A number of friends of mine always stop drinking temporarily for the month of January.
Deciding I needed a little respite, I attempted this about 5 years ago and bizarrely, I ended up teetotal for 6 weeks. Only problem was that my return to alcohol ended in an early bath- one glass of red wine with friends and I was so trollied that I was sternly advised to 'get to bed' by Mrs Caskstrength. Abstinence supposedly makes the heart grow fonder, but to be honest, I decided then to give the whole 'Dry Jan' a wide berth. This year, I felt like a little health kick. So after a temporary foray into fruit cleansing (which proved to be a total let down) I have slowed down the first 2 weeks of January drinking to the odd miniature, when the mood takes me.
Last night, after a particularly stressful day (my faithful companion Bobby had to have his tail amputated...) I fancied something powerful, warming and peaty to lift my spirits. I would usually reach for an Islay at this time, but a miniature of Connemara's Turf Mor arrived shortly before Christmas and i'd been looking for a good reason to open it.
Turf Mor is Connemara's new peated expression - and hellishly peated it is at 58ppm, which puts it squarely in to Islay territory. It's also a very young caskstrength whisky (around 3 years old) so one can immediately expect fireworks.
Connemara - Turf Mor - heavily peated Irish single malt - 58.2% - limited to 20,000
Nose: Immediate notes of rubber, honeycomb, a blast of medicinal peat and something diesel-like. Not tremendously inviting off the bat, but let it calm down in the glass for 10 minutes and some lighter, vanilla ice cream/ cream soda notes begin to emerge, along with some tangy, zesty jelly sweets (I believe they're called 'Tangfastics'..)
Palate: Hot and tremendously earthy on the first sip, with a slight return of the rubber from the nose. Again, given time, the beast begins to calm down and with a dash of water, some fresh herbs make their presence known, with milk chocolate, a touch of apricot jam and a sooty, dusty aftertaste.
Finish: The sootiness develops into something a lot sweeter, but your mouth is left feeling completely ransacked by the initial earthy peat, with a slight leatheriness in tow.
Overall: This is a bruiser of a dram (rather like the massive ginger tomcat that needed turfing out from my garden this morning) and it may frighten those with a slightly nervous disposition or limited experience of peat. But allow it to settle down and there are a few hidden depths... qualities that Cooley are starting to really understand- and in turn, shovel into their whiskies. A sort of hidden treasure for those who persevere.