William Grant’s Tullamore D.E.W. brand isn’t as well known as the dominant Jameson and Bushmills ranges, however they are trying to change this.
This Phoenix forms part of the town of Tullamore’s coat-of-arms and this expression was released as a celebration of this history.
It’s created from a blend of grain, malt and unmalted barley and finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. Unusually for Irish Whiskey, it’s also been bottled at a high-strength 55% ABV.
Quite a raw nose due to the alcohol content, some fruity sherry notes, but mainly green barley sourness.
Some sugary grain sweetness appears afterwards.
Neat, the initial taste is quite rich and smooth with apricot and pear. Unfortunately this moves aside and a very fiery spicy oak dryness comes through and dominates. This continues through the very dry, slightly sour finish with a medium length.
Adding water (and this takes a lot of water) does smooth things out, but that fiery middle is still dominant and overall it feels a bit unbalanced.
This expression is quite different from the typical Irish Whiskey offering which focus on smoothness over anything else. Phoenix is much more robust than this, however unfortunately the flavours are too harsh and any influence from the sherry cask is completely dominated by the fiery middle and overly dry finish.
More of this kind of thing is welcome from Irish distillers, but unfortunately Phoenix is a miss for me.