Distiller: Cooley, County Louth, Ireland (Beam)
Style: Irish blend finished in Petite Sirah barrels (from Concannon Vineyard of course)
Age: NAS (around 4 y/o)
Michigan State Minimum: $23
Appearance: Pale gold.
Nose: Malt, rubber, alcohol, butterscotch, blackberry jam.
On the palate: Full bodied and mildy fruity on entry, mincemeat pie, toffee, burn.
Finish: Malty but still subtly fruity and rich. Drying into a bit more rubber and some burn, but the candied fruit background continues as it fades.
Parting words: Concannon Vineyard is located in Livermore Valley, northeast of Fremont, California. The Livermore Valley AVA is best known as the home of Wente Vineyards, but it also home to a number of other winemakers, obviously. Livermore Valley is a subset of the San Francisco Bay AVA which is itself a subset of the Central Valley AVA. Concannon is notable for bottling the first varietal Petite Sirah in the US (according to their website anyway). Before that, and indeed even after, Petite Sirah was used primarily to beef up red blends.
This whiskey is a tribute to the family’s Irish heritage and its present winemaking ability. It’s a success. It’s clearly young but the wine barrel finishing does a great job of smoothing out the rough edges and giving it added depth. The direct influence of the wine barrel is subtle. There are some vague “dark fruit” tastes on the palate that come through, but little else. If I have complaint about the finishing, it’s that, unlike most finished whiskeys, it’s too subtle. That is refreshing in itself! The rubbery smell isn’t too appealing but it dissipates quickly.