Weekly Whiskey- The Emerald 1865 Ransom Straight American Whiskey

Last year I had the pleasure of attending Cuts Camp at Ransom Distillery in Sheridan, Oregon. Creating a batch of Old Tom was exciting to say the least, but tasting my way through the entire Ransom portfolio was mind-blowing! You can taste for yourself at their tasting room in Mcminnville, Oregon.

Sitting pretty at 86 proof, Ransom has truly outdone themselves with this throwback mid-19th century Irish style whiskey. The mash bill of this exquisitely handcrafted spirit is using 67% two row malted barley, 7% unmalted barley, 15% rye, and 12% oats. 

Irish whiskey often incorporates unmalted barley, as it was historically a way for distillers to avoid taxes on malted barley products. This also creates a unique flavor profile, which is a little less sweet than single malt spirits.

Oats are not often used in mash for beer or whiskey because they create a viscous gummy mess that is difficult to handle. Some anti-coagulants can be used to prevent clumping, but many whiskey recipes avoid using it altogether. Why? Well, the more surface area of the grains are exposed, the faster and more evenly the yeast can break down the sugars in the grain.

Since Ransom is doing small batch, by hand, they are able to replicate this recipe from 1865 which has a small percentage of oats. Oats, like corn, cannot be used alone as it does not contain the correct enzymes necessary for making the brew. 

From the Ransom Spirits Website:

"Thanks to colorful folklore passed down through the generations, we know that the Irish whiskey of today little resembles its 19th century predecessors. Trouble was, there was none left of the traditional whiskey to taste in our quest to recreate the long lost gems of the Emerald Isle. Fortune gave us two good turns; a British excise agent who recorded an Irish mash bill in 1865, and our friend David Wondrich, who found said recipe poring over the microfiche annals of history and passed it along to us. With this mash bill as our guide, we set out to create our own interpretation of a traditional Irish whiskey. To call our version modern might be a stretch— We grow a percentage of the barley organically on our farm, our grains are milled, mashed and fermented in small batches at our distillery and farm in the emerald hills of Sheridan, Oregon, and we distill according to our senses in our handmade, direct-­‐fired alembic pot still. The Emerald matures in a mix of French and American oak for three years, and is hand bottled, capsuled, and labeled.  The result is a highly aromatic spirit with the weight, richness, and complexity of its forbearers."

The Tasting Game + Weekly Whiskey - Connemara Cask Strength

A fun game I like to play is blind tasting whiskey. The game goes like this: Among a few friends, I ask the bartender to inconspicuously pour his choice of whiskey within a certain price range. He brings over a glass of whiskey to the table a few minutes later. Each person at the table tries to fill in 3 answers: 

1. Country of Origin ( 1 point )

2. Category of Whiskey ( 1 point )

3. Exact Distillery / Brand ( 3 points )

This game really helps to sharpen the tasting skills, as well as slowing down consumption and really savoring and appreciating each glass. Judging by mouth feel, color, nose, and flavor as a group gives you instant feedback about the profile of each whiskey. After the bartender reveals the label, I then like to research further to see if my tasting notes match up with other descriptions. One of my favorite invaluable resources for this is Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible  

Why am I telling you about my favorite game? Because this is the whiskey that stumped me: Connemara Cask Strength. It completely goes against everything I expect in an Irish Whiskey. This peated single malt has all the nose and mouth feel of a Single Malt Scotch! Very interesting to taste in a lineup of Irish whiskeys. 

Coming from Kilbeggan Distilling Company at 57.9% ABV, Connemara uses no chill filter, and no coloring. This unique whiskey that stands out against others in the Kilbeggan lineup which includes Kilbeggan, Greenore, and Tyrconnell. This award winning whiskey according to Kilbeggan: 

"Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions, Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey. Connemara is the most decorated Irish whiskey with a huge collection of Gold Medals and has been honoured as the “World's Best Irish Single Malt”. Connemara allows you to unearth the Peated Pleasures of Ireland."