Connemara draws inspiration from 18th-century techniques of drying malting barley over peat fires, a practice virtually extinct in Ireland by the turn of the 20th century. This Irish single malt is double distilled before spending 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels and has won gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Fair. The 12-year-old carries a wider range of different characters than the younger non-age-statement version.
Appearance: Golden Pear.
Nose: Light peat with notes of seaweed.
Taste: Tropical fruit, toasted vanilla and charred bread.
Finish: Charred wood leads to dried fruit and smoked honey.
Overall: Toasted fruit and spice reminiscent of cooking on an open fire by the ocean.
Still a very smooth whiskey, so I wouldn’t shy away from the Connemara 12 if peated scotch has never been your thing. The smoke in this bottling from Connemara has campfire qualities rather than the medicinal qualities more typical of peated Scottish malts.
If the person you’re buying for is a fan of the Connemara 12, you could also try Jura Superstition or Caol Ila 12.
Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world and has been massively on the rise in popularity in recent years. Ireland and Scotland both lay claim to being whisky’s original creator but it’s likely both nations developed a similar product at around the same time. The knowledge of distillation is commonly thought to have been brought to Ireland (and Scotland) by monks returning from the Mediterranean and the Middle East in around 1000AD.
ABOUT THE DISTILLERY
Cooley was converted from a potato alcohol plant in 1987 by John Teeling, father of the Jack and Stephen Teeling. Up until this point Irish Distillers had controlled all of the Irish whiskey output in Ireland. Not only historically significant, Cooley has been responsible for supplying much of the third party whiskey for new brands entering the burgeoning Irish Whiskey market. John Teeling began double, rather than triple distilling the whiskey at Cooley, providing a style more in line with Scottish malt production. Bought by Suntory Holdings in 2014, Cooley continues to have a big influence on the Irish whiskey sector, not least because Jack and Stephen have gone on to form Teeling Whiskey distillery in Dublin, John has also formed Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk.
ABOUT THE LIQUID
The only peated Irish whiskey on the market, Connemara 12 brings a bit more maturity to the range.
Water, Yeast, Peated Malt.