GSN Review: Concannon Irish Whiskey

I love a good story.  I also love ingenuity.  The latest spirit to cross the GSN desk has a bit of both.

It all began on St. Patrick’s Day in 1847 when an Irishman by the name of James Concannon was born in the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland.  When he was 18 he sailed to the Northeastern shores of the United States and spent the next nine years making his way to California.  Rather than setting up a whiskey distillery, James was interested in viticulture and decided to plant a vineyard in the Livermore Valley specializing in Bordeaux grapes.  He was successful as a vintner, enough so that about 75 years later, his descendants began growing the very first Petit Sirah grapes in America.  It is from these grapes that Concannon Irish Whiskey shares its Irish-American heritage.

The well-known Cooley distillery in Ireland (Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara & The Tyrconnell), creates the whiskey from a blend of malt and grain whiskies; then ages it in ex-Bourbon casks along with used Concannon Petit Sirah barrels.  It is this unique and ingenious mix of smoky and sweet flavors that give Concannon it’s one of a kind taste.

Concannon Irish Whiskey (80 proof)

Visual: Pale golden wheat.
Nose: An unusual blend of lightly toasted malt and white grapes.
Taste: Sweet and fruity with spice and some deep notes not usually found in an Irish.  An almost earthy quality that transcends the typical barley essence and has a lot of the vineyard character going for it.  A medium bodied mouthfeel which has an elegance similar to a dessert wine.
Finish: Quite long with a semi-dry wine character.  Additional spices meander out along with a final note of ice wine-like brightness at the very end.
Overall: An interesting experiment which will not be to everyone’s liking.  It is to mine, however.  I like the additional depth of flavor that the wine cask adds.  I’d be interested to taste this in an aging older than four years.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Concannon

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