BLENDED IRISH WHISKEY
THE PIRATE QUEEN
This whiskey is named after the famous pirate queen of Irish lore. Much of her early life is not written about, rather the stuff of legend, but the fact is that she was a true historical and remarkable figure. From an early age she snuck onto her father’s fleet of ships by cutting her hair short and lying low. Eventually she was regarded as part of the crew and participated in trades, raids and other seafaring activities. Although she’s known as the “Pirate Queen,” her first nickname was “Bald Grace.”
Her father Owen O’Malley was lord of O Maille of Clew Bay in County Mayo off the west coast of Ireland. By all accounts he raised her almost as a boy and encouraged her to follow her dream and ignore social norms. She was also well educated, even speaking fluent Latin; this level of education was uncommon for a girl. By age 16 she was a seasoned seafarer and married her first husband, Donal O’Flaherty. She bore him three children before he was ambushed and killed while hunting by the rival Joyce clan. Having killed the Donal, the Joyce clan proceeded with intent to take Donal’s castle; after all it was just a woman. She drove them off with fighting so fierce that they compared her to a hen protecting her brood; to this day the castle is still called “Hen’s Castle.”
After her husband’s death, Grace returned to her family’s land with her three boys and many of the men who served under her after Donal’s death. She had a number of ships at her disposal, which she used for trade and other pirate activities earning her the nickname “The Pirate Queen.” She was fierce, educated, intelligent, and ruthless.
WHISKEY OR WINE
When Stephen Cope and his partners launched Grace O’Malley Spirits, they went to an uncommon place to find a master blender. Paul Caris, Grace O’Malley’s cellar master and master blender, came with a Bordeaux winemaking background to the spirits world. He cut his teeth in spirits until, as a consultant, he was offered a job as a master blender in Cognac. He jumped at the chance and has never looked back since.
Grace O’Malley Spirits sources their whiskey from Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk and while the relationship is producing excellent results, Grace O’Malley is building a maturation warehouse nearby in order to have more control throughout the process. In addition to the Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey we tasted here, the company is releasing a range of special blends featuring different finishes like the Rum Cask and Dark Char Cask that are already garnering awards in spirit competitions.
This blended whiskey greets you with subtle bourbon notes on the nose accompanied by a green, floral character. The bourbon-like vanilla and toffee notes really start to emerge as the whiskey sits in the glass a bit. The palate is quite round with a delicious honey, fruit, and oak complemented by a crisp apple note on the finish.
Cigar Pairing: My Father – The Judge
This is an enticing marriage of two very different styles of product. The My Father – The Judge is a bold and intense blend with a heavy-handed dose of dark flavors like earth, cocoa, and pepper complemented by a nuanced collection of secondary notes while the Grace O’Malley is a sweet and fruity whiskey with a smooth, creamy delivery. When combined, the whiskey takes the edge off the pepper and earth allowing more notes of walnut and chocolate to come to the forefront. The whiskey on the other hand feels like its body is increased along with a rich, creamy sweetness.