Irish whiskey matured in an IPA barrel has been done before, a couple of years ago in Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition. Now West Cork is picking up the idea with its own whiskey finished in IPA casks. (Note that the label calls it “IPA Cask Matured,” but this whiskey does spend its first four years in bourbon barrels. Per the distillery, “West Cork IPA Cask Matured Irish Whiskey is a 75:25 blend of Irish wheat & malted Irish barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in first fill bourbon casks for four years. The malt and grain components are then blended and aged for an additional 6 months in casks that had held Irish craft brewer Blacks of Kinsale’s IPA beer.”
The release is limited to 9400 bottles. Let’s dive in.
The nose here is boldly hoppy and definitely redolent of IPA, though as some of the more pungently hoppy notes blow off, the whiskey reveals a gentle chocolate aroma and a smattering of spice notes. The palate follows much the same trend, starting with boldly hoppy IPA character and moving into elements of chocolate sauce, brown butter, toasted nuts, and baking spices. There are notes of nougat and honey on the back end, but the hop component tends to overwhelm everything, leaving the finish scattered and a little unfocused.
That said, fans of hopped-up whiskeys will find this an interesting diversion — though it doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of complexity that Jameson’s brighter rendition offers.