Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tullamore D.E.W tasting at The Potting Shed with John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador (Tasted #109 - #115)

The event, held at the brilliant Grounds of Alexandria (in the intimate "Lock-in" bar within the recently opened Potting Shed) saw a small number of Irish whiskey fans, whisk(e)y bloggers, PR and lifestyle bloggers gather to deconstruct the various elements of Tullamore D.E.W, and hear more about the whiskey, and its new distillery due to start production in September. 

As some readers may have seen a few weeks ago (especially those on Twitter), we recently advertised a competition (run by and in conjunction with Tullamore D.E.W) to win two tickets to an afternoon of tasting with Tullamore D.E.W's global brand ambassador, John Quinn.

I have to say the "Lock-in" was one of the most photogenic venues I've had the pleasure of attending. Perfectly suited to an event like this, and with stunning whisky/spirits paraphernalia at every turn. If you ever get the chance to attend and event here, do (or just go for a drink when it's open to the public). Small and intimate, but a stunning venue.

All the photographing made for thirsty work though (as it often does...) and refreshments were never far away - starting with a "Moondance" cocktail (by Pasan Wijesena of Newtown's Earl's Juke Joint), a blend of Tullamore D.E.W whiskey, Green and Yellow Chartreuse, St Germain Elderflower liquer, fresh lemon juice and peach bitters. Tasty and refreshing - perfect for a mild winter day.

After cocktails were drunk and photos were taken, it was time to get down to the business of Irish whiskey tasting, and we only needed to glance at the tasting mat to realise we had just a few to get through (7 to be exact...). John, a genuinely nice, affable bloke, started by giving us a history of the distillery (named with a unique combination of the town it was first built in and the founder's initials - Mr Daniel E. Williams), his own history within it (including 40+ years within the broader Irish whiskey industry), and took us right up to the current ownership by William Grant & Sons and plans for the new distillery (for which John has a clear passion).

John also explained the various components that make up Tullamore D.E.W (being of course a blend), and then we tucked into a tasting of each:

Tullamore D.E.W Original (40% ABV, NAS, Ireland, $44AUD)
Triple-distilled (like a lot, but not all Irish whiskey), with a makeup of 60-70% grain (corn).
Nose: Light, fruity - apples, with some spice.
Palate: Still light, toasty, almonds and apples.
Finish: Short, nutty (those almonds from the palate), with a final hint of spice at the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100.

Tullamore D.E.W Grain component - Middleton Distillery (71% ABV, ~4yo, Cork, Ireland, not available for sale)
Colour: Light straw - Chardonnay.
Nose: Grapes and Ribena (cue instant memories of drinking this stuff as a kid!)
Palate: Spirity, still grapes, almost with a hint of Raki. Some molasses.
Finish: Long, boiled lollies and more molasses. Reminded me of an O.P rum, though not Bundy!
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 86/100.

Tullamore D.E.W Malt component - Old Bushmills Distillery (61% ABV, ~5.5yo, County Antrim, Ireland, not available for sale)
Colour: Dull golden
Nose: Tropical fruits, Juicyfruit, peaches.
Palate: Reminded me instantly of a Balvenie 12yo, but more malty and a bit harsher.
Finish: Long and malty, sweet vanilla. Tannic at the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100.

Tullamore D.E.W Pot Still component - Middleton Distillery (~60% ABV, NAS, Cork, Ireland, not available for sale)
Distilled from a mashbill mixture of both malted and unmalted ("green") barley.
Colour: Light honey.
Nose: Spirity but also creamy.
Palate: Big (felt bigger in ABV than the previous two), spirity and creamy. Whipped cream and custard.
Finish: Long, with cinnamon spice at the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 87/100. This seemed to be a crowd favourite but I much preferred the malt component.

Tullamore D.E.W 10yo Single Malt (40% ABV, 10yo, Ireland, approx $84AUD)
Double-distilled at the Cooley distillery and finished in four different types of casks (old bourbon, dry Oloroso sherry, port and madeira) after spending 8.5 years in ex-Bourbon casks.
Colour: Deep orange copper
Nose: Tropical fruits, pineapple and white peaches.
Palate: Light, still tropical fruits, but primarily overripe bananas.
Finish: Medium to long, sultanas and Christmas pudding (very little of the tropical notes on the nose and palate)!
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100.

Tullamore D.E.W 12yo Special Reserve (40% ABV, 12yo, Ireland, $67AUD)
Comprising 55% pot-still whiskey.
Colour: Dull gold.
Nose: Creamy, fruity.
Palate: Fruit compote - stewed fruits (apples, apricots) covered in cream. Some honey, spice and hazelnuts too.
Finish: Medium to long, nutty.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Tullamore D.E.W Phoenix (55% ABV, NAS (<10yo), Ireland, approx $67AUD)
Named after a hot air balloon disaster which saw a third of Tullamore destroyed in 1785, and the subsequent rebuilding (both physically and spiritually) of the town, including the building of the distillery itself in 1829.
Colour: Dark copper (the pot still component is finished in ex-Sherry casks)
Nose: Christmas pudding.
Palate: Cherries, Christmas pudding, raisins, berries.
Finish: Long, creamy. Dark chocolate.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.

With all that whiskey on tasting, it was only responsible for food to be served, and the event didn't disappoint, with matched canapés for each course, including seared scallops, slow-roasted quail breast (a great match with the 12yo, probably due to the Tullamore and balsamic dressing!), beef Duxcelle and bread & butter pudding.

William Grant & Sons have run these deconstructed tastings in Sydney before (focusing on Glenfiddich), and it's not hard to see why. They're unique, interesting, and give people a fascinating insight into the various components that actually go into making the whiskies they drink. I personally would love to see more brands running these types of tastings.

A big thanks is due to Tullamore D.E.W/William Grant & Sons, and Weber Shandwick for another fantastic event.

 - Martin.

PS: If you do pay a visit to the Grounds, make sure you drop in on "Fluffy" to say hi!

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