Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Liberator Continues Making Strides at Lakeview. Three Whiskeys To Look Out For. Two Now, One In March.

The Liberator Continues Making Strides at Lakeview.

Three Whiskeys To Look Out For. Two Now, One In March.


The Liberator Storehouse Special Port ’n’ Peat Batch 2, 46%

Founder of Wayward Irish Spirits Maurice O’Connell, buoyed by the success of Batch 1, introduces this special: “Our Storehouse Specials are small runs of interesting Whiskeys from our Bonded Storehouse – we like to keep the Whiskey community in touch with our progress and also use it to test release potential new products. After the fantastic reaction to the Port ’n’ Peat at Belfast Whiskey Week we released 200 bottles of Batch 1 which sold out very quickly, so we’re doing a further small test release before deciding whether to add it to our core range.”

The colour is natural, amber and also a streak or two of red. Aromas are smooth, fruit (banana) and a hint of peat. And that peat is also gently, but importantly, evident on the creamy and fruity palate and also in the long dry finish. A whiskey for your short list!

Maurice explains “We’ve been playing with the wonderful effect a small element of Peated Malt has on our Port finished Whiskey. Too much or too little risks one overpowering the other but we found that around 5% Peated Malt was the sweet spot where the Peat highlights the Port, making a very moreish and approachable Whiskey”. They took their time in Killarney and came out with a very delicious result indeed.

I’m not the biggest peat lover myself so this is an unexpected bonus (a few drops of water, very few, makes it even better) for me and I’m glad Maurice and team took time over this!  Attention to detail is key here as you can read below.

The details: “This is a premium blended Whiskey with a high (45%) Malt content. The unpeated Malt was finished in really fresh Tawny and Ruby Port Casks and half of the Grain component was finished in fresh Ruby Port casks, all for 9-12 months. The Whiskeys in this blend were sourced from Cooley and Great Northern. As with all our Whiskeys, we cut it gently cut over many weeks to avoid stressing it, borrowing from Cognac tradition. The colour is natural, it’s not chill filtered or otherwise messed with. As everything other than distillation - from maturation to finishing, blending and bottling - can be done on site, we can take the time to do things properly”. 

* 400 numbered half (350ml) bottles (200 for the Irish market). Bottled at 46% ABV, RSP €35. Available now from Irish Malts, Celtic Whiskey, James Fox, Tiny Tipples and Carryout Killarney.

Wayward Spirts The Liberator Malt in Tawny Port Finish

 – Batch 3, 46% abv

An intense warm gold colour, with hints of red, announces this Liberator Malt with its tawny port finish. The fruity aromas hint at something warm and rich, and smooth, to come. And even if the intro to the palate is just a tad sharper than expected, you won’t be disappointed. Beautiful fruit notes (fig prominent) here “from the really fresh Port barrels” on the way to a lingering and satisfying finish, warm and moreish.

Maurice O’Connell, the man behind Wayward, says this is Ireland’s first vatted Malt in decades and led the wave of Tawny Port finishes, showing the innovation that Whiskey Bonders like Wayward Irish Spirits can bring to the category. Maurice has already received a boost with the news that this malt made it to the finals of Blas na hÉireann Food Awards 2021.

Similar to Batch 2, the components are 2006 Cooley Single Malt (increased to 25% in this Batch) and 2015/2016 Great Northern Single Malt. One thousand numbered bottles (450 for the Irish market) at 46% ABV with a RSP of €65. Available at specialist Whiskey shops: Celtic, James Fox, Irish Malts, Tiny Tipples, Carryout Killarney and in Supervalu’s throughout Kerry. 

Lakeview Single Estate “Hilly Field” Whiskey 46% 

Wayward Irish Spirits is getting closer to the release of the first Lakeview Single Estate Whiskey from their 2018 Hilly Field barley harvest. This was small-batch malted in Naas and then distilled (by Great Northern Distillery) into Pot Still spirit to their 50/50 mash bill and specification in March 2019. Initially in Bourbon casks for 3 months before transferring into NEOC casks (First Growth chateau Bordeaux casks, hand shaved and re-toasted).

This is our first Whiskey from barley grown on the Lakeview Estate and matured here. The Hilly Field, where the Whiskey was born, is adjacent to our Bonded Storehouse ‘The House of Contentment’ and I think people value that provenance and authenticity. There are many views on the effect of Terroir on the barley used to make Whiskey but there’s no doubt that the Estate’s constantly changing microclimate exerts a definite influence on maturation here.”

Micro-climate? The lake and mountain setting gives the estate a special microclimate: the famously changeable weather provides lots of variation in barometric pressure, even on an hourly basis - that contributes to cask maturation which depends on these changes. Sometimes, you can feel the pressure if you put a hand on top of a cask. Perhaps the angels are impatient for their share.

A small release of 800 bottles is planned to mark its ‘coming of age’ in March 2022. Pre-orders are being taken now based on a price of €95 for a 700ml bottle at 46% ABV. A small number of quarter casks (55-60L) with the same 2019 spirit are available at €5,000 +vat including 3 years further storage and bottling, representing around €50/bottle before vat and duty.

Got to try out “a work in progress” sample recently. There’s a decent bit of colour here at this stage and aroma intensity is also building. Very promising on the palate too and Maurice says that, “even at 2.5 years, .. it is impressing tasters with a maturity beyond its years and it’s already very drinkable”. Young for sure but also full of potential with the balance between the wood and the distillate emerging.

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