We’ve reviewed Tullamore Dew in the past and, while it didn’t exactly knock our socks off, it did seem like a good base whiskey that provides some interesting opportunities for experimentation. Now, we’re looking at a couple of those experiments — and first on the list is this cider cask finished edition.
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 cider 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 actually quite like this bottle.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when the label of a whiskey takes up nearly all the real estate on the surface without a good reason. I can understand fancy artwork and historical nods, but if it’s just a big white label… I am unimpressed. 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 wrapper.
Something a bit different here from the standard edition is that the color scheme is changed from the traditional green-and-gold to this red-and-gold combination. Not only does it make it easy to differentiate the sub-brands on the market, but it also just looks great in my opinion.
Pouring a bit in the glass, you can immediately tell that there are some apple cider influences going on here — those sweet apple notes waft easily and make themselves known early. Taking a bigger sniff directly from the glass, there’s also some flower blossoms, honey sweetness, and a bit of sourdough bread or oatmeal from the barley content.
As much as the apple component was present in the aroma, it is even more prominent in the flavor. That apple is the first flavor that comes across, supported quickly by some vanilla, honey, and oatmeal for a bit of texture and richness. As the flavor develops, there are some baking spices that start to creep in as well — but they never really get to a level of saturation that would make them really “pop” like you see in a rye or a bourbon. On the finish, there’s more of that apple flavor, a dash of baking spices, and some vanilla flavor that all mingle together.
The problem with many examples of cask finishing is that the flavors imparted into the whiskey don’t really stand up to the added ice. Those flavors turn and run at the first sign of dilution because those flavors just aren’t as well saturated in the spirit as everything else. And this, unfortunately, is no different.
At this point, the whiskey is back to being the same basic flavor profile that you get with the standard edition of Tullamore Dew. It’s fine and is still delicious to drink, but there’s nothing extra from the apple cider casks added here. You may as well have bought the standard edition at this point.
This is a whiskey in which the cask finishing process does indeed add something unique and interesting to the final product, even if that quality is rather fragile. There are some good apple cider and baking spice flavors and qualities that get added to the mix when taken neat, and these do add some enjoyment and some complexity to the flavor. I just wish that these flavors were a bit more “punched in” so that they would stick around when the ice gets added to the spirit.
|Tullamore Dew Cider Cask Finished Irish Whiskey|
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $26.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A lovely Irish whiskey with some apple cider goodness.