Whiskey Review: Slane Irish Whiskey

, | December 4, 2017

Slane Irish Whiskey was launched in 2017, and represents Brown Forman’s first foray into the Irish whiskey category. The venerable Kentucky distiller has been on something of an expansion kick in recent years, branching out into Ireland as well as Scotland and introducing new products from its American stocks, including the quite delicious Cooper’s Craft.

The Slane brand name comes from the Slane Castle, a castle belonging to the aristocratic Conyngham family and located about 30 minutes from Dublin. Several years ago, the Conynghams became interested in developing their own brand of Irish whiskey. Rather than build their own distillery, they partnered with Cooley Distillery, sourcing spirit and bottling it under their own brand.

But as the Irish whiskey boom progressed, stock became harder to source. The Conynghams had the property and the desire, but they lacked the spirits industry expertise they knew they’d need to successfully construct and operate their own distillery. So they partnered with Brown Forman to help design and build a distillery and tasting room on the grounds of their ancestral castle.

The $50 million project launched in 2015, and construction continues. That means the opportunity to taste spirit distilled at the castle is still several years off—but in the meantime, we can taste this whiskey, which was originally distilled by an undisclosed third-party producer but blended by the folks at Slane.

Slane Irish Whiskey is a blended whiskey that includes both malt and grain whiskey. It is “triple casked,” meaning it’s matured in three different cask types: new heavy toast/light char casks from the Brown Forman cooperage, used Tennessee whiskey and bourbon casks, as well as Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. It seems that the liquid spends its entire maturation period in one of these three casks, and is only blended after maturation is complete. There’s no age statement, but to be warrant the name “whiskey” in Ireland, spirit has to spend at least three years in oak, so we know it’s at least that old.

Slane Irish Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey. Photo by Margarett Waterbury, image copyright The Whiskey Wash.

Tasting Notes: Slane Irish Whiskey 

Vital stats: A blend of grain and malt whiskey matured in virgin oak, seasoned oak, and oloroso sherry. 80 proof.

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Appearance: Yellow gold

Nose: A sweet and fruity nose delivers cucumber, cantaloupe melon, banana, vanilla frosting, and fresh grain. A bit of oaky spice emerges after some time in the glass, alongside a tooth-jarringly sweet overtone of spun sugar and caramel.

Palate: Sweetness again dominates here, with banana cream pie, banana bread, clove, incense, toffee, raw grain, and toasted nuts. An almost brandy-like fruitiness emerges at the finish, complete with soaked raisins and ripe melon.

The Takeaway

Sweet and fruity without being ripe or rich, this is a very approachable, easy-to-drink, and inexpensive Irish whiskey that seems tailor-made for widespread appeal. Clear, discrete flavor notes and a lighthearted, unserious feel make it an easy recommendation for those who think they don’t like whiskey, or an enjoyable sweet treat for the curious.


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Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...