Friday, May 26, 2017

Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey: The Power of 3

Would you be willing to place the fate of your whiskey distillery on the result of a horse race? Most distillery owners would be unlikely to take such a great risk but it has allegedly happened before, when an Irish whiskey distillery was offered as a bet upon the Irish Oaks horse race.

It all began in the town of Tullamore, located in County Offaly, which is situated roughly in the middle of Ireland. Tullamore is known as the site of the first air disaster, reaching back to Tuesday, May 10, 1785, when a hot air balloon crashed, setting off a great fire that destroyed approximately 130 buildings, including a military barracks and a tobacco factory. After that disaster, Tullamore created a new coat of arms, depicting a phoenix rising from the ashes, reflective of their reconstruction after that massive fire.

We then jump forward, to 1829, and the founding of the Tullamore Dew Distillery. Eventually, this distillery would be placed on the line, a bet on a horse race. Would it be lost because it's favored horse couldn't get it done?

Recently, Redstone Liquors, in Stoneham, hosted a Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey tasting that was led by Kate Shaughnessy (pictured above), the Boston Brand Ambassador for Tullamore DEW. Kate, a native of Ireland with a delightful lilt to her voice, has been working for Tullamore since last October. She led us through a tasting of five whiskies, also relating the fascinating history of the distillery. She was personable and informative, and everyone present seemed to enjoy the tasting event.

The Tullamore DEW distillery was originally founded in 1829 by Michael Molloy, eventually being passed down to his nephew, Bernard Daly and then, in 1887, to Daly's son, Captain Bernard Daly. In 1862, when Bernard Daly was in charge of the distillery, he took on Daniel E. Williams, who was only 15 years old, and put him to work on the malt floor. Over time, Daniel worked his way up in the distillery, taking on greater and greater responsibilities.

Captain Bernard Daly had a strong connection to horses, being an international polo player, a county Master of Hounds, and owned a number of racehorses. It is said that during one of the races at the Irish Oaks, the Captain and Daniel bet everything, including the distillery, on a horse from Tullamore. Fortunately, the horse won so the distillery didn't change hands though I'm sure it was quite a tense race.

In time, due to Daniel's hard work and dedication to the distillery, he became the owner of the distillery! That is certainly a great example of working yourself up from the bottom. Daniel was an innovator, introducing new technology, from electricity to the telephone. Their famous Tullamore DEW whiskey is also named after him, DEW being his initials.

Today, the Tullamore DEW is owned by the William Grant & Sons company, which also owns a number of Scotch brands as well as other spirits. They are now the second largest distillery in Ireland, after Jameson Irish Whiskey. In September 2014, they opened a new distillery and will soon conduct everything on their own, from grain to bottle. Their first release from this new distillery, due in the near future, will be a 3 Year Old Blended Irish Whiskey.

Locally, Tullamore DEW is the official Irish whiskey of the Boston Red Sox and now appears at Tully Tavern, a new bar at Fenway Park. They cannot sell their Whiskey on its own, but has to offer it in cocktails. They offer the Monster Mule, their Irish take on the Moscow Mule, which is made with 1 part Tullamore DEW, 4 parts Ginger Beer, and lime juice.

The Tullamore DEW Original ($20-$25) is the only triple blend of whiskey in Ireland, blending together grain, malt and pot still whiskies. The malt is also the most dominant in this blend, providing more fruit flavors to the whiskey. In addition, after a triple distillation. it is matured, for about 4-7 years, in three different types of barrels, including Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry and old Whiskey barrels. As you can see, the number 3 is very important to Tullamore. I found this to be a light and elegant whiskey, with bright flavors of apple and citrus, spice, vanilla, and salted almonds. At this price point, it is an excellent value.

The Tullamore DEW 12 Year Old Special Reserve ($45-$50) is also a triple blend, though with a higher percentage of pot still whiskey, giving it a spicier aspect. It is also triple distilled and aged in three different barrels, though most of the pot still was matured in Oloroso Sherry barrels so it has a stronger Sherry notes too. It is definitely a spicier whiskey, with notes of salted nuts, caramel, raisins and a hint of chocolate. There is more complexity to the blend and the finish is long, with a slight hint of a burn.

The Tullamore DEW 15 Year Old Trilogy ($80-$85) is another triple blend, with balanced proportions, that is triple distilled and spends time in three different barrels except that it also is finished, for about three months, in Rum barrels from Trinidad. Smooth and elegant, the complex melange of flavors included some tropical fruit flavors, pleasant spice notes, hints of chocolate, and a delightful creamy mouthfeel. The finish was long and satisfying, with a rich and pleasing aspect. Highly recommended!

The Tullamore DEW 14 Year Old Single Malt ($65-$70) is matured in the usual three types of barrels, but then also spends a little time in Port and Madeira casks. On the nose, there are pleasant notes of apple and tropical fruit, and the palate also presents this fruit flavors, accompanied by a complex mix of vanilla, spice and caramel, with an elegant creaminess that caresses your palate. The finish lingers for quite a time and I can easily see myself sipping this all evening. Highly recommended!

The Tullamore DEW 18 Year Old Single Malt (about $120) is going to be very difficult to find in Massachusetts as only 1 case was allotted for the state. Thus, the price could be much higher than provided. It is essentially the same as the 14 Year Old, except for the additional time in the barrel. In comparison to the 14 Year Old, it is as complex, with similar flavor notes, except it is more subtle and elegant. In addition, there are stronger notes of spice and raisiny elements. This is best, slowly sipped, savoring its more subtle complexities.

Tullamore DEW produces a delicious and interesting portfolio of whiskies, from their value-priced Original to the more complex Single Malts. One of their newest projects, which should be available around October, is the Tullamore DEW Cider Cask Finish, which is finished in Irish cider barrels. This could be the first, and maybe only, whiskey finished in cider barrels.

What are your thoughts on Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey?

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