Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Lost Irish Whiskey. 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.
What’s artisanal mezcal got to do with some wandering Irishmen? Mexican-based spirits business Casa Lumbre has partnered with Irish entrepreneurs and childhood friends, Neil Sands and Tim Herlihy, to produce Lost Irish Whiskey. Casa Lumbre is known for its small, craft spirits from Mexico, so it’s intriguing to see the company branch out into Irish whiskey. Their business seems to be doing well: Pernod Ricard took a recent interest in the company and has invested an undisclosed minority stake in two of the Mexican brands it offers: Ojo de Tigre mezcal and Abasolo. The latter is a Mexican whisky produced from an heirloom variety of white dent corn often used for tamales and masa that undergoes nixtamalization to break down the starches.
Herlihy left an over ten-year stint as the U.S. brand ambassador for Tullamore DEW to launch Lost Irish in February 2020, according to his Linkedin profile. Originally an Irish egg farmer, he spent years touring Irish pubs in America, a country that claims more people of Irish descent than the total population currently living in Ireland. This is not just a uniquely American phenomenon: the Irish Famine sparked immigration to countries in all six populated continents.
Herlihy and Sands took this diaspora as inspiration to produce an Irish whiskey with an unusual blend of finishing cask types from all six habited continents. It is a whiskey influenced by the world, using: “South African brandy casks, Japanese mizunara oak, Sherry casks, Bourbon casks, Caribbean rum casks, Australian tawny casks and Colombian rum casks.” Herlihy notes that “After many years exploring how the world perceives all things Irish and how the Irish influence the world, we realized we were ready to bring something unique to life…”
The company describes the whiskey as incorporating “three styles” of Irish whiskey: grain, malt, and pot still. So, we’re test-driving a blended Irish whiskey. Let’s pick those styles apart. Irish grain whiskey is distilled in a column or continuous still using a mash of no more than 30% malted barley plus unmalted corn, wheat, and/or barley. Irish malt whiskey is 100% malted barley distilled in a pot still. Irish pot still whiskey is at least 95% barley (at least 30% malted and 30% unmalted) with a maximum of 5% of other cereal types distilled, you guessed it, in a pot still. Lost Irish describes right on the front label the impact of the three types as contributing (in order): sweetness, fruitiness, and creaminess + spice.
Now, let’s taste.
Tasting Notes: Lost Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged a minimum of three years in wooden casks, finished in South African brandy casks, Japanese mizunara oak, sherry casks, U.S. bourbon casks, Caribbean rum casks, Australian tawny casks, and Colombian rum casks. 40% ABV, mash bill: unspecified, SRP $39.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is pale yellow in color with a yellow-green undertone.
Nose: The nose opens with a musky banana aroma. It’s fairly neutral, with notes of sweet corn, dried lemon rind, dried red pepper flakes and a rubbery note not unlike new sneakers. I pick up notes of dried juniper, green bananas, hay, and kiwi. There’s a hint of old tobacco, dried dates, chocolate covered raisins, and overripe strawberries. It seems a little disjointed. I don’t think the oxidative notes from the finishing casks did this any favors.
Palate: It tastes fairly neutral and sugary on the palate, almost like simple syrup. The liquid is medium-bodied and extremely silky. It shows notes of fresh pine, dates, golden raisins, and bananas. There are hints of rum spice on the finish with a piney terpene note. It has a short finish.
The Lost Irish Whiskey would make a very good mixer, but lacks complexity and length for a sipping whiskey. Fortunately, the brand’s website offers quite a few cocktail recipes, including their riffs on an Old Fashioned and a Bees Knees. I feel compelled to note that aside from the recipes, there’s really not much information on their site. The finishing casks overwhelmed the nose with a confusing mélange that’s just not for me. This will be fine as a mixer, though I’d prefer it in a mixed drink that lets it play second fiddle rather than as the star of the show, such as a punch or a mulled cider.
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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...