We begin our journey through the core expressions of Hyde Irish Whiskey with the No. 1 President’s Cask. This whiskey is undoubtedly the flagship of the Hyde brand as it recently won Double Gold, Best Single Malt Irish Whiskey at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Some people care about these awards, others don’t, but either way we have to give attention to the fact that this brand new whiskey company just won the top national award in its very first year of operation.
The whiskey itself is a 10-year-old single malt made from 100% malted Irish barley and distilled in small batches using a traditional copper pot still. It is double matured, first for 10 years in first fill ex-bourbon barrels from Jim Beam and then for another 6 months in European Hogshead casks that previously held Oloroso Sherry. While double maturation is common in Scotch whisky, this is somewhat unique to Irish whiskey as the majority is matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels. The parent company, Hibernia Distillers, allows the whiskey to mature for the first 10 years at the Cooley Distillery in North East Ireland before shipping it to their home off the rugged coast of Co. Cork, South West Ireland for the final 6 months of maturation. Like all of the Hyde expressions, the No. 1 President’s Cask is naturally colored, non-chillfiltered and bottled at a respectable 46% ABV.
In the glass, the whiskey’s appearance is of polished brass reflecting a red sunset through water. Again this is natural coloring and about what we can expect from a whiskey finished (not matured) in sherry casks. The texture appears relatively viscous, again non-chillfiltered, with thick legs as it gently swirls in the glass. Texture is something that I have come to appreciate and the fact that the whiskey before me has been bottled in a natural state (aside from slight dilution from the cask) is very appealing.
On the nose, OK wow. This is where it begins to matter most. It was just a few weeks ago that I tasted this whiskey for the first time and remember feeling my jaw drop when I nosed this one. In all honesty, I was approaching the whiskey with very little expectation if any at all and I could not have been more surprised to find something as exciting as this. Delicate fragrances linger deeper in the glass. Orange rind and jungle flowers weighed down by vanilla and honeyed baking spices. A wonderfully complex aroma that continues to invite you deeper and deeper. This is 10 years old!? This could easily be mistaken for something quite older. It’s a true Irish whiskey, not a Scottish, but it’s just as complex and aromatic as any premium single malt from Speyside.
On the palate, a soft and velvety texture coats the mouth as the rich sweetness of ripe mango overlay vanilla, ripe banana and tannic oak. In the beginning there is a lot of fresh fruit and some real maltiness but toward end there is a resurgence of dark baking spices. Everything is smooth, everything is balanced, everything is fantastic really. The ABV is 46% and that seems just right to deliver the full flavors with a little kick. A few drops of water will open up more of the right fruit but I quite like this one neat. It’s not too strong and the oily texture is really wonderful. The finish, ha! It’s one those whisky experiences that I simply don’t want to end. Hard to believe it is only 10 years and 6 months old. A long, very long finish progressing from red berries to honeydew rind. If you were to add a few drops of fresh sprig water, the progression will continue even further.
In conclusion, this is one of the good ones. In fact, The Hyde No. 1 President’s Cask is one of the few whiskies that I actually ran out and purchased immediately following my first tasting. It’s brand new and incredibly rare at the moment but it absolutely deserves a place amongst the great single malts in its price point. It seems that the majority of people still don’t realize that a growing number of Irish whiskey brands are now producing fantastic spirits. The revival of the traditional single pot still distillation method has reclaimed the world’s attention and it is about time. With that said, I am confident that we will be seeing Hyde on the market for many more years to come. I just hope it will remain as wonderful as this one is.