Most of you will already know that I'm a big fan of JJ Corry. Having eked out my bottle of The Gael Batch 1 for as long as I could (nearly two years!), I finally finished it at the start of January. Just ten days on and that bottle is already much lamented - it really was a stunning whiskey.
Thankfully, there have been two further batches released which means I don't have to wait too long for my next fix of The Gael.
Since setting up the Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, Louise McGuane, the founder, has ensured a stream of other JJ Corry releases have hit the shelves. Most have been met with plenty of praise from whisky and whiskey communities but there have also been a few contrary views offered here and there. But hey, Twitter wouldn't be Twitter without its abundance of unsolicited opinions. One of the most 'controversial' releases was The Chosen - a 27 year old Irish single malt, limited to 100 bottles and carrying a rather hefty price tag of 6,900 euros.
Having spoken to someone recently who works as a marketing consultant for a huge Scotch whisky company, it's interesting to hear how certain whiskies are marketed as luxury lifestyle brands in other countries (in this instance, China) and not necessarily just aimed at the 'enthusiastic whisky drinker'. And because most of us probably fall in to this category, our enthusiasm and passion for the liquid can sometimes make it very easy to forget that whisky is, after all, an industry.
So, right from the start, Louise has maintained that the Irish whiskey industry needed an ultra-premium whiskey in order to catch up with that of Scotch whisky. Rarity is certainly one factor which warrants a whiskey being positioned as ultra-premium but unique design, exceptional craftsmanship (of both the liquid and the packaging) and the finest quality (again, of both) are also required criteria. I guess the question is: does The Chosen meet them all? Having not tasted it, I can't say. But if it's anything like either of The Vattings - the point of this blog post and one that I got to eventually - I would hazard a guess and say that it does.
Having been invited by Louise and Niamh to join other JJ Corry enthusiasts in December for a Zoom preview of the two yet-to-be released bottlings, my conclusion is that these whiskeys were absolutely top notch.
Also falling into the premium category, these whiskeys are from casks filled in 1991 and are expected to retail around the £1500 mark. Only 60 bottles from each of the casks will be released in partnership with the fine wine and spirits merchant, Bordeaux Index.
The Vatting No 1 was made up from six different casks; The Vatting No 2 came from five ex-sherry casks including PX, Oloroso and Amontillado with the cask proportions for each bottling being (more or less) equal for both. Each whiskey's components were vatted together before spending 18 months in ex-Speyside casks.
Nose: dry and dusty at first; after a wee while there are notes of Dairy Milk chocolate buttons followed by toffee apples; hints of old leather and tobacco appear as well as a note of crème brûlée.
Palate: this has a slightly oily texture; the first thing which comes to mind here is apple strudel; a slight tobacco note develops after a while in the glass; you can really taste the age of this whiskey in the finish with plenty of grapefruit and blackcurrant notes; there are hints of prune juice and dried dates suggesting some sherry cask influence albeit it elegant and subtle.
Nose: cream soda followed by vanilla fudge and whipped cream; there are hints of mango and kiwi; notes of white chocolate with tinned clementines in the background followed by lemon bonbons develop after a while; the nose on this whiskey is really fresh (especially given its age).
Palate: notes of tinned clementines develop into chocolate orange; there are hints of ginger and cloves in the finish which, as with no 1, gives an indication of its age - gooseberries are prominent here; there's also a slight dark chocolate bitterness with kiwi and grapefruit developing after a while.
Both whiskeys are wonderfully complex and exceptionally well balanced. Despite the depth of flavours - especially in The Vatting No 2 - both whiskeys are still extremely accessible (albeit on the palate if not on the wallet!)
Would I personally pay £1500 for a bottle? Admittedly, the question is academic. But the answer would be a definite yes for The Vatting No. 2.
I believe these bottles were due to be released in early 2021. The current situation may well mean that changes but I guess you can contact either JJ Corry or Bordeaux Index for updates.
Many thanks to Louise and Niamh for the samples and the preview invitation.
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