A new Irish whiskey, The Fighting 69th, landed on our shores late in 2019, but the inspiration for this bottle reaches way back in American history. After immigrating from Ireland to New York in the mid-1800s, the men that eventually formed the city’s “69th” had a long history of heroism. Robert E. Lee christened the unit, part of the famous Irish Brigade, the “The Fighting 69th” when they routed his Confederates in the Civil War, and members of the regiment have distinguished themselves in almost every major American military campaign since. A retired regiment officer, Col. James Tierney, decided the unit needed an honorary tipple after a visit to Ireland, and here we have it. It’s a triple-distilled blend of Irish whiskeys from an undisclosed source, aged a minimum of three years. The component whiskeys see secondary aging in a variety of casks, including single-char, double-char, oloroso sherry, rum, and Port, although exact proportions are unclear. Let’s see how this liquid tribute tastes!
The nose is savory and silky, dominated by bready malt. There’s a bit of sharp cereal in the mix, but otherwise things stay pastry-like with vanilla custard and a bit of red berry pie filling. The palate is fairly classic Irish pot still despite the variety of secondary aging that has been applied. The mouthfeel is delicate with a thin honey syrup quality. I get a little more structure on the mid-palate, but not much more, with notes of buttered sourdough bread, Golden Grahams, green apple skins, overripe red grapes, and vanilla pudding. The finish is medium length and doughy with some powdered sugar and a bit of cinnamon. Irish whiskey at this proof often shows minimal heat, but this is soft and easy drinking even by those standards — a dram that I imagine the men of the Fighting 69th could easily put in their canteens.