An Investigation into Malt

In our second collaboration of the year, we are proud to announce another liquid journey through the wonderful and often confusing world of Irish whiskey.

This time we have left the sunny southeast behind and we are headed for the European City of Culture 2020, Galway. It is here that we have collaborated with one of the most awarded whiskey bars in the country, Garavan’s, to deliver imbibers a liquid investigation to intrigue and delight.

This Potstilled flight attempts to take a scientific approach of comparing three identical malt samples that were aged and matured by three different companies. The purpose of this investigation is to discover how these different maturation programs can deliver wildly different whiskeys with their own DNA and myriad of flavours, distinct from the last. On this flight you will find three malt whiskeys, which have all been distilled in the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland.
Bushmills 10-year-old whiskey, 40% ABV, Bourbon & Sherry Matured.

This first expression on the flight is the home grown, control sample if you will. Bushmills 10 has one of the standards of the Irish whiskey industry over the last few decades and is a great place to discover some of the great underlying characteristics of Bushmills’ malt forwardness, vanilla tones and light spice. This serves as a great starting point and benchmark to look out for similar tones throughout the rest of the flight.

Knappogue 14-year-old whiskey, 46% ABV, Bourbon & Sherry Matured.

Our second test sample is from a brand that was one of the early movers in the current independent bottlers and bonders explosion. Knappogue Castle 14 is similarly double matured in both Bourbon and Sherry barrels before being bottled at 46% ABV. This is a great example of how different companies’ barrels regimes can really affect the final taste. The usual malt characteristics of Bushmills malt are present, although they are coupled with a bouquet of delicious fleshy fruits, such as dates, plumbs and apricots. A great example of what good barrel management and some extra sherry aging can deliver to the whiskeys.

Tullamore D.E.W. 14-Year-Old whiskey, 41.3% ABV, Bourbon, Sherry, Port & Madeira.

Our final specimen is a phenomenal offering from the folks at Tullamore D.E.W. who have really shown the quality of malt whiskeys and type of excellent wood management that they have tucked away in the new Tullamore Distillery. This whiskey, of course, also started its life as new make Bushmills malt, before being whisked away to the Tullamore warehouse where it spent 14 long years resting in Ex- American Bourbon barrels before being finished in a trio of fortified wine barrels; sherry, port and madeira. This malt takes a sharp turn at the familiar and delivers us right into the exotic. The bouquet on this whiskey is packed full of vibrant tropical fruits, rich sherry tones with a familiar malt spice nestled in the back of the palate. Truly the dark horse of the flight but delivers a great opportunity to see just how far you can take a spirit to create your own brand DNA, even when you didn’t distil it in the first place.

If you are sitting down in Garavan’s Bar in Galway and tasting along with this flight, I hope that it has opened your eyes to the scientific investigation that is possible when it comes to whiskey. These are some great examples of Irish Malt whiskeys and they all exhibit their own unique DNA, thanks to a fantastic wood management program.

Matt Healy, Chief Editor of Potstilled with malt flight in Garavan’s Bar

If you are at home and wish to recreate this flight yourself, please do and let me know how your own scientific investigations are progressing. The purpose of this study is simply to derive similarities and differences and since palates are subjective, conversation is all apart of that process! So let me know what your thoughts are on this flight and whether or not you think that these are easily distinguishable or homogenously similar.


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