How does one make Irish whiskey better? A couple of answers come to mind. Some may be saying, “You can’t! It’s already perfect!” Others may be saying, “Add more whiskey!” For the minds behind Tullamore D.E.W., the answer was “Finish it in a rum cask!”
They weren’t wrong. The resulting product, Tullamore D.E.W. XO Rum Cask Finish, is the latest permanent expression from the distillery and tastes pretty damn good.
To create the whiskey, the Tullamore team took their original whiskey and experimented by finishing it a variety of different rum casks (at any given time there are multiple experiments going on, which have yielded, among other products, the Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask finish). The winning type of casks were those filled with Demerara rum, which impart tropical and spice notes onto the whiskey.
The rum was also a product of the company’s latest campaign, The Beauty of Blend,which highlights that, much like Tullamore D.E.W., blending impacts just about everything and everyone for the better.
Taking a step back from Tullamore D.E.W., it’s important to note that during the 16th and 17th centuries, tens of thousands of Irish immigrated to the Caribbean. Once there, they blended their knowledge of whiskey distilling with the local rum distilling knowledge to making everything better — and everyone a little bit boozier — in the process. The release’s label reflects this heritage and inspired by trade maps and passport stamps.
(To wit, Irish Jamaicans are still the second-largest population on the island after Jamaicans with African ancestry.)
Enough history, though — we know you’re here for whiskey, and whiskey you will get.
On the nose, you’ll find vanilla and oak playing against citrus notes and the slightest bit of spice. The body is smooth and creamy, with tropical banana notes mixing with caramel and raisins, followed by a long finish full of ripe dates and a little more spice. Those who are familiar with Tullamore D.E.W.’s triple-distilled whiskeys will get all that they already know and love and then some.
Great on its own, Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish also works great as half of a D.E.W. and a brew. While a nice Irish stout goes wonderfully with the classic Tullamore D.E.W., we recommend an IPA that gives off the tropical citrusy notes that would only boost those flavors in the whiskey (some options include Sierra Nevada’s Tropical Torpedo or Green Flash Brewing’s Spanish Trampoline, which you can read more about here.)
Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish is 43 percent ABV, retails for around $27, and will be a permanent addition to the Tullamore D.E.W. line — a great thing to remember if you’re looking for something new to break into on St. Patrick’s Day. If Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish isn’t going to do it, though, you could always head to the Caribbean for a vacation.