Cooley is Ireland's only independent distillery, and was established in a former potato alcohol plant near Dundalk in 1987 by entrepreneur John Teeling. Cooley operates both pot and patent stills, and
produces a pure pot still single malt whiskey called Connemara, named after the rugged western area of County Galway, once famous for the production of illicitly-distilled poitin.
Irish single malts are comparatively rare beasts, with Cooley being responsible for Locke's and The Tyrconnel in addition to Connemara. However, the distillers take things a stage further with Connemara, as it is
unique among modern Irish whiskeys by virtue of being made with peated malt.
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|Cooley, Connemara Cask Strength (Ireland) |
Connemara is available in three expressions, one which carries no age statement, a 12-year-old, and a cask strength version. The cask strength offering is the lightest in colour, being pale yellow rather than golden, which would suggest comparative youth. It is not coloured or chill-filtered.
The nose is a smouldering turf fire, with someone toasting marshmallows over it. By far the sweetest and most profound of the three Connemara expressions in the mouth, Cask Strength is big and powerful, with sugary, spicy malt, insinuating peat smoke and peppery, drying oak. The oak continues to develop with liquorice and well sugared coffee in the lengthy finish.
If you were expecting a brawler, what you actually get is something of a gentle giant. This behaves impeccably, and, despite its strength, should be drunk neat for maximum appreciation. The successful recreation of an old, classic style. For my money, Connemara Cask Strength is one of the very best Irish whiskeys available. 58.4% ABV, 70cl, 36.95, specialist whisky merchants.