Whisky Review: McConnell’s Irish Whisky Oloroso Sherry Cask

, | September 4, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by McConnell’s Irish Whisky. 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 towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Irish whisky, without the “e” on purpose. The journey of McConnell’s Irish Whisky begins in 1776, and has experienced no shortage of history in that time. In 1909 the main distillery in Belfast, Ireland, caught fire and all but destroyed the distillery overnight. Over 500,000 gallons of McConnell’s whisky burned, and after nearly 130 years of operation McConnell’s distillery was in ruin. However, it would take American intervention to formally end McConnell’s Irish Whisky with the passage of Prohibition in 1919.

McConnell’s Irish Whisky would be resurrected nearly a century later by Conecuh Brands. Conecuh and Great Northern Distillery have brought this whisky back while the new distillery is being reconstructed in nearly the same location as the original distillery. Together the companies have brought to market a five-year Irish Whisky designed to mimic the original recipe.

In a press release, Jon Dubin is quoted as saying “with the growth of McConnell’s Irish Whisky in the U.S., we will continue to satisfy consumer demand for innovation. This Sherry Cask finished McConnell’s is an exceptional representation of the high-quality Irish whisky we are producing and the first in several innovations planned for the brand.”

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This whisky is first aged in select bourbon barrels before being finished in Oloroso sherry casks. Many casual drinkers are familiar with Oloroso sherry finishes. Oloroso sherry is an excellent finishing cask, as the sherry is known for its depth of fragrance and flavors of dried fruit, leather, and polished wood.

This offering also carries the five-year age statement, although I am uncertain for how long the whisky ages in the sherry casks before being bottled. At 46% and non-chill filtered, the official tasting notes of this whisky include dried fig, Christmas spices of nutmeg and cinnamon, and tastes of Demerara sugar, raspberry and dark chocolate, all finished with lingering oak and subtle clove. It sounds equal parts winter dessert and whisky.

Mcconnell's Sherry Cask Finish review

Mcconnell’s Sherry Cask Finish (image via McConnell’s Irish Whisky)

Tasting Notes: McConnell’s Irish Whisky Aged in Oloroso sherry casks

Vital Stats: Five years old, finished in Oloroso sherry casks, MSRP $42.99

Appearance: Amber with slow thin legs.

Nose: A sherry bomb with whiffs of a fresh cinnamon roll. Some baking spices and cigar tobacco round out the nose.

Palate: The whisky overall is very light and watery. It tastes of cigar tobacco, red apples, and some dark sugar. Towards the finish you get notes of complex sherry and old leather. It disappears over the tongue and doesn’t really offer much in the way of staying power.

2.5

Summary

The reason you re-use bourbon barrels is the sweetness of bourbon that gets locked into the wood complements the flavor of Irish whiskey and Scotch. However, because of climate differences, you need to age the whiskey in reused barrels a lot longer. At five years there just hasn’t been enough time to really mature this whisky fully. It’s hard to dissect much of the flavor as this is simply too light.

This is a fine whisky to sip after a hot day with a light cigar, as it’s an easy whisky to drink. There just is not much going on.

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Charles Steele

Charles Steele is a Portland area attorney, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His legal education affords him an analytical approach to understanding whiskey and other aged spirits. Traditionally a legal writer, freelancing for The Whiskey Wash will prove a unique opportunity to flex his writing skills. Although he...