2019 has been an absolutely fantastic year for the Irish Whiskey industry!
We saw the European Union finally ratify the Geographic Indication (GI) on Irish Whiskey, giving it legal protection and provenance within the EU and it is now upheld in a number of strategic associate nations, such as, Japan and China.
Outside of legislation, we saw a number of new distilleries start distillation for the first time, swelling the numbers of operating distilleries on the island even higher. Not only did we see the number of distilleries swell but so did the number of brands entering the market, each coming armed with a litany of new expressions to delight and tantalise the Irish whiskey lovers of the world. Irish whiskey is truly in a great place once again and there are no doubts in my mind that 2020 will bring some fantastic opportunities for the market as a whole.
Throughout the year, I was fortunate enough to sample a large number of Irish whiskeys from malts to pot stills to blends and a few that defy current category confines. So, I wanted to take the time to shine the light on a couple of whiskeys that stood out from the crowd and captured my attention and my taste buds from the first sip. It was quite an enjoyable task, searching through my piles of tasting notes from whiskeys that I have been lucky enough to sample throughout the year, to identify the real stalwart expressions, that were released in 2019.
Many of you will remember from last year that my Potstilled’s Whiskey of the Year is a spotlight article to highlight a whiskey that stood out as the best of the year in terms of flavour, balance, consistency, differentiation and overall quality. The whiskeys in consideration are limited to those released in the last calendar year and all categories of Irish whiskey are equally evaluated together.
This year, however, I have decided to include a second category, Potstilled’s Best Value for Money Whiskey 2019, this category is designed to highlight a whiskey that is of great quality and is what I would only consider as a must buy at its price point. I felt that this way, it would add the opportunity to showcase a whiskey that is both a great price point coupled with the fact that it great quality, consistency and differentiation.
As always, it is important to note that this article is in no way to imply inferiority of any other whiskeys on the market, the Irish whiskey market is a great place out there right now and I hope that some Irish whiskey ends up in the Christmas stockings of everyone reading this! Instead, once again to highlight, this is simply designed to highlight the whiskeys that made me go ‘wow’ every time I have had the pleasure to try them. So without any more explanation, let’s get into it!
Potstilled’s Best Value for Money Whiskey 2019: Glendalough Distillery Pot Still Irish Whiskey.
This is the second year in a row that Glendalough have featured in our Whiskey of the Year roundup, after they took the inaugural top spot with their 13 Year Old Mizunara Single Malt, last year. This year the Glendalough Pot Still was simply a whiskey that stood out as not only a fantastically interesting whiskey from a marketing and brand story point of view, but it had its own historical significance but most importantly it embodies the key pillars of my review process: it is absolutely a quality whiskey, it is completely differentiated to any other whiskeys on the market currently and finally it is consistent across the different tree offerings that I have managed to sample. At a recommended retail price of €55, in Ireland, this whiskey is a must buy in my opinion and absolutely deserves the title of Best Value for Money and/or Best Bang for Your Buck. A stellar and incredibly interesting whiskey at a great price point. Fantastic.
If you would like to read more about Glendalough’s Pot Still Whiskey, check out our review here, or check out our Potstilled Radio Podcast episode with their co-founder Kevin Keenan, where he discusses this new release.
Potstilled’s Whiskey of the Year 2020: The Dublin Liberties Distillery 13 Year Old ‘Murder Lane’ Single Malt.
This is a whiskey that I find myself ordering time and time again at my favourite whiskey bars. The Dublin Liberties 13 Year Old ‘Murder Lane’ is a 13 Year Old single malt that has been matured for a full 13 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished for a minimum of 6 months in Hungarian Oak cask that have previously been used to mature Tokaji, which is a Hungarian dessert wine. This whiskey is a sheerly brilliant combination between excellent quality bourbon maturation and a fantastically complementary Hungarian Oak/Tokaji finish. This whiskey is bursting with flavour, is unique in its finish and is just delicious every time I try it.
This whiskey takes its more than intriguing name from an umarked alley between Bow Street and James Street in Dublin, where, in the early 1600’s, many men, women and children supposedly met an unpleasant fate in that lane in Dublin’s Liberties.
The nose has a fantastic brown sugar, almond and white peach characteristic, which leads into a juicy palate that is chock full of ripe apricot, zesty peach with a creamy coconut and treacle undertone. The finish is long fruity with a hint of viscous honey.
This is a whiskey that has stood out to me from the first time that I sampled it. It’s a fantastic taoscán to sip on, in your favourite whiskey bar and is my delight to name it my Potstilled’s Whiskey of the Year 2020.
The recommended retail price for The Dublin Liberties 13 Year Old Murder Lane is €160 a bottle, which is a lot of money to part with for a single bottle, so this whiskey may have to remain on my list of special, celebratory purchases rather than my ‘must keep on the shelf’ list of whiskeys. Either way, fantastic liquid with rumours of a possible second release with a significantly longer Tokaji finish, on the way. But more word on this, if and when it is confirmed.
As always, it is important to note, that these whiskeys of the year are decided upon utilising my own notes and reviews of whiskeys that have been released in the last calendar year and they are not sponsored in any capacity. They remain my choices and it is my delight to be able to highlight a couple of the great releases that we saw in 2019.