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Tullamore Dew Finest Old Irish Whiskey (12 Years Old)

Review: Tullamore Dew Finest Old Irish Whiskey  (12 Years Old)    78.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on March 10, 2017

Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey has a history which is traced back to 1829 when the Tullamore Distillery was founded in Tullamore, County Offaly by Michael Molloy. However, it was in 1887, after the death of Michael Molloy, that the Daly family who ran the distillery turned the daily operations over to a man named Daniel E Williams. Mr. Williams is given much of the credit for the expansion and development of the distillery and of course the whisky which bears his initials D-E-W. The Distillery’s original slogan, “Give every man his Dew” is still in use today.

Tullamore Dew Finest Old Irish Whisky has been replaced in the Tullamore Dew lineup by the new 12 Year Old Special Reserve, however bottles of the 12 Year Old Finest are still available (at least in my locale). Tullamore Dew Whisky is composed of three different mature Irish Whiskies: Irish Pot Still Whiskey, which is distilled three times in a giant copper ‘pot’ still from a mash of malted barley as well as other cereal grains; Irish Grain Whiskey which is distilled on a multiple (two or three) column continuously operating ‘patent’ still from a corn (or maize) based mash with small amounts of malted barley; and Irish Malt Whiskey which is distilled three times on a pot still using only malted barley. My particular bottle of the Finest Old Irish Whisky  was matured for a minimum of 12 years in oak barrels and bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.

tullamore-dew-finest-old-sam_3024In the Bottle 4/5

The 12 Year Old Irish Whisky arrives in a flask style whisky bottle with a green label and easy to read white and gold fonts. The bottle is sealed with a plastic screw cap.

Neither the label nor the display box provides very much information about the whisky other than the 12 year age statement. Irish whiskey tends to have a consistent flavour profile so the lack of concrete information is not too disconcerting. I do have a quibble with the short neck on the bottle which I wish was just a little longer. Short necked bottles are hard to pour without spilling, and I have learned to avoid this style of bottle when I encounter it in a retail setting.

In the Glass 8/10

The whiskey has a light golden colour and when I tilt and twirl it, I see slender legs form which rum quickly down the side of the glass. The initial breezes above the glass bring fine oak spice and punky caramel with light almond and vanilla accents. As I let the glass breathe the fine oak spices gained momentum, cereal grain joined in along with light baking spices (vanilla, ginger and cinnamon) and the almond aroma deepened somewhat towards marzipan. Some malt-like aromas rose up from the glass as well as a impressions timothy grass and freshly crushed walnuts.

The aroma is light and pleasant, however as I allowed the glass to breathe, it did not seem deepen as many aged spirits do. In fact I would say that overall aroma is somewhat lighter than I would expect from a 12-year-old spirit indicating to me that the oak barrels used had already given up much of their character to whichever spirit they had held previously.

In the Mouth 47/60

I have to express a certain level of disappointment as the whisky seems both younger and thinner than its 12 year age statement would suggest. The flavour of the wood spice reminds me of that spicy sap you taste on the inside of freshly stripped poplar bark with only a light influence of carmelized sugars from charred barrels. This means that the winding grassy flavour and malty sweetness within the whisky seem rather penetrating and become somewhat cloying as you sip. Almond struggles to turn to marzipan there are a few redeeming nuances of nougat, but it would be a stretch to call this whisky a sipper.

I was not even enthused regarding short cocktails such as the Old Fashioned. Instead I turned to soda and ice to make the spirit more enjoyable (see recipe below).

In the Throat 11.5/15

The short finish is cloying with a penetrating mixture of grainy sweetness and wood spice. Some soothing vanilla helps, but there seems to be a rather firm astringency in the exit which was quite unexpected. Adding ice relieves the astringency, mutes the penetrating sweetness, and brings a welcome flavour of milk chocolate to the finish.

The Afterburn 8/10

Tullamore Dew Finest Old Irish Whiskey is a step up from its younger sibling the flagship Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey (see review here). Unfortunately, that bar was not set very high, and I would recommend both as mixers only.

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


Suggesting Serving:

irish-splash-sam_3025Irish Splash

2 oz Tullamore Dew Irish Whisky
2 or 3 large Ice-cubes
Splash of Lemon Lime Soda
Citrus Slice for garnish (optional)

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add a splash of Lemon lime Soda
Garnish with a lime slice if desired
Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: 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!


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score 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 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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