Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
How far would you go on a dare? Would you resurrect a 100-year old whiskey recipe? Daniel Patrick O’Shevlin (Dr. Dan) would.
Triple Dog Irish Whiskey is the brainchild of Daniel and long time friend, Chris Gilliam. Originally the pair worked on an Irish vodka project before turning their attentions to the holy grail of alcohol – whiskey. I was fortunate enough to schedule an interview with the pair and discuss all things Triple Dog. Over a glass of whiskey, we discussed the past, present, and future of one one the newest Irish whiskeys to hit the market.
1916 Ireland, on the heels of the Easter Rising and a restoration of the Republic of Ireland, O’Shevlin’s grandfather developed an oats based whiskey and vodka recipe. O’Shevlin says he has a photo of his grandfather perched atop 16 Bow Street with a long rifle pointing towards the sea. 16 Bow Street is the former headquarters for Jameson Distillery.
The recipe devised by his grandfather slipped into familial obscurity until it was rediscovered in the 2000’s. “My grandfather never saw the recipe come to fruition,” says O’Shevlin. So, he took it upon himself (and his bio-chemistry background) to give it a shot. After three years of research and development, he decided to move forward.
According to rule, a pot still Irish whiskey must be made from a minimum of 30% malted and a minimum of 30% unmalted barley, with up to 5% of other cereals added. This 5% leeway is where O’Shevlin found his ‘perfect’ mash. While talking about all things whiskey with a couple other distillers, he uttered a challenge to a friend. He dared his friend to make an Irish whiskey that didn’t taste like an Irish whiskey, but would still receive the IWA stamp. The friend shot back, triple dog daring O’Shevlin to do it as well.
A year later the friends met and compared their creations. O’Shevlin’s whiskey won and got the stamp.
O’Shevlin described his process as primarily lab driven. During our interview he repeated the important work he does in the lab to blend the perfect barrels for his whiskey. Triple Dog is not a sourced whiskey – O’Shevlin says he and his team have been distilling and blending their own barrels. Despite being new to the bottling process of whiskey, they are not strangers to producing whiskey. More on that later.
Gilliam stated, “they had a whiskey but how do we make it to market?” They chose to be a “disrupter” in the space. The bottle design is not standard for the industry. The bottle is black and red with silver lettering – you barely see any of the whiskey inside the bottle – and the neck has a dog collar with spikes. The logo reminds the viewer of Cerberus, the three headed watchdog of the underworld.
When compared to Tullamore Dew or Jameson, this bottle stands out.
O’Shevlin indicated being a disruptor in packaging wasn’t enough. He and Gilliam agreed this whiskey is designed for a new generation of drinkers. They didn’t want to create something consumers felt would be what their grandparents drank – they wanted to market in a way that captured the attention of new drinkers. Gilliam said, “we want to ensure people feel attached to the label and this whiskey is a generational passion to create something no one has ever seen before and something families can be proud of.”
Triple Dog Whiskey is $40 SRP, with an eye catching bottle design. It is a blend of 4 to 5-year whiskey. With a focus on nose and palate, the whiskey is designed to be an Irish whiskey without tasting like an Irish whiskey. Although this is their first year in distribution, Triple Dog has not been sleeping. This year they are releasing two new SKU’s which O’Shevlin says, “will really show off just how long we’ve been creating whiskey.”
I had a tremendous time discussing all things Triple Dog with the two. Before we ended the interview, Gilliam mentioned recently teaming up with global company Monin Syrups to create 12 recipes for cocktails involving Triple Dog whiskey. Monin crafted this relationship before the brand really existed. “They (Monin) really brought it into the space and came to them with dozens of cocktails.” Gilliam said, “cocktails designed to really show-off what they’re about while amplifying their creative side.”
Triple Dog is currently for sale in Texas and California, coming soon to Colorado and Michigan.
Tasting Notes: Triple Dog Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: aged at least five years in French oak casks. bottled at 40% ABV. SRP $39.99.
Color: Light honey, with medium legs.
Nose: Crème Brule and vanilla. The nose is light while remaining sweet – you are greeted with soft oaks and other casks but only momentarily. Overall, the nose stays light and inviting without overpowering the senses.
Taste: This does not taste like an Irish whiskey. The standard punch at the end and the almost tannic profile you commonly find is missing here. The profile is a little more robust compared to the nose. You will find the diverse oak profiles of the blended cask, as well as some white sugar. There is light caramel awash in spring flowers.
The finish brings out the wood and young leather, along with just a hint of the alcohol. It does an excellent job of holding on the breath while not generating burn or turning unpleasant.