In search of something new, I broke out a bottle of one of my favorite Irish whiskeys. Several months back, we caught a Broadway production in a nearby city and we had dinner at a traditional Irish restaurant. I asked the bartender what kind of Irish whiskey he’d recommend for a bourbon drinker and without hesitation he grabbed a bottle of Tullamore DEW 12 Year and handed me a pour.
It’s D.E.W, not dew
At first glance, I instinctively thought that Tullamore would trace its routes to a quaint village in Ireland and the name reflected the dew spread richly on the thyme and blooming heathers dotting the hills and valleys. Well, not exactly.
“Dew” is actually D.E.W. – as in Daniel E. Williams – the creator of Tullamore D.E.W. The brand traces its roots back to 1829 to Tullamore, Ireland. Daniel Williams was the distillery’s general manager and crafted its distinctive flavor profile and characteristics. In 1954, the distillery shut down due to declining sales, and by the 1960s, the remaining stocks were acquired by Irish Distillers, which subsequently became part of the French global spirits company Pernod Ricard (which manufactures Jameson).
By the mid-90s, Ricard chose to focus on its Jameson brand and spun TD brand off and after a series of deals, was subsequently purchased by William Grant & Sons in 2010. William Grant & Sons has grown to be the 3rd largest producer of Scotch whisky and the 2nd largest distiller of Irish whiskey. Today, this independent and family-owned Scottish company owns the Glenfiddich and Balvenie scotch brands, as well as Drambuie and Monkey Shoulder – and the Tullamore Distillery which re-opened the fall of 2014 in Tullamore.
A Blended (and blended) Whiskey
Tullamore is a triple-distilled and triple-blended whiskey, comprised of all three types of Irish whiskey – pot still, malt, and grain whiskey.
Pot still whiskey is made from a mash bill of malted and unmalted barley, giving a spicy trait and creamy mouthfeel to the blended whiskey. Malt whisky typically uses malted grains (in this case, barley). Malt whiskey provides some citrus and fruit notes to the finished product. Lastly, grain whiskey is made from grains other than barley (such as corn, rye or wheat) and provides the light, sweet cereal notes to the blended whiskey.
Lastly, in addition to the three whiskey blends, the finished product is aged for 12-15 years in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Rumor has it that the 12 year old Special Reserve uses a high pot still and malt content.
Bottled at 80 proof, the label bears a 12 year age statement. As mentioned earlier, this is a triple distilled and triple blended Irish whiskey.
To the eye and swirled in a glass, D.E.W. has a light, golden-copper color. Nosed in a glass, there are notes of malt at first followed notes of vanilla and hints of fruit. On the palate, it’s light and clean, with a mellow woodiness and creamy vanilla. The sherry barrels impart some fruity sweetness.
In three words – creamy, sweet, and malt. The finish is long, beginning with spicy notes and then lingering into a dry oakiness. At 80 proof, this isn’t a product that can take on a lot of water – I prefer this one neat. However, with a few drops of water, I do catch a few more vanilla and even salty caramel notes.
The 12 year product is generally priced around $50, comparable to a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked product. I found mine on sale pre-St. Patty’s day for $39. If you’re looking to expand your palate beyond the typical Irish whiskey, look for this bottle the next time you’re at your favorite spirits store.