The Waterford Dunbell 1.1 Single Malt Irish Whiskey

750 ml blue glass spark plug

[All the Waterford whiskies we were sent are 50% abv and made from locally-grown Irish barley. Trying four of the first five releases gave us the chance to assess and to muse about the importance of ‘terroir’ for whiskies. Did we seize that opportunity, writing a thoughtful set of remarks on the alchemical emergent properties arising from using local barley and local water, then aging the newmake locally? We did not! Did we discuss how such hypothetical epiphenomena might affect a whisky? We did not! Did we spend time discussing the fact that the Waterfords are non-chillfiltered? We did not! ]

Tasting notes:
The nose of the the Waterford Dunbell, release 1.1, has me feeling that I’m sleeping on a pillow of living grasshoppers and cicadas, alive, chittery, and squirmy. Tickling my nose and leading me to wonder if, in fact, I’m really just Hunter S. Thompson, and I’m not actually sleeping. Or, it could be the My Pillow guy, infested biblically with a plague: Something is up! I also get the sense that I’m in a high-quality woodshop, and my nose is (gently, gently) being squoze in a bronze vise equipped with a rosewood handle. There is a magnificent frisson as the pleasant miasma of aromas is heightened and focused by the peril my schnozz finds itself in. There are stewed fruits—apricots, kiwis, and boysenberries—and a sense that a corner is being turned.

The mouth is a delightfully creamy lemon bar whose tartness has been vitiated by the mad culinary science of J. Kenji López-Alt. Concentrated parfaits. Beautiful, but not yet complex. Clean, in a “whisked out with a twiggy besom broom” kind of way. (For those who care about etymology, the phrase “twiggy besom broom” is about as redundant as The La Brea Tar Pits.) I found a robust, rambunctious, rumbustiousness to it: It leaps lively! 

On the finish, we found poutine with white gravy. Mmmmmmm. Poutine! Some cracked pepper notes, a sense of botanicals and daisy petals dried in an elm box, and an old acoustic guitar being strummed by Paul Brady. The nose flows merrily into the mouth, which smoothly and elastically elongates into the finish. There’s a virtue in, if you will, this sort of a simple complexity: One that remains true to its vision, forgoing modulation and development. In this sense, it reminds me of an astonishing cocktail made by an artisinal mixologist in a five-star hotel bar. So much there to explore! A complex set of notes that hang statically in one’s mind like the after-echo of a piano’s crescendo.


On the scale of workers at a one-star Michelin restaurant–

The Waterford Dunbell, release 1.1, is the Grillardin–It’s the grill chef, thus near and dear to my heart, and while it’s not a high prestige position, it’s the sort of job for someone who will soon jump to opening their own restaurant, the kind that will eventually make it as a Chef’s Table episode.






–Our thanks to Raj Sabharwal and Glass Revolution Imports for the sample!


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