Great Northern Distilling is a new Irish distillery that primarily sells vodkas and gins, as most young distilleries do. However, they were able to get their hands on older barrels of whisky, and Burkes Single Cask 14 Year Old is a product of one of those barrels. Bottled at 59% ABV, I was really excited to taste a rare high-proof Irish whiskey.
This is a single barrel product, so only one barrel went into the final bottling. That can be terrific with a great barrel of whisky, but with whiskies that haven’t quite matured on track, it’s traditionally better to round out the edges by blending the barrel with other whiskies. I mention this, because this barrel could have done with some blending in a larger batch. In truth, it was not all that satisfying to drink. But it was an interesting experience to taste! Follow along to my tasting notes for more on that.
Burke Single Cask 14 Year Old 59% ABV
Bottled by Great Northern Distillery, Distillery Unknown
Category: Irish Whiskey, NDP, Single Cask, Single Malt
Nose: Though it’s a single malt, immediately reminded me of a pot still (malted and unmalted barley) Irish whiskey. It’s that Irish nose! Terrific cereal and hard lemon candy notes. Not a lot else going on, but not unusual at this high proof point. It does open up a little with a few drops of water, providing more caramel flavour and some dusty hay notes.
Palate: Candied ginger, plenty of spice, a bit of lemon candy sweetness. It’s a hard intense whisky, with a terrific sweet candy tongue coating finish. However, it just never seems to hit it’s stride on the palate at 59%. With a little water, the ginger sharpness is curtailed but so is some of the exciting flavour notes.
Conclusion: A lot of the right elements are here, but this one didn’t really come together for me. I don’t think it was a particularly good cask of Irish whiskey. The beautiful thing about cask strength whisky is you can water it down to your level, but this one just never seemed to have found it’s sweet spot. Caramel notes starting coming through more-so, but that heavy rough ginger spice (which can be a beautiful element to a whisky if it’s complimented with other flavours) singularly ruined the pleasantry of it for me.