The third whiskey to be featured in the Classic Review series is Walsh Whiskey’s Writers’ Tears Copper Pot. There were a number of reason why I selected this whiskey to be reviewed as a classic whiskey.
Writers’ Tears become a highly popular, widely available whiskey since its launch 11 years ago. As a sign of the popularity of this whiskey, it is now known simply as Writers’ Tears. launched in 2009 it had become an established stablemate to the other core Irish whiskeys in the majority of bars at home and abroad.
The next reason is that it is a superb quality whiskey which is very well priced. As I will detail below I really want more people to spend time with this whiskey and explore what it has to offer. It is a blend of pot still and malt without any grain and the profile is unique in the way it manages to balance these two elements.
The third reason is due to the respect I have for Bernard and Rosemary Walsh and what they have achieved in the Irish Whiskey world since they started over 21 years ago. Launching the The Irishman brand in 2007, Walsh Whiskey now have a range of 15 Irish whiskeys within The Irishman (8) ‘and Writers’ Tears (7) portfolio. They offer a great range of options, all of which are great quality at great prices.
As with previous Classic Reviews I will review the whiskey in detail while ignoring the background or technical detail. Before that I will speak with a company ambassador who is relatively new to the their role within their company and learn more about how they came to the whiskey world and what they have learned so far.
So let’s meet Brian Hogan, International Commercial Manager for Walsh Whiskey.
I met Brian in Dublin recently and we sat down to talk all about whiskey. Brian kept talking about the game of hurling for some strange reason but I, being from Cork, was anxious to avoid that particular subject!!
For those of you reading this and puzzled right now, let me explain. Brian played hurling for Kilkenny senior team between 2004 and 2014. During that time Brian enjoyed great success and won seven all-Ireland winners’ medals, two All-Star awards, eight Leinster winners’ medals and six national awards. He captained the team in 2011.
It was fascinating to listen to Brian’s experience in the sporting world. To learn about the level of dedication and discipline that was required to achieve success at the level he did with Kilkenny. Its all the more impressive when you consider that this is an amateur sport and Brian obviously worked in a demanding job at the same time.
Brian’s career, prior to joining the world of whiskey, was within the pharmaceutical industry working with brand management within a niche pharma company for 10 years after completing his arts degree in 2007. He then joined big pharma company in 2017 before leaving to join Walsh Whiskey in July 2018.
When I asked him about the move to whiskey and what inspired that decision, he recounted an experience he had in Kentucky whilst on holiday with the Kilkenny team. He has an uncle in Lexington Kentucky and they visited the Woodford Reserve distillery. He started to think about the process, the history and the whole story behind the product. He brought home a bottle and then learned more about Irish whiskey and became more informed about the available Irish brands. The idea of working within the industry began to take hold.
He lived, at the time, within short distance of the distillery. He became curious about the construction going on at the time and began to learn more about the company. He then saw an ad for the commercial manager role within Walsh Whiskey.
On researching the opportunity he was excited about working within a local company and which was completely different in size and style compared with big pharma. He was successful at interview and found he liked the people he met including Bernard, commercial Director John Kelly and the rest of the team. He joined on July 1st 2018.
Brian looks after western Europe as commercial manager with responsibility for the full brand portfolio. The role is for the development of the range within the trade and off trade. The development of the premium and super premium category is his key focus. Activating more accounts and supporting each of the markets. Brian highlighted the interesting variability between different markets and the different strategies required to satisfy the range of customer needs in the various markets.
Brian does not look after the Irish Market apart from the Travel Retail but he did comment that he believes the growth in Ireland will come from the super premium market through education and more people learning about the history and the quality of whiskey.
His final comments was interesting as he compared his previous business experience in the pharma world and the new world of whiskey. He finds the camaraderie and respect that exists in the whiskey world very heartening. He also gets to see his wife and two children more often which is a big bonus even if he isn’t winning medals beating Cork in hurling!!
From my chat with Brian I can see that, apart from the commercial experience and skills from previous roles, he also brings the enthusiasm and dedication to the whiskey world that brought him and Kilkenny great success in the sport of hurling.
I wish Brian all the best within his role going forward.
So.. time to see what this whiskey is all about… as usual I will spend time with it without water first and then with a drop or two of water to see how it changes.
Lets start with the aromas (WITHOUT WATER)
Mmmmm.. Yes!! .. this is exactly why this whiskey is a classic.. The perfect balance of Pot Still and Malt. There are very few whiskeys that manage to achieve this level of elegant balance. The nose tells you that this is quality and is well composed. To quote Jim Murray who gave this whiskey 93 points in his 2010 Whisky Bible when he said ” a glossy Pot Still Character rather than the usual fruity firmness. the recognizable pot still traits are shrouded in soft honey tones which dovetail with lightning kumquat -citrus tones”.
While I don’t often refer to Jim Murray, I think he is spot on with his comments on Writers’ Tears. The balance is fantastic between the rich pot still spice and the sweet fruit which is warm apple and more exotic yellow fruit. Then there is an undercurrent of some vanilla and butterscotch or dark sugar/honey.
Very interesting with this whiskey is that the overall flavour profile is so well balanced and the quality of the source liquid (that is the backbone of the blend) is at such a level that it is hard to believe it is as well priced as it is. There is also an elegance to this well put together dram.
Warm and inviting with great mouth feel. The arrival confirms everything the nose promised. The spice is more to the fore now and the toffee/ butterscotch is more rounded. The fruit is more demure but none of the balance is lost that was so apparent on the nose.
As the whiskey sits in the mouth there is more rich wood and more cooked apple. Whats really interesting is that if you leave the whiskey sit in your mouth and take a deep aroma sniff from the glass all the individual components of Pot Still Spice, Rich fruit and Dark honey/toffee dance around each other in perfect harmony.
Ok.. so I’m a fan for many reasons… the price, the quality and the composition but above all else the balance, the outstanding balance that is in a glass of Writers’ Tears.
The finish is reasonably long and the underlying toffee and dark honey notes follow through. There is also slight, distant new notes of sweet milky coffee and oily, nutty mild chocolate.
Now.. whats is like with Water?
First thing that comes through on the nose is the more spicy notes and there is more pronounced green apple than there was without water. there is more cereal / digestive notes. .. the negative is the profile has narrowed by a noticeable degree. Very interesting. I am trying to decide do I rate this whiskey with water or not ?
I’ll try the palate with water first and then decide.
Easy this one… do I recommend water for this whiskey? … No. The complete balance is lost with water. While the nose was interesting for the fact that the intensity of certain features were enhanced even though the profile narrowed, the palate does not work with water.
That’s it… I have really enjoyed spending time with this whiskey and also chatting to Brian. While only around for just over 10 years the Writers’ Tears Copper Pot offers a traditional and very enjoyable whiskey experience and therefore is a true classic and one of my favorite whiskeys for all occasions.
Slainte … till next time