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Hyde & Seek | Blog #68

Even more exciting than our recent vacation in the deep South was receiving a very special sample bottle from Conor Hyde at Hibernia Distillery in Ireland, delivered safe and sound by the resort staff.

Irish Whiskey has been gaining momentum in popularity for years now with a lot of whisky enthusiasts hunting for unique and hand crafted Irish expressions over the usual big name brands.

There have not been a lot of independent distilleries on the landscape in Ireland for consumers to choose from. Cooley who championed themselves as “The Independent Spirit of Ireland” eventually sold into the hands of Beam then Suntory. Thankfully, the new management has continued the high quality work that John Teeling started in 1985. So up until 2013 there were only four operating distilleries in Ireland all owned by big companies.

With Irish Whiskey experiencing double digit growth there is now a rash of new distilleries opening which bodes well for a greater selection of Irish whiskey to be hitting shelves in the years to come.

Hyde President’s Cask 10 Year Old Irish Single Malt Whiskey is the first offering from Hibernia Distillers and is in the first instance sourced from Cooley after 10 years in Ex-Bourbon casks. Transported to West Cork it is then re-racked into Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks for a further 6 months before being cut down to 46% with West Cork Spring Water. No chill filtration or Caramel Coloring.

There are not a lot of choices on the market if you enjoy sherry influence in your Irish Whiskey so it was with excited anticipation that I popped the cork on this bottle and set to work discovering what Conor and Alan Hyde had put together.

HYDE Presidents Cask Irish Whiskey HYDE Presidents Cask Irish Whiskey

Colour:     Lovely rich amber a red hues, polished violin resin.

Nose:     Immediate semi-sweet sherry with a backbone of vanilla bean and orange peel.

Palate:     Full and malty with the semi-sweet dried fruit notes coming through, glazed figs, flamed citrus with a hint of savory spice…perhaps a faint dusting of white pepper.

Finish:     Delicious and balanced the double distillation adds some mid palate fullness that carries into the finish and the Oloroso Sherry influence seems to be married well to the 10 years in American oak. subtle but evolving the flavours continue.

This is one delicious Irish Whiskey.

Already one can see the attention to detail that the Hyde’s have put into this whiskey. No doubt if they continue to work this way with their own distilling we can look forward to some magical Hyde drams in 5 years or so.

In the meantime I am happy to wait knowing I can enjoy the Presidents Cask 10 year old.

Almost on the water making its way to Western Canada Hyde 10 Year Old should be available on shelves July 2015.

Sometimes you get the nicest gifts when on vacation. In this instance it made my relaxing time away an exciting whisky discovery opportunity. 


St. Patrick’s Day – Writers’ Tears Pot Still Review | Blog #3

I know this week was supposed to be a blog about Watering whisky, however given that today is St Patrick’s day I thought I would postpone that till next week and tackle a traditional Irish Whiskey review.

Every avid whiskey drinker should take time to consider Pot Still Irish Whiskey. It will add something different to your repertoire of tasting memory.

There are only a scarce few examples of this style of Irish Whiskey making available in the market today.

Green Spot, Red Breast, Jameson Pure Pot Still and Writers Tears the topic of today’s blog.

Pure Pot still or now called just “Pot Still” due to the US regulators finding issue with the use of the word “Pure” is Irish Whiskey distilled with both malted and un-malted (green) barley. We can actually thank the British for this delicious style of whiskey. In 1802 Irish Whiskey ruled the world and made up over 90% of all exported whiskey. The British looking to take advantage of it’s popularity introduced a heavy taxation on Irish Malted Whiskey. This prompted the Irish to use a large percentage of un-malted barley and “Pure Pot Still” was born.

With the decline in Irish Whiskey sales over the ensuing century the few remaining distilleries went back to blends and Single Malts and the “Pot Still” style of whiskey making almost disappeared.

Writers Tears is a Pot Still-Single Malt combination that harkens back to Irish Whiskies of 100 years ago.

Produced in small batches by the Middleton Distillery for Bernard Walsh (Hot Irishman), Writers Tears pays homage to the long history and tradition of Ireland’s rich culture of exceptional authors. I find mulling over a lovely dram really can fire the imagination and as so aptly stated on the label – “Ireland has been blessed with great poets, and playwrights down through the centuries. However, most, if not all of our great writers suffered from writer’s block. Many sought comfort and inspiration from “The water of Life”… Whiskey. It was said that when an Irish writer cried, he cried tears of Whiskey.”

Lets delve into the whiskey.

Writers Tears has a lovely golden hue that puts an Irish Twinkle in your eye straight away.

On the nose subtle wildflower honey layering into fresh hay. It reminds me of a glorious early Summer day walking out to bat for the first cricket match of the season with the sun on my face, the smell of fading Spring blooms in the air, complete with the tinniest hint of freshly cut grass. I’m drawn in now and the buds are eager in anticipation of what this dram has to offer.

The palate is layering and viscous which is surprising for only 40%. Creamy shortbread, nutmeg infused vanilla custard or perhaps Creme Caramel (a big spoonful of the custard with just the tiniest drip of light caramel sauce). No rough edges to be found. Easy and smooth. A lingering touch of white and milk chocolate rounds out the finish.

Weightier than its triple distilled cousins Writers Tears with is double distillation certainly offers a full and delicious offering.

For those just discovering whiskey and all of us that enjoy an easy going but flavorful dram at under $ 40 Writers’ Tears fits the bill.

As an official Christian Feast day and the lifting of the Lenten restrictions on eating and the drinking of alcohol. This St. Patrick’s day (also called the feast of St. Patrick) I hope that everyone can enjoy a good hearty feast with friends and family and a warming dram of Writers Tears.

Have you had a great experience with a delicious whisky under $ 40? Tell me about it in the comments section and just for good measure throw in your favourite St. Patrick’s Day experience.

Next week I promise will be my Blog entitled “Water, Water everywhere but not a drop to drink”

See you then.

“Sláinte chugat!

Jonathan Bray