Cognac Cask Finish with Irish Malts

Here at Clonakilty Distillery we are always looking to innovate on small batches of premium sensory whiskeys. This is why we were delighted when Irish Malts reached out once again to partner for an exclusive release — a Single Cask Cognac Finished Whiskey, bottled at Cask Strength.

As always we turned to our Head Distiller, Paul Corbett to give us an insight into this exciting new collaboration.

Q: Why did you decide to make this whiskey?

Paul: Irish Malts approached us to do a cask strength whiskey for them. Personally I think our cognac finish whiskey we have for our shop exclusive, is really impressive so I was happy to try and make a more intense ramped up version of a single cask strength for Irish Malts.

Q: How does having the whiskey matured at a maritime climate make a difference to the whiskey?

Paul: With our warehouse it has it’s own micro-climate out there, it’s very humid which means it’s got a very even slow maturation. So when the casks are breathing in and out it’s not rapid, it’s even-paced and also out there, there’s a real ocean wind blowing the whole time. Sometimes it can even be difficult to stand out there, you can even feel the salt on your face in the wind, which permeates through our warehouse.
We have a lot of ventilation in the warehouse to leave that sea air in, which lands on the casks. The casks are permeable so it soaks into the casks and gives the whiskey a slight ocean salinity taste.

Q: Does that make the whiskey saltier?

Paul: Very slightly, the influence will be greater over time, these casks were filled two years ago so the influence is there but it’s muted.

Q: How old are the barrels the whiskey is in?

Paul: The casks are 22 months old, but the whiskey is a 2010 grain and 2008 malt. It’s a non-age statement whiskey.
It is a 60% malt, which would be a high percentage of really good malt that we use. We decided to blend it because the 2010 grain we have is really nice and I think grain whiskey does leave the finish of a cognac shine through more, so it helps bring out the cognac flavours in the cask.

Q: Why wait until now to bottle the whiskey, why not wait longer?

Paul: When doing finishes I want the cognac to be the icing on the cake, I don’t want the cognac flavour to be overpowering I want the flavour to compliment the whiskey.
I personally think there is such a thing as over finishing a whiskey. I feel right at this moment now there is a perfect blend of cognac flavour to bring out the subtleties of the whiskey.

This cognac cask has a special place in my heart as it is the very first blend we did in our Atlantic Ocean warehouse. This cask would have been filled on the very first day of our warehouse being opened, so it has great memories of a very special day.

About the Whiskey

On Sale:
Price: €89.00

Limited Release: 265 bottles in total.

Tasting notes:
 Hot Chocolate, Nutella, coconut, and rich leather scent.
Palette: Chocolate, cherries, dried fruits, honey, leather.
Finish: Long and intense, leather, dried dark fruits, oak spice, chewy toffee, and caramel.

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This post originally appeared on Medium on 24/09/2020

Two Family Farms Separated by 3,000 Miles….

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Clonakilty Distillery Manor Hill “Baltic Porter” Cask Finish

Clonakilty Distillery have joined forces with a number of US breweries to create a range of bespoke limited-edition cask finished whiskeys for the American market.

We have chosen our partners carefully, selecting the casks of their premium beers to finish our whiskey, and the results are taste bud popping.

This series hits America’s shores from the end of September, but there is also good news for Irish fans. A small number of bottles have been held back in reserve for sale at our distillery shop in Clonakilty, and online store.

Manor Hill “Baltic Porter” Cask Finish is the first to be released in the series. This collaboration brings together two-family farms separated by 3,000 miles.

Available In store & online Friday September 25th

We interviewed Paul Corbett, Head Distiller at Clonakilty Distillery to learn more about this quirky collaboration.

Q. Tell us a bit about Manor Hill Brewery?

A. Manor Hill are a family brewery based in Ellicott City, Maryland who are working the land to make a range of farmhouse beers. It’s a nice collaboration for us at Clonakilty distillery as we are also a family business with farming roots.

Q. How does a collab like this work?

A. Basically the brewer seasons barrels with their beer, which we then use to finish our whiskey which absorbs the flavours from the beer and wood.

Q. What beer was used in this particular collaboration?

A. Manor Hill’s “Baltic Porter”, which is essentially a strong porter, with an alcohol content of around 8% or higher. They use lots of specialty roasted malts, like munich, crystal and chocolate malt, which should give rich chocolaty notes and a lot of dark fruits. These of course compliment whiskey really well…..I know stout and whiskey is my particular favourite tipple.

Q. How long was the whiskey in the cask for?

A. These casks were filled for just over 6 months. Once I felt the whiskey was ready we bottled it at 48.5%. I find with stout & porter cask finishes you don’t want to take the ABV down too low because you can start to lose those roasted rich chocolate flavours.

Q. What should people expect from this whiskey?

A. Well straight away I get chocolate coming through on the nose which is exactly what I was hoping for. I also think there’s a very slight hop, because the “Baltic Porter” has such a high ABV, giving a slight fruitiness.

The taste has tones of dark chocolate and dark stone fruit……it really coats the mouth. There’s quite a long flavour, oak spice and leather from the malt start to come through in the finish with lingering chocolate notes.

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Paul Corbett, Head Distiller and Ewan Paterson, Tours Supervisor

About the Whiskey
On Sale:
 In store & available online Friday September 25th.
Price: €85.00
Limited Release: 1,220 bottles in total, only 320 bottles kept for Ireland.
Best Enjoyed: On a Winter’s evening in front of the fire.

Tasting Notes
Nose: Cocoa, peach cobbler and rich bitter spices.
Palate: Dark chocolate, stone fruit and liquorice with a silky mouth coating.
Finish: Leather and oak spices linger with bitter chocolate for a long finish.

Clonakilty Distillery Manor Hill “Baltic Porter” Cask Finish

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This article first appeared on Medium on 17/09/2020