Greenore is a whiskey that is made at the Cooley distillery in County Louth, Ireland. The distillery lies roughly half way between Belfast and Dublin and is one of only three whiskey distilleries currently in operation in Ireland (Bushmills and Midleton are the others). Cooley was founded in 1987 by John Teeling and his idea was to resurrect some of Ireland's oldest whiskey recipes and traditions that had become extinct during more difficult times. He converted an old vodka distillery and Cooley has since won over 100 awards worldwide, including the title of European Distillery of the Year at the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition awards in 2010.
At Cooley they produce whiskey using traditional recipes, each with a different mixtures of barley and other grains. Their range includes some famous Irish whiskey names such as Connemara (the only peaty Irish whiskey), Kilbeggan, Locke's, Michael Collins, Millar's and Tyrconnell. Around 95% of all the whiskey produced at Cooley is exported, with the UK, mainland Europe and South Africa being the current main markets.
Greenore is unique as it is the only Irish grain whiskey that is in regularly production. Grain whiskies contain no barley but are made from a mixture of other grains instead. This 18 years old is a brand new small batch bottling of just 4000 bottles and is the oldest bottling of an Irish single grain to date. It replaces the popular Greenore 15 years old which was highly awarded, including the prestigious Best Single Grain at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in both 2009 and 2010. The new 18 years old is bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill filtered (for a definition of this - click here). It will be available from mid February for approximately £65-70 a bottle.
Our tasting notes
The colour is vibrant gold and the nose is perfumed and very promising - it has aromas of distinctive and fragrant cereals, honey, vanilla, shortbread or butter biscuits (or maybe even uncooked pastry?) and some oaky coconut. In addition, there are more subtle notes of spiced orange, a whiff of burnt sugar and a hint of old polished furniture. With time, the aromas really jump out of the glass at you. On the palate, this is initially tangy and sweet with a golden syrup-like sweetness combining with some spiced orange (the combination is reminiscent of a good marmalade). Then plenty of distinct cereal grains and woody notes develop and the whiskey feels a little oily and syrupy in the mouth. Further notes of vanilla, honey, toasted almonds and warm wood spices (think of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg) add to the enjoyable flavours. The finish is warming and long. It again begins sweetly before the woodier and drier notes come through to give a pleasant bitter, almost cleansing quality. Having said that, it is more 'bittersweet' than 'sweet followed by bitter'. The refreshing nature of the finish is reminiscent of a bourbon whiskey which has been sympathetically matured.
What's the verdict?
This Greenore is very good and one of the better single grain whiskies that we have tried to date. The joy is that while it has a certain level of complexity, it never gets too involved or complicated and the aromas or flavours are therefore well defined. It offers plenty of sweetness but also interesting spiciness to compliment. If you have never tried any grain whiskies before, then this would be a great starting point - it is clearly well made and well balanced, with the increased age softening some of the sharper elements sometimes found in younger grain whiskies.