Celtic Whiskey’s Celtic Cask 1999 – Tríocha a Cúig-35, won this year’s Best Irish Whiskey of the Year title at the 2021 Irish Whiskey Awards, just pipping a Gold medal-winning Dunvilles 18 Year-Old Single Cask to the post.
This year’s Awards again honoured emerging and established Irish whiskey producers and took place late last year at the Powerscourt Distillery in Enniskerry, County Wicklow.
The evening began with a distillery tour and drinks reception hosted by the Powerscourt Distillery’s co-founders and team.
Keynote speaker Jack Teeling, Founder and Manager of Teeling Whiskey, presented the awards, now in their eighth year.
Premiumisation – a sales driver
He pointed out that the first Irish Whiskey Awards had been held in 2013, attended by around 30 to 40 people. This year’s attendance of over 110 was testament to the growth in appreciation for quality Irish whiskey.
Just five years after his father John Teeling addressed a previous Irish Whiskey Awards ceremony, Jack spoke of the need for distillers to get local support for their operation.
Whiskey sales in 2020/21 had stayed level and he hoped that sales would be back on track by the end of 2021.
Premiumisation was one of Irish whiskey’s sales drivers, a trend that’s set to continue as is the case elsewhere with Tequila, white spirits and gin, he said.
Long-term, he saw a cyclical up-trend emerging for Irish whiskeys with growth coming from the value end.
Now producers need to focus on adding to the Irish whiskey category as it expands into “the premium space occupied by Scotch, American and Canadian whiskies”.
Later, the Head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle told those in attendance that the winning whiskey from Celtic Whiskey “had got the highest score from all 56 judges and was therefore the ‘undisputed champion”.
Judging of this year’s Awards took place earlier in the Summer when organisers Celtic Whiskey posted out several hundred blind-tasting packs to members of the Celtic Whiskey Club, the Irish Whiskey Society – Dublin and Dingle, the Cork Whiskey Society, the Waterford Whiskey Society, the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild, the Ennis Whiskey Club, the 1875 Whiskey Club and the Belfast Whiskey Club.
All results were audited and verified by William Lavelle and Serghios Florides, owner and editor-in-chief of Irish Whiskey magazine.
Commenting on the awards, Organiser Ally Alpine – Managing Director of Celtic Whiskey Shop and Organiser of Whiskey Live Dublin – said, “We’re delighted to celebrate the excellence and innovation in the Irish Whiskey industry this evening, all whilst raising funds for our incredible charity partner Mary’s Meals. Tonight’s event will feed 572 pupils at Kapatamoyo school in Zambia every day for a year.”
Mary’s Meals – www.marysmeals.ie – feeds two million children every day whilst ensuring that they attend school. Tickets for the awards were priced at €60 and all proceeds from the night help sponsor the school.
Drinks Industry Ireland magazine is the event’s media partner as it has been for many years and key sponsors include the Irish Whiskey Association and Tuath Irish Whiskey Glass.
The Awards span 12 categories.
Overall Winner – Irish Whiskey of the Year 2021
Best Irish Whiskey of the Year – Celtic Cask 1999 – Tríocha a Cúig-35
Single Pot Still 11 and Under
Winner: Method & Madness Single Pot Still French Chestnut
Gold: Busker Single Pot Still
Gold: Teeling Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still 12 Year and Over (only two entrants)
Winner: Powers Johns Lane
Gold: Redbreast 12 Year-Old
Blended Limited Release
Winner: Writers’ Tears Inniskillen Icewine Cask Finish
Gold: Dubliner Old Fashioned Beer Cask
Gold: Eiregold Special Reserve
Blended No Age Statement
Winner: Jameson Black Barrel
Gold: Sailors Home The Journey
Gold: The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Rum Finish
Blended With Age Statement
Winner: Jameson Bow Street 18 Year-Old
Gold: Pearse 7 Year-Old Distillers Choice
Gold: Tullamore DEW 12 Year-Old
Single Malt 11 and Under
Winner: The Irishman Single Malt Marsala Cask Finish
Gold: Writers Tears Red Head
Gold: Jack Ryan Haddington
Single Malt 12-15 Years Old
Winner: Gelston’s 15 Year-Old Sherry Cask
Gold: Method & Madness Single Malt
Gold: The Irishman 12-Year-Old Single Malt
Single Malt 16 Years and Over
Winner: The Irishman 17 Year-Old Single Malt
Gold: Tullamore DEW 18 Year-Old
Gold: Dublin Liberties Keepers Coin Batch 2
Winner: Teeling Single Grain (Vintage 13 Year-Old)
Gold: The Bridge Bethlehem Release
Gold: Method & Madness Single Grain
Winner: Celtic Cask 1999 – Tríocha a Cúig – 35
Gold: Dunville’s 18 Year-Old Cask 989
Gold: The Irishman Peated Red Ale Cask
Winner: Dunvilles 12 Year-Old PX Cask Strength
Gold: Redbreast 27 Year-Old
Gold: Writers’ Tears Cask Strength 2021
New Irish Whiskey
Winner: Shortcross Single Malt
Gold: Connacht Whiskey Single Malt
Gold: Teeling Black Pitts
Tullamore DEW: honoured for its Age Statement Malts and Blended whiskeys
Tullamore DEW brings together a rich heritage of experience and expertise, evolving since 1829 when the original Tullamore DEW distillery was established. Its signature liquid offers the rare combination of blending three whiskeys that have been triple-distilled and left to mature in three-barrel types. This gives it a complex flavour with an incredibly smooth finish.
