Connemara is an Irish whiskey. First of all, it’s a peated whiskey and perhaps the only peated malt Irish whiskey on the market today. Similar to the Scottish malt, the malted barley is dried over a peat fire.
Just how smoky is Connemara? The distillery cites a phenol level between 13–14ppm. For a comparison, the single malt Scotch, Ardbeg has a phenol level of 55ppm. Lagavulin is 35ppm, Talisker is 25ppm and Highland Park is 20ppm. So it’s smoky but not as much so as an Islay or even a Highland malt.
The second big difference is that Connemara is only distilled twice. Most Irish distilleries triple distill their products. The lack of a third distillation preserves certain flavor components that the producers feel add considerable character to the whiskey.
Is this a one off or can we expect to see more peated Irish whiskies? Well, given the volatile state of the whiskey market and the success of Connemara has had, I’d say expect more on the way. Connemara has been honored as “Worlds Best Irish Single Malt” in 2009 and it has won Double Gold in 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Producer: Kilbeggan Distillery
Price Range: $$$$
Awards: San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005, 07, 08,10,11; Beverage Testing Institute 2008 (92) 09 (94); Wine Enthusiast 2011 (89)
Tasting Notes —
Nose: Lemony and fresh. Quite light, oily peat which melds with a deft touch of light apple and pear, a hint of custard, and creamy malt.
Palette: Sweet, fizzy almost, with rustic, earthy peat, atop rhubarb and custard sweets, cream, malt and granary toast with melted butter. Smoky too, like a driftwood on fire.
Finish: Light finish, medium length, some vanilla and tangy fruit with traces of oily smoke and spice.
$$$$$ = Greater than $100
$$$$ = $80 – 100
$$$ = $50 – 80
$$ = $30 – 50
$ = Less than $30
Further Ratings & Reviews
There are many websites and blogs that do an excellent job of reviewing and rating whiskies. As mentioned above The Whiskybits Composite Score is based on an average of at least three reviews conducted by industry leaders. The reviews sites normally referenced include The LA Whisk(e)y Society, The Whisky Reviewer, Proof 66, The Whisky Advocate and The Whisky Jug.