icewine

A First for Irish Whiskey – Writers’ Tears Finished in Icewine Casks

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Walsh Whiskey, producers of Writers’ Tears and The Irishman whiskeys, has unveiled a first for Irish whiskey with an icewine cask finished whiskey.

Writers’ Tears – Icewine Cask Finish has been produced in collaboration with Inniskillin Winery in Niagara, Ontario, Canada’s leading producer of icewine.

The limited-edition release is a unique triple-distilled vatting of single pot still & single malt whiskeys, finished for an additional 12 months in icewine hogsheads, before being bottled at 46% ABV.

Walsh Whiskey founders Bernard & Rosemary Walsh visited the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, in January 2020. There they worked with Inniskillin Winery and its then Head Winemaker, Bruce Nicholson (now retired), touring the vineyard and sampling fermenting wines before selecting 12 hogshead casks originally coopered by the Berthomieu Cooperage (estd. 1906) in France.

The dozen selected hogsheads were disgorged of Inniskillin Icewine in March 2020 and shipped to Ireland where they were filled with Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot (at high strength) in May that year. Checked at monthly intervals, the first Irish whiskey ever finished in icewine casks was bottled 12 months later, in May 2021, at 46% ABV.

Walsh Whiskey Managing Director, Bernard Walsh, said: “I first tasted icewine in 2011, so plans for this expression have been fermenting in my head for some time. With our core Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot expression we have a unique combination of predominantly spicy Single Pot Still married with Single Malt Irish whiskey. This core expression gets a whole new dynamic complimented beautifully by the intense natural sweetness imparted by Inniskillin’s show-stopping icewine.”

He added: “When taking us around the vineyard, Inniskillin’s then Head Winemaker Bruce Nicholson (now retired) explained how they only harvest well-matured, thick-skinned Vidal grapes when the weather presents a window of opportunity between -8 and -14 degrees Celsius. Bruce’s ideal ‘sweetspot’ being -10 to -11 degrees. Based on what we have produced, Inniskillin Icewine certainly contains that intense sweetness that can carry through in the wood to our whiskey.”

3,500 bottles of Writers’ Tears – Icewine Cask Finish are being released to Canada, the USA and Ireland, retailing for CAN$99.95/US$84.99/€70. The whiskey is in market in Canada and Ireland and will be on shelves in the USA in early November. In Ireland it is available exclusively from the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin.

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