Today we saw the launch of Ireland’s first single malt whiskey matured fully in virgin Hungarian Oak, to go on limited edition sale in the Republic of Ireland.
This Hungarian Oak cask is one of the most unusual and interesting Dingle Distillery Founding Father casks to be released. This 129 litre cask was specially coopered in Hungary, using their native Sessile oak which were felled in the Zemplén mountains in North Eastern Hungary. This region is famous for its volcanic soil (perfect for Sessile oak) and its Tokaji wine production, that also utilises this Hungarian oak species.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Hungarian Oak is that it belongs to the Quercus Petraea family of oak which is the same species as the much sought after Irish Oak, which is also known as Dair Ghaelach.
Traditionally Quercus Robur would be the most common European oak species to be used in wine and spirit maturation in Europe, although, Petraea is actively utilised in regional wine production in Europe thanks to its strong aromatic character and low tannic content, which imbues incredibly flavoursome fruit influences to both the nose and the palate.
So, what exactly is in this barrel? Well, this Founding Fathers Cask was filled by Zoltán Vári, a Hungarian native, on the 24th of May 2014, with Dingle Distillery’s signature single malt spirit. Zoltán specially sourced this virgin cask from his home country and had it transported all the way to the Dingle Distillery for his spirit to be laid down in. It was in this cask that the spirit spent its full 5 years and 3 months maturing before being bottled on the 30th of August 2019.
This unique Founding Fathers expression was bottled under the title of “Zoltán’s Special #1 Granny’s Spirit”, which pays homage to Zoltán’s tee totling Grandmother, who had never touched a drop of alcohol in her life. This might seem like an odd choice in name, to pay homage to a person who didn’t drink, although, Zoltán assures me that there was no better person to guard his cask and keep those thirsty angels away when they tried to get their share!
The whiskey was bottled at cask strength, 60.4% ABV (120.8 Proof), without chill filtration or any caramel colouring.
The cask yielded a total of 142 bottles and a select 24 bottles have been placed on exclusive sale with L. Mulligan Whiskey Shop in Dublin city, which will be presented with a bespoke Zoltán’s Special gift box and miniature sample of the Hungarian oak Single Malt so that the lucky new owner doesn’t need to open the full bottle, if they don’t want to. Zoltán has informed me that the rest of the bottles will be retained for personal consumption and sharing among friends.
The whiskey has gone on sale from today at an RRP of €376.55 each.
There is no word yet whether there will be a Zoltán’s Batch #2 any time soon but with the amount of interesting casks of malt, grain and pot still that Zoltán has stashed across the island, there is no doubt in my mind that we will something interesting coming soon!
Potstilled.com Official Tasting Notes:
Colour: Deep, Dark, Red Hue
Nose: Sweet biscuity base with strong tart dark cherries and ripe raspberries. These are coupled with bright juicy peach, creamy vanilla, walnuts, honey, toasted coconut flakes and a slight herbal note at the back.
Palate: Bright lively palate, with strong dark fruits, and bitter cocoa at the fore. The herbal aspect comes through from the nose with a slight cinnamon spice, with a light smokey bacon quality at the back.
Finish: The finish is long and tingling with vanilla, a light ashen quality and dark fruits remain from the palate. It lasts for a long period.
With the addition of water the whiskey opens up hugely.
Nose with addition of water: Smokey bacon quality comes to the fore with slight salinity only to be completely overtaken by an amazingly present cinnamon spice characteristic. Absolutely unlike anything I’ve experienced in whiskey before.
Palate with addition of water: Cinnomon hugely comes to the fore again, incredibly intriguing quality to the whiskey. Beneath this honey, vanilla, come through with light herbal and fruity notes to the back of the palate.
Finish with addition of water: shorter finish with the addition of water although, a good lingering cinnamon spice prickle remains.
I for one am a person that usually loathes actual cinnamon, but this whiskey was incredibly intriguing experience, one I would definitely welcome again.