Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Eire Born Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Do you want your whiskey to punch you as hard as a UFC Champion? Yeah, me neither, but I am still going to give this relatively new addition to the ever growing list of celebrity “owned” spirits a try, possibly so you don’t have to.
UFC superstar Conor McGregor released his Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey as a dedication to his hometown – a suburb of Dublin called Crumlin, postal code Dublin 12 – last year. At first glance he hits all the marks – it is made in Ireland, triple distilled from grain and barley, bottled at 80 proof and aged for a minimum of three years in ex bourbon barrels – all pretty standard stuff.
The packaging is decent, the bottle is made of green glass and has a weight and character to it that makes you feel you should be pulling it out of a wooden crate filled with sawdust from Prohibition. The label clearly notes how rich, smooth and properly balanced it is, with the image of a tiger wearing a crown front and center. I assume this is something Conor McGregor is linked to, as fighters like being seen as ferocious predators; heaven forbid any of them associate themselves with images of penguins or bunnies.
But beyond what the bottle claims, I found the story and juice inside lacking. Because celebrities have no idea how to make booze most of the time, Mr. McGregor hired someone else to do it for him; enter David Elder, previously of Guinness Brewing, who is listed as master distiller for this project (he was at one point also handling blending already distilled whiskey from the Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland). The whiskey for this expression is drawn from Bushmills stock before being influenced by Elder and McGregor.
Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey (image via Eire Born Spirits)
Vital Stats: 80 proof, blend of fine grain and single malt whiskeys; aged 3+ years; 750 mL bottle; prices between $20-$30.
Appearance: The whiskey has a very pleasant golden color, like autumn straw, with a slight green hue creeping in on the edges. The bottle is made of green glass and has a solid weight to it.
Nose: The aroma is light, slightly astringent, with honeysuckle and lime – more acidic than expected.
Palate: Initial flavor is very light both on flavor and on texture, with hints of spiced apples and pears. Mid way through the alcohol starts to come through with texture across the mouth and a mild bitterness on flavor. Finish is short lived with a slight tingling in the mouth being left behind long after the flavor has disappeared.
This mostly disappointing whiskey encompasses both bitter and sweet, all while packing a punch that is still a bit rough around the edges. I guess you could say it is a good representation of Mr. McGregor, although maybe not such a good representation of Irish whiskey. The flavor lacks the complexity I would expect for even a three year minimum, and while a bitterness lingers mid-way through, I find myself wanting more character than it can offer.
Nathan is a Certified Spirits Specialist, Sommelier, USBG Spirits Professional, and has taught as an Adjunct Professor on Distilled Spirits and Mixology. Throughout his tenure bartending he has also served as the President of the Oregon chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild and has won several national level cocktail...