The Town of Tullamore was damn near burned to the ground in 1785 when a hot air balloon crashed (slowly, I’m guessing) and set aflame more than 100 houses. There’s no record as to who was piloting the pride of the Montgolfier brothers, but we can assume it was a terrible accident and not one caused by careless stunt flying. Ballooning was in its infancy at this point, and the guys in the baskets were more concerned about getting off the ground, getting back on the ground and not burning up in the process than they were the more nimble maneuvers of those 18th century daredevils (who could forget Blaise Van Op’s death-defying Arabian Comet over Lake Champlain in 1877?). In any case, Tullamore can lay a reasonable claim on having the first air disaster in history and celebrates the re-building of the city by featuring a phoenix on the town crest.
Other than that, Tullamore’s big claim to fame is the popular Irish whiskey Tullamore Dew, which was actually made there in town for quite a while. The Tullamore Distillery was in operation from 1829 to 1959, and in the last, lean years produced not only the Irish whiskey but the “Irish Mist” liqueur as well. Today, the brand is owned by William Grant & Sons, is produced at Pernod Ricard’s Midleton Distillery and is one of the best selling Irish whiskies in the world. Along with this, their flagship blend, there are 10 and 12 year old blends, a 10 year old single malt, and a new Oloroso barrel-tinged blend, Black 43
The Nose: Well, if the word dew connotes “light” and “delicate” than Tullamore Dew’s picked an apt name. Nice subtle, soft malt and grain notes and mild lemon curd float along with some faint floral notes. There’s a slight creaminess reminiscent of french vanilla ice cream and a little solventy whiff as well.
The Palate: For something with such a mild-mannered nose, this ducks into a phone booth and changes into a grainy, slightly fiery, slightly harsh single note dram. If there’s anything left of the citrus, it’s pretty faint as is the vanilla, which is more bitter vanilla bean now.
The Finish: Hot…both alcohol hot and spicy grain hot. There’s a little black pepper there as well.
Thoughts: Well, years ago, when it first reached these shores on a regular basis, I liked this whiskey, but revisiting it now, I’m much less impressed. The mild, pleasant nose is a little at odds with the fiery palate and the alcohol tends to come through more than one would like. I could see this being nice over ice, but frankly, for an Irish whiskey in the $22-$25 range, I think there are better things out there.