Greenore is a whiskey that is made at the Cooley distillery in County Louth, Ireland. The distillery lies roughly half way between Belfast and Dublin and is one of only three whiskey distilleries currently in operation in Ireland (Bushmills and Midleton are the others). Cooley was founded in 1987 by John Teeling and his idea was to resurrect some of Ireland's oldest whiskey recipes and traditions that had become extinct during more difficult times. He converted an old vodka distillery and Cooley has since won over 100 awards worldwide, including the title of European Distillery of the Year at the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) awards in 2010.
At Cooley they produce whiskey using traditional recipes, each with a different mixtures of barley and other grains. Their range includes some famous Irish whiskey names such as Connemara (the only peaty Irish whiskey), Kilbeggan, Locke's, Michael Collins, Millar's and Tyrconnell. Around 95% of all the whiskey produced at Cooley is exported, with the UK, mainland Europe and South Africa being the current main markets. Greenore is unique as it is the only Irish grain whiskey that is in regularly production. Grain whiskies contain no barley but are made from a mixture of other grains instead. This Greenore 8 years old is part of Cooley's core range and has won a Gold Medal at the IWSC awards. It is bottled at 40% ABV and is available from specialist liquor retailers. A bottle should cost around the £32 mark.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright golden yellow and the nose is fresh, vibrant and tangy. Initially, it has plenty of cereal, honey and oaky coconut aromas and these are joined by more subtle notes with time. These notes includes some zesty lemon peel, light brown sugar, warm buttery biscuits and a hint of dried grass (think of hay). The nose is very pleasant - you could sit and sniff it forever! On the palate, this is smooth, creamy and sweet with lots of distinct cereal grains (imagine the more bitter husks especially) to begin with. Then comes a delicious mouth-coating combination of sweet vanilla, honey, almonds, warm woody spices (think of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg) and plenty of freshly grated coconut. The progression from the sweeter to the more bitter/spicy elements is sublime and very, very enjoyable. It just seems to melt in your mouth. The finish is warm and honeyed with plenty of enjoyable bitter cereal notes coming through and a good dry woody spiciness at the end. The only slight downside is that the finish is slightly short and disappears too quickly (sadly).
What's the verdict?
This is an easy one - Greenore 8 years old is delicious. And enjoyable. And rich. And very moreish. And complex. And well balanced. And offers high quality. And value for money. And is unique ... you get the idea! It is easy to see why this has won numerous awards as it offers winning combinations of aromas and flavours in abundance. If you have never sampled grain whiskey before, then you have to try this one as it is an excellent example.