Whiskey Review: Barr an Uisce Wicklow Rare - The Whiskey Wash
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Whiskey Review: Barr an Uisce Wicklow Rare

Bourbon was my gateway to whiskey. Rye was next. I knew I didn’t like the heavily peated Scotches: They all taste like eating race car exhaust to me (which is one reason why my lovely, merciful editors generally refrain from having me review them).

But when it came to Irish whiskey, I wasn’t that well-versed. I’d generally only been exposed to Jameson and Tullanore Dew. And while they didn’t completely repel me, I tended to stick to the Kentucky or Indiana side of the world unless assigned otherwise—even though our own site has an excellent writeup of the lore and lure of Irish Whiskey.

However, after trying Barr an Uisce’s Wicklow Rare Small Batch Blended Irish Whiskey, I’m totally going to rethink that.

“Barr an Uisce” means “above the water” in old Irish. According to Barr an Uisce, when Irish monks first distilled what we now know to be whiskey, they called it. “Uisce Beatha,” meaning “Water of Life.” (And after a long day at the office, I’d have to agree as to brown booze’s life-saving qualities.)

Barr an Uisce is also the name of a town, Barraniskey, in eastern Irelan’s County Wicklow. The company’s founder, Ian Jones, comes from right outside this town, which was a major stopping point for gossip, news, culture, and music back in the days of horse and buggy. Basically, the perfect place you want to have a rest and imbibe with some convivial folk. So, this stuff has got good genes.

Their Wicklow Rare blend is a mix of 80 percent grain whiskey and 20 percent 10-year old single malt. The sourced blend is then matured in bourbon barrels for four years and finished in Oloroso sherry casks for six months.

Barr an Uisce Wicklow Rare

Tasting Notes: Whiskey Review: Barr an Uisce’s Wicklow Rare

Vital stats: 80 percent grain and 20 percent 10-year old single malt; aged in bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks; 86 proof; about $50 for 750 ml.

Appearance: Pale yellow greenish gold.

Nose: Subtle. Nothing overwhelming: Some citrus—clementine peel, lemon. But also lemon-scented cleaner that doesn’t knock you down. Also: elementary school paste.

Palate: It prickles my tongue at first, but then finishes very clean, with slight citrus and mint. It has the palate-cleansing quality of an aquavit, but without the heavy dill that will often accompany it. The Wicklow’s bourbon lineage and short affair with sherry comes through: It’s sweet, light, and highly drinkable. It’s almost unremarkable, and I mean that in a good way. It doesn’t linger in your stomach and make it glow. It doesn’t burn going down like ashy weed. I’d even call this dangerously drinkable—a little bit dashing.

The Takeaway

This bottle of whiskey was sitting around for a while before I got the chance to review it; I now feel surprised and a little guilty about that, because this is so nice. It’s like that friend you’ve known for a while and then you hug them goodbye at the end of the night and you’re like, hey-oh, wait a second, what was that, hmmm. Don’t be like me: Don’t wait (at least not on this whiskey).

4.0
User Rating 4 (5 votes)
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About the author

    Carin Moonin

    A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor and learning what it can do for me. I’ve written for publications including Salon.com, DailyDot.com, Willamette Week, Portland Monthly, and more. When I’m not drinking whiskey or writing about it, I can be found running, reading, or seeking out free samples in grocery stores.