This week’s offerings were Hirsch Small Batch Reserve bourbon and Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey. Small batch just means smaller than a typical batch – could be from eight different barrels, could be from hundreds – but it makes the bottle sound more special.
Irish whiskey – like all whiskies it seems – is experiencing a resurgence, but this was the first new distillery to settle into Dublin, which once had 37 distilleries in town. They even had to close the streets to get the copper stills (made in Italy) to the distillery. That would make for a great parade, especially if they passed out little whiskey shots to all the spectators. I tend to forget how much I like Irish whiskey until I taste a good one and think, that’s right, this stuff can be fantastic.
What we knew: Irish whiskey, blended from casks that are 4 to 7 years old, finished 6 months in rum casks, 92 proof
What we discovered: Irish whiskies can sometimes be a little too subtle for my Scotch-and bourbon-loving nose. This one had a lot of flavor, though. It was very citrusy and kind of creamy. Despite the finish in the rum cask, it wasn’t too sugary or syrupy. My fellow tasters called it “buttery with a little tingle,” “delicate and sweet,” and “subtle and pleasant.” If I had to describe the taste, I would probably just say it tasted happy. It made me feel like being handed a cheerful bouquet of daisies, sunflowers, marigolds, and buttercups.
What we knew: Straight Bourbon; 92 proof; no age on the bottle, but the back says they “present” the whiskey to be at least 7 years old
What we discovered: This one was sweet from the first sip and was strong in a good way. A friendly punch. It relaxed onto the tongue and seemed to belong there. It had a slight vanilla, slight oak, slight citrus – put together, it made for a nice whiskey medley. We’ve had a lot of bourbons at Whiskey Wednesday and despite the sketchy backstory, people really enjoyed this one. They found it a “tangy treat,” "distinguished and refined,” and “lovely.”
This is not THE Hirsh, of course – the famed 16-year-old A.H. Hirsch, which I’ve never seen, but which goes for thousands of dollars if you can get your hands on it since the supply is running out. This actually has a little badge on front – more bling! – that says “Inspired by the quality of A.H. Hirsh” like a movie might say “Inspired by true events.” But this was an easy-drinking, affordable whiskey to have with friends when you want to focus on the good company in addition to the good whiskey.