*Sincere thanks to Common Ground PR and Luxco for the sample
According to the Irish food and drinks organization, Bord Bia, Irish Whiskey exports increased by 8% in 2016. Exports are projected to double by 2020, which, seeing as 2020 will be another presidential election year here in the embarrassing old U.S. of A., and we’ll all be drinking quite heavily by that time, seems like a pretty sound projection. Obviously, the Irish whiskey category is booming. In 2013, there were four functioning distilleries on the Island, today there are 16 with another 14 in various states of planning/building. One of those 14 is the distillery planned by the company behind The Quiet Man Irish Whiskeys, Northern Ireland’s Niche Drinks. Their planned 500,000 liter/year, Derry-based facility will reportedly focus on single malt production and will also feature a visitor center. Niche Drinks had hinted at distillery plans back in 2013-14, but now all the applications have been approved and construction has begun on the site which is located in the former British Army Barracks at Ebrington. They hope to have spirit running as soon as 2018.
In the meantime, Niche’s The Quiet Man whiskeys continue to be a sourced product now widely available in several markets. As with most independently bottled Irish single malts, the supplier is rarely specified, but fairly easily identified. The conventional wisdom is that Cooley is the likely supplier here. The Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey is, as its name strongly suggests, an 8 year old single malt, matured in ex-bourbon barrels, and then finished for an unspecified amount of time in first fill bourbon barrels. While this is a certainly a departure from just bottling the 8 year old stuff straight from its original barrels, one would think that the possibly brief visit to some new first fill bourbon barrels wouldn’t add a pronounced difference to the flavor profile.
The Nose: Lots of fruit and a heftier alcohol zing than you’d expect from an 80 proof whiskey. The fruit is tart and fresh, fresh squeezed lemons, slightly under-ripe bananas, Granny Smith apples, and a little pineapple. Floral honey, sweetened malt, and vanilla extract lurk behind that. The oak and spice are relatively subtle, sanded boards, dried orange peel, vanilla bean, and a little cinnamon. As this opens up, the fruit gains a welcome bit of sweetness and a hint of toasted coconut emerges.
The Palate: This drinks a little hotter than 80 proof as well, it opens with a slightly tannic, peppery burst. The fruit is less complex here with more lemon and acidic citrus. There’s more honey as well, plus some nutty toffee and malted milk balls. The spice and wood are much more prevalent, grippy, edgy oak, strong notes of vanilla bean, clove, cinnamon, and fine black pepper.
The Finish: Brown sugars fade quickly leaving slightly bitter vanilla bean, tannic oak, clove, cinnamon and black pepper.
Thoughts: A decent but somewhat unadventurous young whiskey. There’s a nice, crisp, fruity complexity to the nose, but the jump to the sharper, oaky, spicy palate is kind of a steep one. There’s a bit more weight than the 40% ABV would suggest, but it comes across a little edgy and youthful. Might the time spent in the newer casks given this some of its slightly raw-ish bite? This is ranging in price from $35 – $55. At the low end, perhaps you’d find it a worthwhile contrast to the similarly priced Tyrconnell 10 Year Old. At the high end of that range, I don’t think it’s unique enough to warrant the price.
The Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Irish single malt, IB, +/-2015
- “Export Performance and Prospects for 2016-2017.” Bord Bia – Irish Food Board. N.p., 11 Jan. 2017. Web. Mar. 2017.
- Sherry, Kristiane. “N. Ireland’s Quiet Man distillery gets go-ahead.” The Spirits Business. N.p., 2 Feb. 2017. Web. Mar. 2017.
- “The Quiet Man.” The Quiet Man. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2017.