At the Clonakilty Distillery in southwest Ireland, they are definitely establishing terroir for their spirits. The barley for their whiskeys is grown on a 9th-generation family farm, they make a gin using whey from the farm and locally-foraged rock samphire, and their aging warehouse stands on top of 200-foot cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean just outside the small town of Clonakilty.
The distillery’s Single Batch Double Oak Finish Irish Whiskey is rendered international via the aging process. It’s a blend of malt and grain whiskeys which are first aged in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in a combination of new American oak barrels and shaved and toasted ex-Bordeaux red wine casks.
It’s a complex process and the result is a complex whiskey, pale gold in color. The nose belies the alcoholic strength, offering a fresh and light character with hints of apple and pear, strong vanilla, cut grass, and gentler undertones of pepper and cinnamon. The palate is equally pleasing, with the spices stepping forward and adding a dash of ginger, a vanilla-honey creaminess, and more of that refreshing apple/pear element augmented with a hint of almonds. On the finish it’s all vanilla and spice.
It all makes for an excellent sipping whiskey, perhaps with just a drop of water or a single ice-cube to damp down the alcohol and draw the flavors out a little more.