Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review - Roe & Co.

Roe & Co. is a new premium Irish blended whiskey from drinks giant Diageo.  The whiskey has been in development for over two years and has been created by Diageo Master Blender Caroline Martin and her team, during which time over 100 prototype liquids were tested.  This process saw whiskeys sourced from a number of different distilleries across Ireland.  Roe & Co. is designed to capitalise on the current growth in the premium sector of the Irish whiskey category and help grow the category in the bar sector. 

In addition to the new whiskey, Diageo also announced plans to build a distillery within the Guinness brewery complex at St. James' Gate in the centre of Dublin.  This is subject to planning permission and the €25 million project would see the distillery housed within the old power room of the brewery.  The facility, which is very close to that of the old George Roe distillery,  is designed to produce single malt only with production due to start in mid-2019 if all goes to schedule.

The bottle is influenced by St. Patrick's Tower, a former windmill that used to power the Guinness brewery located next to the proposed site of the new distillery, and an old pear tree standing at its base.  This tree was planted in the 1850s and was there during George Roe's time.  Features include a representation of the tree within the logo and a pear shape in the glass base.  The bottle also has a raised brand name, wooden stopper and teal blue colouration on the labeling - this colour was commonly used by Irish whiskey brands in the pre-20th century era.

"The growth in the premium Irish whiskey category is far outpacing that in the standard product sector.  Roe & Co. is modern, contemporary and will be 'playing in a different space' to some of the famous Irish whiskeys currently on the market."
Dr. Nick Morgan - Head of Whisky Outreach at Diageo.

Roe & Co. has been matured predominantly in first fill American oak casks and bottled at 45% ABV.  It is non chill-filtered and will initially be available in key European markets.  The plan is to then roll it our as a worldwide product at a later date.  The recommended retail price will be £30.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a lovely mix of sweet and fruity aromas, which are backed up by some delicate wood spices.  The sweetness is led by honey and golden syrup aromas, while the fruitiness is reminiscent of pear and apple with a hint of peach and mango.  These are complimented by vanilla and a distinct whiff of spice - this is driven by aromas of cinnamon, mace and white pepper.

On the palate this is soft and oily with a slight prickle of spice (this is most reminiscent of the white pepper from the nose) and some vanilla.  The sweetness is again a prominent feature with plenty of golden syrup, caramel and honey notes present, plus a hint of treacle.  Further sweetness comes from a note of fruit syrup and this is complimented by fruity characteristics of stewed pear and apple.  There is also a delicate dried tropical fruit element that is peach and pineapple-like.  Warming wood spices back everything up well and create depth - think of cinnamon, all-spice and a pinch of ginger powder especially.

The finish is long with plenty of depth.  The warming spices hold well, especially once the sweet and fruity characteristics fade.  The cinnamon in particular creates a pleasant dryness and this is accentuated by hints of ginger root and white pepper.

What's the verdict?
The Roe & Co. is a very good re-introduction in to the Irish whiskey category by Diageo.  They have created an easy drinking, well priced and versatile whiskey that can be taken neat, over ice or used to create a long or short drink in a bar.  It seems to become a little more fudge-like with less spice when mixed (including with water) and would work well in cocktails that traditionally use bourbon in our opinion.  Very good.

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