Tag Archives: Irish Whiskey

The Big Guy – Michael Collins

The “Big Guy” used to be, not sure if it is still is, the promotional moniker for the Michael Collins brand of Irish whiskey.  It was a little corny, so I hope it went away along with the big ugly bottles they used to have.  Michael Collins is distilled in the last independent Irish owned distillery – Cooley.  We did a review of a single cask Cooley last week.

My first run in with Michael Collins was far from impressive.  My buddy who runs a restaurant with a full bar brought over a 1L bottle of the Michael Collins blend that he was given as a “kick back” by his liquor distributor.  Free booze – who can complain right?  Well several months later with a 90% full bottle taking up space in my cabinet, I was complaining.  I couldn’t give it away and I certainly wasn’t drinking any more of it.  It just didn’t fit into my drinking rotation.  I’d prefer something more interesting and flavorful if I wanted a whisk(e)y and I would rather grab an easy drinking beer if I wanted something less challenging to relax with.  Tragically I think I ended up throwing the bottle out when I moved out of that house.

But several years later I found myself picking up another bottle of the Big Guy – this time the 10 year old lightly peated single malt expression.  I decided to give Michael Collins another try, rationalizing that the blend I had before was not representative of his whole body of work.    Luckily it was a vast improvement over the blend in my opinion.

Michael Collins 10 Year Old Lightly Peated ~$40
Double Distilled 40%ABV

Color:  Medium amber

Nose:  A subtle peat, grassy, doughy, soft “feel”, apple juice, over ripe yellow pears, hints of herbs, something oddly synthetic: band-aids or play-doh?

Palate:  Oak char, subtle sweetness and peat, very smooth, somewhat thin though, spices and apples

Finish: Short, spice and malt

Comments:  It does a great job of balancing the peat and the sweetness of the spirit.  I found myself using “subtle” to describe this whiskey a lot and I guess that is how to best sum it up – subtle, but nicely balanced and integrated.  – Chris

Leave a comment

Filed under Michael Collins

Irish Whiskey – AD Rattray Cooley

It is rare to find a single cask expression of an Irish whiskey.  Luckily for me AD Rattray, an independent bottler that I really like, was able to secure a cask from the Cooley distillery.  Cooley, a relatively new distillery, built in 1987, promotes the fact that it is the only independent distillery in Ireland.  Their single malt brands include Tyrconnel and Connemara and a single grain Greenore. – Chris 

AD Rattray Cooley ~$95
Aged 11 years in a bourbon cask, Cask No. 882, 158 bottles
Distilled Feb. 24, 1999, Bottled June 15, 2010 at 59%ABV

Color:  Pale yellow, straw

Nose: Malty, grassy, green apples, powdered sugar, vanilla and oak char, a very lively nose, medicinal and very “green”, definitely does not attempt to hide its 59%ABV

Palate: Initially soft then the flavors start to open up and attack the palate, the alcohol punch is quite strong, lots of grassy notes, fudge and chocolate, oak peaks out and is quite nice, a surprising touch of pepper, the youthfulness is still present – a little boozy, hints of cinnamon spice

Finish: Long, peppery and oaky

Comments: a real treat to try a single cask, cask strength Irish whiskey.  An avalanche of flavors that I am not accustomed to from regular OB releases.  It is a challenging whiskey that is still a little raw and young but I really like it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooley

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Whiskey

The regularly scheduled third Thursday of the month tasting landed us on St. Patrick’s Day last week.  In an effort to woo potential attendees away from the green beer and Guinness we planned for an Irish whiskey tasting.  This was our first foray into Irish whiskey at one of our tasting events.  To be honest, I really didn’t have much experience with the triple distilled spirit originating from Ireland so it was going to be a learning experience for me as well.

Additionally, as you might know from my previous posts we were collecting donations for the relief efforts in Japan.  100% of all the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross for Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami relief.  We had 28 attendees that came to enjoy the whiskey, food and company of other whiskey drinkers.  They also were very generous with their donations.  Additionally, several people that could not come to the event were kind enough to make donations.  If you want to make a donation to the Red Cross for the relief efforts in Japan you can make it here.

This was a fairly informal event so that everyone could enjoy the whiskey at their own pace, chat with others as well as go back for re-fills!  We did go in order for the first go around.  We started with a standard Bushmills 10 to give us a baseline.  Then we moved into the Redbreast 12 – I had read a lot of good things about this expression so it was a must for the lineup.  The third expression was a little bit of an old ball, Michael Collins 10 year old single malt lightly peated.  Last, staying true to our roots of more rarefied expressions we dove into an AD Rattray 11 year old Cooley.  We will be giving our impressions of each of the whiskies in a separate post.

It appeared that a good time was had by all and judging by what minimal whiskey was left over we all thoroughly enjoyed the whiskey as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tastings