The London Shop: what we’re drinking
Author: Tom Leigh
Each month, we turn the spotlight on a different bottle that our London Shop team are currently enjoying. To kick off a new year, Tom Leigh has selected Walsh Whiskey’s Copper Pot from Irish husband-and–wife team Bernard and Rosemary Walsh.
This article distinguishes between “whisky” (the common spelling of the spirit) and “whiskey” (used exclusively when referring to the Irish style).
What is it?
In short, this is quite possibly the best whisky on our shelves under £50.
It’s an easy-to-love spirit, with the requisite balance and complexity to feel both at home in the well-used glass of an enthusiast, yet delicious enough to ignite a peat-fuelled fire in the belly of a future whisky-lover. Few whiskies have that ability to appeal to experts and novices alike; that versatility and unpretentious nature is what makes Copper Pot so endearing.
Most apparent on the nose are toasted almonds, oats and butterscotch, forming a rich and enticing base. Some orange peel and a suggestion of gingerbread too. This richness is tempered with brighter aromas of crisp green apple, hay and beeswax. The texture combines slightly oily single malt with creamy pot-stilled spirit for a luxuriously structured and flavoursome palate.
What’s the story behind it?
A family-owned operation, Bernard and Rosemary established the award-winning Walsh Whiskey in 1999 with the aim of helping to revive the reputation and and appreciation of the Irish whiskey industry. It is certainly an exciting time for whisky’s fastest growing region. Just three distilleries were operational in Ireland at the time of Walsh Whiskey’s conception; two decades later there were over 30, one of which being Walsh’s.
Copper Pot is the entry point of the Writer’s Tears range, a recreation of a lost style from the 19th century – Irish whiskey’s golden era – combining premium single pot stilled and single malt distillate. It was known as the “Champagne of Whiskey” at the time, a cuvée which capitalised on the scope for innovation afforded in Ireland relative to its more rigid Scottish cousin.
Single pot still whiskey is a style native to Ireland, using both malted and unmalted barley. The unmalted barley originally featured through necessity – a cunning means of dodging the riot-inducing malt tax imposed by the English in the 18th century – giving the whisky a unique character: viscous texture, spice, and cereal grain flavours. More barley-ish, for want of a better word.
This single pot-still style remains popular today, as fans of Redbreast or Middleton’s “Spot” range will recognise, but the unique marriage with single malt showcases Walsh Whiskey’s eye for innovation, while paying homage to Ireland’s rich distilling roots.
What to drink it with?
Whisky is seldom given the respect it deserves as an accompaniment for food. Pigeon-holed as only a digestif, the bridesmaid of the meal and never the bride. The nutty character and richness of Copper Pot paired with cured scallops in ajo blanco – a Spanish creamy almond sauce – would make a compelling case to change this perception. For the less extravagant fig frangipane or buttery flapjacks work a treat.
Shop the Walsh Whiskey Copper Pot here, or visit us in our London Shop at 63 Pall Mall