By Richard Thomas
In a move that truly bucked prevailing trends and certain pessimistic, cynical bloggers, when Tullamore Dew began winding down their much admired 10 Year Old “Four Wood” Single Malt it was not to replace it with one or more No Age Statement (NAS) whiskeys. Instead, they de facto replaced it with two older age statement whiskeys: a 14 Year Old and an 18 Year Old, both aged in a mix of ex-Bourbon, Sherry, Port and Madeira casks.
Well, almost. The wonderful 10 Year Old (which is still very much out there and on store shelves, by the way) was fully matured in the four different types of wood. The 14 and 18 Year Olds, on the other hand, were finished in the four different types of wood. In the case of the 18 Year Old, the finish is stated as 10 to 12 months. Even so, the 14 Year Old was an impressive whiskey, if something of a lesson in the law of diminishing returns at the same time.
I don’t feel that way about the 18 year old. The extra finish time and four years make this whiskey well and truly mature.
This aged malt whiskey has a lusterous, rich, golden coloring, and drops a pretty set of legs, dispersed and substantial. The nose oozes character, with a scent that is in equal measures carrying the honeyed apple, malty sweetness of the mature spirit, but also a strong current of Sherry and Madeira style wines washing over the top. All of this is practically wrapped up in a thin, dry leaf of tobacco. A note of caramel dances nimbly throughout, finishing up the cast. The only thing I didn’t find in the scent, but appeared on the playbill, was the Port pipe.
The flavor profile throws in some spice, something noticeably absent from the nose, with a kick of allspice running a straight line from start and into the finish. Some oakiness comes out too, but otherwise it’s that lovely malt and wine-driven, tobacco-enhanced sweetness from the nose. The finish is a bit peppery, but supremely mellow.
This is a lovely example of Irish whiskey. It’s just complex enough to be personable and show some sophistication, but straddles the line between inviting your attention and demanding it. Tullamore Dew 18 Year Old is simply, marvelously enjoyable.
A sampling of online retailers shows this beauty fetches about $115 a bottle, and it is worth every penny.