By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
This elusive and quite wonderful little whiskey has been on constant request at the story for years. Actually, I've been telling people "No, sorry we can't get that" every other week of so for over 7 years now! It's one of those things that people fall in love with over there and don't realize they can't just pick it up when they get home. Well, the wait is finally over. This wonderful offering from the exceptional Walsh Distillery in County Carlow is easily one of the best values in Irish Whiskey. Hailing from Ireland's historic east, this area is famous for whiskey and beer thanks to the incredible waters that bubble below the surface, but no large distillery has had a presence here for more than 100 years. In the 1800s, the Irish Whiskey industry was on fire. Consumption, production and exports, continued to break records despite social and political upheaval in Ireland. Funny thing about Irish Whiskey, because of the unique process of blending malted and un-malted barley and distilling in pot-stills, it was actually considered the top quality whiskey in the world pre-prohibition. That's because then, and now, the majority of people didn't want stinky peaty malty single malt from Scotland, but instead were looking for a whiskey that's rich, smooth and easy to drink. Irish Whiskey was the best choice for most consumers before the controversial introduction of grian (column still) production in the 1830s. When this low cost and low flavored spirit was introduced there were legal battles across the world about whether the product could actually be called whiskey. The Scots realized early that they could cut their flavorful malts with this new type of whiskey. This new lower flavored Scotch started to beat the Irish in terms of cost and attain similar levels "smoothness". Across the Irish Sea, Ireland's stalwart large distillers considered the grain whiskies inferior and committed to producing only higher quality pot still whiskey. By never adopted this cheaper technology despite the nationality of it's inventory, Aeneas Coffey, they'd unwittingly caused the decline, which would almost destroy the industry completely. In the coming decades, the loss of Ireland's primary market due to alcoholic prohibition, was the final blow to the struggling Irish Whiskey industry. It wasn't until the '70s that the industry acquiesced and began to produce whiskey in the style most know it today, Jameson Blended Whiskey. Any even LESS flavorful version of the Scottish style blend. Now, we have this special whiskey, a recreation of what might have been served to Yeats or Joyce might have been served at the pub in Dublin during their youth. It takes us back to that era when the Irish dominated both the whiskey and literary world. Regardless of the historical importance of this style of whiskey, what really matters is that it's absolutely LOVELY to drink. It's the sort of thing that makes you realize why in the 19th century Irish Whiskey was widely considered to be the world's best dram. Like Redbreast or Green Spot, the Writer's Tears sets a new bench mark for people who want rich, complex yet ultra smooth whiskey. The whiskey is even more open than those other two, shedding the dense grainy fruitiness, for a lifted nose of citrus, rich malt, and rich wild honey. The palate shows more of the pot still intensity, with dark grains and rich spicy malt relenting to the dense floral and more honey notes on the finish. The finish is soft and round, bringing the whole package together with a pretty little knot. Maybe this isn't the whiskey to buy for Scotch nerd friend that loves Laphroaig, but it's probably a great choice for just about everyone else in the world.