Whiskey Reviews: Peaky Blinder, J. & J. McConnell’s Irish Whiskeys

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by their respective brands through a shared PR agency. 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 links throughout this article our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

In this round up, we take a look at two different styles and brands of Irish whiskey. The first is J. & J. McConnell’s Irish Whiskey, which hasn’t been on American soil since before Prohibition. Founded in 1776 by the brothers John and James McConnell, the McConnell brand is touted as the oldest Irish whiskey brand. Unfortunately, the distillery shuttered its doors in 1958; however, now it has been awakened from its slumber. 

2020 marks the year of a comeback for the McConnell brand, and this particular release has packaging that features “a bottle shape that was inspired by a pill capsule, which harks back to the original label which had 3 references from doctors who recommended the whisky and used to prescribe it for medicinal purposes. The label is the signature green and has a handsome metal plaque that reads ‘J.J. McConnell’s, Estd Belfast 1776, Northern Ireland.'” 

J. & J. McConnell’s Irish Whiskey is distilled at the Belfast Distillery in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

The second whiskey comes from Sadler’s Brewing Co. They have a line of ales and hard spirits dedicated to the criminal gang, the Peaky Blinders. The gang got the name Peaky Blinders because they’d sew a razor blade to the peak of their scally caps. Sadler’s has been around since the late 1800s in England, and Billy Kimper, the most famous Irish gang leader, was a relative of the Sadlers. He would frequent the pubs to drink the Sadler ale, so it’s quite fitting to have a callback to Kimper

Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey is produced by Sadler’s in Lye, West Midlands, and was aged in ex-sherry casks after being triple distilled. As a side note, if you are a bit confused as how to an Irish whiskey ended up in England, there’s a good explanation to how this happened here.

McConnell’s Irish Whisky

McConnell’s Irish Whisky (image via Conecuh Brands)

Tasting Notes: J. & J. McConnell’s Irish Whiskey

Vital Stats: 42% ABV. Irish whiskey made up of 70% neutral grain and 30% malted barley. 700ml ~$33.

Appearance: Bombshell blonde/pale straw.

Nose: The nose is incredibly bright with citrus and malted cereal grain. The dram has an easy going vanilla wafting in and out. 

Palate: It very malty like a sweet bread or ale. Orange segment pops through with a faint hint of smokiness. Other than that, it’s very light and mild. 

Final Thoughts: I feel bad that I can’t give more details in the palate notes, but the McConnell’s Irish Whisky is just bland. It’s not bad, but it’s not the best Irish whiskey I’ve had. I have neutral feelings about it, and can go as far to call it “meh.” 

Score: 3/5

Tasting Notes: Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey

Vital Stats: 40% ABV. Triple distilled Irish whiskey. 700ml ~$20.

Appearance: Medium amber/pale ale. 

Nose: The nose is off-putting. I’m not going to lie, but the whiskey comes off musky like a boxer’s leather gloves. There is a mixture of old oranges and whitedog (distilled from barley of course).  

Palate: The mouthfeel though is soft and creamy, which is the best part of the whiskey. Malted cereal grain and watered down acetone mingle together. There isn’t much sweetness, however, the teensiest amount of orange segment and vanilla peek. 

Final Thoughts: It feels like Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey is just neutral grain spirit with caramel coloring, though I have no way to know this for sure. I gagged. It does burn a bit going down. 

Score: 2/5


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