Clonakilty is located on the southwest coast of Ireland. Garrison Brothers resides in the Texas Hill Country. Consult a map, and you’ll find that the two distilleries are situated about 4,500 miles apart, separated by the eastern half of the U.S. and a great big ocean. And yet, despite this geographic hurdle, they teamed up on a new Irish single malt whiskey that’s been finished in Garrison Brothers Balmorhea bourbon barrels.
The seven-year-old whiskey was initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels before moving to the Texas whiskey barrels for an additional seven months. Garrison Balmorhea is a high-proof powerhouse bourbon that is aged for four years in new American white oak barrels and then transferred to a second new American white oak barrel and aged for one more year.
“The Balmorhea barrels bring a distinct finish to the whiskey compared to what we normally find from American oak,” says Oisin Mulcahy, Head Distiller of Clonakilty Distillery. “This is due to the wildly different climates that exist in Texas and Clonakilty.”
It’s a fair point. Central Texas is hot—like really hot—while the Ireland coast is chilly and damp for much of the year. The Balmorhea barrels interact intensely with the Texas whiskey inside, which seeps in and out of the porous wood during aging. Those spent barrels retain plenty of oomph for their new role as a vessel for this Clonakilty whiskey.
The Clonakilty 7-Year-Old Irish Single Malt contains aromas of sea salt, vanilla, and fresh-cut wood, followed by bananas, nuts, plums, spices, and cherry. That all leads to a long conclusion of wood, spice, and vanilla.
This one time bottling is now available at select retailers throughout Texas. It’s bottled at a hefty 58.8% ABV and has a suggested retail price of $69.99.