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Thursday, March 21, 2013

NOT Single Malt Report: Greenore 10 year old (cask #87, Belgium release) Irish Single Grain Whiskey

Let's keep the Irish whiskey flowing.

From whiskysamples, I was able to get my mittens on a 30mL dram of this enjoyable curio: Greenore 10 year old Irish single grain whiskey.  It's a single cask (#87) cask strength (52.9% ABV) whiskey released in Belgium two years ago.

Distilled at Cooley Distillery, Greenore is currently the only Irish single grain whiskey on the market.  The mash bill is almost entirely corn with a tiny bit of malted barley thrown in for the enzymes needed for sugar conversion before the Coffey still distillation begins.  They age Greenore in first-fill bourbon barrels, which not only makes sense in theory, but also in practice since its soft sweet character would be demolished by wine casks.

The Greenore brand is named after a long silenced (possibly before Alfred Barnard toured the area in the 1880s) Irish distillery of that same name.  Cooley regularly releases an 8 year and 18 year old Greenore, though the 18 is limited to 4000 bottles per batch.  There used to be a 15 year old limited release that had been well received, and it appears as if the 18 has now replaced it.  There's a 6 year old Greenore in Sweden and a 19 year cask strengther released only at duty free in Dublin Airport (about 300 bottles worth).  Milroy's of Soho put out a 16 year old single cask (#12441) a few years back as well.  And then there's this one:

Brand: Greenore
Style: Single Grain Whiskey
Distillery: Cooley (owned by Beam Inc.)
Country: Ireland
Age: 10 years (Sept 2000 - March 2011)
Mashbill: Mostly corn (maize) with a little malted barley
Maturation: first fill ex-bourbon barrel
Cask: 87
Alcohol by Volume: 52.9%
Limited Release: Belgium

As you can see from the above pic of the sample (not the bottle pic), the color is a very light amber.  The nose is soft as cotton.  Takes a few moments before it awakens.  First, there's pound cake, then caramel sauce.  Bubble Tape bubblegum and a little bit of barrel char comes next.  There is a weird boiled cabbage / brussels sprouts note that forms after a half hour, but it stays in the background.  Throughout though, current-day Frosted Flakes stays in the fore.  There's, of course, a lot of corn in the palate, in corn syrup and popcorn form.  Then there's Cool Whip on vanilla ice cream and confectioner's sugar.  The higher ABV which didn't show in the nose, stays reserved on the tongue but does seem to pick up strength with time.  And though the palate really isn't as insanely sweet as these notes all read, it does get more sugary with oxidation.  The Bubble Tape note comes back in the finish, as does the vanilla ice cream though this time it is topped with Rolos candies.

Wow, reading over these notes on the morning after the tasting, I'm suddenly realizing how many big brand names I've cited as sensory references.  Bubble Tape, Frosted Flakes, Cool Whip, and Rolos.  Clearly this whiskey is a sweetie, but the characteristics were very specific.  I guess one could also note that those four common sweets are all loaded with corn syrup......*lightbulb*......and Greenore is corn whiskey.

It's not as sweet as American corn whiskey.  And it's much quieter and subtler than straight bourbon.  Plus the cask strength ABV is hushed.  It's a very easy drinker, not much going on with it at first, though with some time it does brighten up.  If any of y'all have tried the regular Greenores please let me know what you think of them!

Availability - Belgium only, though samples are available here
Pricing - $60-$70 (without shipping)
Rating - 81