They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and they're right, but I find it perfectly acceptable to judge a whiskey by it's label. Well, at least let the label lead to your decision to purchase a new whiskey and give it a try. Actual judgement comes later.
While perusing the shelves of a local liquor store, trying to find something different, unique, and unheard of (to myself), a particular label stood out.
With a label I liked, from a country I love, and named after a character in one of my favorite movies, it was a no-brainer to give this a try. Being unfamiliar with this whiskey, I did a little research. From the Phillips Distilling website, it is described as "an Irish Whiskey distilled in Ireland using the traditional single copper pot still method". That's about as much as I learned from that website, so I continued in my investigation.
It didn't look promising.
This whiskey didn't have great reviews and averaged about a 2.5-3 out of 5 stars on most sites. There were reviews that included "I took a sip of this on ice and NOT ALL THE ICE in the world could help this. One sip and I chased with straight vodka to burn the flavor out of my throat. I'd drink Black Velvet for 5yrs straight before I had 1 more shot of this overpriced diaper juice." Diaper juice? I've not heard of this reference in regards to literally anything, including what is normally found in diapers, so my concerns continued to raise. Our first whiskey review and we're going to sip diaper juice? Fan-Tastic.
Another review went a little like this: "This is my go-to Irish Whiskey. Perfect mix of sweetness and boldness. Toffee on the finish. One ice cube, and it's perfect! Highly recommend!!" How do we go from literally one end of the spectrum to the other in a few short seconds? The internet. That's how. The same people who call this "diaper juice" are also calling it over-priced, so I trust no one. I quit reading the reviews and thought, fuck it, we're here to do our own reviews and I don't care what anyone else thinks. If I like it, I'm going with it. If I don't . . . well, I'll probably still drink it. What else should one do? Pour it out? Throw it away? Maybe . . . share with friends? That's probably what will happen, so be warned.
Sidenote: We are in no way professionals at this and just taste stuff to give you our opinion. If you're looking for legitimate whiskey reviews, please feel free to read one on a different website.
Upon sniffing the whiskey, I knew this wasn't going to be smooth. I was intrigued when detecting a hint of sweet citrus, but this was short lived as the pure rubbing-alcohol fist packed a punch of its own. I hoped the flavor would be distinguishable after, or at least during, the overpowering alcohol.
The first sip had a good taste. Didn't have the citrus burn but was actually sweeter than it smelled. Also short-lived and the back-end had serious burn. Still good though after a couple sips.
With our shot glasses half gone from sipping, we decided to finish it off. Wow. That's when Maggie really presented herself in her famous Hell-Cat ways! If a whiskey could have filed down teeth and brass claws, it would be found in this bottle with the label I originally loved. The remaining shot lingered in the back of my throat like a persistent cough but in no way resembled something I would refer to as diaper juice.
Adding ice helped. Without giving a chance to water down, but rather give it a nice chill, it got crisper and toned down the harshness of the alcohol. Still, I was searching for its original sweetness or a hint of lemon. Adding a soda mixer helped even more. At this point, it doesn't really matter what you're drinking and Hell-Cat's harshness was easily covered up with the sweetness of the soda.
In all, I would give this another try with just some sips. It's perfect for packing on the mountain to taste around the camp fire or at base camp.