Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Truth be told, I love talking about low cost blended whiskey. When I drink something expensive, or something with a very pronounced pedigree of distilling and aging, it creates a certain pressure. I come into the taste expecting something deep and surprising. I’m expecting a quality to elevate it, and I sometimes feel like I can only go down from high expectations. Hand me a blend with a low price point, however, and things have nowhere to go but up.
Blended whiskey is a wild frontier. With fewer defined expectations or a singular established distilling process, you have more of an opportunity to get lucky. Right now, one of my favorite whiskeys is a relatively unknown blend. At the same time, a blend could be nothing more than the result of a holding company trying to unload excess stock. With any new blend, you’re pulling the arm on whiskey’s slot machine.
Bunratty Whiskey is a dark horse. It’s not attached to any distillery, and was only established as a brand in 2022. It’s been made available in limited US markets, offering a mix of triple distilled malt and grain. Promotional materials describe four years of aging in casks used for Bourbon and Oloroso sherry as well as virgin oak casks. There’s also a bit of peated malt used in its finish, still an unusual touch in Irish whiskey.
Bunratty does come with a modest level of acclaim. It took a double gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where it was also a finalist for best blended Irish whiskey. It’s a good cause to be curious, especially at a low price point.
Considering that the whiskey world has seen supermarket brands outperform some of the biggest names in competition, every blend deserves an open mind. There’s a very real possibility that a smaller importer has put together something special, and is aiming for a limited release at a lower price point to establish themselves. Of course, it’s all just conjecture until I can actually get a taste.
Tasting Notes: Bunratty Premium Blend Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: 43 ABV. Mash bill: Undisclosed. 86 Proof. MSRP 32.99 USD.
Appearance: Straw Gold
Nose: The scent is peat dominant, with a hint of briny smoke. Even with the dominant peat, though, I can pick out assertive notes of fresh stone fruit and honey.
Palate: The taste, like the scent, is peat forward. There’s a lightness to the smoke, though, leaning more into the brine and raisin tastes. Underneath the peat, there are hints of bran, under-ripe pear, and honey. It’s a very smooth sip, with an almost watery mouthfeel. After the sip, it leaves a finish of briny moss and apple.
Whiskey Review: Bunratty Premium Blend Irish Whiskey
It’s a smooth whiskey, but perhaps overblended. While it isn’t overbearing in any quality, the light proof and smoothness leave very little texture or taste to focus on. There are hints of flavor, but nothing stands out enough against the smooth hit of peat and grain. This plays very well mixed with water, though, as it further amplifies the smooth profile into something extremely drinkable.
While not revelatory, there’s an unassuming pleasantness in its taste profile, and the price is competitive. I could see this as a bottle to keep for high balls or to sip slow on the rocks. If you’re a connoisseur of Irish whiskey, though, it will do little to impress.
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Taylor is a writer, researcher, and whiskey enthusiast. He came to Portland in pursuit of higher education, and found himself staying to pursue the Pacific Northwest's wide range of olfactory offerings. He's a fan of craft beer, farm to table food, indie perfume, and, most of all, whiskey. While he...