Writers Tears Irish Pot Still Whiskey
Writerṣ Tears is an unusual Irish whiskey. Classically, the Irish method is to triple-distill malted and unmalted barley together, in a single copper pot still. This is known as a Single Pot Still whiskey. But most entry-level Irish whiskey is actually a blend of single pot still whiskey and cheaper-to-produce grain whiskey (i.e., much like a blended Scotch whisky, except with single pot instead of single malt).
Writers Tears is priced similarly to some entry-level Irish blends, but is actually a vatting of 60% malt whiskey and 40% single pot still whiskey, all distilled in copper pots. This is an unusual pairing, and is likely to be more flavourful than a typical Irish blended whiskey.
The name reflects a fanciful association of this style of malt/pot still Irish whiskey and writers’ inspiration. It has been said that they enjoyed it so much, that when they cried, their tears were of whiskey. 😉
Writers Tears is sourced from a “Cork distillery” (read: Midleton). It is aged in American Oak bourbon casks, and bottled at 40% ABV. It is currently $50 CAD at the LCBO.
Here is how it compares to some typical Irish blends at this price point:
Bushmills Original Blended: 7.69 ± 0.44 on 14 reviews ($$)
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve: 8.37 ± 0.31 on 6 reviews ($$)
Green Spot: 8.46 ± 0.42 on 14 reviews ($$$)
Jameson Irish Whiskey: 7.81 ± 0.55 on 19 reviews ($$)
Jameson Select Reserve (Black Barrel): 8.32 ± 0.41 on 16 reviews ($$)
Jameson Signature Reserve: 8.40 ± 0.37 on 4 reviews ($$)
Powers 12yo Reserve: 8.60 ± 0.26 on 6 reviews ($$$)
Powers Gold Label: 7.88 ± 0.48 on 10 reviews ($$)
Redbreast 12yo: 8.77 ± 0.42 on 21 reviews ($$$)
Teeling Whiskey Small Batch: 8.24 ± 0.42 on 18 reviews ($$)
Tullamore Dew Blended: 7.75 ± 0.39 on 15 reviews ($$)
Tullamore Dew Blended 12yo: 8.10 ± 0.27 on 8 reviews ($$$)
Writers Tears Pot Still: 8.48 ± 0.38 on 14 reviews ($$)
Yellow Spot: 8.77 ± 0.27 on 14 reviews ($$$$)
Writers Tears is clearly one of the best values for the price in this class (i.e., has the highest score for the $$ price class of Irish whiskeys). This is particularly impressive, given that it is close to the overall average rating across my entire Whisky Database (~8.54).
I recently sampled this from a friend’s bottle, newly opened for the evening.
Nose: Crisp orchard fruit, with green apples, pears, and plums. Light honey sweetness. Fragrant camphor/eucalyptus aroma, which is distinctive. Unfortunately, there is also a fairly strong organic solvent smell, mainly acetone (i.e., nail polish remover). If not for the latter, this would be a lovely nose. May fade once the bottle has been opened for awhile.
Palate: Same fruits as the nose, along with a touch of green banana now. Not really floral, but I am getting a dried hay note. Vanilla, butterscotch and a touch of baking spice (mild – maybe nutmeg). Still with the eucalyptus, moving more into sweet menthol. Unfortunately, this still brings with it echoes of that solvent – it seems like the two are somewhat inseparable. No real burn from the ethanol, easy to sip.
Finish: Medium. I suppose you could describe it as gently warming. Slightly sweet up front, dries to a more astringent effect.
I haven’t come across this much eucalyptus since the Swedish malt whisky, Mackmyra First Edition. Unfortunately, I can’t really separate it from the solvent aroma, which drags down Writers Tears to a below average score from me personally (although still close to the Meta-Critic average). This is an easy to sip whisky, more flavourful than your typical Irish budget blend.
I think it makes a very good introduction to the lighter Irish pot still style, as it still has a decent amount of flavour. I don’t have a lot of experience of this malt/pot still class, but Writers Tears strikes me as very Midleton-like in its profile (not surprisingly).
For reviews of this whisky, Jim Murray, Tone of Whisky Saga, and Serge of Whisky Fun are all very positive. Ralfy is also generally supportive (and has an amusing backstory for his review). Somewhat less positive reviews include Richard of the Whiskey Reviewer and the guys at Quebec Whisky.