3DC’s 20th Anniversary Bottling Notes and Story

 ‘Twas one score and two years ago that three friends did convene an informal council to throw a party in the next year. It was here that the 3 Drunken Celts were born and in that birth did give us two exceptional decades of friendships grown through the connection of whiskies. With only one small variance in year 5, we have been steadfastly committed to spreading the wonderful gospel of whiskies the world over. Originally focusing on Single Malt Scotch, we quickly learned (and were rightly schooled by some of the best in the business) that there is much more to the world of whiskies than such a confining view of a single region would lend you to see. As we branched out our vision our palates followed.

At every party thrown yearly after, Scotch has had a main-stage presence, with Irish a respectable secondary. And while American and Japanese whiskies have begun taking over our tables in the past years, our hearts often harken back to the oft overlooked Irish table. So, it was an obvious choice for us (as the misfit tasting party tied to medieval recreation events) to celebrate our twentieth anniversary with our own selected cask bottling of one of our favourite Irish Whiskies we’ve discovered. In contacting Jennifer Nickerson at Tipperary, the 3DC charmed and delighted her with our over-the-top admiration and purchases of nearly all of Tipperary’s line. Jennifer was quick to join in on our crazy and begin discussions of sourcing a single cask for our own private label bottling. And such as it was, a wonderful collaboration officially began way back in January 2019.

A sizable group of 3DC brain-trust were able to come together and sample during the 2019 Great Western War. The trusted crew sampled through 5 potentials and over an afternoon of delicious and difficult decisions, the choice was made… we’d go with the (at the time) 17 year bourbon cask Irish Single Malt. This was October 2019, so I’m sure you can see how this story evolves and delays through the pandemic that hit us all in 2020. From label delays and skyrocketing shipping costs, making our deadline for October 2020 delivery simply wasn’t going to happen. With our larger event being canceled, we were less pressed to deliver and opted to embrace the delay which would result in getting us a now 18 year Irish Single Malt.

To our delight, the cask was bottled and labeled in April of 2021 and soon on a ship bound for the US. With delivery to the 3DC in August 2021, we were on track for our grand tasting and second-try 20th anniversary tasting at Great Western War in October 2021 where it was met with great anticipation and joy.

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The bottling and tasting notes as provided by Stuart Nickerson of Tipperary Boutique Distillery


Cask Number
2304
Cask fill date May 22, 2002
Original cask type Bourbon
ABV 49.50%
Nosing date May 23, 2021
Bottling Date April 10, 2021
Age 18 years
Nose Apples, plums, sponge pudding and a hint of liquorice. With water there is much more toffee on the nose with sweet plums.
Palate Apple sponge cake with white pepper and a toffee sauce. With water the pepper reduces and the toffee comes to the fore with the apple cake still very much in evidence.
Finish Lovely medium length finish with the toffee and sweet apples lingering.

Rumour has it that Stuart “…really liked this cask and was sorry we’d sold it…”. But, like all good whiskies, you have to let these casks out into the world to bring joy to all who experience them! Whiskies, after all, are meant to be shared. It’s that attitude that has kept the 3DC alive for over 20 years, and hopefully for more decades to come. Here’s to toasting our 40th in the future!

If you’re of the lucky few to have received one of these 20th Anniversary bottles: we hope you take the opportunity to open it with friends and know it is the camaraderie and friendship, brought together by the whiskies, that is the core of who we are and what we do.

Slainte’ Mhath

 

 


Finnegan’s Eight

Prologue

As with all good things Irish, this will start with a story of how I came to be tasting this dram on St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Finnegan 8 Year

Finnegan 8 Year

I figured St. Patrick’s Day would be a perfect occasion to sample a nice Irish Whiskey and do a write up on my findings; but when I checked the liquor cabinet, and the auxiliary cabinet where I store the tall bottles, and the display shelf for the pretty ones (well you get the idea) I couldn’t find a single bottle of Irish Whiskey. Nine bottles of Scotch, one from Taiwan, one American bourbon; but nothing from the Emerald Isle.

