Remember Slane Castle Irish Whiskey? Of course not. Brown-Forman bought the brand a few years ago, and even then it was hard to find in the U.S. Now it’s been relaunched, rebranded — the “Castle” is now gone, leaving just “Slane” — and a distillery of its own is being build in Ireland.
The current version of Slane is a whole other animal than the old Slane Castle. This one is a blend of malt and grain whiskey — not single pot still, it seems — that is then split up and aged in three different types of casks: Virgin new oak, heavily toasted and lightly charred; oak formerly used for American whiskey; and used Oloroso sherry casks. There’s no age statement on the bottle.
Ultimately all that adds up to a drinkable, if somewhat muddy spirit. New oak is very rare in Irish whiskey, and here you can see why: It really dominates the experience. On the nose, it’s big and grainy, with bold lumberyard notes and a dusky edge of charcoal. Some lighter fruit notes hide out in the background, but they have trouble pushing through the burlier aromas that dominate.
On the palate, wood remains dominant, though here it is filtered through notes of heavily roasted grains, walnuts, cloves, and some orange peel. The overall impression is not one typical of Irish but something closer to blended Scotch, though the finish does offer a hint of honeycomb and lavender that would be unusual in something from Ireland’s neighbor to the east.