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A blend of grain and malt Irish whiskies, read more about this pale golden spirit from the island of Lambay
Legend has it that Cecil Baring bought the island of Lambay in 1904 simply after seeing an advert saying 'Island for Sale' in The Field magazine. Now, a century later, this large island off Ireland, a few miles from Dublin, has a new project. The Barings joined with the notable cognac house, Camus, to launch Lambay as an Irish whiskey brand in 2017. Like many newer outfits in Irish whiskey, Lambay do not currently distil their own spirit, instead sourcing it from other Irish distilleries. The partnership with Camus brings access both to cognac casks for finishing their whiskey, as well as the skills of Camus’ master blender, Yonael Bernard, in overseeing the final product. As a small island, Lambay’s finishing casks are also exposed to a maritime atmosphere, though this affects the whiskey at a notably more restrained level than an island scotch such as Talisker, let alone Laphroaig.
While Lambay also have an interesting malt whiskey and an upcoming single malt whiskey that delve deeper into the company’s flavour profile, it’s the Small Batch Blend that caught our attention.
A blend of grain and malt Irish whiskey, with no age statement, it’s non-chill filtered and a pale gold colour. On the nose, it comes across light and delicate, with pear, a touch of citrus, a little butter and a floral hint of lavender or violet. On the palate, it is again light: the sweetness of very pale malt and a hint of marshmallow, baked fruit, the spiciness of vanilla and pepper, plus a hint of cumin and a slight herbal edge. The floral note continues and a tiny hint of salinity pops in. The finish runs with the sweetness, and as it fades out some of that spiciness remains, bracketed with a hint of salt and the nuttiness going over to a light woody dryness.
The Small Batch Blend is intriguing, as although it hits many of the archetypal Irish whiskey touchpoints with a light, smooth and sweet framework, the balance of flavours veer a little out of what I would expect. The impact of the cognac finish and the sea air is restrained, but still give this Lambay something a little unusual. For a perfect serve, if you don’t fancy it neat, a lighter whiskey like this takes well to being drunk long with soda and plenty of ice as a highball. Alternatively, lean into that link with cognac by putting it in the place of brandy in a classic cocktail like a sidecar.