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The Return of Tullamore Distillery
Tullamore D.E.W. is an Irish Whiskey brand based out of the Tullamore Distillery in County Offaly. Since 2010, it has been under the ownership of William Grant & Sons, the Scottish family firm behind some of the most successful Scotch whisky brands in the world, including Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Grant’s.
The original Tullamore Distillery was established in 1829 by Michael Molloy. Tullamore was landlocked at the centre of Ireland but the distillery was well served by the Grand Canal that flowed through the town. Casks and coal could be shipped in and whiskey shipped out to Dublin and beyond.
Molloy made a success of the business and upon his passing, the distillery was taken over by his nephew Bernard Daly. Daly entrusted the running of the distillery to Daniel E. Williams whom he named General Manager. Williams oversaw the expansion of the distillery and later became owner in his own right. After his death, the distillery remained in the Williams family and soon the whiskey was renamed in his honour using his initials D.E.W.
The distillery eventually closed down in 1954, a victim of multiple factors, not least Stateside prohibition and trade sanctions forced on the country by the UK. The brand name was taken over by John Powers & Sons who went on to form Irish Distillers with two other distilleries. As Tullamore stocks began to dwindle, production was transferred to the new Midleton Distillery in County Cork.
By the 1990s, the Tullamore brand had been sold to the C&C Group who sold up themselves in 2010, this time to Scotch whisky giants, William Grant & Sons. At that time, Tullamore D.E.W. was still being produced at Midleton under an agreed contract with Irish Distillers. In order for Grant’s to increase production they would have to start doing it themselves.
In 2014, a new distillery opened on the outskirts of Tullamore, bringing the brand home for the first time in 60 years. Initially the distillery produced malt and pot still whiskey before a Coffey still was added in 2017 to allow the production of all three spirits to be carried out in-house. Today, Tullamore D.E.W. is the second-largest selling Irish whiskey brand in the world, with sales of just over 1,500,000 cases in 2020.
*Full disclosure: the whiskey reviewed in this article was included in an Advent Calendar which I was sent for free. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
The XO Rum Cask Finish is a triple blend Irish whiskey finished in barrels that were previously used to mature Demerara Rum. It’s bottled at 43% abv and retails around £25 a bottle.
Smell: The first thing I noticed was the aroma of grains. Breakfast cereals – cardboard box included. Malty. Oatcakes. A touch of citrus oak. Lemon freshness. Then the rum comes through with caramel and raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Taste: Soft, silky texture. Rum more prominent than on the nose. Caramel. Butterscotch. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Pineapple and a hint of banana. Cereals – muesli. Trail mix. Raisiny finish with lingering spice.
Thoughts: Despite a fairly powerful cask impact, the character of the grain spirit is still there. In other words, the whiskey is fully flavoured but well balanced. The spirit character comes through a little more on the nose while the rum takes centre stage on the palate but it all comes together to make a rather enjoyable wee dram.
Value for money: A whiskey of good quality at an incredibly reasonable price. A real bargain buy.
Buy Tullamore D.E.W. XO Rum Cask Finish at Master of Malt. Click Here.
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For more on Tullamore D.E.W. visit here