West Cork Showdown

When I visited @notanotherwhiskyman a few weeks back I didn’t imagine it would take me so long to do this review. He actually got me several Irish samples and from the get go I planned on doing a double review with the West Corks. Unfortunately I got a bit swamped with work, but tonight I finally found some time to sit back and relax with these drams. So here it goes: West Cork Irish Stout Cask vs West Cork Cask Strength, which will come out on top?

Tasting Notes: West Cork – Irish Stout Cask

Stats:

ABV: 40% (80 proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: West Cork Distillery  

Owned by: West Cork Distillers

Category: Blended Irish Whiskey

Awards: Unknown

Chill Filtered: Unknown

Natural Colour: Unknown

Setting:

Enjoyed neat in a Glencairn, even though I usually enjoy my Irish in a Túath (but I only have one of those). After a long day at work, halfway reclined in my chair with my laptop at the ready.

Nose:           

The nose is very malty, with a few citrus flourishes. More specifically I’m getting lemon. There is a sharpness to the nose but not a whole lot of depth. I don’t pick up on any stout influences yet. A drop of water actually improves the nose, making it more floral and tuning down the maltiness a little.

Palate:

This is an odd dram. It begins very watery and I feel like all the flavour is in the finish, there’s not much at all in the palate. Perhaps a little hint of oak and some citrus. But I almost feel like I’m drinking “infused” water. The drop of water makes this even more watery on the palate (no pun intended).

Finish:

The finish is where the Stout Cask finally begins to shine through. It’s actually a very decent finish that lingers quite a while. It begins with Stout and then slowly develops into dark chocolate. It’s a huge contrast to the palate. Here the drop of water truly shows itself as a mistake though, it turns down the Stout and dark chocolate notes quite a bit and actually reveals some of the bitterness I also found in the finish of the Cask Strength.

Verdict:

I find this quite a remarkable dram. Mainly because of the contrast between palate and finish. This does not mean I find it a very enjoyable dram though. I’m happy to have tried it and it did spark an interest into trying more Stout Cask whiskies, but I will not be buying a bottle. If you want to try the Stout Cask influence on Whiskey, I highly recommend choosing the Jameson Stout Cask instead. Regardless of this bottle’s affordable price tag.

Rating:

66/100

Value:

C

Tasting Notes: West Cork – Cask Strenght

Stats:

ABV: 62% (124 proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: West Cork Distillery

Owned by: West Cork Distillers

Category: Blended Irish Whiskey

Awards: Unknown

Chill Filtered: Unknown

Natural Colour: Unknown

Setting:

Tasted side by side with the Irish Stout Cask, so the same as above.

Nose:

The nose immediately reminds me of stepping into a Kelo sauna. There’s some heat and a whole lot of fragrant wood. There’s some honey in there but you really have to search for it. It’s a little bit musty. There’s definitely more depth to the nose of this one compared to the Stout Cask, though I do prefer the Stout’s nose. A drop of water makes the nose more balanced, because the wood gets toned down a little. It actually becomes very pleasant.

Palate:

I’m getting a strong Bourbon influence right of the bat. There’s a loads of brown sugar, apples and raisins. Perhaps a few cherries find their way onto the palate as well (though not very pronounced). That Kelo wood is in there too, but it’s being overshadowed by the brown sugar. It does not hold as much burn as you’d expect from a 62% whiskey. I don’t get much of a difference from the drop of water, I think I’d have to add a lot more water to find a change. But it’s actually pleasant the way it is now, so I decided to leave it be.

Finish:

Unlike the Stout Cask this one does not really continue developing in the finish. But, it does have a decent length. The flavours from the palate slowly fade away, leaving behind a bitter oak. The fading of the flavours is pleasant, but the bitterness that it ends with is something I find myself wanting to wash away quickly. And unfortunately that flavour actually stays quite long. Here the drop of water truly has a very positive effect, the bitterness fades and molasses take over.

Verdict:

For only 10 euro more than the Stout Cask, you get a decent cask strength whiskey which shows a good “marriage” of bourbon and Irish. If you’re a big fan of either category you might want to explore this dram. It’s not the best dram ever by any means, but it’s enjoyable and affordable. And everyday sippers that happen to be cask strength? Those don’t come around that often. Great value, decent dram.

Rating:

78/100

Value:

B+

Ding, Ding, Ding… And the winner is: the West Cork Cask Strength!!

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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