Writers’ Tears has long stood as one of the best and most accessible Irish whiskeys on the market. However, after 20 expressions, it’s never put out a 100% single pot still release; the standard expression is 60% single pot still and 40% single malt. This year that all changes with release #21, as Writers’ Tears puts out its first ever 100% single pot still released, a limited edition of 5800 bottles — initially available only in Ireland, UK, France, Germany, and Holland — that is aged in bourbon barrels and finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry and Florio Marsala casks.
Over time, Writers’ Tears Single Pot Still will become a core expression, presumably with different (or no) finishing attached.
We got a bottle to try out. Thoughts follow.
The sherry and Marsala influence are subtle here, the nose of the whiskey offering rich notes of roasted nuts, baking spice, stewed fruits, and oak resin — all in a swirl. It’s a massive punch to the senses for a style that normally shows more restraint, and you can chalk that up to the influence of the wine casks. A bit boozy, that single pot still core of fresh grain and gentle brown sugar sweetness does manage to push through the aggressive aromatic attack, but it can only go so far. As far as the nose goes here, it’s an almost pungent exploration of the spice cabinet at holiday time.
The palate takes only a few diversions from this setup. Notes of rum raisin ice cream are filtered through intense notes of glazed walnuts, fruitcake, and furniture polish, with a green, grassy, cereal-heavy punch again peeking out from beneath. Both racy and chewy, the experience feels pulled in perhaps too many directions — maybe PX and Marsala together are too much for this? — finishing on a note that feels a little industrial, with overtones of petrol and some rustic earthiness.
If you’re looking for a massive departure on the typical Irish whiskey experience, this is a bottling to seek out. More casual drinkers looking for a traditional single pot still may find it a little off-putting.
B+ / $65 / walshwhiskey.com