Clonakilty Single Pot Still Core Release Batch 1

First releases are coming thick and fast here in Ireland now. After decades of just idling along Irish whiskey is actually starting to get motoring. We are up to 50 distilleries on the island now and around 20 of those have products on the market that contain all their own liquid. On top of this there seems to be an ever-increasing interest in Irish whiskey abroad, apart from Scotland (especially in the Rover household).

Irish whiskey certainly seems to be riding the crest of a wave and long may it continue. For all the speculation that the whiskey bubble will burst its growth seems to continue year on year. I do think people are reducing expenditure on whiskey though, being much more selective on what they purchase. Definitely auction prices, both in Ireland and Scotland aren’t achieving the heady heights of mid-pandemic when frankly we had little else to do but buy whiskey.

Inaugural releases have to date provided the opportunity for silly asking prices…..Ballykeefe anyone? I think that three figure fees for 3 to 5 year old whiskies are beginning to get tiresome for most of us now, especially as the cost of living continues to affect our disposable income. I’m sure even the most avid collectors are becoming a little choosier about what distilleries they will support.

So it was a breath of fresh air when I saw the price of the first release of Clonakilty’s core single pot still. At a time when 3 to 5 year old whiskies, both Scotch and Irish, are selling anywhere from £70 to £100 it’s refreshing to see one come close to £50.

I got the chance to try Clonakilty’s pot still new make nearly 4 years ago now and have to say I was impressed but I’m always worried when pot still is released at a young age as I’ve had a few poor ones in my time reviewing.

Saying that it’s great to see another distillery actually have its own liquid come to market helping Irish whiskey to achieve a level of variety that it has been denied for so many years.

Clonakilty are an interesting distillery as, like Echlinville, they are a field to glass distillery. Growing a substantial amount of the grain they use themselves on the Scully family farm (they only use Irish grain so they are supplemented by other local farmers for the grain they require), they distill, mature and bottle onsite.

On to the liquid in the bottle then. Although it’s a no age statement whiskey it could carry a 4 year old age statement on the label. The makeup is 60% 4 year old pot still matured in ex-bourbon barrels and 40% 5 year old pot still matured for 4 years in ex-bourbon cask followed by 6 months in oloroso sherry casks and then 6 months in amontillado sherry. This is Batch 1 of their pot still, it’s bottled at 46% abv with no info on whether it has been chill filtered or natural colour. I’m assuming by it’s colour it’s free of the dreaded e150.

Price wise this is around £53/€60 a bottle although this was sent to me for free which is becoming increasingly rarer for me these days…..I wonder why? As ever the usual caveats were given on accepting the offer….’just because it’s free I’ll still say what I think!’….Red Earl anyone?

Let’s taste.

Clonakilty Single Pot Still Batch 1 46% abv

Nose: Quite a rich nose – salted caramel, toffee apples, fruit salad sweets, ground almonds buttery pastry, new leather and then some green fruit like kiwi and gooseberry. A definite briny note too as well as muted baking spices.

Palate: A good texture with plenty of oiliness and spice on the first sip. That salted caramel is there again followed by stewed apples, vanilla cheesecake, milk chocolate shavings and then a burst of pepper and fresh ginger spice as well as cinnamon. Some fresh citrus too.

Finish: Short to medium with lingering spice heat, caramel, orchard fruit sweetness and a little saltiness.

Score: 6 out of 10


Overall: It’s been three and a half years since I got to try some of Clonakilty’s pot still new make which I thought was pretty impressive so it’s nice to be able to try the fruits of the Scully families labour with this release.

Young pot still releases haven’t faired very well on this site unless it's been from Killowen, I’m thinking Glendalough, Hinch, Teeling and even some of the Dingle pot still. So it’s great that I can be positive about this release.

Firstly, I’m pretty impressed price wise. I know £53 can buy much older age statement whiskies, especially in independent scotch releases, but we are getting used to seeing young whiskies are much higher prices both here in Ireland and Scotland. So as far as first releases of a core product go, I think the price isn’t a ridiculous ask.

Second, it helps that the whiskey is also actually good. It has a nice viscosity and definitely delivers enough flavour to show a bit of character. This is a really solid dram that is very approachable, easy to drink and one I’d happily recommend to someone new to the pot still style. It will be interesting to see how this develops as further batches are released. 

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