Whiskey Review: The Pogues Irish Whiskey

, | October 9, 2016

The Pogues Irish Whiskey

image via Whisky Kirk/The Whiskey Wash

Back when I was living in Seattle and regularly attended the annual summer musical event under the Space Needle called “Bumbershoot,” I had the opportunity to see The Pogues perform one year. It was a fantastic show. Even though the band didn’t play the main stage, their charisma, style, and charm came through in spades.

I could say the same about their whiskey. The blend is rather creative: 50% 10-year-old single malt Irish whiskey aged in sherry oak casks, along with seven-year-old Irish whiskey aged in bourbon oak casks; and 50% four-year-old Irish grain whiskey aged in bourbon oak casks.

West Cork distillers, the company that created The Pogues Irish Whiskey, is one of Ireland’s last independent distillers. In addition, West Cork is the only distillery in Ireland to malt its own barley. I really appreciate all of these things. Bravo!

It’s also worth mentioning that West Cork produces small batches from copper stills. The water used to make its whiskey is taken from springs, as well as the River IIen, which flows into the Celtic sea.

Tasting Notes:

Vital Stats: 40% ABV; 750ml; produced by West Cork Distillers; blended single malts and grain whiskey, price range: $30-$55 depending on where purchased.

Color: Russet gold

Nose: Treacle tart with clotted cream; Bazooka Joe bubble gum; clover honey, artificial banana, and toasted barley, along with a brush of vanilla cake icing. I’m reminded an eensy-weensy bit of the 1997 Exclusive Malts Ben Nevis 17-Year-Old.

Palate: A rather thin mouth feel gives way to caramel sauce; saccharin; French toast; raw hazelnuts; cloves; lemon pith.

Finish: Short and not so sweet. Unfortunately, the finish is the weakest link in the chain. Saccharin and lemon pith linger on the tongue.

Applications: On ice (hold the water); cocktails; Irish coffee. Yes, I think it’s worth trying The Pogues poured on ice, first, before any soda water is added. Give it a shot (literally and figuratively). The whiskey perks up nicely when chilled, and is actually quite drinkable.

The nose on this whiskey is better than the palate, and its finish comes in a distant third. Although I wouldn’t personally choose to drink The Pogues neat, it is still quite good in various other applications. When served on the rocks, or in a cocktail, the bitter finish smooths out, and it can actually become an asset in terms of offering a tartness that is desirable. This becomes especially apparent with sweeter ingredients, such as lemonade, sugary sodas, cream, juices, sweet vermouth, eggnog, vanilla, and flavored syrups.

As a chameleon of sorts, The Pogues can be used to advantage in drinks that specify blended Scotch, Irish whiskey, and even bourbon–with the exception of cocktails that are quintessentially Southern, such as a Mint Julep.

Final Thoughts

The Pogues Irish Whiskey is a natural Halloween gift for the man or woman who is familiar with the rustic Irish rock band, and also appreciates a pretty darned good Irish whiskey blend. I would say that, unless you are going to a party with whiskey snobs, the matte black bottle with crisp white lettering could be a huge hit, thus officially making you a “rock star” . . . .at least for a minute or two, as people see what you’ve brought.

Most folks who are familiar with The Pogues know that the band’s music and image go hand-in-hand with drinking nostalgia from the 80’s and 90’s. As far as I’m concerned, the band still sounds great, even though Shane McGowan now sports a movie star smile (thanks to a full set of dentures), and more than one member of the band is sober. Yes, I’m afraid that includes good ole’ Shane, who has not tasted the band’s namesake whiskey, so far as I know.

In regard to using this Irish whiskey blend in various applications, so far I’ve tried an Irish coffee made with Stumptown house blend that knocked my socks off. I also concocted a “Blarney Stone” for my girlfriend last week. The cocktail was made with two ounces of The Pogues, one ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (from about two limes), and some chilled ginger beer. Everything was then garnished with a twist of lime, and served in a highball glass. Approval rating: “10.” She loved it!

After I made myself a Blarney Stone, my gal and I sat together, sipping our cocktails, while we surfed on Youtube for our favorite old videos featuring . . . you guessed it: The Pogues. Her top vid ended up being “Fairytale of New York” (even though I lived in Manhattan for ten years, and she’s never even visited). My favorite was “Dirty Old Town,” but I should offer a caveat: this choice is subject to change, since I like so many songs by The Pogues.


User Review
2.44 (16 votes)


Whisky Kirk

Kirk discovered the brilliance of Scottish whisky in 1987 while vacationing in Edinburgh. Over the course of three and a half decades that followed, he's built upon a knowledge of distilleries and the industry, as well as world whisky. Kirk prides himself on speaking honestly while avoiding the usual flattery...