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I think it would be appropriate to begin this review with a quick note. Should any of you ever want to buy my a present, of a whisky nature, then please, please, please buy me a bottle of this. This is my all time favorite whisky bar none!
Despite my love of whisky, it took me a long time to discover Irish whisky. This part of the whisky journey began with Bushmills and that is where I stayed for a long time. Once again though, through the recommendation of a whisky shop owner, however, this time an Irish one, I bought a bottle of Connemara Single Malt Whisky and I have never looked back since.
There is something traditionally Irish about this whisky, that I really can't put my finger on. You think of Connemara, the region of Ireland, and you might think of the horses with the same name, but if you have never been there you wouldn't know of the traditional Irish beauty of the region. A rugged Atlantic coastline, tall mountains and lush green bog lands have all somehow been captured in this bottle of whisky. I dare you not to feel like an Irishman while drinking it.
I think the reason for all this is the way it is distilled. As the description of this product above tells us, some very old traditional Irish customs of whisky makling have been revived here, and once again this is reflected in the whisky, making you feel like you are drinking a very original whisky, something from days gone by.
So what about the all important aroma? Well right from your first sniff I have to say this is the most balanced whisky I have ever had. The smoke and peat aromas are there straight from the off, and last with you the entire breath. But add to that the classic combination of heather and honey, and finish it off with an oaky aroma and you have got the perfect blend. Honestly I would be happy just enjoying the smell of this whisky, well almost happy!
On to the all important taste, and the balance is still the overall impression you are left with. The taste begins almost sedately with the honey and heather starting you on a journey that you can just tell is going to be good. Add to that the distictive malt texture that comes from the traditional Irish technique and the taste really begins to lift off. Finally, you acheive orbit once the peat spreads across your palate accompanied with just a hint of vanilla.
What about that all important finish? It is glorious! You will be left savouring the taste long after you have swallowed, the peat, honey, oak and vanilla all lingering long enough to leave you with a smile on your face and your mouth watering thinking about your next taste.
When all this is considered, I believe that this single Irish malt is more than capable of standing alongside many if not all of its Scotish counterparts. I believe it has not tried to copy the style of scottish single malts, but instead has its own uniquely irish style. As such this always has pride of place on my drinks tray.
On the shelf, look out for a short and stumpy cylinder that houses this bottle, the greens and different shaped bottle, also a little short and stumpy make this whisky stand out a little. The look also reminds you of ireland, but once again I don't know why. The only downside of this whisky is that it is not always easy to find. You cannot buy this direct from the Connemara website, nor have I seen it in any supermarkets. Your best bet once again is from your local whisky shop where it is usually £23.99 or amazingly this is stocked by John Lewis at not an unreasonable £25.99.
If you have never had an Irish single malt, or if you are noew to whisky all together then I really recommend starting here, it is simple gorgeous!
Connemara, Cooley Distillery has resurrected the forgotten Irish custom of drying the malted barley over peat fires. The smoke rising through the malted barley during this drying process confers the whiskey with a distinct peaty flavour and aroma. These traditional distilling methods combined with natural ingredients and long years in oak casks continue to create a whiskey which is simply unique.