When we first sampled Keeper’s Heart Irish + American Whiskey last fall, it felt a little like that whiskey was holding back on us. It appears from a quick survey of the interwebs that we weren’t the only ones that were just a bit underwhelmed. But with industry heavyweights like Brian Nation and David Perkins at the wheel, it’s not surprising that they popped the hood on this one and did a bit of fine-tuning for the higher-octane sequel, Irish + American Whiskey 110 Proof. As a reminder, this whiskey is a marriage of sourced American rye and Irish grain and pot still whiskeys, all aged at least four years, but we still don’t know the exact proportions in the blend. Guess a little mystery isn’t a bad thing. Let’s check it out.
This feels almost like a totally different whiskey. The aroma showcases more depth than its lower proof sibling with more honeyed malt character overtaking the grassy cereal notes of the standard proof offering. It’s a far better complement to the buttery cinnamon sugar element shared by both. With time to open in the glass, the orchard fruit emerges once again but with more of a baked profile, almost apple pie but light on the baking spice. The palate is significantly improved with an oilier mouthfeel and richer, more honeyed flavors. While the grain whiskey still seems to dominate in the blend, the rye adds a welcome layer of complexity, this time showing less mint and more black pepper, clove, and cinnamon. It’s almost as approachable as the gentler proof original: You wouldn’t know this was nearly 25 points higher abv with its even, warming spice that extends across the palate. The finish is generous and creamy with lingering notes of dark vanilla bean and lemon curd. I said last fall that the standard proof had lots of potential, and it looks like I was right.
A- / $45 / keepersheartwhiskey.com