Continue reading


kill da bottle tasting (or something completely random)

Raz – Hmmm, Whisky Sugar cookies are good. I’m starting with the Edradour series we are here to kill and proceeding on to the Edradour 16 for good measure. No tasting notes here sorry but it’s good to see so much good stuff on the table just on the fly.

Meliko – Going through the Edradour series was very interesting; they’re all quite different.  Least fave was the port, most fave was the burgundy, with the chardonnay and sauterne also both relatively pleasant.  The 12 year had the most readable story: sweet and caramel to the nose, initially mellow then gently smoky on the tongue. 

Fergus– The 14 year Balvenie is sweeter than the 12 and is improved when you try a rum before tasting the 14. Trying it with a 72% dark chocolate does not seem to improve the taste and if you try  it with chocolate the whiskey seems to avoid the areas the chocolate cover. The Balvenie 12 signature being better than the 12 double wood has the opposite  effect from the 14 balvenie  the whiskey is improved by the chocolate and the whiskey layers itself onto the chocolate flavor. 

Raz – The flaming heart (Compass Box) is like being bum rushed by a dorm full of exchange student co-ed fetishists. 

Jean  – I concur with Fergus’ opinions on the Rumwood with the chocolate.  The Rumwood on it’s own is complex, but adding water eliminates the complexity and makes it flat.  I really enjoyed the Balvenie Signature with the chocolate – very smooth and buttery. Overheard: ‘Oh, dude – uh, oi’   

G – The Balvenie signature 12 starts without the bite of so many others. It rolls smoothly through the mouth and departs with a gentle kiss; a definite favorite. The add of the dark chocolate broadens the flavor. With this start, sampling the nose of the Edradours was all that I could contribute to that particular effort. A sip of the Dos Maderas (yes, rum) was a great post-food flavor. The additional ‘sweet’ made for a good dessert, so the sip fit very well. And the Welsh Penderyn seems to simply be a glass of water that happened to be in the room when some poor sot opened a Laphroaig.  


Tasting report: Estrella War XXIII Irish Whiskies Event

Date: February 15th, 2007
Location:
Estrella War, Chani/Paul/Fergus camp, someplace in Tir Ysgithr, Kingdom of Atenveldt

This tasting was setup as an East Coast 3DC tasting, hosted by Sean and Random. Since two Irishmen hosted the tasting, it’s natural that we chose Irish Whiskey for the tasting. The tasting consisted of two bottles of each of the following:

Tullamore Dew 12 year old blend
Bushmills 10 Year old single malt
Connemara 12 year single malt peated
Red Breast 12 year pure pot still
Jameson’s 12 year old blend
Michael Collins single malt pot still

Bonus Whiskey’s included;
Jamesons 18 year old blend
Sir Justin du Roc’s home made Whiskey (amazing stuff!)
Bushmills 21 year old single malt
Jameson’s distillery reserve 12 year old blend

The tasting was kicked off by Random with an introduction and notes on the differences between Irish Whiskey’s and other Whiskey’s (with our main focus on the difference between Irish and Scotch Whiskey’s). This included the different distillation processes, blending and rules of what can and cannot be called an Irish Whiskey. In attendance were approximately 30 3DC members, with anther 20 friends of the organization. A good time was had by all 🙂

Positive aspects of the tasting;

  • We had Lady Elaria order communion cups for the tasting. These are very small and ensured a good tasting, versus a drinking!
  • The history and information was well received and the conversations during the tasting certainly stayed focused on the whiskey. I heard many an “ooohh” and “ahh” as different types of Whiskey’s were sampled for the first time.
  • Fergus was on hand to provide 3DC history and answer general questions. Having an old time 3DC at the tasting is a must!
  • Two bottles of each Whiskey were available because each 3DC member brought a bottle or 2 through our communication before the event. This distribution helped ensure we had enough Whiskey without breaking any one’s bank 🙂
  • Simple food was provided. Cheese and crackers, with bottles of water to clear the palate. I was pleasantly surprised that all persons present made a concerted effort to ensure their palate was ready for the next tasting.

