Tag Archives: Ireland

Teeling ‘Small Batch – Rum Cask Finish’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 10th October 2016

85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
79.34/100 – Whiskybase (average from 242 member votes)

Whiskybase have a record of 13 different releases of this Teeling blend from November 2013 to April 2016 but this doesn’t include the version in the Whisky Bible dated November 2015. My version was bottled in September 2015. It’s listed on Whiskybase here but with only 9 votes I’ve decided to take the score from the default bottle with over 240 votes. It seems fairer and it’s all going to be very similar stuff.

85.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this blend as “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”. The author, Jim Murray, says “an attractive malt, showing both its rum qualities and, sadly, a slight strain of tired oak.” He goes on to talk about the bitterness that comes from maturing in rum casks and concludes with “still, the delivery offers much to enjoy.”

The score on Whiskybase is quite average where comments include “good weight on the palate, mild on the tongue with toasted sweet malt and citrus peel”, “light Irish blend, although the rum is only recognized with the cane sugar” and “it’s a good blend but the finish bothers me a bit it taste too young and spicy”.

Here’s Whisky Wednesday with their review on You Tube where the Teeling ‘Small Batch’ scores an excellent 8/10 (April 2014):


Knappogue Castle 1995

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)

This is the last in my trio of Knappogue miniatures, an independent bottling of Bushmills. Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2007, so a 11/12-year-old single malt. Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says the previous Knappogue examples were younger but that gave them more “charisma, clarity and complexity”. Nevertheless, scoring 88/100 still classes this dram as “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”.

Similar to the 1994 version, Jim Murray isn’t a fan of the bitterness but he rates the nose 23/25. Perhaps that element benefits from the extra maturity. 82/100 on Whiskybase is a good average score. One member says they felt this 1995 version had a more malty character to the earlier 1993 and 1994 versions.

As I post this, a full 70cl bottle is available on The Whisky Exchange for £37.95 where it gets good comments in 10 reviews.

Knappogue Castle 1995 5cl


Knappogue Castle 1994

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

89/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
89/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (March 2013)

Here we have an independent bottling of a single malt from the Bushmills distillery in Ireland. It’s unusual to see both Ralfy and Jim Murray (author of the Whisky Bible) giving the same high mark. Obviously this must be good stuff! Although you wouldn’t think so from Ralfy’s opening references to bitterness. The Whisky Bible also picks up on this in its summary “not enough attention has been paid to getting rid of the oak-induced bitterness”. Ralfy’s initial impression was “I’m not really going to enjoy this” but, as he got used to it, and let the whiskey breath in an open bottle, his attitude changed. He grew accustomed to the new flavour experiences and their qualities.

89/100 in the Whisky Bible puts this single malt in the category of “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”. Jim Murray says in his review “a wonderful whiskey in the Knappogue tradition”. Although not overly happy with the bitter finish he scores the taste component 24/25.

All-in-all, a very interesting dram!

Knappogue Castle 1994 5cl

Knappogue Castle 1993

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

My apologies for the picture I took of this Irish single malt. It came as part of a triple-set of Knappogue Castle miniatures – 1993, 1994 and 1995. I tried to get them out of the box but I realised I’d rip the thing to shreds in the process, so I left it alone. I don’t know why because it’s never going to be much of a collector’s item. The box will have to go eventually, when I finally have the time to drink them!

I considered doing all 3 bottles in one review until I discovered that each one has its own entry in the Whisky Bible, and the 1994 edition was reviewed by Ralfy on You Tube. I will include that in my next blog. As for this 1993 release, Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says in his review “a malt of exceptional character and charisma. Almost squeaky clean but proudly contains enormous depth and intensity. The chocolate finish is an absolute delight.” Did someone say ‘chocolate’? I will have to ensure I have some dark chocolate on standby when I do my tasting because it’s always nice when you find a whiskey that marries nicely with chocolate.

The Bible’s score of 91/100 classifies this whiskey as “brilliant”.

Knappogue Castle 1993 5cl

Clontarf 1014 Classic Blend

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

81/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
70.43/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)

On the back of the box containing my 3 Clontarf miniatures is says of this Classic Blend “A Single Malt with a sophisticated rich malt taste, full of texture yet astonishingly smooth and lingering.” Single Malt? Perhaps if it’s a blend of single malts from the same distillery, then it’s still a single malt, but why is it called a blend?! They’ve confused me, even though I know it’s a blend. Perhaps the terminology can be more vague in Ireland. Try selling a blend as ‘single malt’ in Scotland and you’d feel the wrath of the law! The rest of the text on the box says “Nose: Toffee and subtle oak. Taste: Smooth and velvety with hints of vanilla”.

