From the stools, booths and chairs of Santa Monica, Bobby Bodell and Michael Roach review the best catalysts for inebriation that this town has to offer. This week their selection was...
Connemara Single Malt Peated Irish Whiskey.
From the county of Connemara in Ireland, this single malt peated whiskey has been a work in the progress of perfection since the 18th century; a perfection that one could argue has already been reached in this beautiful bottle of fermented barley.
Being a rare find in the United States, Connemara could be considered something special solely for its scarce presence on American soil; but it is special for many other reasons, such as its rich flavor, smooth consistency and the look and feel of a whiskey that has indeed come straight from the heart of Ireland.
As with most fine whiskeys that have a long legacy of perfecting the style of distillation, it is considered a sign of respect as well as a preservation of the intended taste experience to serve Connemara neat.
In other words, if this whiskey touches anything other than glass and your lips, you are committing a serious offense against your taste buds.
Once the bottle is uncorked, the room fills with the distinct scent of the peat bogs that the county of Connemara is known for. When poured, the color can be compared to that of a light lager beer, sans head.
The nose is, as one would infer from the description on the bottle, predominantly peat.
When wafted into the nostrils, a slight burn that would excite any true whiskey connoisseur makes itself ever present, boasting earthy, warm notes more reminiscent of a scotch than a traditional Irish whiskey.
Once the whiskey is sipped, however, its heritage makes itself perfectly clear. A thin, smooth consistency unlike the typical thick, syrupy feel of an American bourbon or whiskey shows the drinker that regardless of the nose this is in fact a bottle of true Irish whiskey.
But with no burn in the back of your throat and the warm sensation in your chest, you know that you are consuming a quality liquor.
The taste of Connemara is very similar to its scent: mostly peat. This unique flavor comes from the process used in drying and preparing the barley for distillation.
Connemara's distillers dry the malted barley for several days over a hot burning peat fire. And, considering the region and its abundant swampy bogs, it is no wonder that this style is found most commonly in the county of Connemara.
But peat isn't the only sensation your mouth will have when sipping this liquor.
After a wash and a glass, one begins to taste a mild spice paired with a mild sweetness that creates the illusion of ginger and other similar spices.
Due to its complex array of flavors and scents, Connemara is best enjoyed after a full meal by itself or paired with a bold, robust cigar for smokers.
Drinking this whiskey while eating would not be recommended, only because it would take away from the overall experience of this fine whiskey.
In the end, Mike and Bobby give Connemara four and a half out of five bottles, putting it up on the top shelf, but still leaving room for some improvement.