With the news that the Irish Whiskey Association is inviting proposed amendments to the Irish Whiskey Technical File from its members, the past and future of Pot Still Irish Whiskey is firmly in the minds of Irish Whiskey enthusiasts once again, if it ever left.
The perennial thorn in the side of the Pot Still Punctuators (referred to as the PSP’s from here on out) is that the current technical file only allows for 5% other grains (Rye, Oats, wheat etc) along with the usual malted and un-malted barley 30% minimums each. The PSP’s have been shouting, in some cases literally, that the current file limits the opportunity for re-invention of the Pot Still category or more accurately re-introduction of historical mash-bills with room for experimentation for new ones. Anyone who has read into this in even the most minute detail will see that the PSP’s most certainly have a point. However, in the context of this review all of the above is irrelevant given that the Dingle Single Pot Still releases are made from the modern malted and un-malted barley mash bill, no other grains in sight.
With the ringing in of the New Year firmly in the rear-view and an air of relief prevalent with so many of us glad to see 2020 come to an end, I’ve decided to deliver some content in a more reflective mood. I find myself contemplating the many highs and lows of what was an incredibly uncertain year in our household but came to close on a rather more positive crescendo. One of the highs of the year was certainly being invited to write for Malt and even more delighting was the general response to my writings. But with a solid reception comes a certain level of responsibility to maintain the momentum and for that, I needed to get my hands on more whiskey. And I did just that with help of Talk Dram Tastings. True champions in the eyes of the Irish Whiskey community in Ireland, Ivor Deane and Omar Fitzell created a platform that delivered whiskey into your home and an opportunity to engage and converse with other Irish consumers, distillers, blenders and brand ambassadors while enjoying the chosen drams from the featured distillery on the night. In a world full of prolonged lockdowns this community engagement became the highlight of the lucky chosen tasters’ month, myself included.
One such Tasting was to celebrate the launch of the Fourth Dingle Single Pot Still releases hosted by Talk Dram with Dingle Master Distiller Graham Coull on hand to answer any and all questions on the products. As with many of the Talk Dram events the chosen tasters had the opportunity to taste the unreleased component whiskeys as well as the actual releases. The night was enjoyable, jesting and jeering galore with plenty of insight into the current goings-on at Dingle Distillery and thankfully for me, sample sizes that afforded me the opportunity to taste these whiskeys again when the present reflective disposition arose.
Dingle Single Pot Still has appeared previously on Malt when Phil & JJ both gave their thoughts on the 1st Release, a reservedly lukewarm affair. Although both Phil and Mark have previously awarded well-deserved 6’s to Single Malt expressions from Dingle.
In honesty, I have tried almost every release from the Dingle Distillery thus far and have never been overly impressed, I like that interested consumers are getting an opportunity to see how their spirit is progressing but have found most releases to be too youthful and unbalanced to justify their retail prices. Although with Graham Coull now at the helm of the distillery I now find myself hoping to try the 3 or 4 year old Dingle Whiskeys which he is now distilling when they come of age to see just how significant an impact he may make on the spirit produced.
So with 8000 bottles of the 46.5%abv standard edition at €95 released and readily available via Master of Malt for £81.44, The Whisky Exchange for £74.95, or Shared Pour has it for $99.99. With just 500 bottles of the 59.9% cask strength edition, which sold out immediately, here we go with the Dingle Fourth Single Pot Still releases. The standard release is made up of 73% ex-bourbon matured and 27% ex-oloroso sherry matured pot still whiskeys, I’m guessing the Cask strength is from the same batting.
Dingle Fourth Single Pot Still Release – review
Bottled at 46.5%abv.
Colour: Somewhere between straw and amber, vibrant.
On the nose: There’s no doubt it’s youthful, spirituous yet distinctly pot still, those pot still spice notes I’ve alluded to before are there. It’s got orchards fruits present but not bursting, there’s distinct baked apple pie with a dusting of nutmeg and a clear strawberry & cream boiled sweet note.
In the mouth: Dusty wood notes to the fore, warming pencil shavings and a touch of cedarwood smoke. Strawberries and vanilla shine with a clear green barley grain driven note throughout. It stays quite dry with roasted nuts, almost popcorn kernels that didn’t pop. It finishes with white chocolate and clean spirituous youth.
Dingle Fourth Single Pot Still Release Cask Strength Edition – review
Bottled at 59.9% abv.
Colour: Same as above.
On the nose: The sugars are amplified initially giving vanilla pod and torched crème brulee. The orchard fruits become much more distinct with pears, green apple skins and a flat 7Up note, lemon & lime for those not familiar with 7Up. Rounded out with a touch of spicy chili-chocolate. The youth isn’t as apparent at all.
In the mouth: Berry compote with marzipan, sultanas and a touch of fig, the sherry component seems amplified here. The warm apple pie notes still cling to the palate with less of the dusty wood and more of the cupboard full of spices. Chocolate and a touch of orange blossom round out the palate. It’s quite aromatic on the palate and mellows with added water.
Overall, I found myself pleasantly surprised by both releases which concurs with my initial thoughts on the night of the Talk Dram event. With what I regard as Mr Coull’s ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card in hand, given that he didn’t distil any of this spirit, I was fully prepared for another lacklustre affair but it seems that as the Dingle spirit continues to mature, it in fact ‘continues to mature’.
The standard 46.5% abv release does have the evidence of youth but it is well rounded and showcases both component casks, there’s a slight hint of aggression that is aided by a drop of water which makes me think this may have benefitted from bottling at a slightly lower abv. But then that notion is completely thrown out as the 59.9% cask strength edition is amplified, more complex, less youthful and offers an overall interesting tasting experience but there’s no hiding from the €200 price tag.
I’d like to see more cask strength single pot still releases of this quality enter the Irish Whiskey category especially from the smaller producers, and by the sounds of the PSP’s I’m sure we will see more. I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr Coull continues to release from the maturing stocks in Dingle, although I do hope I’ll be able to afford them.
Images were taken from Dingle Socials and Press pack. Samples provided Free of Charge via Talk Dram Tastings.
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