Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
The collection is already available in the US, Canada, Asia, Russia, Ukraine and selected EU and Asian markets.
It comprises The Wild Geese Classic Blend (40% abv, £17.79 for 50cl), The Wild Geese Rare Irish Whiskey (43% abv, £35.39 for 70cl), The Wild Geese Limited Edition (43% £44.99 for 70cl) and The Wild Geese Single Malt (43% £54.99 for 70cl).
The whiskey, which is double-distilled and aged in single-use white oak bourbon barrels, is produced at the Beam-owned Cooley distillery in Riverstown.
Despite pledges by Beam to phase out the supply of third-party brands, the contract for production of The Wild Geese at the Cooley distillery was described as "watertight" by a representative of the Avalon Group.
In April a statement from Beam read: “In making the transition to building the Cooley brands, Beam is respecting existing supply contracts and appropriate notice periods. Approximately half of this year's Cooley stock will still go to third parties.
“Most affected own-label brand companies did not have supply contracts and were informed of this decision as soon as it was made so that they could source alternative supplies. There are a number of own-label Irish whiskey companies that source whiskey from alternate suppliers.”
James Rackham, chairman of the The Wild Geese's new UK importers Emporia Brands said: “We are very excited to bring this exceptional range of premium double-distilled Irish Whiskeys to the UK market.
“Interest in Irish Whiskeys has never been greater and our launch campaign is therefore aimed at top bartenders and high quality spirits retailers with a strong emphasis on appreciating these internationally acclaimed whiskeys on their own and as superb ingredients in a range of high-class cocktails.”
Through a series of launch events, Emporia has targeted UK cities Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Brighton.
Speaking at the recent Liverpool event Nick Wykes of consultancy group IPBartenders described the whiskey: “It’s light and sweet on the palate. The grain gently comes through leaving a clean finish of honey and citrus fruit. It is an exceptional whiskey for cocktails.”