Day Nine in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent.

Tullamore Dew was an Irish Whiskey I ended up falling into after first falling in love with their commercials. You can watch my two favorite at the bottom of this post. It turns out that they are also doing some really new and cool things in the Irish Whiskey world!

tullamore 12History

Originally started in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland in 1829, Tullamore Dew is the original triple distilled, triple blend whiskey. Tullamore D.E.W. is named after Daniel E. Williams who worked his way up the distillery ladder from stable boy to master distiller.

In 1953, it was sold to Powers, and production was moved to Midelton which at the time was responsible for almost all the Irish Whiskey production in the world.

Most recently, they were bought by William Grant & Sons, and they’ve opened a brand new Irish Whiskey distillery focusing on pot-still and malted Irish Whiskey in Tullamore. That means they’re making Tullamore whiskey in Tullamore for the first time since 1953.


At first smell of the Tullamore Dew 12yr Special Reserve, all I can think is, “Smells like Irish Whiskey.” Then, before tasting, I immediately tried a heavy smell of the general off-the-shelf Tullamore and it was extremely aggressive. Even found hints of mothballs and nail polish remover. (Keep in mind that I really do like Tullamore Dew. Even the budget line.)

Going back to it again it feels subtler given the context. It’s still triple distilled, blended, and aged, so it’s got all the mild and friendly tones of a lovely Irish Whiskey.

The taste is sweet and candy. There’s a hint of bitterness at the end that you could probably attribute to the 12 years in the barrel. If I drink this first, the only thing I can think is that it’s a really tasty but not overly remarkable Irish Whiskey. Maybe a bit sweeter than usual.

But I had a problem settling with that thought. Because honestly, that’s what I think of the generic budget line Tullamore. So instead I took a generous sip of the Tullamore dew Budget and was greeted almost immediately with a whisky twice as aggressive and 1/3 as sweet. Then going back to the 12yr, I find it’s much smoother than I realized at first.

This is a weird one. I’ve been going back and forth now for half the evening trying to decide what the primary differences are other than age. I can’t say that I’ve pin-pointed it, but I can say that I’ve had a damn fine night.