It’s always interesting when I run across a relatively unknown whiskey. It isn’t surprising — Irish whiskey isn’t my specialty, and there’s a good number of them — but when the internet is similarly devoid of information about a bottle… well, I love a good mystery. So today I’m taking a deeper look at Kavanagh Irish Whiskey to find out whether this is a hidden gem… or overlooked for good reason.
There really isn’t much history here, unfortunately. As far as we can find, Kavanagh is a brand of imported Irish whiskey marketed by Saranty Imports of White Plains, New York. The whiskey seems to be a “house brand” for distribution at Total Wine stores.
Did I say “not much” history? Sorry, I meant absolutely no history. Because, as far as our sleuthing can tell, that’s all the story that’s fit to print. There’s no storied (or even unique) history here. But maybe quality and product will make up for that…
This is marketed as a “selection of the finest Irish whiskeys” — which means that there is pretty much no way of knowing what is in the bottle. Irish whiskey is typically made from malted barley that is fermented and distilled three times in a copper pot still. But what specific distilleries, grains, or processes used here are not disclosed; this is likely blended to the point of where it barely makes a difference.
All we really know about the contents of this bottle are that it contains some alcohol, it’s brown, and it comes from Ireland.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present quite possibly the most boring bottle design in the world.
Just printing some stuff on a bottle doesn’t make it interesting. Bottles that barely have a label are more interesting than this (often going for and achieving a minimalist aesthetic). In this case, the label looks cluttered — there’s too much design and print for it to convey such little content, and it covers a significant portion of the bottle for no good reason.
Speaking of the bottle, the bottle design in and of itself is… underwhelming. It’s just a wine bottle with a screw-on top, really. Nothing novel, or interesting, or appealing.
It seems like this whiskey is really relying on its stylized nothingburger of a label and low price point to make its sales.
The first thing I get coming off the glass is industrial alcohol, like nail polish remover. Once the initial hit has worn off, there’s some detail in the background that comes into focus, specifically some sweet honey mixed with a touch of vanilla. The problem here is that the initial industrial alcohol note never fully disappears and continues to linger, tinting everything else we see.
Fortunately the flavor is much better than the aroma. I think it can best be described as warm buttered sourdough bread, with a delicious malty flavor combined with some sweetness and buttery aspects to make something that’s actually downright enjoyable. On the edges, I get a little bit of nutmeg as well for some added texture.
The good news is that the industrial alcohol aroma is no longer present, completely removed thanks to the added ice. What I get in the aroma at this point is more honey and lemon, which I couldn’t see at first with the other flavors covering it up. Occasionally, ice does more good than harm — and this is definitely one of those rare examples.
As for the taste, what’s left is just a pretty bog standard malty spirit. It’s like a soggy sourdough bread with a touch of honey and not much depth or complexity to it. It’ll have an intoxicating effect and doesn’t taste terrible, but otherwise there really isn’t anything to recommend it.
There are some really good Irish spirits out there… this isn’t a good example. What we have here is something mass produced to meet the commercial demands of the market, but which doesn’t provide all that much flavor or differentiation between itself and its more famous competitors to make it worthwhile.
|Kavanagh Irish Whiskey|
Produced By: KavanaghProduction Location: Ireland
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $17.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 2/5
Spend a couple extra bucks and get something really good.