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Friday, June 17, 2022

Waterford Bannow Island 1.1 Irish Single Malt

I'm finishing up this Waterford Week with Bannow Island 1.1. Yep, it's 3 years old. Yep, there are a bunch of casks involved. To that point, perhaps drinkers need to be careful before we say, "I can't wait until it's older!" At some moment in time those casks are going to topple the spirit. Excellent blending may be able to fashion something interesting from that mix for a couple years, though one can kiss any "Irish" elements goodbye. After that, it's just another over-oaked thing on the market. A balance will need to be established, and I'm hoping this 3-4 year old range is not the peak.

Anyhoo, Bannow Island appears to be "Bannow Peninsula" on Google Maps because the channel that separated the island from the mainland was silted up in the 14th century, per Wikipedia. Internet research! This release's Overture barley comes from Ed Harpur's farm.

Distillery: Waterford
Owner: Renegade Spirits
Region: Waterford, Ireland
Type: Single Malt
Barley strain: Overture
Age: 3 years old (2016-2020)
Maturation: 35% first-fill Jack Daniels, 20% new American oak, 25% French oak, 20% Oloroso casks
Outturn: 8616 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
e150a? No
(from a bottle split)


Of this week's five Waterfords, this one's nose is the closest to the earth. It starts with barley grist, corn meal, baker's yeast, roses and citrons. Subtler notes of chocolate malt and orange blossoms arise after some time. The salty and slightly bitter palate has toasty grains, tobacco and orange blossoms, with a lime juice note appearing later. It finishes with the grains, sunflower butter and grapefruit.

DILUTED to ~43%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whiskey

The nose feels a bit emptied out. Barley, blackberry jam and roses are all that remain. The diluted palate actually reads hotter and rawer than the neat one. Barley and pencil graphite up front, hints of limes and roses in the background. The finish has also faded, with hushed notes of barley and bitterness.


For a few moments this Waterford was my favorite of the bunch, especially on the nose. But it turned brittle in less than 20 minutes, and water seemed to strip it further. Will time help it? And what is that magical peak time? One doesn't want the new oak to overcome the great early nose, nor any aggressive sherry wood to wipe it out entirely.

In two years, these Waterford whiskies will turn eight years old, depending on what remains. If their pretty blue bottles don't have a giggle-inducing price, perhaps I'll give one or two a try. But not before then.

Availability - getting scarce in Europe
Pricing - $60-$120 (w/VAT, w/o shipping)
Rating - 78, but drink it quickly and keep it neat