Last fall, newly resurrected Irish whisky brand McConnell’s took its first step toward broadening their portfolio with the release of this bottle, McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish Irish Whisky. As the name implies, this is classic McConnell’s – presumably still a five-year-old blend of malt and grain whiskies distilled at Great Northern Distillery – finished for an unspecified period of time (reportedly nine months) in Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at a slightly higher proof than the original. Let’s check it out.
It’s as unfussy and straightforward as the standard McConnell’s, but with a healthy layer of sherry in the mix. The Oloroso is initially a tad punchy, but it blows off rather quickly, leaving behind notes of dark, sticky raisin, cocoa, grated nutmeg, and a bit of sour cherry. The finishing goes a long way to rounding some of the grittier, cereal character of the standard McConnell’s at its core. On the palate, a generous oil body greets the tongue with a sweet and syrupy texture and well-balanced flavor. Notes of clove-studded orange, fig preserves, slivered almond, and caramel apple present a familiar but well-executed sherried profile that’s exceedingly approachable with a gentle, even warmth. The finish remains a bit doughy with some underlying salt and tahini notes, but the sherry adds some longevity with lingering notes of chocolate and slightly tart Craisins. An easygoing and enjoyable Irish whisky — and well worth the slight markup in cost from the original.