Prizefight is the brainchild of Flor Prendergrast at Malones Whiskey Company, a whiskey enthusiast who had a plan to break in to the Irish beverage market with a fascinating new twist on a treasured national beverage. Having sourced triple-distilled Irish whiskey from Skibreen, Ireland’s West Cork Distillers, Prendergrast then partnered with New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distilling to add a special finishing touch. Tamworth’s Steven Grasse arranged for access to American rye whiskey barrels from his own distillery, creating a collaboration whiskey with true intercontinental spirit.
The collaboration is reimagined in the whiskey’s branding as a visual depiction of old-timey boxing, both on the label and attached to all promotional media. This is to pay tribute to the tradition of Irish immigrants finding success as fighters and showmen in America. The Prizefighter bottle depicts the epic battle between John Morrissey and Yankee Sullivan, which took place in 1853 New York.
While you’re more likely to find Prizefight Irish Whiskey at a hair salon than in a bare-knuckle boxing ring, the uniqueness and excitement behind such a far-reaching collaborative effort has created quite the buzz in the spirit world.
Tasting Notes: Prizefight Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: 86 proof. Irish whiskey from West Cork Distillers finished in American Rye Whiskey barrels from New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distilling. No age statement. $45/750ml
Appearance: This liquid rests in the glass with a lightness, its color reminiscent of faded newspapers and freshly-dried straw. The legs created here are wavelike at first, then descend the glass quickly in thin beads. It’s bounciness and light, solidly cohesive coloration present a very approachable drink, one that appears ripe for sipping.
Nose: The nose on this whiskey is both clean and lackluster. I appreciate the softness lent here by the oak, which doesn’t come across as over-sawdusty. A grassy, clover honey-like tinge creeps in to random sniffs, and there is even a touch of freshly-molded plastic here. There are bright pops of fruit as well, from banana peel to guava and a touch of strawberry seed. Prizefight brings a well-balanced aroma which could use a little more volume.
Palate: The first two things that are observed on sip #1 are an ease and balance of flavor and heat, and a distinct roasted nuttiness in the mid-finish which evokes the contact with rye barrels. The texture is slick without being thin, coats the palate but doesn’t leave lingering viscosity or excess sweetness. A floral, slightly medicinal bite leads off the sips, and slowly transitions in to a flatter, more mellow toasty finish of cocoa powder, burnt pecan pie, and a whisper of Madagascar vanilla. This whiskey is both easy to sip and complex enough to give the thinking drinker some mental exercise.
What could have been a disastrous melding of two incompatible whiskey styles surprises and innovates with its creativity. This beverage will please a litany of varied whiskey fans, and carries along with it a reasonable price point. I would err on the side of buying this as an easy sipping daily drinker and recommend it to Irish whiskey fans over rye enthusiasts.
Either way, though, Prizefight proves itself to be an exciting new experimental take on a classic style that duly represents both and doesn’t stray too far in to the zone of oddity.