What we’re drinking: Keeper’s Heart Irish + Bourbon Whiskey
Where it’s from: The O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. in Minneapolis, where the liquid is overseen by Master Distiller Brian Nation (formerly of Jameson) in collaboration with David Perkins (founder of High West Distillery). Their initial releases under the Keeper’s Heart name are an attempt to combine Irish and American distilling traditions.
Why we’re drinking this: We went out to Minneapolis in 2021 to see why Nation — the man in charge of renowned Irish whiskeys such as Jameson, Redbreast, Powers and Midleton — would leave his home and a rather enviable job to move to Minnesota and head up a new distillery. At the time of our visit, O’Shaugnessy was just putting its own stock down and was using sourced whiskey to create its initial Keeper’s Heart release, a blend of four-year old pot still Irish whiskey, a four-year-old grain whiskey from Ireland and a four-year-old rye from America.
This time out, that rye has been substituted for bourbon.
“Our first blend was going to be an Irish blend plus bourbon, but we didn’t find a bourbon that suited what we wanted,” admits Nation. “And we also had to make sure the continuity of supply was there. From MGP we eventually found a four-year old bourbon we liked.” (That bourbon is a relatively high-rye bourbon, which adds a bit of spice and fruit.)
Nation admits that they wanted to make this blend bourbon-forward. “If we’re trying to attract bourbon drinkers to our whiskey, they’re loyal to that style. So I think we found one that has a pepperiness in the initial kick, plus the caramel and oak, but it’s enhanced by the herbal notes of the pot still, with a kick of butterscotch from the grain whiskey.”
How it tastes: Irish + Bourbon (46% ABV) is a blend of Irish pot still whiskey, smooth Irish grain whiskey and American bourbon.
Butterscotch and cereal notes dominate the nose, while a nice fruitiness (particularly orange) and some baking spices are present on the palate. Featuring a creamy mouthfeel, the finish is rather gentle. Overall, if you like bourbon and Irish whiskey, this is an ideal showcase for both styles. Wonderful neat but superbly suited for a Manhattan.
Fun fact: While they’re waiting for their own whiskey to mature, you can expect some interesting limited-edition Keeper’s Heart whiskeys to come out in the near future that have different barrel finishes, be it virgin oak or ex-wine, maple syrup or stout. They also have a limited-edition (sourced) 10-year Irish whiskey and possibly a 20-year release on the way.
Where to buy: You can find it online at ReserveBar for $54, and possibly for a little less at your local liquor store.
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