By Richard Thomas
Even before Grant’s bought Tullamore Dew in 2010, the brand was already experimenting with new expressions, as was the case when they released the Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt in 2009. This single malt was reportedly double distilled at Cooley, instead of being triple distilled at New Midleton, as is the case for the standard Tullamore Dew whiskey.
Another feature separating the Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt from the pack is that the whiskey blends malts aged in old bourbon, port, madeira and sherry casks. This makes the 10 Year Old Single Malt not only the sole whiskey in Ireland to bring together whiskey from four different types of used barrels, but the only single malt of its kind anywhere insofar as I am aware. Bottled at 40% abv in Tullamore Dew’s traditional, Victorian-style squared bottle, this whiskey has a substantially different flavor profile from anything I’ve seen not just out of Tullamore Dew, but Ireland as a whole.
In the glass, the 10 Year Old Single Malt has the look of a deep golden honey, a far cry from the typical paleness of young and middle-aged Irish whiskeys. The nose has a certain lush sweetness and fruitiness to it, where a sort of sweet and sour red fruits note blends with hints of vanilla and caramel, presumably all from the port and madiera casks on the one hand and the bourbon barrels on the other. There is also a dollop of toasty oak in there, along with a dash of drying tobacco. Overall, the look and scent of the whiskey are very fetching, and the aroma in particular comes across as having a lot of complexity for a 10 Year Old.
On the palate, the Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt brings over all the notes of the nose in bold, but not overpowering fashion. There is a bit of pepperiness there, but that is the only surprise. Everything about this whiskey is quite mild, but there is no chasing for the wine, bourbon, and malt flavors. Everything is right there and easily found, both balanced and a somewhat sophisticated. In keeping with Tullamore Dew, the whiskey is more sweet than anything else. The finish winds down from that new spicy note, into a long and mild warmth.
The blend behind this Irish single malt gives it a character that one just would not expect from a Hibernian 10 Year Old, making it noticeably superior to its peers, such as Bushmills 10 Year Old. It is really stand-out stuff in its class, and in keeping with Tullamore’s core style, it emphasizes sweet flavors over toffee, smoke and wood.
I found this whiskey listed for $69 in the United States. That roughly mirrors how I’ve seen it priced in Europe, where it retails in the €40s, depending on local taxes.