Normally Irish whiskey is produced slightly different as their Scottish family, but Cooley distillers have chosen to distill their Connemara in the same way as is common in the Scottish process, producing a single malt in stead of the 'standard' single pot still whiskey. On top of that, they kilned their malted barley over a peat fired heat source, giving Connemara a slightly peated, yet not overly excessive character.
Connemara peated single malt Irish whiskey
40% abv, caramel e150a added
A fruity nose, with dried plums, with a sweet vanilla and fresh, sour apples and the scent of a wet forrest in spring. It continues the fruity, sour sweetness, with hints of honey and raisins, cloves and a gust of earth on the taste while on the medium-long finish there is finally a hint of peat accompanying the vanilla, sour berries and dried plums.
I am impressed. She has a much more herbal character than most of her Scottish siblings, what gives her a different, not to say extra something.
57,9% abv, caramel e150a added
I smelled eucalyptus, various herbs, cinnamon and cloves with wood. There is a 'calm' taste that starts with honey and red fruits that after a few seconds changes into a spicy white pepper, with a medium-long, firm salty-briny wood finish.
Compared to her non cask-strength sister she has much more power, but that is of course mostly from the higher alcohol percentage.
Head to head they both have a completely different profile, but they are clearly related to each other. Given the fact they do not have an age statement or vintage, it is hard to say if the production of these two sample bottles are from the same or close series, but when the cask strength version is (severely) watered down it has just about the same profile as her little sister, so there is about 50% 'extra' in the bottle. In comparison, the price of the cask strength is also about 150% of the standard so there is little gained, except that you can choose to enjoy the cask strength as is, or watered down to just about the same level as the standard version.
It can do great as a change of taste, or to surprise your Scotch-snob whisky-friends with a good Irish single malt.