What we’re drinking: West Cork IPA Cask and Stout Cask-finished blended Irish whiskey
Where it’s from: West Cork Distillers, founded in 2003 in the town of Skibbereen, prides itself on being 100% Irish-owned (and the largest wholly Irish-owned distillery at that) and using only local Irish ingredients. They also produce and release the Pogues-branded Irish whiskey (note: West Cork and The Pogues made our Best Irish Whiskeys of 2021 list).
Why we’re drinking this: The distillers at West Cork are experimenters of the best kind. They produce a wide and really diverse range, including a Bourbon Cask, Peat Charred Cask, Calvados Cask Finish, Bog Oak Charred, 8-Year Single Malt, a Rye and more.
And even West Cork’s limited-edition offerings, like the current IPA and Stout Cask releases, are eminently affordable ($32-ish).
Plus, if you’re going to be drinking beer and sipping whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day, we can’t think of a better way to do that than with an Irish whiskey that’s been finished in different beer barrels.
How it tastes:
West Cork IPA Cask Finished — A 75:25 blend of Irish wheat and malted Irish barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in first-fill bourbon casks for four years. The malt and grain components are then blended and aged for an additional six months in casks that held Irish craft brewer Blacks of Kinsale’s IPA beer.
Sweet citrus and just a bit hoppy on the nose, raisin, toffee and malt on the palette and a creamy, fruity finish. Strangely, I found this release more akin to a dessert wine or a liqueur.
West Cork Stout Cask — A blend of grain (75%) and malt (25%) whiskey aged in first-fill bourbon casks and then finished in casks for six months that had held Black’s of Kinsale Stout.
Here, we have dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla and dried fruit notes dominating; it also has a bit more of a spicy kick than the IPA.
These aren’t overpowering whiskeys; they would pair nicely with your preferred beer style, either for sipping, elevated shots or in a cocktail (maybe an Irish coffee?)
Fun fact: The distillery is a former fish processing plant where the three founders once worked during school vacations.
Where to buy it: Only 9,400 bottles of each of these West Cork expressions have been made, so act quick. We’d suggest checking out Drizly if you want to try these today.
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