Irish Whiskey Writer Stuart McNamara visits the Loop Whiskey Shop in Dublin Airport to try out and review Tullamore DEW Cider Cask Irish Whiskey.
Tullamore DEW Cider Cask Irish Whiskey Review
The Loop Whiskey Shops in Dublin Airport, without doubt play a major role in show casing Irish whiskey to a huge international audience. Dublin Airport traffic grew by 8% last year to over 21 Million people and almost every single one of these passengers will have passed through or by the Loop’s wonderful Whiskey shops, with their knowledgeable friendly staff, many of whom are also members of the Dublin Airport Whiskey Society. Talk about a Dream Job!
Passing through Terminal 2 on my way back to Brussels last week I noticed an additional whiskey stand outside of the main whiskey shop and was delighted to see it manned (or “Ladied”) by Jean, who is one half of the “Colette and Jean Whiskey Sisters” who have long been two of the Irish Whiskey Industry’s best Whiskey Ambassadors. But then, when you think about it, an audience of 21 Million, deserves only the very best Ambassadors that the Irish Whiskey Industry has!
Jean was fronting a new Pop-Up Shop for Tullamore DEW with most of the stand being devoted to Tullamore DEW’s exciting new Cider Cask finish whiskey which is only available in Global Travel Retail Stores such as Dublin Airport or in the Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre in Tullamore town.
A Quick History of Tullamore Dew
As many of you will know, Tullamore DEW (the DEW stands for Daniel E. Williams, the name of their most famous distillery manager in the 1890’s) is a unique Irish Whiskey in that it is a blend of triple distilled Irish Single Malt, Single Pot Still and Grain whiskies. The Tullamore DEW brand is now over 185 years old and it is one of Ireland’s most well known and popular whiskeys, especially on mainland Europe.
Tullamore DEW, like many other Irish Whiskey labels suffered in the second half of the 20th century. When the original distillery which had been managed by D.E. Williams, closed in the 1950’s, production was outsourced to Powers Whiskey and Irish Distillers where luckily the brand survived and even flourished, especially in Germany and mainland Europe. This success led to it being acquired by Scotch Whisky giant William Grant & Sons and the Tullamore DEW Fan base held their breath. They need not have worried. For in a few short years, with an investment of €35 Million, Grants established a dynamic management team and built a new state of the art distillery in Tullamore in the Irish Midlands which opened last September. Initial production in the new distillery is of the Pot Still and Malt whiskey components of Tullamore DEW. Grain whiskey is still produced off site, but I understand that there may be plans to install a Column or Coffey Still in the near future to once again allow all of the components of Tullamore DEW to be distilled in their home town. Incidentally, the Pot Stills and Spirit Safe illustrating my article on “How Irish Whiskey is Made” are all from Tullamore DEW’s new distillery.
Cider Cask Tullamore Dew Whiskey Review
So, what about the Cider Cask Tullamore DEW?
While normal Tullamore DEW is matured in old Kentucky Bourbon and Spanish Oloroso casks, Tullamore DEW Cider Cask is given an additional maturation phase. John Quinn who is Tullamore DEW’s Global Ambassador, explains:
“To create Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish, we selected the finest apples, which were then freshly pressed and held in oak casks for several months. As the cider fermented, the tart-yet-sweet notes infused the bourbon casks. We then siphoned all the fermenting cider, replacing it with Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey for a further three months of maturation.”
John continues, “Once a year, this finely-balanced, sophisticated spirit is created here in the heart of Ireland, punctuated by an Irish seasonal craft with exquisite subtlety. By combining the age-old tradition of cider making – which dates back to the 1600s – with Tullamore D.E.W.’s 185 years of expertise in whiskey making, we believe that what we’ve produced is something incredibly exciting – a product that’s truly worth seeking out.”
Cider Cask Tullamore Dew Whiskey Tasting Notes
So what does it taste like? Jean poured me a measure from the distinctive, large 1 Litre bottle.
- Nose: An immediate and definite aroma of apple yields quickly to the malt. The nose is firm and gentle rather than light and delicate.
- Taste: It’s all about the malt here at first, but then the spiciness of the pot still kicks in to the roof of the mouth. The apple is still there in the background, but more of a burnt toffee apple as the oak, apple, pot still and malt all fight for your attention. The important thing here is that it works. Boy does it work! This is what Tullamore DEW is all about and it’s also why Tullamore DEW is a key whiskey for whiskey beginners to try once they have already tasted and learned to recognise the discrete components of grain-malt blends like Bushmills and grain-pot still blends like Jameson. Sip Tullamore DEW and you will quickly learn and be able to decide whether you are a Malt whiskey fan or (like me) a Pot Still whiskey fan.
- The Finish: is long, rich and gentle. While the start was all about the apple and malt, the finish is all about the apple and pot still.
One thing I did notice is that the normal splash of water I add to my second glass to open out my drink softened it down too much. I tried again with a few drops rather than a splash and it was fine. Even allowing for the usual 40% abv, this is a very gentle whiskey indeed.
Cider Cask is a wonderful effort by Tullamore DEW. It’s also an ideal whiskey for Irish Whiskey Beginners with its gentle mouth feel and initial slightly sweet and fruity taste building gently to a rich fusion of all that is best about blended Irish whiskey.
While elements in the Scotch industry have tried to appeal to young and new whisky drinkers with overpriced, dumbed down whisky promoted with coloured bottles, football stars and fancy packaging, Tullamore DEW have crafted an innovative product of substance that will appeal to both the complete whiskey beginner and the aficionado.
Tullamore DEW Cider cask is a worthy recipient of a Pooka Two Classification, as like Jameson Black Barrel and Black Bush, they have taken their entry level Pooka One product which in this case would be normal Tullamore DEW and have worked some Pooka Two magic on it to make it that extra bit special.
Tullamore DEW Cider Cask Irish Whiskey Review – Final Thoughts
Final thoughts? I think that Tullamore DEW may just have a new classic on their hands. My advice? Pitch it as a high quality drink for Irish Whiskey Beginners and also as a fun, but serious, versatile whiskey! I know I’ll incur the wrath of the whiskey police, but I would happily drink Tullamore DEW Cider Cask neat, with water, with Ice (Yes, I said it!) or in Cocktails. So enjoy your whiskey as you like! Summer is here and Tullamore DEW Cider cask is a real Summer Whiskey!
I’ll follow up this article in coming weeks with more information on the Loop Irish Whiskey Shops in Dublin Airport!
In the meantime, enjoy the summer and enjoy Irish Whiskey!