It all started in 1776, when the McConnell family of Belfast began selling their whisky, and then the stills when quiet…
The Belfast-based distillery closed in 1958. Before that the McConnell’s had dedicated 154 years to a single pursuit: producing the finest whisky in all of Ireland. Many whisky drinkers believed that they achieved their goal, making McConnell’s the most famous Irish whisky of the time. The McConnell’s distillery was a large industrial compound that was a centre of industry and innovation on the banks of the River Lagan in Northern Ireland. Internationally it became one of the most sought-after spirits to leave Irish shores, and they struggled to keep up with demands.
It has been brought back by Conecuh Brands, who is working with Great Northern Distillery to recreate the whiskey while a new distillery is being built “in the historic, Crumlin Road Jail, in Belfast, Ireland. The Crumlin Rd. Jail is not far from the original distillery site on Cromac St. The ‘Crum’ is well known for housing political prisoners from the 1840’s to 1996, before being converted into an iconic tourist attraction. Once the building is complete, the new distillery will house production, aging, a visitors’ center and a retail area.”
Taking the “e” out of Irish Whiskey
Don’t be too surprised but Irish whiskey can be spelt both with and without an “e”. We all know that Uisce Beatha (Gaelic Irish for water of life) is the origins of the word whisky. The process dates back to the 6th century when the distillation process was brought from mainland Europe to Ireland by the monks. They were in search of the true “Spirit” of things and they certainly found it when they placed beer into the first Pot Still on the Island.
“We’re resurrecting one of the greatest global brands of all time, McConnell’s Irish Whisky. The opportunity to recreate a brand with such rich and deep history has been incredibly rewarding. My entire team is so excited and humbled at the same time.”Roy Danis, President & C.E.O. of Conecuh Brands
The Distilleries in Dublin thought that they produced a superior whiskey to the rest of the country as they were bonded by stricter regulations and quality controls. So in the 1900’s adding the “e” was a way for the Dublin distillers to differentiate themselves. But McConnell’s, already an iconic brand with 125 years of production, decided to keep with their tradition of no “e” in whisky, Other distillers outside of Dublin, including the Cork Distilleries Company who produced Midleton and Paddy, didn’t use the e’. There is a fascinating article here if you are interested to learn more from Carrol Quinn, Midleton’s archivist, who has investigated the history behind this great story.
McConnell’s 5 Year Old Whisky Information:
Distiller: Great Northern Distillery
Mashbill: Malted Barley & Grain
Cask: Ex Bourbon Casks
Age: 5 years
ABV: 42% – 84% Proof
Tasting notes for McConnell’s 5 Year Old Whisky
This is an almost perfect blend between malted barley & grain and the special handpicked bourbon barrels add a delicate and subtle sweetness with a deep oak woodiness. McConnell renaissance is a five year old blended Irish whiskey that was aged in American oak barrels. It bottle design is one of the nicest on the market, the bottle is shaped inspired by a simple pill capsule, which harkens back to the original label, featuring three references from Doctors, who recommended the whisky and used to prescribe it for medicinal purposes. The label is signature green with a handsome metal plaque that reads J.&J. McConnell’s, Est. Belfast 1776, Ireland.
Think orchid fruits, green apples and honey. This whiskey has a fantastic nose, there is a nice balance of malt and grain whiskey with this blend. My first thought was of fresh granny smith apples, just as you bite into the waxy skin and there is an acidic freshness. Then the sweeter aromas made me think of apple crumple, apple, cinnamon, honey, a hint of citrus and butter crust with light peppery spice. If crumble has a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream you’d be wanting more and you can find that on the palate.
The apple tart flavors are more pronounced here, butterscotch & vanilla sweetness from the bourbon casks. The has an earthy quality here too that reminds me of an orchid after the rain, like damp wood, but its a light and balanced out by notes of sweet honey again. There is a lightness to the mouthfeel that is lively and young, fresh ginger or crushed pepper.
The finish is playful and it seems short at first. Its a trick of the sweet flavours falling away quickly. This is a bottle that you could sit with in the summer sun or sip by an open fire. As you discover the more intricate flavors of the finish, I found dry clove and ginger hang around on the palate and a spice that is lively like the dryness of the first bite of a granny smith apple.
Where to buy: McConnell’s Whisky
Every Whiskey Tells a Story, What Will Yours Be?Sláinte from The Whiskey Trail
#EatDrinkExplore – By Paul Kavanagh