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Water of Life - Glendalough Distillery

Dedicated to reviving the heritage of craft distilling in Ireland and based in County Wicklow, Glendalough was founded eleven years ago by collective paying homage to their habitat not only via the name, i.e. referencing the local glacial valley, but also with the logo, which depicts local Saint Kevin, who in turn inspired the quintet to make “Stand apart” the motto of the brand.

While I have to admit that uisce beatha of the Irish variety is not necessarily my favourite as far as regions are concerned, it is nevertheles the territory that has proved to be one of the most consistent and reliable as far as quality is concerned.

My first exposure to Glendalough was via its Double Barrel expression, which with its telling name indicates that it is based on an experiment in oak and thus has been aged twice in different barrel varieties, i.e. American oak and Spanish Oloroso barrels.

Upon approach, the translucent, deep golden coloured drop tickles the nostrils with its floral vanilla notes, which are accentuated by dark fruity, cherry and chocolatey highlights.

What the nose promised transitions seamlessly via a velvety mouthfeel to the top of the mouth with honeyed vanilla courtest of the Bourbon barrels providing the foundation on which pear, dried fruits and burnt brown sugary nuances dance.

Things are rounded out with a full-bodied crescendo which culminates in a gingery-oak wood,-spicy reverberating finish, which is delicately counterpointed by a delicate musky earthiness.

Clocking in at an ABV of 42%, the Double Barrel proves to be a solid, hard to dislike, daily sipper.

Things are taken up a notch with Glendalough’s Pot Still expression, the defining feature of which is that is has been refined for up to twelve months in virgin Irish oak hogshead casks, with each bottle being traceable to not only the cask it emanated from but even the trees it was made from in a sustainable manner.

Given that the base liquid is the most quintessentially Irish of whiskeys, i.e. pot still from a mash bill of malted and unmalted barley, this little number is an example par excellence for honouring both terroir and local ingredients while showcasing how secondary barrel finishing can enhance and elevate traditional whiskeys to new heights: Raw malty and charred oak aromas blend in with waves of cinnamon, red apples and spices, which on the palate give way to citrussy, florally green woody notes informed by a nice creamy mouthfeel.

Not unlike the Double Barrel, things get spicy with the finish with nutmeg, cinnamon and slights notes of astringency counterbalancing the red berry, vanilla and toasted oak flavours.

One can only hope that the Glendalough quintet ( ) will try their hand and barrel experiments with a cask strength expression soon.


image from company website

T • May 16, 2022

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