Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New releases > Connemara Turf Mór

connemara turf mórIreland's newest distillery
Connemara is a Irish whiskey produced at the Cooley distillery. It is located on the County Louth coast, roughly half way between Belfast and Dublin and is one of only three whiskey distilleries that are currently operating in Ireland - Bushmills and Midleton being the other two. 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 recent prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition awards.

A range of famous names
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 Greenore, 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. Connemara is the only peated Irish whiskey that is in regular production. Other Irish smoky whiskies are occasionally released but are rare. Connemara, which is names after the original site of the Connemara distillery on the west coast of Ireland near Galway, and its old traditional recipe had disappeared into history before being resurrected by John Teeling.

Details of Turf Mór

The first expression of the modern Connemara was launched in 1996 and this Turf Mór forms the second part of Connemara's Small Batch Collection, a series of limited edition whiskies that will released at regular intervals - the first release was the Sherry Finish from last year. The Turf Mór is the peatiest Connemara released to date with a high peat level of over 50PPM (PPM is the scale of measurement for peat/phenol levels in whisky and means Phenol Parts per Million). For further information on this and the influence of peat in whisky - visit our website. Regular Connemara is around 20-25PPM and this new expression puts it close to the peat levels of famous smoky whiskies, such as Ardbeg and Laphroaig. The Turf Mór is bottled at its natural cask strength of 58.2% ABV and retails for £40-45 from specialist retailers.

Our tasting notes
The colour of Turf Mór is pale lemon gold and the nose is expressive and lively. There are plenty of fresh, tangy and vibrant notes fighting for attention - obvious burnt rubber smokiness immediately with honey, fresh green apples, vanilla, malty cereal grains, lemon juice and a whiff of salt joining later. The high alcohol level also comes through and gives the nose a proper kick. On the palate, this is again tangy and fresh, making your mouth water almost instantly. The smokiness is reminiscent of burnt cereals now and this dominates to begin with, before fading to reveal some lovely redeeming sweet characteristics (which can be lacking in young, peaty whiskies) - honey and vanilla especially. The maltiness is also present and has a biscuit-like feeling to it. Hints of pear, apple, spicy clove and a hint of salty brine complete a wonderfully complex and vibrant palate. The finish is wonderfully long with the smokiness now having a more obvious earthy, peaty quality. However rather than being drying, the finish remains tangy and mouthwatering with a delicious, balanced honey sweetness which is tempered by some citrus and salty notes. It just goes on and on and on ....

What's the verdict?
This is a delicious and very positive dram. So often, young peaty whiskies can give you a less pleasant and negative experience. Turf Mór is a whiskey that makes it very obvious as to how Cooley distillery are so successful and continue to win major awards. The excellent balance, combination and contrast of aromas and flavours - the acrid burnt peat, the sweet vanilla and honey, the tangy lemon and salt - make this a dram to savour. If you like the peaty, smoky style of whiskies, then you simply have to try this one - it's a cracker!

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