Last Updated on February 16, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
For a true taste of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day seek out HYDE
For many years Irish whiskey has been overshadowed by its bigger, more renowned Scottish (or dare I say Scotch?) brother with its wide range of single malts and blends. In recent years, however, there’s been something of a renaissance, with the recent UK launch of award-winning HYDE Irish whiskey a further sign of the revival.Before falling into decline in the first part of the 20th century, Irish whiskey was one of the most popular spirits around. While Ireland was home to around 30 distilleries in the 1890s, by the early 1970s there were only two, and both owned by just one company.
Since the 1990s though, the popularity of Irish whiskey has soared, thanks to the emergence of some exciting new whiskey brands from independent ‘’bonders’’, like HYDE, and others.
Back in the day, every town in Ireland used to have its own whiskey: distilleries would produce the ‘’new make’’ spirit and sell it to the bonders, typically publicans. These would take their empty beer barrels to the distillery, fill them up and then keep them for ageing and blending in a bonded store. With 80% of the final whisky taste a direct result of the interaction between the basic spirit and its wooden cask, Ireland could boast a huge variety of regional whiskeys.
Conor Hyde is the latest in a long (since 1640 long) line of bonders. He selects only the very finest whiskeys from the best Irish distilleries (a growing number these days), which are then finished in a variety of casks from around the world to give each expression of HYDE whiskey its distinct character. With whiskey, it really is all about the wood, and to take an example, HYDE’s President’s Cask No.4 uses a six-year-old spirit first aged in flame charred oak casks, formerly used for Kentucky bourbon, before transfer into charred, dark rum casks from Barbados for a further six months of finishing. (The charring allows the spirit to penetrate deep into the oak).
To be called Irish whiskey, it must have a minimum of 40% ABV. HYDE goes a bit further, with every whiskey at least 46% for a fuller, richer flavour with a long, smooth finish.
In addition, they do not chill filter any of their single malts (most distillers use this process to remove the substances which cause ‘’whiskey haze’’, a cloudiness which can occur when ice is added). HYDE’s higher alcohol level stops this haze from forming and allows for a more natural whiskey, one which retains the organic compounds which influence the final flavour. Because of this HYDE believe that true whiskey connoisseurs will taste the difference. But HYDE is not just for those with a more educated whiskey palate – in HYDE’s President’s Cask No.4 non-connoisseurs (like most of us, I guess) will simply enjoy a fabulous tasting whiskey, taste buds bathing in its rich vanilla, almost banoffee, flavour against a rum background.
In summary, HYDE’s President’s Cask No.4 is a very drinkable single malt with plenty to interest whiskey aficionados of all kinds, something to sip and savour (but remember to enjoy responsibly!).
So, for a true taste of Ireland you should definitely seek out HYDE whiskeys – and in the UK they are to be found at the Master of Malt (from £39.95). Each whiskey comes in a limited edition of 5,000 bottles and all are proving very popular, so with St Patrick’s Day not far off, don’t delay!
Looking for a whiskey cocktail? we love a good classic whiskey sour