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Writer’s Tears Cask Strength

Review: Writer’s Tears Cask Strength (Irish Whiskey)    (96.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra
Posted March 13, 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.

Recently (February 7, 2019), the LCBO Whisky Shop launched a 7 brand Walsh Whiskey feature which included the 2018 bottling of Writer’s Tears Cask Strength (Irish Whiskey).

The 2018 vintage is the 8th annual release of Writers’ Tears Cask Strength from Walsh Whiskey. It is a vatting of aged Single Pot Still and Single Malt Whiskey, triple distilled, aged in Bourbon barrels, non-chill filtered and bottled at 53% alcohol by volume.

According to Bernard Walsh:

“This whiskey displays a complex nose of toasted cereal, almond oils, creamy chocolate and sweet floral notes. On the palate it reveals wild honey, summer fruits, fresh ginger, all underpinned by a spicy single pot still base. It has a delicate, warmth and lingering finish. I hope the lucky few who acquire this year’s release enjoy every moment.”

The 2018 release is limited to just 5,175 individually numbered bottles each signed by Walsh Whiskey Founder and Chief Executive – Bernard Walsh. The super-premium whiskey is for sale across selected markets worldwide (including of course at the LCBO in Ontario).

In the Bottle 5/5

The presentation of the 2018 edition of Writer’s Tears Cask Strength features an illustration by Irish artist Linda Byrne. The illustration shows the whiskey making process from field-to-bottle in a graffiti style set against a redbrick backdrop. It also portrays the main features of the Royal Oak estate including the distillery, the River Barrow and Holloden House which was built in 1755.

The whiskey is housed in a slide out wooden case which fits snugly inside the illustrated box.

In the Glass 9.5/10

The Whisky has a lovely golden/amber hue in the glass and when pouring out my sample I immediately noticed the wonderful smells of toasted grain mingling with almond, vanilla and toffee. When I tilted and twirled my glass a thickish film could be observed the crest of which only reluctantly gave up a few droplets which fell slowly to the bottom.

As the glass breathed the smells of toffee and nutty barley intensified along with indications of graham wafer, fresh leather, and a light herbal mint.This is one of those cases where descriptors do not do justice to the whiskey. The smells are aggressive, yet extremely inviting. A lovely sweetness is present in the breezes as are light impressions of milk chocolate. My appetite has been whetted.

Although the whisky is bottled at 53% ABV., I do not notice a strong push of alcohol astringency in the air.

In the Mouth 57.5/60

When I took my first sip, the whiskey seemed smooth with a light maple/butterscotch sweetness which was melded into flavours of vanilla, almond and toasted cereal grain. Then, even though I took just a small sip, the force of the cask strength bottling began to settle in. The concentrated flavours and the push of heat from the 53 % ABV. flooded my palate.

As the flavour intensified, the light butterscotch and maple sweetness now had a more intense honey-like quality. The vanilla and almond flavours combined with this honey-like sweetness bringing out a lovely impression of marzipan. Oak spice heats the palate, barley and grain flavours abound, and lather and milk chocolate ride on the coat tails of the robust cereal grains. There is much more, yellow apples, pears, hints of canned apricots and a light soothing mint which keeps the mouth from being overheated. A light bitterness manifests itself at the very end of the taste experience, which helps (along with the spice and the heat) to pucker the mouth inducing another sip of whiskey.

In The Throat 14.5/15

Despite the obvious heat, the finish is smooth(ish). It is after the swallow that a spicy heat begins to build. Baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and clove) settle on the palate; a nice glowing warmth is felt in the stomach; and the throat slowly heats up as well.

The Afterburn 10/10

Interestingly enough, I have felt no desire to add ice or water to the whiskey. The balance of heat and flavour has seemed to be just about perfect, and I do not want to do anything to upset what is seemingly an almost perfect whisky.

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


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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