Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Grace O’Malley Spirits. 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 towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In honor of the 16th century Irish pirate queen, former chocolatier Stephen Cope launched the spirits brand Grace O’Malley Spirits in 2017. Frenchman and former winemaker, Paul Caris, serves as the master blender. In 2019, they released the Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey, which became available in the United States in 2020. The brand is building a maturation warehouse in Dundalk, Ireland, and currently is sourcing their whiskey from the nearby independent distillery, Great Northern Distillery. The entire Grace O’Malley Spirits range, which includes a heather-infused gin, has received a series of awards, including the San Francisco Spirits Awards, San Diego International Wine & Spirits Awards, and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).
Caris blended the Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey using whiskeys ranging in age from three to ten years old. The blend includes a wide array of vessels, including French oak, ex-bourbon casks, and ex-rum barrels. It contains 46% malt, 40% double distilled and 6% triple distilled, which the producer describes as “one of the highest malt contents in the blended whiskey category.” Caris took inspiration from the diversity of flavor available in the various cask types to create the profile, according to the producer’s promotional video. The resulting blend is well balanced and harmonious, with no sharp elbows or disjointedness.
The Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey is widely available throughout the United States thanks to a marketing push by Stephen Cope’s parent company Inis Tine Uisce Teoranta (ITUT) and a partnership in multiple states with one of the largest distributors in the country, Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC). The brand recently rolled out a new marketing campaign produced in-house by the all-female marketing team to highlight their support of strong women, with the aim of not creating a “female-only brand but rather… [to] take away the snobbery that can surround the category.” It’s certainly welcoming and inclusive from a flavor perspective. At its heart, it’s a charming spirit that shows off master blender Caris’ ability to appeal to a crowd.
Tasting Notes: Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: A blend of 3- to ten-year-old whiskeys aged in various ex-rum, ex-bourbon, and French oak vessels, 40% ABV, mash bill: 46% malted barley, SRP $36.99 per bottle.
Appearance: This is a medium-deep, golden orange color.
Nose: Offers up moderately light notes of dried cherries, malt sugar, and vanilla on the nose.
Palate: A vague chemical flavor gives way to spicy notes of red cherries, caramel, vanilla, and golden pineapple. The finish is moderate in length, showcasing the dried cherry notes with a lingering sweetness and drying, tannic mouthfeel. This is an appealing whiskey with a lovely sweetness and pleasant finish. Nothing seems out of place, though it lacks somewhat in complexity.
Overall, this whiskey offers a sweet, fruity flavor profile and great value for the money. It drinks well alone and plays nicely in mixed drinks. What it lacks in seriousness and profundity it more than makes up for in charm.
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Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...