Maurice O’Connell of The Liberator has been busy during lockdown, and now has three new whiskies available, some new iterations of past releases. The latest version of Irish malt finished in tawny port casks sees the port influence dialled back a little “to add sophistication”, O’Connnell says.
Then there is the aptly named Storehouse Special Port ’n’ Peat (€35 per 350ml bottle). “We released the first batch for Belfast Whiskey Week, and it went down well, so we’ve done a wider release. It may eventually become a core whiskey, but this time only 400 bottles will be produced.” The peat influence is there but subtle. “I don’t like standing in chimneys and so I don’t want the peat to be overpowering; we wanted to accentuate the port bit.” Tasting the Port ’n’ Peat, I found the peat element restrained, balanced nicely by a rich palate of tropical fruits, coffee and dark chocolate.
Lastly, next year The Liberator will release a single estate whiskey made from barley harvested in 2018 from their Hilly Field site. This was finished in barriques first used by a First Growth Château in Bordeaux. The first 800 bottles (400 for Ireland) of the Lakeview Single Estate Pot Still Cask 5003 will be released in March and can be pre-ordered now for €95 or ,alternatively, a 55-litre quarter cask is available for €5,000 excluding VAT. “It is made with Kerry-grown barley, with interesting maturation conditions. The climate here is very wet, which I hated growing up, but I believe the constant changes in pressure have a real effect.”