Malty aromas, red berries, bourbon oak, floral notes
Finish: Hazelnut, oak spices, nougat, reminiscent of an Italian summer
The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt – Florio Marsala Cask Finish
Essentially this is the Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt (an Irish malt, aged for a minimum of 12 years in American Oak Bourbon barrels) and seasoned for a further minimum 12 months in Marsala Hogsheads. This is an even more exclusive expression as it is a single cask release with only 320 bottles being produced. It is bottled at cask strength of 56% ABV and is available only in the distillery itself. Retail price is €100.
Again this is dark in colour and the nose has floral notes, vanilla, chocolate, red berry, sugar plumb. To taste there is a burst of flavour, smoothness, green apples. Despite the higher alcohol there is no burn and the finish is wonderfully long.
Official tasting notes:
Nose: Delicious dark chocolate, sweet vanilla, apples and pears
Taste: Sundried fruits, peppercorns and spicy sultanas
Finish: Lingering tones of honey and orange peel
What a day! One to be remembered. These are fantastic whiskeys. It is both exciting and reassuring to see the further development and innovation in Irish whiskey!