Whiskey Review: Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch No. 3 - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch No. 3

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Dingle. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The furthest western edge of Europe provides a stellar microclimate for maturing whiskey. The warm currents of the Gulf Stream keep the weather mild and misty, with temperatures over six degrees Celsius (about 43 degrees Fahrenheit – said to be the threshold for the best aging conditions). That’s where you’ll find Dingle distillery: on the outskirts of town, on the fringe of County Kerry, where the last fingers of Ireland dissolve into the surf. 

Even marginal fans of Irish whiskey know that the category has been in full-blown rebirth since the turn of the 21st century. Hit hard by the struggle for Irish independence and American Prohibition, the industry was slow to recover, dwindling to a microcosm of an industry by 1980. At the time, Oliver Hughes and Liam LaHart, the founders of Dingle Distillery, were busy with their first venture: Porterhouse Brewing Company, a craft beer importer and chain of pubs. As they and their palates matured, their interest turned to whiskey. In 2012, they chose Dingle for its beauty, romance and temperate air and took over the defunct Fitzgerald saw mill to house the operation. The duo outfitted it with three custom pot stills built by the storied Forsyths Ltd of Scotland, while also making use of a well tapped an aquifer 240 feet below the old mill to fill traditional wooden fermentation vessels. This marked a turning point for Irish spirits as this was the first purpose-built distillery in the country in 100 years.

Under Irish law, whiskey can’t be called by its name until “the spirits have been matured in wooden casks on the island of Ireland for a period of not less than three years” (before that it’s considered poitín, Irish for moonshine). That fact, I’m sure, combined with the old chestnut “vodka pays the bills,” meant Hughes and LaHart produced clear spirits for the first four years while their whiskey rested. Another clever revenue stream saw the first 500 casks of whiskey sold for better than €6,000 ($6,730) each, and named each buyer a “Founding Father” (though surely there must’ve been some Mothers as well). Those first casks were released in 2016, appropriately the centennial of Irish independence.

From a shipwreck of 200,000 cases sold in the mid-1980’s, to a forecast of 12 million cases to be sold in 2020, it looks like the Irish whiskey industry is plenty healthy. What does that mean for the most important question: what does renaissance taste like?

Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch No. 3

Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch No. 3 (image via Dingle Distillery) 

Tasting Notes: Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch No. 3

Vital Stats: 92 proof (46% ABV); around $95 for 750 mL; 100% Irish malted barley; matured in bourbon and port casks at least three years.

Appearance: Pours a clear pale straw which sheets, slowly beading to form tiny, fine tears. Certainly on the light end of the whiskey spectrum.

Nose: The aroma is distinctively floral, honeysuckle and hay, plus a wisp of smoke over a backdrop of nuttiness like raw almonds.

Palate: Delicate and light bodied, Dingle Single Malt Batch No. 3 is all smoke on the attack, the flavor seeming to quickly dissipate and then come around on the back palate with a hit of black tea. The mid palate is suffused with layers of cherry wood, white pepper and apricot. It’s quite a journey and I’d be curious to know if other tasters experience this somersault effect.

The Takeway

Summary

The elegance of this whiskey is really appealing. There’s nothing to hide behind and a lot to enjoy. I can only guess the care that went into it is responsible. For those who associate single malts only with peaty bluster, this is a nice introduction to the Irish way.

4.5
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