53% abv 1200 bottles
This was kind of a fun one to approach. Sitting down to dinner one eve, a face suddenly appeared at the back window. I went to the door to find a mate of mine standing in the snow (hey…welcome to Canada, friends) with three glasses in hand. Not just any glasses, mind, but Glencairns filled with healthy drams. The first two were a couple he had mentioned passing over. The third? Well…his only words were ‘a surprise for you’. With that, he dashed back across the yard and was gone. Ahhh…the beauty of having members of the Collective living so close.
I don’t often get to blindly nose/taste a dram with no preconceptions, so this was a treat. Immediately recognizable as Irish and cask strength (clean and fruity…enormous nose), the rest was actually surprisingly easy to dig into and parse as well. One of the defining characteristics of triple distillation, which is employed by a majority of Irish distillers, is that the resultant drink is quite pure and crystalline. It becomes fairly easy to dissect a whisky and suss out its primary flavors.
So, not knowing at the time that I was tackling the cask strength Writer’s Tears, here’s what I came away with…
A nose rich in peach and tangerine. Very clean and crispy. Sweet barley sugars, creamy vanilla and white chocolate are prevalent, as is a light dusting of nutmeg or cinnamon. Sounds like an extremely appealing dram, no? Sadly, this is all absolutely lambasted by an enormous wallop of banana candy. So hefty, in fact, I walked away for a bit hoping it would fade a little. No such luck.
First sips reveal a perfumed and almost artificial profile. Very concocted. Not sure how better to express myself here. I always look for a natural integration of spirit and oak. It should seem completely harmonious. As if the two had been waiting for each other. In this case it almost feels like something disingenuous has taken place. Like I’m being duped. It seems a bit like one of those sets where the buildings aren’t real, but merely elaborate facades propped up on stakes.
Over-analytical? Over-critical? Perhaps.
The rest of the palate is simply chewy and fruity Irish whisky. The banana is ever-present, but the oak holds it a little more in check here than on the nose. The fade carries…yeah…banana.
So…is this banana thing a deal breaker? For me, absolutely. But let’s be clear here. A note that I don’t particularly care for does not mean this is a bad dram. It certainly does not mean it is flawed either. It is simply not a profile that sits comfortably with my tastes. If banana is your thing…this may be right up your alley.
But honestly? Save your money…there are better Irish whiskies out there.
Reviewed by: Curt