Whiskey Review: Clonakilty Port Cask Finish

, | February 3, 2023

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.

In 2018, the Scully family started up a passion project, which grew into the Clonakilty Distillery. With the Irish whiskey renaissance in full swing, it made sense for the barley farmers of nine generations to launch their own Irish whiskey label. The distillery practices sustainability for all its spirits, including its Minke Gin for which they seasonally hand-harvest Rock Samphire – also known as Sea Fennel. 

Clonakilty overlooks the Atlantic Ocean along 200-foot cliffs and is not too far from the Galley Head Lighthouse. Because of its southwestern coastal location, the distillery showcases the unique Irish terroir and seaside climate. The water used to “gently cut” the spirits, as they say, is naturally filtered by the coastal rock formations near the distillery. The salty sea air, no doubt, plays an integral part in the barrel aging process.

The Clonakilty Distillery recently released a Cask Series, with the first in the series being a Port Cask Finish. While the distillery needs more of its own golden liquid, the Clonakilty Port Cask Finish blends premium Irish malt from the Scully farm and sourced 9-year-old Irish grain whiskey. The port casks come from the Douro Valley in Portugal, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.  

The Clonakilty Port Cask Finish is one of a few Irish whiskies finished in port wine barrels. Without knowing what type of port casks are used, I cannot for sure guess what the whiskey has in store for me, but from the distillery’s tasting notes, I would assume a dry ruby port. What I do know is that the Clonakilty Port Cask Finish is a delicious whiskey. 

Clonakilty Port Cask Finish review

Clonakilty Port Cask Finish (image via Clonakilty Distillery)

Tasting Notes: Clonakilty Port Cask Finish

Vital Stats: 43.6% ABV. Irish premium malt and 9-year-old grain whiskey gently cut and finished in Douro Valley port casks. 750ml $53.

Appearance: Peach

Nose: The nose is delicate, with baby powder and jasmine at the beginning. Cinnamon scones,with a sugar glaze, give off a sweetened grain note. Dried orange peel adds a citrusy element, whereas red apple adds a fruitier element. However, near the end of the nose, stale cedar comes through.  

Palate: The mouthfeel is very light. The palate is biscuity, with a heavy French oak characteristic. The whiskey is faintly sweet, with a slight touch of lemon zest. On the other hand, it is quite spicy with pink peppercorns. The finish has a dry red wine essence, but acetone lingers on the breath.

Whiskey Review: Clonakilty Port Cask Finish

I typically find Irish whiskeys hit or miss for me, but is worth keeping a bottle at home. Compared to other Irish whiskeys I have had, the delicacy of the palate remains intact and unburdened by the grain. The port influences are there, but the terroir remains.

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Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...