Tullamore DEW has grown its range to include a line of premium malts and blends, giving more choice to consumers opting for a premium liquid.
Most recently, Tullamore DEW was honoured for its Age Statement Malts & Blends, winning two Gold medals at this year’s Awards for the 12 Year-Old Special Reserve and 18 Year-Old Single Malt.
Tullamore DEW 12 Year-Old Special Reserve won Gold for Best Blended Whiskey with Age Statement. The 12 year-old whiskey leans towards a higher content of pot still and malt whiskeys. It’s been triple-cask matured for depth and balance, an exceptionally fine aged whiskey derived from 12 to 15 years, matured in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks, delivering a deluxe and full-bodied whiskey with notes of dried fruit and chocolate.
Tullamore DEW 18 Year-Old Single Malt, which won Gold for Best Single Malt Whiskey 16 Years and Over, is characterised by its rare, four cask recipes including Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry, Port and Madeira casks. This original finish gives a uniquely rich and mellow taste, delivering flavours of rich fruits united with light spice.
Tullamore DEW is the second-largest-selling Irish Whiskey brand globally. Its award-winning range includes Tullamore DEW Original, Tullamore DEW XO Rum Cask Finish, Tullamore DEW 12 Year-Old Special Reserve, Tullamore DEW 14 Year-Old Single Malt and Tullamore DEW 18 Year-Old Single Malt.
Dunville’s wins double at Irish Whiskey Awards
Dunville’s Irish Whiskey picked up two accolades at this year’s Irish Whiskey Awards.
Dunville’s PX 12 Year-Old Cask Strength was named Best Cask Strength Whiskey while 18 Year-Old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish won Gold in the single Cask Category, coming in a very close second in the competition for the Best Irish Whiskey title itself.
The awards are the latest in a series of accolades for Dunville’s, which has seen The Spirit of Belfast gather 31 international prizes since the historic brand was revived by The Echlinville Distillery in 2012.
Both award-winning whiskeys are from the Dunville’s Single Cask Series, a portfolio of limited-edition bottlings showcasing the best whiskeys from Dunville’s warehouses. With each cask bottled at its optimum strength for the best possibly quality and flavour, the series encompasses Dunville’s ethos of ‘exceptional whiskey, without compromise’.
The Single Cask Series also features exclusive casks for key partners in the trade, the most recent of which is Cask 991, a 20 Year-Old Oloroso Cask Finish bottled for Hi-Spirits Ireland. The complete Dunville’s portfolio, including the Dunville’s 1808, Three Crowns and Three Crowns Peated blends, the iconic Dunville’s PX 12 Year-Old Sherry Cask Finish and the recently re-launched Dunville’s PX 10 Year-Old, are available from Hi-Spirits Ireland.
The Busker is a new Irish whiskey produced at the world-class Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow. The Busker includes all four types of Irish whiskey (Single Grain, Single Pot Still, Single Malt and Blend).
The Busker Blend – Triple Cask Triple Smooth – combines Grain with a high percentage of Malt and Pot whiskey. Matured and finished in three different casks (Bourbon, Sherry and Marsala), this whiskey brings a new meaning to smoothness in Irish Whiskey.
The Busker Single Collection, represented by the three traditional Irish Whiskeys (Single Grain, Single Pot Still and Single Malt), is produced under one roof at the distillery. Each whiskey boasts an unmistakable taste profile with nuances ranging from Vanilla and Oak to rich spicy notes.
Royal Oak Distillery places a huge focus on quality. Proof of this can be found in the results of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition which came out recently with The Busker winning four medals: Double Gold for The Busker Single Pot Still, Gold for The Busker Triple Cask Triple Smooth and The Busker Single Malt Irish Whiskey as well as a Silver medal for The Busker Single Grain.
