February 12, 2011

John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey

Bill Dowd photo
John L. Sullivan was one of the first Irish American names I learned as a kid. The last bare-knuckle world heavyweight boxing champion who hung 'em up in 1889 after a 75-round title defense was a familiar sight in posters and illustrations that abounded in athletic clubs, saloons and meeting halls. This tribute whiskey comes from the Cooley Distillery, Ireland's only independently owned distillery. (Scroll down for notes on its Michael Collins brand.)

This is a small-batch blend of single grain and single malt whiskeys, aged 4 to 10 years in used American white oak barrels that had contained bourbon. That gives Sullivan a touch that has helped so many Scotch whiskies gain extra notes of smooth maturity.

John L. was a complex man, said the sports scribes of his day, so it is only fitting that the whiskey bearing his name is likewise.

I detected layers of spice, citrus and then vanilla, coupled with the light oakiness of the bourbon cask. That is followed by touches of rosewater, honey and cinnamon, with the latter clinging slighty to the long finish.

As with Cooley's Michael Collins, I much preferred this whiskey over a cube of ice to release its notes, although I admit it wasn't at all bad in a Manhattan, a testament to its bourbon-like character.

Suggested retail price:$24 for the 750ml bottle.

Go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook.


Rob said...

Agreed. It's notably better than the Jameson's I usually grab off the shelf.

Dennis said...

For less than $20 a bottle, John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey tasted better to me than the expensive (about $100) Middleton my brother-in-law poured for me 2 weeks ago.