Athrú Annacoona

Among the crop of Irish brands that have sprung up since the turn of the millennium, Athrú is particularly interesting. While others focus on the traditions of pot still whiskey, Athrú has chosen to produce a product in its own style: luxury single malt whiskey. Dave was lucky enough to sample the Odyssey Trilogy releases back in April, and I’ve now had an opportunity to try another Athrú whiskey, the Annacoona.

Produced at Athrú’s Lough Gill distillery, the Annacoona is a part of the Creation Trilogy of 14-year-old whiskies. All three are sourced whiskies, finished in Athrú’s own casks: Hungarian Tokaji for the Keshcorran, Oloroso sherry for the Knocknarea, and a mixture of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry for the Annacoona.

The Annacoona’s packaging immediately hints at the segment of the market Athrú is hoping to attract. Put simply, it’s stunning. The whole trilogy is luxuriously decked out to resemble “First edition books”. These are complete with stories from Irish mythology and history, with artwork to match. The effect is excellent; this is clearly a luxury product. Even the satisfying way the case magnetically closes adds to the feeling of quality.

Athrú Annacoona

14-year-old Irish Whiskey

48% ABV matured in ex-bourbon casks for 11 years, then finished in Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks for three years.

No statement on chill filtration or colouring.

£108.90 (Master of Malt; information on the full Creation Trilogy can be found on Athrú’s own website)

Nose: The nose is dominated by a balance of orange oil and dark cocoa. This is undercut by sherry notes of boozy raisin, sultanas, and delicate spice.

Palate: Again, there is an excellent balance, this time of orange and butterscotch. There is more to explore though: peach, strawberry, plum, salted caramel, and a little spicy heat from white pepper and cinnamon.

Finish: A medium-long finish with oak, manuka honey, and orange zest. It develops into bitter orange as it fades.

Opinion: The Athrú Annacoona is a delicate yet complex dram. I was really impressed by the balance across the nose, palate, and finish. This is a sign that Billy Walker and his team at the Lough Gill distillery know how to manage their casks and achieve a brilliant cask finish. We can clearly expect great things when their own spirit begins to come of age. This is even more the case given that Master Blender Helen Mulholland has recently joined the Athrú team from Bushmills, bringing a wealth of experience.

The combination of whiskey, art, and story to produce a truly luxury product is a concept that is starting to emerge in the industry. While the delivery here is very good, it is not quite in the same league as the Fable whiskies, which really set the bar in this area. However, the presentation adds a lot to the experience of drinking this dram; it feels like something you can proudly offer to a discerning guest.

Given some of the words written on this site about disclosure and openness, I have to raise one point. This is a potentially misleading way to label a sourced whiskey:

This does lead to the question of value for money. At over £100, this is a lot for a 14-year-old sourced whiskey. Although I like to know a little more about the provenance of a dram costing that much, the lack of disclosure doesn’t detract from what is an undeniably high-quality whiskey. Whether this is a make-or-break factor affecting the decision to purchase a bottle is ultimately up to the consumer.

That said, the Athrú Annacoona is a true luxury product, justifying its high price tag. It leaves me enthusiastic about the brand’s future offerings.

8/10

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