James Joyce Whiskey

Previously I brought you an article on ‘James Joyce Whiskey‘, a new independently bottled Irish whiskey. It was being produced by the James Joyce House in Dublin’s Usher’s Island, but very little more information was available at the time other than some artistic renderings of what the bottle might look like.

Thankfully, after its soft launch on the Irish market, we finally have our first look at the finished product.

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One of the biggest questions I had at the time of my first look at the whiskey, earlier this year, was what the whiskey content would be. What I feared was another ‘copy and paste’ Cooley clone. Thankfully, James Joyce whiskey does not bear the title of double distilled any where on its bottle. Instead, the stock finds itself sourced from Cooley’s Northern cousins, Bushmills.

James Joyce Whiskey has certainly come a long way since I was shown the original concepts in January. I’ve been informed that this bottling is to be the first of a family of brands which will each be released to commemorate different publications by Joyce.

This expression, which can be seen in the photo above, has come along way from the original artist’s renderings. In fact I would say that its done a full U-turn in graphic design. The sleek new label and Midleton Rare-esque. bottle design exude a premium feel than that was perhaps missing from the original renderings. Furthermore, the bottle is set to be accompanied with a display box in the shape of a coffin, in reference to “The Dead”. It is good to see that the presentation has reflected the premium price tag that the bottle is retailing for.

Apart from learning that the whiskey in the bottle is triple distilled single malt I’ve been able to learn little more about what is actually in the bottle. All I’ve been able to gather is that it is “premium old stock of Irish whiskey” and currently exclusively available from the online retailer, Irish Whiskey Shop.
Almost by definition, Non-Age Statement (NAS) bottlings generally have an air of uncertainty around them but in lieu of any more information, I decided to crack open a bottle and see for myself what it tastes like. Here’s what I thought of it.

Nose: Initially a big burst of citrus fruits, grapefruit, lime and some sweet green apple. This makes way for sweet vanilla fudge and a hint of cinnamon.

Palate: The palate is very interesting. It begins slowly with a pause and then develops into a large punchy tannic wood spice and pepperiness. After the initial punch subsides the dry citrus notes from the nose come through, like an off-ripe grapefruit.

Finish:  The finish sticks with you. That dry tannic quality remains with almost an afterthought of the fruit sweetness from the nose and the palate.

I must report that I was pleasantly surprised by this whiskey. The nose is wonderfully fruity and the palate which starts subdued but explodes into this menagerie of peppery dry fruits. Most whiskeys that start this subdued, stay that subdued throughout and it was great to discover that the palate did not leave you searching for flavour.

I’m sure that this whiskey will be one that will make appearances around the upcoming Bloomsday festivities.



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