Opportunities for the next tasting at an SCA event:

  • A better pavilion to provide more cover and reflect lighting to enhance the experience and give the ability to see and write tasting notes.
  • More table space. With apx 16 bottles on the table, it was to small for food and water as well, or to give room for taking tasting notes.
  • Perhaps clip boards for tasters to write notes on in the future.
  • I am not sure how it has been done at prior tastings but we tried both letting the crowd pour for themselves and one or two individuals pour for everyone. I personally feel that a couple people pouring for the group was faster and kept the group on the same page better.

Perfect your tasting skills with the following easy guide for tasting an Irish:

  1. Pour yourself a nice Irish measure of Irish Whiskey. Warm the whiskey in the glass by cupping it between both hands. Sit back and admire the color.
  2. Nose the glass, embrace the aromas and distinct flavors of this dram.
  3. Taste the whiskey. Roll it around on your tongue, let your palate marvel the delights of the flavors that the whiskey is bringing it.
  4. Ponder and savor the taste. Take the time to contemplate the aromas and flavors
  5. Savor the taste explosion spreading across your palate in the aftertaste of the tasting.

 

Some notes on the whiskies presented:

Connemara 12 year Old Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey
The newly released Connemara 12 Year Old is already causing a stir among whiskey connoisseurs worldwide after scooping a Gold Medal at the World Spirit Competition in San Francisco in March 2004. Reflecting the region of Connemara, this magnificent 12 Year Old revives the age-old tradition and heritage of drying malted barley over peat fires. To the smooth, balanced malt and peat flavours of Connemara Peated Single Malt is added the lingering wood aftertaste to produce a whiskey of great complexity and sophistication. Truly, Connemara 12 year old has been worth the wait. John Teeling, Chairman of Cooley Distillery said “Our blenders and quality consultants have made us release the Connemara 12 year old. They believe that it is one of the best whiskeys in the world – bar none. It represents the pinnacle, to date, of Cooley distillation and maturing skills. The soft waters of the Cooley Hills, the warm caress of the copper pot stills, the breathing oak barrels from Kentucky, the ancient granite warehouses of Kilbeggan and 12 years in a perfect whiskey climate have combined to deliver this gem. We have very limited quantities, so savor while you can.”

Red Breast
The only aged Pure Pot still whiskey on sale today. Matured for a minimum of 12 years in Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks. Redbreast is a very special whiskey within the Irish Distillers fortified as it’s the only 12 year old Pure Pot Still available. It was first launched in 1939 as the brand name given to the pot still whiskey supplied by Jameson to whiskey bonders before bottling at the distillery became the norm in 1968. Stocks of whiskey in bonders’ stores petered out, and thus Redbreast all but disappeared until its re-launch by the distillery in the 1990s as a single pot still whiskey. This pure pot still whiskey is matured for a minimum of 12 years in sherry casks and Bourbon barrels. Like all good pot still whiskeys, it is strongly flavored and assertive, making it a rare treat for the connoisseur of fine old whiskey. As all premium whiskeys can be consumed neat, but for a better tasting the recommendation from our Master Blender is to add a drop of water to dilute the alcohol and so release the intense flavours of this unique Pot Still Whiskey.

Bushmills 10 Single Malt
Embodying all the centuries-old traditions of distilling at Bushmills, this is one of the very few Irish malt whiskeys available. Each drop of Bushmills Malt is carefully distilled three times and is made from 100% malted barley. The single malt Whiskey is matured for at least 10 years in specially selected American bourbon barrels stored in the warehouses adjoining the distillery. It’s here that the whiskey develops its full flavor, well-balanced character and light golden hue.

Tullamore 12-Year-Old Blend
Tullamore Dew 12-year-old is a deluxe blend with “a full, smooth, well-rounded whiskey, combining maltiness and pot still character. Sweet spicy notes overlay rich woody background from the bourbon casks used in maturation”. Its supreme quality has won it several international awards from whiskey connoisseurs in recent years. The 12 year old’s distinctive contemporary and classic packaging sets it apart from competitors.

