Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michael Collins Gets Into the Single Malt Game

The Single Malt Irish Whiskey category is getting mighty crowded.

Last year, we saw the debut of Tullamore Dew's first single malt. This year, it's Michael Collins' turn.  Now on American shelves is the Irish distiller's first 10-year-old single malt, and in a newly designed bottle, too. The standard Collins whiskey also wears this new look. (Collins previously had a single malt, but without a date specification.)

Like its older brother, the 10YO Single Malt is double distilled in copper pot stills. The mash is a combo of malted barley and peated malted barley (Cooley is the only Irish distillery to dry some of its barley over peat fires) and matured in small ex-Bourbon casks. And, in a telling image differentiation, the whiskey has a cork, as opposed to the screw top the blended whiskey sports. They're both 80 proof.

As might be expected, the single malt—which is slightly darker in hue than the blended—has more fire, spice and intensity, and the peat is quite apparent. It will please Scotch lovers, by whose standards it will most resemble some Speyside breeds. Yet, it is recognizably Irish in character.

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