I like whiskey, and I like rum — so it would make logical sense that a combination of these two spirits would be even more delicious, right? That’s the same logic that Tullamore Dew has used for their latest creation: a version of their Irish whiskey that has been finished in Caribbean rum casks for a little extra complexity and flavor.
The distillery in Tullamore, Ireland was established by Michael Molloy in 1829. It did well enough, and on Molloy’s death it passed to his nephew to continue running. That nephew hired a man named Daniel E. Williams as the general manager, and it was under Williams’ management that the distillery took off and became wildly profitable.
A number of factors weighed down the distillery over the years, though, from American prohibition to the trade wars that followed Irish independence. In 1954, the distillery was forced to close its doors for good but the trade name was sold to the Irish Distillers group, who had a distillery in Middleton, County Cork and they restarted production.
The name was then further sold to William Grant & Sons of the United Kingdom in 2010, who saw potential in the brand and decided to invest heavily in expanding and reinvigorating its operation. The very first thing they did was construct a brand new distillery in Tullamore which opened in 2014 and uses only pot stills to produce their spirits (trucking in column still produced grain spirits from the old Middleton distillery).
The name Tullamore Dew, more specifically denoted as Tullamore D.E.W., pays homage to Daniel E. Williams, the distillery manager who put their product on the map all those many years ago.
- Learn More: What Is Irish Whiskey?
Tullamore Dew is a rare breed in that it is a mixture of three types of whiskey.
The first is a traditional malt whiskey, which uses 100% malted barley that has been fermented and distilled three times.
The second source of spirits is “pot still whiskey” which, in this context, means a mixture of malted and unmalted barley that has been fermented and distilled three times.
The last source of alcohol is grain alcohol, which is spirits made from things other than malted barley (like corn or wheat).
For their standard product, all three methods are used and the end result is blended together before being matured in a series of casks including previously used bourbon barrels and previously used sherry casks. This specific version goes one step further by then placing the newly made whiskey into previously used Caribbean rum casks for a little bit of extra maturation and to pick up some of the flavors of the casks.
Once the whiskey has matured for an undisclosed period of time, it is bottled and shipped out the door.
I always appreciate the Tullamore packaging, as they manage to avoid my pet peeve of unnecessarily large labels. I can understand fancy artwork and historical nods, but there needs to be a valid reason for a large label. In this case, the label is confined to the top half of the bottle, leaving plenty of room for the whiskey within to be seen.
As for the bottle itself, there isn’t much spectacular about it. The body is roughly rectangular with a wide front and narrow sides, rounding nicely at the shoulder to a medium length neck. The bottle is capped off with a metal screw-on cap which, for some strange reason, is also protected by a foil wrapped.
Something a bit different here from the standard edition is that the color scheme is changed from the traditional green-and-gold to this tropical teal-ish blue. Not only does it make it easy to differentiate the sub-brands on the market, but it also just looks great.
There isn’t much indication on the label of where specifically in the Caribbean these rum casks came from, which makes it a bit difficult to nail down the specific components that are being added to the spirit here. On the aroma, the first impression I get is that of the typical marshmallow or raw sugar component that you see in a lot of rums, combined with some vanilla and baking spices probably from the Irish whiskey itself.
What’s interesting about the flavor of the spirit is that I think the rum and the Irish whiskey aren’t actually getting along — I think the host is rejecting the donor flavors. The combination of rum-like marshmallow and the floral Irish spirit components leads to something that is very close to, but not exactly like, bitterness. It feels like the flavors are fighting it out instead of complimenting each other, which is a bit of a disappointment.
As for the flavors themselves, up front I’m getting that same marshmallow sweetness followed by some floral blossoms and honey, and a bit of sourdough bread at the end. Those flavors all develop and increase in intensity until there’s an odd tingling on the lounge as the pitched battle for flavor supremacy is fought. It isn’t necessarily unpleasant, just a bit strange.
As you might expect (and as we’ve seen in other Tullamore unique barrel experiments), the barrel aging flavors pretty much drop out of the running once the ice gets added to the party. Those components just aren’t quite as well saturated as the other flavors in the spirit and tend to be flighty as a result, turning tail as soon as a little bit of adversity (i.e., ice) rears its ugly head. It makes these bottles interesting as sipping spirits, but not as great as you’d imagine for mixing.
Pretty much what we’ve got here is just the standard edition of Tullamore Dew, although with just a hint more sugary sweetness. It isn’t necessarily all that noticeable, but comparing the original and this version side by side there’s just a hint of brown sugar and marshmallow in here that makes it through despite the ice.
There are some flavor experiments that do very well and succeed. And there are some flavor experiments that I appreciate for the attempt but probably won’t try again. This is definitely the latter.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong here, it just isn’t the best drinking experience. I think the rum flavors are playing a little too aggressively with the Irish whiskey components and as a result the flavor is a bit unbalanced. It is still perfectly drinkable, but I would actually prefer the original over this version.
|Tullamore Dew Caribbean Rum Cask Finished Irish Whiskey|
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $27.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
An ongoing battle between the Irish whiskey and the rum aging components make this a bit unbalanced and less than ideal for sipping.