Surprisingly, there aren’t as many Irish distilleries out there as you’d probably assume — and there’s even fewer that are owned by actual Irish companies. To exactly that point, today we’re looking at one of the more famous examples of Irish whiskey… which just happens to be owned by an English company: Tullamore Dew.
The distillery in Tullamore, Ireland was established by Michael Molloy in 1829. It did well enough, and on Michael’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 his 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, and in 1954 the distillery was forced to close its doors for good. 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.
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 this 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.
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 wrapped.
And, naturally, the only colors used are the green and gold that people most associate with Ireland.
You can’t deny that the color of this whiskey is damn near perfect. It’s a beautiful golden color that’s visible in both the glass and the bottle, a lighter and more appealing color than you’d usually see with an American bourbon or a well-aged scotch.
This smells like a nice, mellow whiskey. There’s some notes of honey with a bit of a floral aspect, but there’s also something in there that smells like warm buttered scones. Really makes you think of a good Irish breakfast with good Irish butter. Just in the background are some baking spices — a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon — as well.
Taking a sip, there’s a surprising amount of fruit in here. I get some apricots, a bit of plum, and a dash of melon to go with the honey and buttered scones that we saw before. There’s also a little bit of toffee that’s present here and lingers into the aftertaste, adding some depth and weight to the flavors.
On the finish, though, there’s an unfortunate bit of bitterness that lingers after the spirit is gone. This is really the only derogatory thing about the spirit I can find. It isn’t significant, more of a background player than a major component, but still present.
I really think that ice just ruins Irish whiskey. The flavors in the typical Irish profile are sweeter and lighter than most whiskeys and, as a result, they just don’t stand up to the cold ice.
In this case, it holds up exactly as I expected — or, to be more precise: it doesn’t hold up well at all. The ice strips out pretty much everything that was interesting. All of the flavor from that triple distilled malt whiskey is gone, and what’s left is just the raw grain whiskey. It isn’t patently offensive… it just doesn’t bring anything to the party.
This isn’t blowing my socks off but, to be fair, I’ve had more patently offensive spirits in my lifetime. It isn’t a terrible option and it won’t break the bank… just don’t expect it to turn any heads either.
And definitely, no matter what you do, keep it away from ice. Otherwise you might as well just drink vodka.
|Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey|
Produced By: Tullamore DewOwned By: William Grant and Sons
Production Location: Ireland
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $23.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 3/5
A mediocre Irish whiskey at a mediocre price.