By Richard Thomas
Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt was a particular favorite of mine, one of my favorite Irish Whiskeys in fact. Part of what made it so special was that the whiskey was a four wood, drawn from malt whiskey stock aged in ex-bourbon, Port, Sherry and Madeira casks. It’s not a combination often seen (indeed, few inventories even have all four types of stock on hand), and I thought the stock plus the blender’s skill made that one an item better than offerings several years older.
So, I was dismayed when I learned that Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Four Wood was being withdrawn from the market, bit by bit. Then I learned it was being partly replaced by new 14 and 18 year old expressions, also single malts and also four woods. In a move very much at odds with the No Age Statement spirit of the times, Tullamore was going up the ladder, not down. Since I loved the 10 year old so much, I was naturally very curious about its new, older siblings. What would extra time in the casks do for the whiskey?
Despite bottling at a slightly higher ABV (10 Year Old was 40%; 14 Year Old is 41.3%) and extra time in the wood, the coloring in the glass is very similar. This whiskey has a pale amber appearance, something like dark apple juice, and is endowed with long, viscous legs.
The scent was full of seasoned fruit, like a bowl of apple slices and chunks of pineapple with a drizzle of vanilla syrup sprinkled around. Beneath that were notes of peppery spiciness and a splinter of dry wood. The palate followed pretty much along those lines. The whiskey has an oily, but still light texture, with the fruit bowl described above joined by a dollop of honey. The peppery spice is a bit stronger on the palate than the nose, with that splinter of dry wood holding constant as a minor, background note.
The finish holds onto the pepper, as the sweetnesss rolls into tobacco leaf, a light aftertaste on the tongue that drifts off into lasting, mild warmth.
The interesting thing about Tullamore Dew 14 Year Old in my book is how it serves as an object lesson in diminishing returns. Undoubtedly I like it better than the 10 Year Old, but only slightly better. It’s a clear, but still narrow margin of improvement. So, it’s a more than worthy successor, especially at the price point (see below), but not a dramatic improvement in the way that some might think an extra four years should mean.
When I describe Tullamore Dew 14 Year Old as a replacement for 10 Year Old, in price terms it’s true. In the U.S., this whiskey is listed at $70, about the same as the 10 Year Old was. In the UK, expect to pay £59.95.