Irish whiskey (yes, with an “e”, just as the Americans do with Bourbon), is experiencing something of a renaissance. Often, it is an older, venerable name and brand, from over two centuries ago, that is being reborn by a family’s diaspora. Glendalough comes readily to mind. And now, the Egan family, whose name graced one of Ireland’s most important and successful merchant houses back in the 19th century, has reignited the fires to roast the wheat and char the barrels, to make a distinctive set of bottles sure to charm casual and dedicated drinkers alike.
The flagship of the 21st century Egan’s is the Centenary.
The flagship of the 21st century Egan’s is the Centenary. It joins the Vintage Grain, a Ten Year Old, a growing set of Legacy bottlings that feature as much as 16 years barrel age, the Fortitude aged in Ximenez sherry casks, all completed with the XO Cognac aged centenary.
There’s nothing new about cask-conditioned brews, but this trans-Atlantic traveler is a unique iteration of both the 1709 stout, which is flat out delicious, and the Egan’s whiskey.
In an imaginative step, Egan has entered into an agreement with Brewhall craft brewery in Vancouver, BC Canada. A few selected Centenary barrels were sent from Ireland to Vancouver, shipping distance 7109 kilometers. Brewhall makes the appropriately named 7109 stout, which is conditioned for six months in the Centenary barrels, before bottling. The stout-conditioned casks then head back to Ireland, where more Egan’s whiskey is conditioned. Finally, this stout-conditioned and finished whiskey comes back to Vancouver, and to Canada, an Irish whiskey with espresso and cocoa notes from the stout. And the stout, redolent of its cask conditioning, has dark toasty notes, some hints of oak, and a brooding, deep palate, of those cocoa and coffee notes, and a little fine acidity to give it a surprisingly refreshing finish.
There’s nothing new about cask-conditioned brews, but this trans-Atlantic traveller is a unique iteration of both the 1709 stout, which is flat out delicious, and the Egan’s whiskey. Just try to resist the idea of having a sleeve of one, and a dram of the other. The Irish version of a Buffalo Squeeze. How can that be bad?