On last week’s episode of Expression Session, we were lucky enough to taste some serious Irish whiskey from Tullamore D.E.W. This marked the first time we wandered into the world of Irish whiskey on the show and it was a delight for the senses.
Speaking personally, I’m a pretty big Tullamore D.E.W. stan. It’s my go-to duty-free bottle of whiskey whenever I fly to England to visit in-laws. The one-liter bottle is always a bargain, and it’s never a bad idea to show up somewhere with a bottle of good Irish whiskey on hand. But while I’m very familiar with the “original” expression, I really hadn’t had much exposure to the other expressions in the mix besides random tasting events over the past five years or so.
We were lucky to have Tullamore D.E.W.’s brand ambassador for the eastern U.S., Gillian Murphy, join us. Murphy led us through a tasting of the Original, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 12-Year-Old, and Single Malt 18-Year-Old bottles of Tullamore. It was an educational half-hour — great whiskey and even better company. You can watch the whole tasting on Instagram.
If you don’t have time for that, here are my thoughts on the four bottles we tried.
Tullamore D.E.W. Original Irish Whiskey
Average Price: $28
This is a straight-up classic Irish whiskey. The juice is triple distilled — like almost all Irish whiskeys — and then it rests in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The whiskeys are then blended into a final product that’s as easy to drink as it is to mix.
Clear fruity notes of apple mingle with a hint of bourbon-y vanilla. That fruit carries on through the very light (in a good way) sip as a hint of wood and citrus arrive. The vanilla peeks back in near the end as the sip quickly fades while warming you up.
This mixes very well with sharp ginger ale. I tend to drink it with mineral water these days, plus a squeeze of lime. It also works as a cocktail base.
Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish
Average Price: $30
This is the same juice as above with one exception. The whiskey is transferred into Demerara rum casks from Guyana for a few short months to finish things off. That finishing barrel imparts a wholly different feel to this sip that’s both surprising and enticing.
There’s a clear rum mustiness to the nose next to tropical fruits with a focus on bananas. A hint of spice meets that banana with a note of creaminess, caramel, and dried fruit. The sip lingers a bit longer with an almost banana’s foster buttery rum edge.
At $30 per bottle, this makes a fine sipper with a rock or just on the rocks. It’s also a solid base if you’re whipping up an old fashioned.
Tullamore D.E.W. Special Reserve Aged 12 Years
Average Price: $50
This whiskey is a blend of three triple distilled whiskeys: pot still, malt, and grain whiskeys. The juices are then aged for 12 to 15 years in either ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks before blending and cutting down to proof.
There’s a definite spice next to oak on the nose with a pinch of nuttiness. The sip meanders through notes of praline, nuts, dried fruits, and spice, adding a Christmas cake feel to the sip. With a little water, I got a note of dark chocolate powder and amped up creamy texture. The sip fades slowly as the spice, chocolate, nuts, and oak dance on your senses.
This is an easy sipper with a little water or a rock to open it up. It’s also affordable enough to use in a Manhattan or maybe even a boulevardier.
Tullamore D.E.W. Single Malt Aged 18 Years
Average Price: $120
This Irish single malt spends 18 years aging in ex-bourbon barrels before it’s finished in former sherry, Port, and Madiera casks and pipes. After six months in the finishing barrels, the final product is expertly married and cut down to proof.
Caramel apples, plenty of oak, and a malty base greet your nose. The sip is shockingly mellow-yet-complex with a spiced baked apple feel, creamy toffee, and a sweet biscuit roundness. The malts, spice, fruit, and oak all linger as the sip slowly fades and warms on the long finish.
This is too easy to sip. Make sure to add a little water or a rock to open it up.
Check out the full tasting below!