Michael Collins Single Malt
Named for the legendary Irish hero, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey is the finest ultra-premium Irish whiskey. Affectionately known as “The Big Fellow,” Collins was the spearhead of Ireland‘s struggle for independence and the architect of the Treaty of 1921, from which modern Ireland emerged. He died at the age of 31, but his heroic spirit lives on in Michael Collins Whiskey.
Made at the only independent Irish-owned distillery in Ireland, Michael Collins is available in a blend and a single malt. With an aroma of honey, citrus, and malt notes, the blend has a taste that is clean and honey sweet with a fresh oak finish. Michael Collins Single Malt Irish Whiskey is well-rounded with a clean, malty, sweet citrus taste and wonderfully settled smoky flavor from the peat that lingers on the palate. Michael Collins Irish Whiskey’s the heroic spirit.

Jameson 12 Year Old
Originally bearing the name “1780”, the year the Distillery was founded, this whiskey now features its age statement as its name. Matured for a minimum of 12 years in Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks. A full bodied, superbly mellow pot still Irish whiskey.

A little history of Irish Whiskies…

“Uisce Beatha Eireannach” The Irish have always enjoyed two things: their drink and a good controversy. Irish Whiskey is a subject that incorporates both issues. While the exact origins are lost in the mists of time, it is generally accepted that the ancient Celts including the Scots, Irish, Cornish and Welsh knew how to distill grains at least as far back as 600 AD. Given that they lacked the climate to grow the more fragile grapevines, their use of cereals such as barley and rye, both of which grew well in the northern European climate, was a logical choice. Those Celts viewed their fiery brew as a gift from their gods that literally brought the dead to life and warmed even the coldest spirit. In fact, in Celtic, whisky is called “uisge beatha”-the water of life.

At that time, monasteries were at the centre of life and industry in Ireland. The essential materials – spring water and grain – were to hand, and combined with the necessary manpower, the intelligence and diligence of the monks, the capability to produce a fine drink was complete. These early monks called the spirit they made in this pot still “The Water of Life” (Eau de Vie) – in the Gaelic language “Uisce Beatha” (pronounced “ishka-baahaa”). These words for spirit drinks appear in many cultures, and in Ireland

Though sharing a common Celtic heritage in the art of whiskey making, pronounced differences in taste and style distinguish Irish Whiskeys from their Scottish counterparts. We’ll never know who invented the “water of life” but what is known is that Ireland and Scotland each developed their own interpretations of the art of distilling long before the first Roman ever trod on British soil. Irish whiskey differs from Scotch whisky from its very inception-the malting stage. The barley used for Scotch whisky is dried over open peat fires. The process allows the smoke to penetrate the barley malt and gives Scotch its distinctive smoky flavor.

The malt in Irish whiskey is dried in sealed ovens, keeping only the pure malt flavor. Irish whiskey is then distilled three times (as opposed to twice for Scottish whisky), which further adds to the smoothness of its taste. To be called Irish, the whiskey has to be distilled from native grains in Ireland and stored in wooden casks for a minimum of three years. Distillers avoid using new oak casks because they believe the wood imparts a rough taste to the whiskey. Instead, many distillers select used barrels that once held the contents of another type of liquor, such as bourbon or rum. This practice accounts for subtle differences in whiskies that may originate from the same distillery.

The rise of Irish whiskey occurred during the 16th century. Elizabeth I was said to be very fond of it, although she never took the opportunity to turn a profit on it. In fact it wasn’t until Christmas Day 1661 that a tax was first levied on the brew and by 1815, this tithe had increased to a crippling six shillings per gallon of whiskey. Ironically, this was also the zenith of Irish whiskey making with over 2000 stills believed to be in existence at the time. Many of these, however, produced “Poitien” or poteen as it was known; just as fiery as the Irish spirit itself, but illegal, since no tax was paid to the crown.

There are four distinct styles of whiskey in the world – Irish, Scotch, American and Canadian – each with its own particular characteristics. While all are produced in a broadly similar way, there are substantial differences between different countries’ products including the choice of grains, number of distillations, type of stills used, maturation period and type of oak barrels used.

