Origin: Dublin (Ireland)
Type: Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: Yes
Owner: Beam Suntory
Average price: € 31.00
Official website: www.connemarawhiskey.com
Arguably the best-known of Irish whiskies, at least here in Italy, it was also the only one (at the time of its release) to be peated, along the lines of Islay’s Scottish cousins.
Cooley was born by the will of John Teeling (a name that should tell you something), who in order to fight the monopoly of the Irish Distillers, that at the time (we are talking about 1987) owned all the (few) distilleries in Ireland, decides to found its own.
It initially produced grain whiskey for blends and, two years later, added a pot still plant for distilling single malt.
As its products are successful, it expands production by acquiring the Kilbeggan distillery, and in 1999 launches Connemara, the first Irish peated whiskey, named after the homonymous (and magnificent) region of Ireland.
Business is doing so well that Cooley is being hoisted by the giant Beam Suntory, which in 2012 bought shacks and puppets for the considerable sum of $95 million, leaving Teeling the option to use a substantial portion of the barrels in stock.
Obviously, John didn’t sit on his hands, but this… well, it’s another story.
Cooley’s production is so large that its barrels often end up in the bottlings of emerging distilleries, which use them until their distillate is old enough to call itself whiskey.
Connemara is therefore a young but already very famous label, which, in addition to this version, offers a cask strength edition, a 12-year-old and a Distillers Edition.
Another peculiarity of this whiskey is the double distillation instead of the traditional Irish triple, which brings it even closer to Scotch.
On the nose, the peat is clearly the business card, with a vegetable soul associated to a light profile, with floral and fruity connotations (peach, apricot, pear), citrus veins (mandarins and lemon), honey and cereals. Cookie background. Simple but pleasant.
In the mouth, it turns out to be even lighter, with an initial domination of toasted peat that soon leaves room for sweetness of white sugar, ripe apple, peach, honey, vanilla. Slight bitter touch on the bottom, with a hint of pepper and anise. Still a lot of cereal, with impressions of dried fruits.
Not very long finish of ash, wood, dried fruit, burnt plastic.
Young and light, certainly too much for those accustomed to Scottish peat, perhaps better suited to those who prefer a softer and unpretentious approach, the eponymous of Irish whiskey.