Maker: Tullamore, Tullamore, Offalay, Ireland (Wm Grant & Sons)
Distiller: New Midleton, Midleton, Cork, Ireland (Pernod-Ricard)
Style: Blended Irish whiskey
Michigan state minimum: $56
Appearance: Bright caramel with thin crooked legs.
Nose: Velvet, alcohol, oak, lavender, grape soda, serrano chiles. Water brings out a lot more oak.
Palate: Sweet and mild at first, then warms up. Alcohol, sherry, plum, golden raisins, oak. With water, shows butterscotch, mostly.
Finish: Alcohol, old sherry, almond paste. Not too different with water. Just milder.
Parting words: Phoenix is named in memory of what the label claims was the world’s first aerospace disaster in 1785. It seems like an odd thing to name a whiskey for, but I’m guessing that it’s also supposed to symbolize the brand’s rebirth with its purchase by Wm. Grant & Sons (owners of Grant’s blended Scotch, Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Hendrick’s Gin among others) and the opening of a new distillery in the village of Tullamore. The original distillery there closed in 1954. The Phoenix itself appears on the crest for the village and symbolizes the rebuilding of the town after the tragedy.
Recently I’ve posted a couple twitter rants or snarky photos involving Tullamore Dew, err, D.E.W. I’ve done this in the past and the usual thrust of the rants is how boring Tullamore is. It’s probably the mildest major Irish brand on the market and that’s saying something. It makes Jameson taste like Four Roses Single Barrel. One of the reasons Tullamore is so dull is that all their expressions (except this) are bottled at 40%. When your product is already mild compared to its competitors, bottling it at the lowest ABV allowed by law doesn’t do it any favors.
Phoenix is bottled at a stout 55% and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The old sherry comes through in a pleasant way, never getting rubbery as in some sherried Irish and Scotch whiskeys. Fruit, oak, spice, this whiskey has it all and is one of my top five Irish currently. The price is not bonkers either. This is how good Tullamore can be when Grant gives it some damn guts. Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix is highly recommended.