Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Irish Eyes are Smiling

Hyde 10yo Presidents Cask - 46%

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There was once a time when the emerald isle could boast more distilleries than you could shake a shillelagh at. Then, in the mid to late 19th century, things took a downward turn. A combination of factors, not least the second wave of temperance and Scotland's adoption of the Coffey still, resulted in the near total annihilation of Irish distilleries. In fact, at one point, whiskey production in Ireland was, quite literally, a two-horse race.

Skip forward to modern times and the Irish whiskey industry is booming, huzzah! However, this poses a problem to would-be whiskey barons. You see, whiskey isn't an 'instant' product like gin or vodka. Apart from the minimum maturation period required by law, the vast majority of people would agree that even Irish whiskey, historically a lighter spirit, needs a good five years or so in the barrel before hitting its stride. Five years is an awful long time to have no turnover. So how does an up and coming distillery make a name for itself and start tapping the whiskey-fever tree for all that lovely sap? Simple, they play independent bottler for a while.

This limited release Hyde 10yo from Hibernia Distillers was, rumour has it, sourced from Kilbeggan's Cooley distillery. Having spent 10 years maturing in first-fill bourbon barrels, it was finished for a period of six months in toasted Oloroso sherry casks. Cut with Irish spring water to a robust strength of 46%, it has also been spared the indignity of chill-filtration. I'm liking the sound of this already. How does it taste?


Malt loaf, banana bread, nectarines and grape must. Plenty going on and a lovely balance. Give it a while and a couple of drops of water and a creaminess develops, putting me in mind of vanilla and honey semifreddo.


Big, bi-hi-hig delivery with spirit bubblegum and bourbon wood. Black pepper and peaches with the occasional floral flash. Caramel ice-cream pops its head up now and again but only to whisper hello. With water, like the nose, the whole affair becomes creamier.


Medium-long in length with spices galore. Unashamedly bold and oaky.


Very competent and well constructed. The nose is the star of the show although the palate is most enjoyable, if a tad unbalanced and spirit-led at full strength. The finish is hearty and substantial.
Quite the opening gambit from Hibernia. Currently available online for a shade over £50, NCF and bottled at 46%. If this is a sign of things to come, count me in.
Thanks to Hibernia Distillers for the official sample.

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