By S.D. Peters
Updated June 4, 2015
The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whisky was the premier brand of Watts Distillery, County Donegal, and much like American Rye, it was a best-selling whiskey in the U.S. prior to Prohibition. The brand, and with it, single malt Irish Whiskey, languished after the closing of the Watts Distillery in 1925, but like the 1876 winner of “The National Produce Stakes” Irish horse race for whom it was named, it’s beaten the odds and made a comeback. In 1988 the Cooley Distillery (now owned by Beam Global and hence Suntory) purchased and re-established the brand, which is once again making a name for itself in the U.S. and throughout the world.
The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey is triple distilled in copper pot stills at the Cooley Distillery, County Louth, from a mash of malted Irish barley, then aged for a undisclosed number of years in seasoned oak barrels. Bottled at 80 Proof (40% ABV) in a tall, distinguished bottle with a cork stopper, the whiskey’s appearance calls attention to its tradition. It awakens like a golden dawn in the glass, with malty scents of sun-warmed grain and a characteristic sweetness blending vanilla red raspberries and fresh citrus. The taste scatters berries about a bowl of summer citrus drizzled with honeyed malt, and fades away with a sweet and lingering memory of the fruit in an ascendant malty richness.
Addendum By Richard Thomas
This is a rare instance of a sharp, wide divergence between me and Scott, but the bottom line is that I was left unimpressed by The Tyrconnell. The nose and palate were thin, with a character that was predominately malty and grassy with notes of dry wood and tart spices. It’s far from my favorite Irish single malt or my favorite offering from Cooley.
While good blended Irish whiskeys can be gotten for less, tasting a single malt Irish Whiskey is to taste Ireland’s water of life living its fullest. Depending on where you live, The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey may only cost you about $30, about $5-$10 more than you’d pay for a blend. Spring for it.
The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey has won numerous and prestigious awards since it’s rejuvenation. Most recently, it’s taken the International Wine & Spirits Awards Gold (2009) and Silver (2012).