When it comes to fruity whisky, the Irish malts and specifically this batch of independent 1989-1990-1991 bottlings originating in Germany are a must, almost a category on their own.
At The Whisky Fair it turned out this batch hasn’t finished: there an Ireland 1990 from The Whisky Agency and an Ireland 1989 bottled by Maltbarn. Let’s try them head-to-head.
Ireland 28 yo 1990 (48,4%, The Whisky Agency 2018, barrel)
Nose: life is good. Fruit galore, full of mango, guava and bananas. Also hints of vanilla cake and marzipan. Ripe apples, a few hints of barley. Tangerine liqueur. A rather round and candied version.
Mouth: excellent. Fruit salad again, with jammy apricots, pink grapefruits and tangerines. Later also passion fruits and juicy pear. Also herbal notes and mint. Sweeter and slightly more liqueur-like than the 1989, and just spectacular in its fruitiness.
Finish: long, tropical, a little coconut maybe, as well as balanced spices. Superb.
Another one of these excellent fruit bombs, perhaps a little more on the warm side which supports the spectacular tropical notes. Reminds me of the Irish Malt 1990 sister cask bottled for TWE.
Ireland 29 yo 1989 (48,8%, Maltbarn 2018, bourbon cask, 73 btl.)
Nose: same deep fruitiness, perhaps a little brighter. One guava less, one passion fruit more. Added hints of apricot. And less of those cake notes. But they’re close together anyway. Light whiffs of citrus green tea and grassy notes.
Mouth: less exuberant fruits here, or so it seems. It’s more influenced by the herbs and oak, which is okay just not what this series is known for. Fruit tea. Hints of kiwi and passion fruits underneath. Subtle resinous notes.
Finish: quite long, still on the herbal side and a good dose of fruits.
I would say their noses were on the same height, but on the palate things grow apart and the TWA bottling comes out more fruity and less herbal. Maltbarn has released an impressive series of these casks so far, including better 1989 casks. Around € 360.