In what seems a dizzying array of new Irish Whiskeys, Prizefight Irish Whiskey stands out among the truly exciting ones. My fondness for this whiskey is due in no small part to the subtle hints of rye which brings a new, and welcome, zing to an otherwise traditional blend. There’s something quite pleasant that happened to this whiskey during its lengthy stay in West Cork, Ireland, resting comfortably in American rye barrels and soaking up all that spicy goodness. It’s as if a little bit of New Hampshire’s own Tamworth Distilling made its way into every bottle. West Cork Distillers gamble paid off with this one. While there’s no rye in this mash bill, this gives me hope that those rumors of rye in Irish Whiskey mash bills of the future may actually come true.
I like to rate my whiskeys by the day of the week, or sometimes by occasion. A Monday whiskey is not the same as a Friday whiskey, which again is not the same as a Sunday whiskey. It makes sense to me. I bet if you grab a dram and ponder it, it’ll make sense to you as well.
When it comes to the Prizefight Whiskey, I’m inclined to give it a Wednesday – Thursday rating. I can’t quite pick one day for it. Wednesday is hump day, and that means it’s time to put the first part of the week behind you and start planning for the blessed weekend. Which makes it a good day. Thursday is a weird day because it’s so close to Friday. This whiskey is good for both of those days.
I hope the distillers aren’t offended at the Wednesday – Thursday rating. I mean it as a compliment. Plenty of good whiskeys have yet to make past Monday in my book. Conversely, my weekend and special occasion rated whiskeys are in whole category altogether. Honestly, my only complaint with this whiskey is that the bottle, while amazingly crafted and just beautiful, must have a hole in the bottom because I’m going through it way too fast!
Alright, let’s be serious. Let’s talk about the whiskey. On the nose, there is just enough zing to let you know you’ve gone up just a tick at 43%. A good level, I think. With a second pass, a sweet spiciness revealed, most likely the influence of the rye casks. Fruit, vanilla, pepper all come time mind.
I know I keep bringing it up, and there’s more to this whiskey than the finishing barrels, but honestly, the rye influence is what separates Prizefight from the herd. Rye has a spicy zest that grabs your attention in a way that reminds me of our much-loved unmalted barley. While there’s no rye in this whiskey, the influence of the rye barrel in unmistakable in the taste. Subtle sweetness wrapped in a hint of spiciness. Beyond that, it’s a bit on the lighter side, but it works.
One other note on the taste. This whiskey does a weird trick with my brain. At first, there’s a distinct flavor and creamy mouth feel where you really notice the single malt, but just as soon as you blink, it settles into a nice blended whiskey feel with, as I said, a uniquely light yet spicy flavor profile. I like it, it’s odd. It’s a fun dram.
The finish is clean. I’d prefer it linger a bit. I suspect this is where the grain in the blend is most noticeable. It finishes quickly, but cleanly. No worries though, I’m happy to go back for another sip and start the whole process over again.
As of now, Prizefight is only available in Dublin Duty Free and a few retailers, along with several Dublin whiskey bars like The Exchequer, The Blind Pig Speakeasy, Peruke & Periwig, and The Palace Whiskey Bar. I am sure this list grows daily, so check them out at prizefightwhiskey.com
When all is said and done, I can highly recommend this whiskey. If you find yourself lucky enough to be someplace where it’s served or sold, by yourself and your friends a round, or even pick up a bottle. Especially if it’s Thursday. Or Wednesday. Whenever, really.
VP - Irish Whiskey Society of America