I was lucky enough to come across a sampling of Concannon Irish Whiskey, a new brand that launched in early 2012. Concannon debuted as a joint project between a California vineyard and an Irish distillery and the resulting collaboration is a unique spirit. While many Irish Whiskies are smooth and somewhat character-less due to the triple distillation that typically occurs, Concannon has a full-bodied and robust flavor profile. When compared side by side to Jameson (which I typically have hanging around the house), the Concannon had more of a smoky note with a rounded fruit profile, while I found the Jameson lighter with a much shorter finish.
The primary reason, it seems, is the barrel aging process that they use to create Concannon. The whiskey is aged for four years in used bourbon barrels followed by four months in Concannon Petite Syrah barrels. The result is a complex combination of toasty oak alongside residual faultiness from the wine barrel. Although Irish Whiskey is often thought of as a more mellow, approachable cousin to Scotch Whiskey or American Bourbon, Concannon is doing something that will change that perception in a very good way.
I tasted Concannon on its own and then went to work to determine how to use it in a cocktail. Given that it is nearly St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate to have an Irish Whiskey cocktail or two in your repertoire. I don’t ascribe to the need for a green cocktail on St. Patrick’s Day, but I will condone the use of a green spirit, in this case Green Chartreuse. This cocktail, which I call The Concannon Saint, combines the smokey notes of Concannon Irish Whiskey with the herbal notes of Green Chartreuse, the sweet apricot of Rothman and Winter liqueur, a splash of Lillet and some Lemon Bitters. For texture and length of finish, I tossed in an egg white and I used Angostura bitters in an eye dropper for visual appeal. The resulting liquid is savory, balanced, and long-lasting.
The Concannon Saint
1.5 oz Concannon Irish Whiskey
0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
0.50 oz Rothman and Winter Apricot Liqueur
0.50 oz Lemon Juice
0.25 oz Lillet Blanc
2 Dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
1 Egg White
Angostura Bitters for use on the foam.
Combine all the ingredients except the Angostura Bitters in a shaker without ice and dry shake for 20 seconds to emulsify the egg. Add ice and shake for another 20 seconds. Strain through a hawthorne strainer into a chilled coupe. Allow the cocktail to settle, then use the eye dropper to add bitters to the egg foam on the top. Stir the bitters lightly to distribute and drink!
For some Concannon approved recipes, check out their site.