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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Connacht Single Malt Batch 1

I visited the Connacht distillery in Ballina a few years ago – before the plague landed – and loved everything about the visit. The guide was very knowledgeable and as the tour took place at something like lunchtime on a wet Thursday, the tour party was just me and one other. The tour guide deserves extra kudos for her patience, answering a thousand questions.

At that time, the whiskey was being distilled and maturing. The range for sale was sourced; including a very interesting Ireland-American combination. The distillery team were excited about the whiskey they were producing and were very much looking forward to releasing it.

There are many challenges involved in setting up a distillery. Apart from the costs and the physical installations, there’s challenges in sourcing barrels and grain, getting the right people and the right brand. And that’s before the decision is made on whether to source whiskey and release it, or wait until your own liquid is ready. The former dilutes the brand; the latter requires significant working capital funding.

In either case, a first release from an actual still should be applauded and enjoyed.

This release is the first release from the stills in Ballina. According to the blurb, this whiskey is aged for four years, double distilled and aged in ex-bourbon casks before being finished in Jerez casks. This release is generously released at 47%ABV.

On the nose, the deeper sweetness is evident at first. This gives way – quite quickly – to fresh fruits with wood following. It’s a young whiskey and those fresh fruits are likewise green and energetic.

The taste is spirit-forward, unsurprising giving the ageing of the spirit and the ABV. However, once I look past that initial impression, there’s more to unpick. The sweetness on the nose isn’t as apparent and a little more of the fruit comes forward. There is, absolutely, a robust finish, which somewhat takes away from some of the subtle flavours that are developing. A light element of wood dries the palatte a touch at the end.

There’s really something in this release, but it may have been released just a touch early. Another year, maybe two, will help those deeper flavours develop and the spirit fade a touch. I think this is a distillery to watch, and I’ll certainly be picking up later releases – particularly if a little extra time is granted to let the whiskey age a touch. I’m looking forward to future batches.

This bottle retails at €65 and is worth considering to enjoy the journey this distillery will take.

Review rating (Nigel) – 5.5

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