By Richard Thomas
When I was in Ireland this past November, I learned Beam Suntory, owners of both the Cooley and Kilbeggan distilleries, intended to consolidate some of the old Cooley brands under the better known Kilbeggan banner. Greenore, one of the earliest entrants in the reinvented single grain category, was one of these, and now it has happened. Kilbeggan 8 Year Old Single Grain, formerly Greenore, is now available as a travel retail whiskey.
Were this the rebranding of an American whiskey, testy whiskey bloggers would already be screaming foul over this, pointing out that Kilbeggan makes pot still whiskey and only pot still whiskey. True, but at the same time the original name Greenore no longer applies to the single grain whiskey, which was originally named for the port of Greenore where the corn used in making it was imported. Cooley no longer uses Greenore to import its corn, so the use of the name has lost its meaning.
By contrast, Cooley’s single grain is shipped to Kilbeggan for aging. Even if it isn’t made there, Kilbeggan has a better claim on the liquid than Greenore nowadays. Besides, it’s not as if Beam Suntory is trying to hide the rebranding. The bottle of the new Kilbeggan Single Grain is almost identical to that of the old Greenore to boot.
The ex-Greenore is a grain whiskey, made from 100% corn and distilled in a column still, bottled at 40% abv. In the glass, the whiskey as a bright, canary yellow coloring.
This single grain has a crisp scent, akin to sitting in a moist, green meadow on an early spring day. It’s honey and cereal sweet, but also spicy in the oak vein, and in a way that is both light and sharp.
The flavor follows in that light, honey and cereal vein, keeping that cold, sharp, oak spicy note as well. By the end, that spicy note turns peppery. The finish is a light one, but gains in warmth as it goes on.
Pricing data for the relaunched Kilbeggan 8 Year Old Single Grain isn’t available yet, but the old Greenore went for about $45.