Edit: before you read this review, read this expose on Hyde whisky.
I’m a simple creature, so already I’m a bit confused by the provenance of some of the newer Irish whiskies. A little while ago I reviewed a Teeling Single Malt, which was splendid – although there was some question over whose whiskey was in the bottle. Someone online suggested Bushmills supplied the stocks (because the Teeling distillery was too young to have made it). Fair enough, I guess. The whiskey was nice though.
And take this new Hyde 10 Year Old Single Malt, from Hibernia Distillers. Hibernia is very new (its website is still under construction). The marketing material that came with the Hyde whisky talked about a 100% malted Irish barley whiskey “from a single distillery”, just not the freshly minted Hibernia. According to some sources the 10 year-old whiskey for Hyde in fact comes from the Cooley distillery.
Confused? Keep up.
Anyway, Hibernia Distillers is based in Skibereen, West Cork. As a new operation, there’s not a huge amount of information that’s available on them, and it’ll be a few years yet until their own spirit hits the market. So for now – as with other new Irish distilleries – they’ll be selling whiskey that was made elsewhere under their own or another brand name. In this case it’s Hyde, which is the surname of the two directors of the company, Conor and Alan Hyde.
The Hyde 10 Year Old “No. 1 Presidents Cask” is limited edition single malt Irish whiskey of just 5,000 bottles. It’s bottled in honour of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. The whiskey was initially matured in bourbon barrels before being finished in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration.
Colour: oloroso sherry. On the nose: first impressions: very sherried, and packs quite a punch. There’s a plume of sugar that seems to shoot up from the glass. Tinned fruit in syrup. Apricots, peaches. Figs. Plum jam. Every time I think I can sense some maltiness there, another wave of sweet fruits elbows it out the way. Custard creams. Honey.
In the mouth: oodles of caramel on an exceptionally velvety delivery. A lot of honey, stewed fruits, with warm cream. Tons of vanilla. That maltiness I was seeking on the nose finally shows through in digestive biscuits and malted milks. The finish is very long and warming, with peppers and tabasco.
The oloroso effect is plain to see. Perhaps it’s just a fraction too sweet for my tastes, to the expense of other flavours. But it’s a little innocent and cheeky. Cheerful, even. I suspect newcomers or those who appreciate sherry bombs and are looking for something a bit different may find something to enjoy here.
You can pick a bottle of this up for around £50, which seems reasonable enough a price to me.