March 2018 Whisky of the Month:
We pride ourselves on creating and sniffing out extra-special whiskies for our Members; some of the finest specimens the whisky world has to offer that just don’t make it to Australia otherwise. But to be honest, this time around there just wasn’t much sniffing around that needed to be done, with trade media all abuzz for “the spiciest Irish nose this year… probably the most sensuous chocolate finish in the history of Irish whiskey, different and adorable” (Jim Murray’s 2018 Whisky Bible where it scored a whopping 96/100). And sure enough it lived up to the hype – this is a champion whiskey unlike any Irish, or indeed any single malt, we’ve ever tasted.
We’re now thrilled to introduce to Australia, exclusively for our Members, Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Finish Single Malt. It’s the first Irish whiskey (and one of only three non-Japanese) to be matured in the world’s rarest, most flavourful oak, Japan’s native mizunara, a wood sparingly used even in Japan due to its rarity and cost. Sourced especially for this Glendalough release from the remote forests of Hokkaido island in northern Japan, the mizunara was then expertly worked by hand by Japan’s oldest cooper into traditional Japanese puncheon barrels made for purpose, and the results are show-stopping. Sweet honeycomb, vanilla, apricot and citrus on the nose. A velvety smooth palate with robust vanilla, fudge, rock candy, peach and marmalade followed by faint coconut, cinnamon and cloves, and that amazing long and spicy finish with biscuity malts, more vanilla, oak and dark chocolate.
Exclusive to the Club at a fantastic member price of $120 per bottle (RRP $159), so be quick – join free now to get your hands on a bottle while stocks last.
Country of Origin:
Glendalough, The Glen of Two Lakes, is a glacial valley in the Wicklow Mountains just south of Dublin, renowned for its early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. A son of Irish royalty, old Kev disappeared into the mountains for seven years to become one with the wild. Famously a blackbird laid her eggs on him and he stood motionless for thirteen days and nights until they hatched, and another thirteen until they fledged and it is this image of St. Kevin that you see on every Glendalough bottle.
As far back as 584AD Irish monastic settlements like Glendalough began making poitín (pronounced pot-sheen) which was essentially new make made from barley and is regarded as the world’s first distilled drink and ancient ancestor of whiskey, predating Scottish clergyman Friar John Cor’s efforts by almost 1000 years, Scotch whisky purists hate this fact by the way. By and by the poitín came to be stored in oak barrels and as Irish luck would have it, the wood worked miracles on the poitín and thus whiskey was born.
During the 18th and 19th centuries there were more than 200 licensed (and many unlicensed) stills operating throughout Ireland, most of which were producing poitín for local consumption. As regulations were tightened, the vast majority of those stills were closed down leaving only a handful of distilleries producing the bulk of Ireland’s output. Glendalough Distillery, along with a merry band of start-up craft distilleries such as Walsh Distillery and Waterford Distillery, is seeking to bring back the pioneering spirit that saw Irish whisky evolve into the wonder that it is today
As Ireland’s first craft distillery, Glendalough leads this charge. The distillery was founded by a group of mates in 2011, with the aim of recapturing “Ireland’s lost heritage of great spirit production” – and that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Founded by Barry Gallagher, Brian Fagan, Gary McLoughlin and Kevin Keenan, the lads have a wealth of spirits industry knowledge. Gallagher and Fagan come from a drinks/finance background, while McLoughlin and Keenan are marketers who’ve spent years working with some of the best drinks brands in the market.
The distillery has taken a forward-thinking approach to production and has so far produced a sterling range of liquors with overwhelmingly positive results. They started out making poitín and spurred on by a great local reception, the lads put down some money, basing their operations in Glendalough village, County Wicklow. Not surprisingly, the site was chosen for its superb water, drawn from the nearby Wicklow Mountains.
While Glendalough makes poitín and gin, the big plan has always been the revival of Irish single malt whisky. The 2015 release of Glendalough’s first single malts saw a fantastic reception in the market, buoyed by excellent results at two of the world’s “grand slam” blind tasting competitions, the San Francisco Spirits Awards and London’s Spirits Masters. Glendalough 13 Year Old was named both Best Irish Whiskey and Best Single Malt Irish Whiskey in San Francisco, while the 7 Year Old backed it up with a Master in London.
If you’re remotely quick at maths you’ll be wondering how a distillery founded in 2011 could possibly have a 13 year old whisky. This is where some real Irish magic comes into play. The spirit used for Glendalough’s current whiskey releases was made by Cooley Distillery. Aside from making whiskey for their own brands, Cooley made absolutely vast amounts of whiskey intended for “private label” and independent bottlers. Internationally recognised as the finest single malt in Ireland, these ex-Cooley whiskeys are in very high demand and are increasingly harder to get hold of, even more so now that Beam Suntory, who bought Cooley in 2012, put a stop to “private label” production. The crew at Glendalough have somehow managed to get hold of some of the remaining stocks of this liquid gold, which they’ve matured under their stewardship before cutting with Wicklow water to produce what is one of the most remarkable Irish whiskies ever to come to market. We’re delighted to present, for your drinking pleasure, the next stage of that evolution: Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Finish!
About Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Single Malt Whiskey:
The Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Finish is a stunning evolution of Glendalough’s original 13 Year Old that won Best Irish Whiskey, with an excellent choice of wood adding an unprecedented layer of flavour to Ireland’s first ever mizunara-matured whiskey.
Glendalough single malts are made from locally grown barley and double distilled in copper pot stills. The spirit is aged initially in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks before being transferred to a variety of very carefully selected finishing casks, each chosen to impart a unique characteristic to the final product. Glendalough’s Double Barrel is finished in Oloroso sherry casks from Montilla in Spain, the 7 Year Old finishes in Blackpits porter barrels from Five Lamps Brewery in Dublin, while the 13 Year Old finds its way into extremely rare Mizunara oak casks from Ariake Cooperage in Japan where it spends up to a year taking on some beautifully unique characteristics.
Mizunara is a very rare native species of Japanese oak. The wood is extremely hard to work with and casks are sourced from 200-year-old trees in the remote forests of Hokkaido Island in northern Japan. It’s also porous so it leaks woefully and as a result is rarely used for whisky, even in Japan. However, there’s a pay-off for those who dare. The porous wood allows more contact with the liquid, and these open-grained, lightly-charred barrels amplify flavour more than other oak while layering on sandalwood, coconut and much more vanilla. Compared to traditional American and European oak, Mizunara creates an extremely smooth liquid with an unusually creamy mouthfeel.
Jim Murray rated the Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Finish Single Malt a whopping 96/100 in his 2018 Whisky Bible describing it as “the spiciest Irish nose this year… probably the most sensuous chocolate finish in the history of Irish whiskey, different and adorable”.
Non-chill filtered, natural colour and bottled at 46% ABV, Glendalough 13 Year Old Mizunara Finish is about to become your new favourite malt!
$120 per bottle + $15 flat fee postage
Age on release:
Matured for 12 years in first fill American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by 12 months in Japanese Mizunara oak.
Glendalough quick facts
Place of origin: Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Water source: Wicklow Mountains
Number of stills: 1 1500l still (used for both wash and spirit runs)
Capacity: 100000 litres of alcohol per annum
Nose: Sweet honeycomb, vanilla, apricot and citrus.
Palate: A velvety smooth palate with robust vanilla, fudge, rock candy, peach and marmalade followed by faint coconut, cinnamon and cloves.
Finish: Long and spicy with biscuity malts, more vanilla, oak and dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate and ginger biscuits