Cooley started distilling whiskey (both grain and malt whiskey) in copper pot stills in 1989, after having bought a distillery that produced wodka and other spirits in column stills. Since 1996, they have a peated brand named Connemara.
The 10 years old Cooley whiskey we’re reviewing now, is an independent single cask bottling of peated Connemara matured in a bourbon barrel. A bunch of similar versions by Cadenhead is available – there seems to be one release each year.
Cooley 10 yo 1992 (59,3%, Cadenhead 2003, bourbon, 234 btl.)
Nose: great peatiness, with tar and lovely farmy notes (wet dogs, sheep stable – not unlike some Broras). My favourite kind of peat I would say. Slightly medicinal as well. Nicely integrated with young, sweeter notes (candy, yellow apple).
Mouth: powerful attack on citrus and peat. Grassy barley. Vanilla cream. Oak. Hints of caramel.
Finish: medium length. Peat smoke and oranges. Getting drier and marginally bitter in the end.
Cooley is making good no-nonsense stuff. Complexity is not the major goal here, but the Irish peat is really unique and the end result has plenty of qualities. The recent bottlings by Cadenhead (14-16yo) cost around € 75.