Potstilled.com has been a fantastic outlet for my musings in relation to the Irish whiskey industry over the last four years (it was our website’s birthday this week *woo*), it has given me opportunities to travel the length and breadth of the country, seeking out some of the best whiskeys that are created on this beautiful island of ours. Now, with March, the busiest period of the year for the whiskey industry, well and truly behind us for another year, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on some of the absolutely amazing whiskeys that I had the good fortune to try in 2018.
So welcome to Potstilled’s Whiskey of the Year 2018.
The reason I wanted to highlight my whiskey of the year was not to imply inferiority of any other products on the market, because I think we can all agree there’s some great liquid out there. Instead I wanted to highlight the products that genuinely say “wow” and highlight products that made me come back to them time after time, with equally enjoyable results each time.
You see, for me the pillars of a great whiskey brand are consistency, quality and differentiation. If a product can stand out from a crowd, get the imbibers attention, and hold it, not only once, but for every encounter, that whiskey is worth mentioning.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough pages on the internet to allow me to highlight all the things that I have loved about Irish whiskeys in the last year. Instead I have chosen one whiskey that has championed the trilogy of consistency, quality, and differentiation, and this whiskey is my Whiskey of the Year 2018.
That whiskey is Glendalough 13 Mizunara Cask Single Malt. For those who are unfamiliar with this product, let me dissect it for you for a moment. Glendalough Distillery are one of the hottest independent bottlers in the Irish whiskey industry presently, they are making waves in every category they operate in, with in the Irish drinks industry. Not only are they in the process of building their own distillery but they are, distilling whiskey elsewhere on contract, creating seasonal foraged gins, badass poitíns as well as fantastic cask finished sourced whiskey stocks.
This Mizunara cask is actually the second 13 year old iteration from the Wicklow based whiskey company. Their first 13 year old single malt was released to pay homage to one of their investors, Irish rugby legend, Brian O’Driscoll. It was fully matured in first fill bourbon, and while it was a fantastic whiskey (and I still have a bottle or two stashed away in-fact) it doesn’t hold a candle to the second coming of its name.
Glendalough 13; Old vs New.
The latest Glendalough 13 year old single malt takes a brave step into the realm of differentiation. This whiskey is matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being the first and currently, only Irish whiskey, to be finished in Japanese Mizunara Casks. Virgin Japanese Mizunara casks are incredibly expensive, rare and notoriously leaky. It takes a huge amount of effort to create Mizunara barrels and I’m sure even more effort to get these barrels from Japan all the way back to Ireland.
What I love about this fantastically flavourful whiskey is that it jumps out of the glass for me, every time, thanks to the luxurious coconut, exotic fruits, citrus peel and sandlewood tones that are imbued by the Japanese oak. While these barrels are incredibly difficult to manage, the team in Glendalough have managed to consistently deliver a fantastically engrossing whiskey with every single bottle.
This is truly a consistent, quality and fantastically differentiated whiskey that is unlike anything else on the market. It comes in at 46% ABV and retails for approximately €95 in the Republic of Ireland, which makes it a must have on my back bar at home. This is a whiskey that will not fail to impress and I am delighted to call it my whiskey of the year for 2018.
If you would like to read my full review of Glendalough 13 Mizunara Cask, click here.
Header Photo Credit: Distilled Content, used with permission.