There are about a half dozen unique things going on with this new Irish whiskey. Let’s enumerate them one by one.
1) It’s being sold and branded not by a distillery and not by an Irish company but by a California winery. It is, however, made in Ireland, in conjunction with Cooley Distillery (a giant in Irish whiskey).
2) It’s aged (four years) in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished in Concannon Petite Sirah barrels for four more months. Most Irish isn’t finished in any other kind of barrel, much less a Petite Sirah wine barrel. (In fact, I’ve never heard of anything being finished in a Petite Sirah barrel.)
OK, that’s two things, but those are two really big things, am I right?
Concannon, as the name suggests, has Irish heritage, so a whiskey from this Cali winemaker makes more sense than you’d think. And the results, I have to say, are impressive.
The nose is rich with nougat character, soft sugar, a bit of vanilla, like a custard. This continues on the palate, where a lush body offers up orange juice, banana pudding, and a bit of oak wood. The body is spot-on, balanced in the way that makes everyone find Irish whiskey so easy to drink. It may not have the depth of a well-aged Jameson Reserve, but for an Irish in this price range it’s got soul to spare. Well done.
A- / $25 / concannonvineyard.com