Drink Magazine

SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting

By Josh Peters @TheWhiskeyJug

The SCWC gathered for a very special night with a very special distillery: Dingle. Dingle was the first craft distillery in Ireland and right from the beginning, they wanted to do everything with an eye toward tradition. Resurrecting long-forgotten recipes, using only pot stills, making pot-still whiskey, you name it, they’re into it. And it shows.

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Our generous guide, Dave, kicked off the tasting portion by saying something that instantly made me smile. It’s something I’ve been saying for years and rings so true, you can’t believe anyone would ever think otherwise… but it happens. “If you don’t start with quality in, you won’t get quality out. The best casks can’t fix bad spirit. And this is where we started: the Dingle New Make.

Dingle New Make: 65%

  • Nose: Buttery grain, minerality, overripe apricots and a touch of grape-like sweetness.
  • Palate: Buttery grain, minerality, overripe apricots and a touch of grape-like sweetness.
  • Finish: Med -> Buttery grain, bright fruity sweetness and grape-nuts.
  • Overall: This is fantastic. It’s a bright, fruity and flavorful new make – a fantastic start.

To say the night started off with a bang is an understatement, but it’s without a doubt the best way to start any vertical tasting. Once you know what the new make tastes like, it’s easier to identify what flavors are spirit-born and which are cask-derived.

From there we jumped directly into a tasting style that’s a lot of fun and highly educational: the deconstruction. Our target for the breakdown this evening was the Dingle Core Release.

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Dingle Single Malt, ex-Bourbon: 46.3%

  • Nose: Banana cream pie, vanilla frosting, malt, spice and toffee with some apricot.
  • Palate: Banana-lead fruit, malt, caramel, spice, apricot and oak.
  • Finish: Med -> Oak, banana-lead fruit and malt.
  • Overall: (3/5) This is lovely. It’s a bright, warm and fruity malt with a solid delivery.

Dingle Single Malt, ex-PX: 46.3%

  • Nose: Malt, oak, black tea, spiced figs, roasted nuts and vanilla cake.
  • Palate: Malt, roasted nuts, oak, tea, spiced figs, copper and vanilla cake.
  • Finish: Med-long -> Roasted nuts, malt and spice.
  • Overall: (3/5) This is nice. A warm fruity profile paired with an earthy dryness.

Dingle Single Malt Core Release: 46.3%

  • Nose: Buttery toffee, Grape-nuts, spiced figs, banana-lead dried fruit, malty sweetness and vanilla cake.
  • Palate: Buttery malt and toffee, baking spice, dates, banana-lead dried fruit, vanilla cake and apricot.
  • Finish: Med-long -> Banana-lead dried fruit, vanilla cake and toffee fade out minerally.
  • Overall: (3/5) The sum of the parts (ex-Bourbon + ex-PX) isn’t better than the parts themselves, but different, fun and enjoyable.

The final mix to create the core release is 69% ex-PX and 31% ex-Bourbon. And speaking of casks, they only use 1st-fill casks. They have some used casks they’re holding for future projects but by and large they ship out their 2nd fill casks to others and only use first-fill.

The ex-bourbon casks overwhelmingly come from Beam-Suntory with the bulk of them being Basil Hayden/Old Grand-Dad casks. Some are regular JB, some are Maker’s Mark and some come from Jack Daniels, but the majority are Jim Beam’s high-rye ex-Bourbon casks. This is an interesting route to pick, I’ve never come across that till now.

The PX casks come from Fernando De Castillo, which might sound familiar if you’re a Bruichladdich fan because that’s who they get all of their sherry casks from as well. To top it off, the malt is 100% Irish.

The majority of the Core Release is made from barrels aged 5.5 – 7.5 years but will continue to get older, deeper and more mature year-over-year as they employ a Solera-style system for the release. They have a massive wooden tun the whiskey sits in and for each run they dump 10,000 bottles worth and then top it off and let it marry, mature and mellow till they pull the next run.

The Dingle Core Release alone is a crowning achievement for most distilleries, but most distilleries aren’t Irish distilleries. There’s only 40 of them on the Island, which is a huge increase from just 3 not too long ago. But a modern Irish distillery isn’t really an Irish distillery if it isn’t making a Single Pot Still, and that was our next stop.

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Dingle Single Pot Still Shiraz Finish: 62.5%

  • Nose: Juicy dark fruit, nuts, leather, Tootsie Rolls, vanilla frosting, anise and citrus peels.
  • Palate: Juicy dark fruit, anise, leather, Tootsie Rolls, vanilla frosting, nuts and citrus peels with a touch of that “sweaty” unintegrated wine note.
  • Finish: Long -> Juicy dark fruit, leather, nuts and that “sweaty” unintegrated wine note.
  • Overall: (4.5/5) Yum. This is just freaking awesome. Oily, fruity and lovely malty goodness.

This Dingle SPS was one hell of a tease. It’s not available anywhere and was something we got to try as a one-off for our club. That’s right, the SCWC are the only folks outside of Dingle who have had this whiskey and I have to say… I love and hate them for it.

I want… need, a bottle of this. It’s unique and incredible. If you ever see one in the future don’t hesitate. It’s a killer whiskey.

From there we circled back to another of their regular releases, though not one that’s easy to find, at least not anymore. Batch 5 is what’s out in the market now, but we got a treat in trying this previously released Batch 3.

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Dingle Single Malt Batch 3: 46.5% – ex-Bourbon (70-80%) + ex-Port (30-20%)

  • Nose: Buttery malt, banana-lead dried fruit, grapey sweetness, vanilla cake and some port sweetness.
  • Palate: Buttery malt, banana-lead dried fruit, grapey sweetness, vanilla cake and some port sweetness and cinnamon-heavy spice.
  • Finish: Med-long -> Buttery malt, port sweetness and spice.
  • Overall: (4/5) Velvety and sweet with a nice malty base. So good.

Damn. When port is done right it can be incredible. This was an insanely fun and educational night of Irish whiskey. Huge thanks to Dave, Michael, Jon and Cathy for making this happen. I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of Dingle.

Till next time, cheers!

SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting
SCWC: Dingle Irish Whiskey Tasting

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