Irish Whiskey key Features

To be an Irish Whiskey by law, (equally importantly tradition) 4 Criteria must be met.

  1. Distillation must occur in Ireland
  2. Irish Barley and Irish Water must be used
  3. The Whiskey must be triple distilled
  4. The Whiskey must mature for a minimum of 3 years.

While the distinctive character of Irish whiskey comes from the distilling rather than blending, the skill of the blender is still important in creating individual blends. To do this, the blender uses widely varying ratios of pot still whiskey, grain whiskey and malt whiskey, so that blends can range from full bodied to mellow. Variations are also achieved through the use of old and young whiskies and different barrel types for maturation, such as those previously used for sherry or rum.Over the years, triple distillation has become the traditional Irish way of distilling whiskey. It’s during this process that we find the heart of the spirit which carries the most delicate alcohols. Triple distillation therefore produces a light style of whiskey. But light does not necessarily mean bland, Irish Whiskies can be subtle and smooth, yet full of flavor, with spicy, fruity and floral notes.

  1. In most Irish whiskeys, there is an absence of the smoky flavor that is so synonymous with many Scotch whiskies, because the corns of barley used for its production are not dried over a peat fire. The Irish use indirect heat to dry their barley so no smoke enters the production process.
  2. Irish whiskey is triple distilled to ensure exceptional smoothness. Irish whiskey is distilled three times compared with the normal two, to give extra purity and a smoother taste. No other whiskey in the world is distilled more than twice.
  3. Ireland‘s soft, temperate climate allows for a very slow and gentle maturation process, leading to very mellow and flavorsome whiskeys.

Maturation is the “magical” process whereby new spirit is left to age in oak casks for many years to slowly transform into whiskey. Maturation removes the harsher, undesirable alcohols from the spirit. It also adds layers of complexity to the whiskey. Aged whiskey tends to be mellower and have more complex flavors and aromas. But maturation also gradually masks some of the whiskey’s initial flavors and characteristics, such as freshness and lighter fruity or floral notes. Therefore, older doesn’t always mean better, it simply means different.

Whiskey Process
The principal ingredients in Irish Whiskies are malt, i.e. malted barley; unmalted barley and pure water.The malted barley used in Most Irish whiskies is dried in closed kilns to ensure a smooth natural taste. The absence of smoke in the malting process ensures that the clean taste of the malt and barley shine through in the final whiskey.

The paradox of barley is that it doesn’t contain fermentable sugar but only starch. Early distillers discovered that if barley is allowed to sprout under spring-like conditions for a few days and then dried, the amount of alcohol subsequently obtained from brewing and fermentation is vastly greater than normal. Barley which has gone through this “Malting” process is called Malted barley. Malted barley is barley that has been allowed to sprout for a few days and then dried. Precise amounts of malted and unmalted barley are milled and then mixed with hot water in a “mash tun”. The starches in the mash are converted to sugars and the resultant liquid is called ‘wort’.

Mashing is the process by which the grist is added to hot water (63 degrees Celsius) in a large vessel called a Mash Tun. During this process the starches in the barley are converted into fermentable sugars. The mashing process is complete when a hot sweet liquid called wort is drawn from the Mash Tun.

“Wort” is separated from the residual grains and pumped into “wash backs”. The action of the yeast produces fermentation and the sugars in the wort are converted to a low strength alcohol or “wash”.

Distilling creates new whiskey from the wash. The wash is heated in traditional large copper pot stills and Irish Whiskies are obtained only after three separate distillations. Each stage results in a smoother superior quality. Triple distillation is the key to smoothness.

Irish Whiskies are matured in seasoned oak casks crafted by coopers, and remains undisturbed for a minimum of three years, many whiskies for much longer. Please refer to the 3DC website for additional history and more in depth discussion on the distillation process.

Choosing a whiskey is all about finding the best one to suit your taste. There are several types of whiskey common to Ireland: Single Malt, Single Grain, Pure Pot Still and Blended Whiskey. They are all great whiskeys in their own right. Several distilleries make both blends and malts now it is you turn to find the right whiskey for you on every occasion.

-Sean and Random…