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The Irishman Vintage Cask 2018 (Irish Whisky)

Review: The Irishman Vintage Cask 2018 (Irish Whisky)    (90.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra
Posted February 20, 2019

Bernard and Rosemary Walsh began producing their own independent Irish Whiskey brands in 2007 with the introduction of The Irishman 70 (aka The Irishman Original Clan in the USA) and The Irishman – Single Malt. In 2009 they expanded the portfolio with the introduction Writers Tears, a boutique brand which was created to bring additional nuance to the Irish Whiskey Category.

Irishman Founder’s Reserve (see review here) is a direct descendant of The Irishman 70, made to the same recipe of 70 % Single Malt Irish Whiskey and 30 % Single Pot Still Whiskey (with no column distilled whiskey in the blend at all). The triple distilled spirit is aged in American ex-bourbon casks.

Recently (February 7, 2019), the LCBO Whisky Shop launched a 7 brand Walsh Whiskey feature which included the 2018 bottling of The Irishman Cask Strength Whiskey. This year’s version is dubbed The Irishman Vintage Cask 2018 (Irish Whisky).

According to the information sent to me The Irishman Vintage Cask (2018) is Ireland’s most exclusive Whiskey. It is distilled 3 times and aged in American Oak. Each year Bernard Walsh selects a handful of exceptional casks to make his Super Premium Cask Strength Irish Whiskey. It is available in strictly limited quantities with just 3,510 bottles produced in 2018. Each bottle is uniquely numbered and signed. This year’s expression was bottled at 54 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

The Irishman Vintage Cask 2018 is a substantially more expensive bottling than the Founder’s Reserve retailing at the LCBO Whisky Shop for $189.95. As such I expect a much nicer presentation such that the spirit looks the part of a Super Premium Irish Whisky.

Walsh Whiskey delivers with an elegant wooden case (with metal latch) that contains a personalized and dated certificate for each bottle sold. The bottle the whiskey is housed in is a squat long-necked bottle with as slightly bubbled neck which makes it easier to grab.  The long neck also makes the bottle easy to pour without spilling. I would describe both the labeling upon the bottle and the display box as masculine and each give the consumer a positive impression of the brand.

In the Glass 9/10

I was working from a small sample (100 ml) and so my tasting notes are somewhat abbreviated.

Colour:  An appealing amber/copper hue

Legs: Reluctant droplets hanging from the crest finally falling as medium thick legs.

Initial Aroma: Firm oak and toffee melded together with vanilla, almond, burlap and leather

Decanted Aroma: Oak and toffee melded with vanilla and almond representing a yummy marzipan. Robust barley grain accented with hints of maple and leather, canned apricots and marmalade. Hints of cinnamon and ginger spice. The whisky seems well-balanced with the barley growing in stature as the dram breathes.

In The Mouth 54/60

Alcohol push and Spice: A whiskey beast which heats the palate and whacks the tonsils.

Initial Taste: Oodles of nutty barley, oak spice, vanilla, butterscotch and almond.

Follow up: Malted barley with herbal accents of menthol and heather. Oak spice and butterscotch meld with vanilla and baking spices (ginger and cinnamon). Burlap and leather. There is an additional sweetness of canned apricots and indications of marmalade.

The descriptors do not do the whisky justice. The richness of the whiskey grows in the glass making this a spirit I would allow to sit for ten or fifteen minutes to maximize my enjoyment.

With Ice: The heat is controlled and the barley shines.

Mixed: I mixed an old-fashioned using Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters. I had to let the ice melt into the cocktail due to the high alcohol heat; but the result was well worth the wait!

In The Throat: 13.5/15

Body and Length: Medium to full-bodied with a long heated finish

Flavours during Swallow: Melded oak spice, vanilla, butterscotch, and almond.

Lingering Flavours: Lingering heat of baking spice and oak sap. A firm corn-like sweetness settles in after the swallow.

The Afterburn  9/10

Final Thoughts: The Whiskey teeters on the brink of a precipice.  The concentrated flavour is outstanding; but the high cask strength heat threatens to overwhelm the palate. Fortunately the dram carries just enough malt sweetness and a light touch of cooling menthol which serve as a bridge from the edge of the cliff to a field of barley goodness..

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Old Fashioned Cocktail with Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

1 1/2 oz The Irishman Vintage Cask 2018 (Irish Whisky)
1/3 oz  Sugar Syrup (1:1)
2 dashes Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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