“Today,” the press release tells me, “The Sexton® Single Malt Irish Whiskey launches in the United States”. It continues, “inspired by the long tradition of whiskey making on the North Coast of Ireland and consciously” – as opposed to unconsciously? – “aged for four years in former Sherry butts to achieve a depth of flavor from the wine-imbued barrel that surpasses its years.”
It’s distilled in County Antrim, which means what we have here is four year old Bushmills. The suggested retail price is $27.99 US dollars, which probably isn’t too shabby I guess. What’s that, £20? A budget whisky, but the writing in the press material is very much the kind of thing one would hear written about a “premium” bottle.
I should note that we received a bit of agro for our review of the distinctly dull The Quiet Man 12 Year Old, which was also Bushmills, for highlighting that it was in fact Bushmills. Apparently folk at Bushmills don’t like it when we highlight Bushmills being sold under other labels, like The Quiet Man and The Sexton, so I won’t at all mention then that this is another Bushmills. You won’t even see the word Bushmills in this review.
(To which I would advise, if you don’t want people to know this is Bushmills, don’t say on the label that it’s distilled in County Antrim.)
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey – Review
Colour: Russet. Indicates a decent maturation.
On the nose: uncomplex, unsophisticated, but pleasant enough. A bassline industrial note, engine oil, but on top of that is all the dried fruits one would expect from a decent sherry maturation. Raisins, sultanas. Cranberries and cherries perhaps, with warming ginger, cinnamon and Seville orange marmalade. Cloves towards the finish. Toasted notes, a little ground coffee.
In the mouth: Yes, plenty of dried fruits, tarter than expected; redcurrants, cranberries, sultanas, and it’s quite oily. Yet this is a dry, tannic, woody whisky, which is where it starts to unravel. It’s not that the flavours are lacking, which is where a whisky would score badly, but there’s an astringent, harsh and bitter note on the back-end that diminishes each consequent mouthful. Peppery, acidic (grapefruit, vinegar), cloves, tannins, there’s too much of this sort of thing that knocks it over. The oak is not subtle.
It’s fundamentally unbalanced, the blending isn’t there – there’s a harshness that nudges this into dubious territory. Not to say it’s a bad whisky (3/10 and below is that sort of territory) but given there’s a lot of these Irish whiskies of vague provenance that rely upon a story and branding, this one doesn’t quite cut the mustard. The sherry casks, I’d say, probably aren’t of great origins.
It’s $30 though, so we can’t be too harsh on this. Pitched as something more elegant than it’s not, it’s a rough and ready Irish whiskey that I’m sure could easily beef up a cocktail or two. The world still needs whiskies like that. It’s a nice enough dram for the price. And the bottle is pretty.
Not bad for a Bushmills. Not that this is a Bushmills.
Note: an entire bottle of this stuff was sent to Malt Towers – as you can see, such things don’t guarantee loveliness. We’re grateful, but must remain honest. That’s why you keep coming back, right?