I’ve never been a god-fearing person; however, I do often wonder about the quality of the bar in the afterlife. I imagine there would be nothing more rewarding than an effervescent brew sliding down your throat after a gruelling day of moral penitence, but place yourself in a 350-degree furnace and that beer’s warm and flat before you’ve taken your first sip. So, after reading Tucker Max’s best seller ‘I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell’, I thought “Stuff that. I’ll take heaven any day”. Having said that, I may well still be swayed into accepting an eternity or two in purgatory if old boy Lucifer would consider stocking the devilishly moorish 10-year-old, sherry-finished single malt Irish whiskey, Copper Alley from The Dublin Liberties Distillery.
Copper Alley whiskey takes its name from the Liberties area of Dublin; a riotous quarter of the city, fondly referred to as ‘Hell’ where, back in the 1700s, an oak-carved devil stood watch over the entrance. This limited release, single malt whiskey has been double-barrelled and aged for 10 years in bourbon casks, before being finished off in 30-year-old Oloroso sherry casks for an additional six months.
The sherry casks themselves were a rare find from master distiller Darryl Mcnally, who hand-selected them from a batch of just 31. Darryl claims that his inspiration for seeking out the sherry casks came from tasting the whiskey after 10 years resting in bourbon casks and finding that it just needed a little “Something extra to really bring it to life”. So, working closely with his cask partners, Darryl came across 31 beautifully preserved 30-year-old Oloroso sherry casks, that he just “Knew” would give the whiskey the distinctive edge that it needed. As there are only 31 casks available, this whiskey is very much a one-off and will be little repeated, making every ephemeral sip of Copper Alley just that little bit sweeter.
The whiskey itself is a non-chill-filtered, single malt that’s been bottled at 46% ABV. Since its global release in September of last year, its won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and is priced at around £65 (at Harvey Nichols) for a 70cl bottle. This light and elegant whiskey is not overly complex; on the nose it presents as quite sweet with hints of chocolate praline, sultanas and dried apricots but the actual mouth taste is more well-balanced than the nose might suggest. The wine flavours imbued by the sherry casks are predominant but is balanced out with a load of wild honey and vanilla as well as some lighter, fruitier notes.
If loving whiskey is wrong, then I don’t wanna’ be right and The Dublin Liberties, Coppa Alley might just be the blend that’ll help me on my road to Hades.
Melanie Chenoweth is a London based, freelance food writer and photographer. If you can eat it, she’ll snap it. Then eat it. Then write about it.
Photographs courtesy of The Dublin Liberties Distillery