They say that history is cyclical, that humans are doomed to repeat themselves if we do not learn from those who have gone before us. Well this is one instance that I am delighted history is repeating itself. Once again bars are curating their own stocks of whiskeys from some of Ireland’s best distilleries.
In decades gone, it would have been common place for public houses to have contracts with different distilleries, which would have allowed them access to casks directly from the distilleries. This whiskey would have been poured direct from the cask to the consumers to literally whet their palates. This practice was abandoned in the late 1900’s due to changes in how the struggling Irish whiskey industry sold its whiskeys, moving from bulk sales to bottling in-house.
Recently though we have seen an resurgence of the practice of public houses across the country, sourcing their own casks of single pot still whiskey directly from Midleton distillery, which are now being sold by the glass or the bottle in the establishment.
Examples of this can be seen in Fleet Street’s Palace Bar’s 17 year old Redbreast Single Cask, Finnegan’s of Dalkey’s 15 Year old Powers single cask and Searson’s of Baggot Street’s 28 Year old Midleton Single Cask offering.
This revival in on-premise single cask whiskeys gives the consumer another reason to visit these establishments and gives them a more personalised journey through the world of Irish whiskey. Each of these establishments worked with their Irish Distillers’ representative to pick their particular single cask from a line up of single cask options. Each establishment’s choice is unique to their venue and the journey that they all took to get their whiskey on their shelves only ingrains that whiskey into the woodwork of the establishment even more.
While all of the aforementioned establishments had their Midleton barrel selection in common, only Sonny Molly’s in Galway, is able to boast the accolade of being the first on-trade establishment to collaborate with Redbreast whiskey ever.
In November of 2018 they released the first ever 16 year old single cask, Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. This was a momentous occasion for the fantastic Connacht whiskey bar, that did not go unacknowledged. Sonny Molly’s, which previously made headlines for being one of the few establishments to complete a full collection of Midleton Very Rare, had a huge VIP list for the launch of their Single Cask Redbreast. This exclusive list included Midleton Master Distiller Brian Nation, who introduced the whiskey to the revelers, Midleton Master Cooper, Ger Buckley, who gave a barrel demonstration on the night as well as the who’s who of Irish media and whiskey journalism.
This 16 Year Old Redbreast Single Cask is an all sherry matured, Single Pot Still Whiskey, which spent its life in a 500 litre Sherry butt. There was a total yield of 570 bottles, with only 200 being made available for the general trade to purchase by the bottle. The remainder were reserved for sale in the bar and to be shared with family and friends of the proprietors.
The bottles were retailed at €345 as a part of a set with a bespoke gift box, featuring two engraved Galway crystal tumblers and a certificate of authenticity, signed by Midleton Master Distiller, Brian Nation.
My Tasting Notes are as follows:
Nose: This whiskey has a rich, decadent nose. It is resinous, and is full of dark berries, dates, almonds, dried cherries, hints of biscuity wafer, with some strong stewed fruits and dried citrus peel.
Palate: The stewed fruits follow through from the nose fantastically. This whiskey is a sherry bomb, with a great amount of flavour, no sulphur, musk or any over oaking. It has a dry mouthfeel that is coupled with hints of gigner and stone fruits and palate coating undertone of grain with soda bread-like characteristics.
Finish: There are some long lingering, stone fruits, and crisp toasted wood notes that, with the addition of water reveal a lovely influx of treacle like sweetness.
This is a fantastic example of a well crafted whiskey. Any whiskey that has spent 16 years in a sherry butt, runs the risk of developing over powering wood tones, and this masterfully crafted whiskey has none of these. This is a prime example of a well made sherry bomb. Full of flavour, dry, true to oloroso style, and incredibly enjoyable to the last drop.
If you are in the city of the tribes, Sonny Molloy’s is a must visit, if not to admire their whiskey collection then to sample this decadent all sherry matured whiskey.
N.B. If you have an interest in reading about other On-Premise Redbreast Single Casks, read our review of the Palace Bar’s 17 Year Old Redbreast Single Cask, here.