It all sounds very nice, albeit somewhat confused about its identity. Scoring 81/100 in the Whisky Bible might not sound amazing but it still falls into the category of “good whisky worth trying”. Jim Murray, the Bible author, says in his review “a hard as nails blend only softened by the heavy use of caramel which, though chewy, tends to obliterate any complexity from elsewhere. Ouch!” Nevertheless, he scores the ‘taste’ element as 22/25, so effectively 88/100. If you put a peg on your nose and ignore the finish, you’ll enjoy a top-class dram! 🙂

Clontarf Classic Blend NAS 5cl


Clontarf 1014 Reserve

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

72.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)

Having bought this blend as part of a triple set of Clontarf miniatures, I’m certainly glad I didn’t get it as a full bottle! Although finding a review has proved tricky, the general consensus seems to be that this Irish blend isn’t very good (average at best). I’ve found information about a ‘Gold Label Reserve’ which could be the predecessor of this version minus the “1014” on the label.

The distillery say of this whiskey “a mouthwatering blend of Single Malt and rich grain whiskies. Uniquely fresh, smooth and spicy.” They then go on to describe the nose as “malt and spice” and the taste as “mouthwateringly fresh, smooth with a malty complexity.” Not exactly a deep analysis but then it seems from the lack of reviews that there’s not much more to say about this blend. I’m just praying I don’t end up holding my nose and throwing it back to finish it off!

Clontarf Reserve NAS 5cl

Clontarf Single Malt

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

As I was finishing off a whisky order from Holland, I went looking for something cheap and fun to make the most of the postage. This is when I discovered 3 miniature bottles of Clontarf, Irish Whiskey, that stack on top of each other to form a taller bottle shape – cute! There are two 5cl blends, and this 5cl single malt, which gets a good mark in the Whisky Bible 2015. The author, Jim Murray, says in his review “beautiful in its simplicity, this has eschewed complexity for delicious minimalism”. 90.5/100 puts it in the category of “brilliant”.

It’s also possible to get a stacking set of 20cl bottles, and a full 70cl of this single malt is currently available at The Whisky Exchange for £25.15, where it gets good customer reviews. I might be tempted once I’ve drunk this miniature!

Clontarf Single Malt NAS 5cl

Writers Tears

Bought – Marks & Spencer, 3rd June, 2014

93/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
86/100 – RalfyWriters Tears – YouTube (Jan 2015)

I received a top-tip on the WhiskyWhiskyWhisky forum that this Irish pot still whiskey was reduced to £25 at Marks & Spencer. Another on my wishlist so it was time to go out and get it.

If there was a prize for the most words written by Jim Murray about a whisky then Writers Tears must be a close winner. In the Whisky Bible 2014 it gets nearly half a page! You have to wonder if Jim thought that a whiskey named in the memory of writers demanded the use of more writing!

93/100 classes this whiskey as “brilliant!” Jim Murray says of the taste “works beautifully well” and scores this element 24/25 (so effectively 96/100!). I also found 3 ratings on the whisky review site ‘Whisky Connosr” giving two scores of 85/100 and one of 89/100 so it’s not just Mr Murray that loves this dram. It seems it’s the blend of pure Pot Still with single malt that’s got everyone’s taste buds dancing. Clearly something the makers of Writers Tears have got very, very right.

Writers Tears Whiskey 70cl

Tullamore Dew

Bought – Tesco, 3rd March 2014

85/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
82/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Tullamore Dew – YouTube

As Ralfy says in his video, Tullamore Dew is produced by Jamesons, so there’s quite a clear connection when it comes to the taste. This bottle of dew says on the label that it is a blend of all three types of Irish whiskey – golden grain, pot still and malt. Tullamore Dew is considered to be a good place to start if you’ve not tried Irish whiskey before, and it’s certainly inexpensive and readily available. Tescos had this reduced to £16 from £20, so I thought I’d add another Irish whiskey to my collection.

Although Scotland is the spiritual home of whisky, historians always tip their hat at Ireland as the place where whiskey originated. It therefore seems a shame that there are hardly any distilleries in Ireland, and less than a handful of these are independent. Come on Ireland, let’s have some more WHISKEY!!! 🙂


Commemara Cask Strength

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th September 2013

90/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
90/100 – Whisky Bitch – Her review on YouTube

Connemara Cask Strength 5cl