Monday, 1 March 2010

#371 - Connemara Drammavaganza

Over the past week I've managed to make some decent progress with the old Liquid Log; I hope to be able to publish a fully revised version in a week or two. It should provide a much smoother surfing experience - for one thing because I've repaired many broken links. 
Of course, many of the bottlings I tried a decade or more ago just
don't exist anymore - or the profile has changed over the years.

I've also made some revisions to the mAlmanac and a few other 
pages. Last but certainly not least: you'll now be able to track 
my progress with the revision of the distillery profiles. Every 
time I'm finished with reviewing a distillery profile I'll add a 
direct link to the distillery map on the overview page
I expect to be finished somewhere around July 1. 

Meanwhile, it looks like winter may be coming to an end. I'd better take advantage from the cold while it lasts - let's try a few peaty drams that were also part of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2009
I started with the Connemara NAS (40%, OB, Peated, Bottled +/- 2009). Nose: Light fruits. Then more rubbery notes emerge. Perhaps some very faint spices in the background. Hey, wait - after ten seconds I got some meaty and 'sweaty' notes that earned it an extra point. Some sparkly veggy notes too after a few months of breathing. Taste: Peaty and fruity; light but nicely balanced in the beginning. The balance disappears in the centre and finish, though. Hint of salt liquorice? The finish is almost watery, but it remains recommendable. 
Score: 81 points - a reliable and affordable 'daily dram' for peat lovers. It feels just a little 'greener' and younger than previous batches though. Nice evolving complexity over time...

Connemara NAS 'Cask Strength'
(57.9%, OB, Peated, +/- 2009)

Nose: Clay over a phenolic base. Peculiar. Rubber? Something salty too. The nose starts more phenolic than that of the 40% version. Lighter fruits (water melon) emerge after five minutes. It gradlually climbs into the lower 80's. Taste: Rubbery start with a hint of sweetness. Lots of smoke and peat. Industrial oil. Garage smells. Quite some tannins in the dry finish. 
Score: 82 points. Definitely a more potent malt than the version at 40%, but it's not as complex and balanced as earlier batches. A great alternative to many Islay malts.

Connemara 2001/2009 (59.2%, OB for Limburg, Peated, cask#K01/10 1196). Nose: Grainy and a little sharp. Beer. Sourish notes (rhubarb?) and a hint of dust. More phenolic elements after a minute, followed by more sweetness. Growing complexity over time, during which it climbs from barely 80 points to the mid-80's. This one desperately NEEDS time. Taste: Very peaty start with leather and organics. Not a lot of staying power though - and a fairly dry and weak finish. Just like the nose it improves over time. However, the palate doesn't quite warrant a score in the upper 80's. Score: 83 points.
Yeah, I guess it's a little more complex than the OB...

Last but not least, the Connemara NAS 'Sherry Finish' (46%, OB Small Batch Collection, Peated, Lot L9088, +/- 2009). Nose: Big, fruity and woody. Organics. Sweet and leathery. Cake? Cough syrup? Sweet desert wine? Industrial oil with the lightest hints of unripe apples in the background. Taste: The most phenolic of all expressions I've tried tonight. Solid, fruity and peaty. Smooth. A great mouth feel, but it makes it to the upper 80's mostly based on the nose. Score: 85 points. This beats the Ardbeg Blasda with a stick!
Well, these results are further proof that Cooley is still the only Irish distillery that can go head-to-head with the Scottish competition on a malt whisky level; only exceptional casks of Bushmills are able to reach this level and Jameson's seems to compete mostly on the level of blended whisky. It seems that Cooley is picking much more medals than the others and I tend to agree for a change...

Sweet drams...