Whiskey, Neat! : Tullamore D.E.W The Original vs. Tullamore 12 Year Old Special Reserve


You’ve told your friends you like whiskey—and you’ve even put back a whiskey & soda on occasion—but the truth is, you don’t know jack about it. It’s okay. You don’t have to admit it to anyone. We all have dirty little secrets. (I’ve consumed more than one Four Loko in my life. See?)

The problem arises when you’re out at the new, trendy craft whiskey bar and your friends want to drink some good Irish whiskey. In order to hold your own, we’ve put together this quick guide showing the differences between two widely-available Irish whiskey—Tullamore D.E.W. The Original and Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve. You may not know anything about any other whiskies out there, but pretend like you’re the world master of Tullamore and, after a Manhattan or two, your friends will forget that you’re bullshitting with them.

(TL/DR: Fake it ‘til you make it.)


Tullamore D.E.W. The Original

On first approach, The Original has green apple and vanilla on the nose. It’s calm, not caustic or caustic and overly alcoholic in the way that younger products could be. The first taste repeats the fresh fruit flavor and sweetness. It goes down smooth and rounds out with a nice vanilla flavor. The finish on the whiskey is of medium length with a delightful creamy, buttery feel. Bourbon fans will find this end similar to four or five-year-old bourbons. For the younger version of a whiskey, it’s incredibly drinkable, especially on it’s own. The addition of a few drops of water heightens the fruity notes in the front and the vanilla on the back end.

Related: Swill: Ardbeg’s 200th Anniversary Single Malt Islay Scotch

Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve

Immediately, the difference is evident. The 12-Year is woodier on the nose. It’s the difference between walking down the tile aisle and the wood aisle at Home Depot. It’s deeper and darker flavor—it’s woodier, again, like freshly-polished flooring. There’s cinnamon undertones to the flavor that become more evident on the back end. It’s heavy and round in ways the The Original simply isn’t. The finish on 12-Year also lasts a good deal longer. It’s a nuttier, whereas the Original is distinctly vanilla and sweet. There is sweetness, but it’s buried by bolder, spicier notes. The 12-Year benefits from an ice cube in ways that The Original doesn’t need to. This is a whiskey for an experienced whiskey drinker. It packs a punch that could be hard for a rookie to handle, even if the allure of drinking a 12-year-old whiskey is there.

For the non-whiskey drinker in a whiskey-drinking setting, The Original is the route to go. It’s back-end sweetness and creaminess make it easy, especially for those used to bourbon’s sweetness. So next time you’re in a place where you need to drink whiskey, sidle up to the bar knowing that you can BS your way through the first few rounds with these little bits of info.