Spanish Earl — named for famed Spanish general Juan del Aguila (and featuring his visage) — is a product from Kinsale Spirit Co., based in County Cork, Ireland. This unusual malt spends 4 years in bourbon casks before being split into two types of finishing casks, one an Imperial stout cask, the other a Jamaican rum.
The two triple-distilled malt Irish whiskeys are then recombined after at least 3 months apart, and bottled. The stout element is inspired by Juan del Aguila’s time spent in Cork, renowned the world over for stout production for hundreds of years, while rum, being the preferred drink of seafarers of old, lends sweet toffee to the dark chocolate of the stout.
It is an extremely strange spirit from the start. Very sharp on the nose, the stout influence immediately dominates, clashing with the subtler malt and coming across as rather green and raw — fresh herbs on a backdrop of cut grass. The palate keeps all that going and then some. While it’s a touch sweet up front, with notes of citrus and a bit of honey in the mix, a tough astringency soon comes into focus, pushing the nougat notes aside and replacing them with an aggressively earthy, peppery punch. The finish is all tar and raw wood — though perhaps a hint of immature rum is evident here, its petrol notes not really helping matters.
Best with a side of potato chips.
C / $50 / kinsalespirit.com