A few days ago, I paid a visit to a Trip to Whiskyland, a whiskyfestival in the town of Heemskerk. One of the people with a stand there was none other than Dennis Hendriks, from Black Sheep Red Sheep and the podcasts Drop or Dram and Mannen van Smaak! At his stand he was representing several Irish Whiskey’s and we got to talking about Peated Irish Whiskey. After a fun and informative talk, he sent me home with a dram of The Midnight Silkie. The most heavily peated release within the Silkie line-up.
This is a highly interesting dram (or drop as they say in Ireland), and not just because it’s heavily peated. This whisky is created by blending single malts from five different types of casks. And despite only 35% of the blend consisting of peated spirit, it still packs a punch in the smoky department. The peated spirit was aged in ex-Bourbon casks. The unpeated spirit in Sherry casks with a Virgin Oak finish, Imperial Stout casks, Oloroso Casks and Red Wine casks. On paper that sounds like I’m in for an absolute treat, time to find out!
Tasting Notes: Silkie – The Midnight
ABV: 46% (92 Proof)
Casks: Bourbon, Sherry, Red Wine, Imperial Stout and Virgin Oak
Distillery: Ardara Distillery
Category: Irish Whiskey
Natural Colour: Yes
After spending the entire morning giving the dogs a much necessary trim, I wanted to take them for a walk to the local lake to let them swim some of the loose hairs off. Since this whiskey is named after the legend of the Silkie I decided it would make for the perfect picture opportunity. So bottle in one hand, dogs in the other, I set out for my walk. And while the dogs we’re playing around in the water with some of their buddies I worked on taking a nice picture of this gorgeous bottle. Back home I poured the last drops in my own Dram1 glass and I set about writing.
The peat is very clear on the nose, and it instantly reminds me of a “Talisker” style of peat. I’m finding some oceanside driftwood, smoked seaweed paired with a thick layer of vanilla to balance out the more intense flavours. That last part makes this a peated dram that will also be very suitable for newcomers to the category. There’s also some moss and bracken on the nose of this dram and the faintest hint of dried strawberries, lovely!
On the palate you’re undoubtedly taken for a ride with this dram. In a whirlwind I get taken past the same notes I found on the nose and then quickly on to a stout beer, paired with nori crisps and dried apple slices. There’s a hint of vanilla ice cream in there as well, which gets balanced out by a tannin bitterness that feels just right. I’m also picking up on some mint, cloves, chili peppers, and aniseed. This whiskey is a bit all over the place on the palate, despite that though the flavours are undeniably good!
The finish has a medium length and what lingers the most is the mint and cloves, paired with a nice layer of liquorice root. It’s by far the most herbal element of this dram, and it’s also the part where you’ll notice the influence of the peat the least. Which makes it my least favourite part of the dram, but that is of course very personal.
This Silkie is a highly interesting bottling from Sliabh Liag Distillers. And it is certainly an excellent Irish Whiskey for those that want to explore the peated category. The finish wasn’t really my cup of tea, but that was highly personal. But on the palate, I did find it a bit too disjointed, and I’m left with a feeling that there’s just one or two too many different types of cask in the blend.
Purely based on my personal preferences I would have loved trying this one without the Imperial Stout cask in the mix, as I found that beer note I got from it the least well-integrated. Please don’t take this to be a negative review though. As I do think it’s a quality whisky and fans of peated Irish Whiskey certainly won’t be disappointed with a drop of this Midnight Silkie in their glass.