Moreover, The Busker Single Pot Still was awarded Gold in this year’s Irish Whiskey of the Year under the category of Single Pot Still – 11 and Under.
Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
Powers John’s Lane
Named after its original Dublin City distillery, Powers John’s Lane embodies all the greatest characteristics that Irish whiskey is so well-known for. Crafted in the Single Pot Still tradition and aged in Bourbon and Oloroso casks, this gives it an unmistakable aroma, taste and mouthfeel. On the nose, toffee & crème brûlée give way to perfumed Oak and leather, while on the palate, wave after wave of flavour.
It starts with intense levels of Vanilla spice before a layer of chocolate and coffee is revealed that ends with the warmest touch of Blackcurrants and raisins. The 12 years spent in American and Spanish barrels leave their mark by imparting a silky velvet-like texture – all the hallmarks of whiskey excellence.
Such pleasurable complexity in a spirit is not earned overnight. It can only come from centuries of continuous experience. James Power established his distillery in 1791 on Thomas Street in the heart of Dublin city. The Single Pot Still style of whiskey he helped to forge in the 18th Century is still found now in Powers John’s Lane.
Now produced in Midleton, this method of making whiskey is globally-renowned for its uniquely high levels of spice. Such attributes make it a favourite of leading international cocktail bartenders.
Back home in Ireland, it’s equally loved by the judges of The Irish Whiskey Awards.
Last year, it picked up Best Single Pot Still 12 Years and Over, scoring 92 out of 100 in a blind-taste test.
Pearse Lyons Distillery
The Pearse Lyons Distillery’s Pearse 7 Year-Old won a Gold in the Best Blended Whiskey With an Age Statement at the Awards – an incredible achievement in a highly competitive market.
Pearse 7 Year-Old is a Malt and grain whiskey blend aged in a combination of former Bourbon and Sherry barrels for a minimum of seven years.
- 43% ABV
- Non-Chill Filtered
- 700ml Natural Colour
Tasting note: On the nose this specially-blended Irish whiskey gives fresh citrus and Piny herbal notes with subtle spices and dried fruits giving a lingering light fruit cake aroma.
The palate offers warming spiced Oak flavours with hints of green grape evolving to caramelised Pear. As this whiskey develops it gives hints of Cocoa and dried fruit flavours, finishing with notes of stewed Apple, Clove and custard.
Available to purchase from your local Comans Beverage sales representative nationwide.
Autumn 2021 saw The Connacht Distillery’s first release of its own stock, the first whiskey to be distilled in County Mayo in over 150 years. The team started laying down whiskey at their state-of-the-art facility in Ballina back in 2016 and this release marked a significant milestone in their journey.
Batch 1 of this Single Malt is crafted by the Atlantic using 100% malted Irish barley, double-distilled in bespoke copper pot stills designed and produced in Canada to Master Distiller Robert Cassell’s particular specifications.
Then it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. With first aromas of raisin, a honey sweetness and hints of Almond and Star Anise, it has a palate of Vanilla, spices, dried fruit and malt, with a warming, full-bodied finish. Bottled at 47% ABV, the recent Gold medal in the New Irish Whiskey category of the Irish Whiskey Awards, coupled with some very favourable early reviews of this first distillery release, indicate that we can expect great things to come from the Connacht Distillery.
“The Ryans are Whiskey Finishers; it’s as simple and as unique as that,” says Eunan Ryan, family scion and Managing Director of the Jack Ryan Whiskey Company. Haddington, a fine 11 Year-Old Single Malt finished in old rum, won a Gold in the Single Malt 11 years and younger category. It’s the company’s second Irish Whiskey Awards gong, adding to the 2014 award for the company’s first release, the Jack Ryan 12 Year-Old.
“We source quality aged malt and further mature, age and finish batches in our growing portfolio of casks from around the world” adds Eunan, “and we do all this, including the bottling, in our own bonded warehouse and finishing hall.”
It’s a hands-on, independent, family-owned artisan operation.
Haddington is the second of The Generation Trilogy; Toomevara 10 Y-O (Château du Breuil Calvados) and Finisher’s Touch 12Y-O (Justino’s Madeira) are the other two.
The name “Haddington” is a nod to the whiskey-finishing business started by Toomevara native Thomas Ryan in 1913 on Haddington Road, Ballsbridge. His son – and Eunan’s father – was the eponymous Jack Ryan and yes, he had the finisher’s touch.
“We specialise in small batches, including Single Cask and Cask Strength releases” continues Eunan, “and we like to produce collaborative finishes that set out the provenance of the casks we use. Raglan Road, our latest, is a good example – an imperial stout finish in partnership with Seamus McMahon’s Brehon Brewhouse”.