Walking around the many bars of Dublin is a real pleasure; high ceilings, old brown wood, plenty of whiskey on the back shelf, stretching as far as the eye can see. My latest foray took me to the Palace Bar on Fleet Street, a wee venue with laughing customers from all walks of life, taps all a pouring and a barman who took care of everything with the ease of a professional who knows their duty and knows it well. Apparently my agonizing over the whiskies proved too much for him, and a bottle of the Dead Rabbit was plonked before me. “This” he told me “this is the dram you want right now.”
The Dead Rabbit gets its name from the famous New York bar, The Dead Rabbit. The whiskey is a joint project, designed and produced by Master Distiller Darryl McNally from The Dublin Liberties Distillery (somewhere I hope to visit soon) and Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, released for the bars fifth anniversary on February 12th 2018. The whiskey itself is a blend of malt and grain, matured in bourbon casks and then finished in small batch virgin American Oak Casks, guaranteed 5 years of age. I have to say, that barman really hit the spot with this choice, and the boys in who created it really hit the spot with this whiskey.
The nose opening the whiskey is spectacular, a headlong dive into a kitchen where we melted demerara and brown sugar over the stove to make a rich toffee, mixing in dark caramel, touches of chilli chocolate and vanilla before pouring the resulting masterpiece over a malt biscuit base. When it cools down, it’s been slathered with honey, and then sprinkled with passion fruit, apricot, crushed dried violet and rose petals and sparse macadamia nuts interspersed through the wonderful slice we just made. Adding water takes it back a touch, but gives a background of icing sugar, musk sticks and iced queen cakes. We’re off to a good start with this one.
The palate is sinking our teeth into the slice and discovering some more things were mixed in when we weren’t looking. That lovely toffee and macadamia is still there, the honey ready at the front but the spice is more prevalent, with nutmeg coming through, a cinnamon stick floating somewhere out of sight, a layer of chocolate that we missed all astounding the senses. More fruits open as well, and a tray with toffee apple, banana, ginger nut biscuits all come into the fray. The finish wraps it all up, nice and dry, silky smooth and layer of nutmeg, ginger and dark chocolate.
Now as beautiful and rewarding the taste is, it’s the mouthfeel that really does justice to this whiskey. It’s silky, supple, subtle and smooth, the feeling of velvet on the mouth. Its feels like watching melted caramel drop; rolling and cascading waves that consistently brush against the mouth, fully bristling with flavour and almost aching to burst out of the mouth and just sing. While I understand the gents from The Dead Rabbit had a good amount of input, if this is the baseline of what the Dublin Liberties Distilleries can, do then I can’t wait until they have something more out there.