Before anyone fires an email off to me about the fact I’m featuring an Irish whiskey on a bourbon website, please consider these facts:
- I spent 2 long days drinking bourbon at the Century Bar this past weekend in Dayton, OH. If you have no idea what that means, please check out this photo.
- St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, part of my family is from Ireland and my name is Patrick.
I think I’ve not only earned the right to taste something a little lighter and different, but I think it’s only fitting, based on my heritage and upcoming holiday, that I check out an Irish whiskey. And besides, I promise to get back to the regular bourbon programming soon enough. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue…
Concannon Irish Whiskey was released in early 2012 and won the title of “Best New Irish Whiskey” for 2012 from the International Spirits Competition (NYISC). It was developed as a joint collaboration between Livermore Valley-based Concannon Vineyard and Ireland’s renowned Cooley distillery. A blend of malted barley and corn, it is matured in bourbon barrels for a minimum of four years, then mellowed in Concannon Petite Sirah wine barrels for four months before blending. This final stage of mellowing in Petite Sirah barrels is known as the “Concannon Effect”, and is what is reported to give Concannon Irish Whiskey a uniquely fruity character with a clean and balanced taste.
According to their press release:
Brand Ambassador and 4th Generation Vintner, John Concannon, is continuing his family’s legacy of blending rich tradition with pioneering innovation with the development of Concannon Irish Whiskey. “Our Irish roots run deep, and entering the Irish Whiskey market symbolizes building an eternal bond with the past by creating a bold, new chapter in our Concannon Family History.” Concannon Irish Whiskey, a special tribute to his Great-Grandfather, James Concannon, in admiration for his adventurous spirit, vision and ambitious endeavors. James Concannon also celebrates his birthday on St. Patrick’s Day.
Sounds lovely, right? As a bourbon drinker, I’m a sucker for a great backstory, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is taste. So let’s put down our papers, stop reminiscing and get to tasting.
Age: 4 years (minimum of)
How I Drank It: Neat, in my special
bourbon whiskey glass (please don’t be jealous)
My Nose Noticed:* Vanilla | Honey | Apple | Toasted Malt
First Sip: Honey | Spice | Oak
The Burn:** This is a very light whiskey. There was a little bit of bite on the tongue from the spice, but it was mild and pleasant. The burn (finish) is slow building and hits the back of the throat with a full embrace. A very pleasant finish indeed. I just wish it would last a little longer.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: Since this is such a light whiskey I preferred it neat. Adding water increased the apple/fruit flavors which I liked, but it amplified the oak flavor as well which was not as welcomed.
Share With: I think this is a great whiskey to share with someone who is relatively new to Irish whiskey and is looking to learn more about the category. While I didn’t get to try it in cocktails, I’ve read that it mixes well and is a great foundation for Irish coffee. Based on it’s low proof and light flavor, I suspect it’s a truly versatile whiskey.
Worth The Price: Concannon Irish whiskey retails for $24.99 for a 750ml bottle. At that price I think it’s definitely worth the price if you’re a fan of Irish whiskey or looking to try the cateogry on for size.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: If you want to have a bottle of non-bourbon whiskey that is approachable and non-threatening, this is the perfect bottle to add to your home bar. I wouldn’t hesitate either to order this one while out on St. Patrick’s Day at my favorite bar.
*I like to let my whiskey sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking whiskey on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?
Here’s a brief video that provides a little more background about this new Irish whiskey.