Tullamore Dew 12yr Special Reserve

Posted by Irish Whiskey USA on

Tullamore Dew and the Irish Wolfhound have been linked for over 70 years. In February 2024, the 2nd largest selling Irish Whiskey brand worldwide redesigned their bottles, resulting in a sleeker shape and new label which brought back the iconic Irish Wolfhound image. Our review will look at the brand's 12 year Special Reserve expression and the legacy of the Irish Wolfhound.
The Irish Wolfhound is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, dating back to at least the 4th century. Revered by Irish Chieftans for their hunting and warfare abilities, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest breed, standing upwards of 7 feet! Despite its origins, the Irish Wolfhound is gentle in nature and makes a good family companion. In ancient times, they were owned by those of wealth, stature, and/or royalty. Irish Wolfhounds were so treasured that they were often gifted to ambassadors and foreign dignitaries. The Irish Wolfhound is the subject of countless writings over the centuries and became a part of Irish folklore and mythology.
Unfortunately, this symbol of Ireland suffered a similar demise as the Irish Whiskey industry as the number of Irish Wolfhounds shrank to dangerously low levels. The breed had virtually disappeared from Ireland by the mid-1800's. A breeding program was launched in the early 20th century with the help of imports from Germany. Much like the Irish Whiskey renaissance, the Irish Wolfhound today is considered one of the world's best breeds.  
The Tullamore Dew brand is approaching its 200th year distilling anniversary. The name is derived from their location in Tullamore and the initials of the general manager Daniel Edmund Williams. The Irish Wolfhound first appeared on a bottle of Tullamore Dew in the 1950's. The idea was initiated by Daniel's grandson who wanted to differentiate the brand's labels from traditional styles at the time and latched on to his grandfather's love of dogs. Per Tullamore Dew, "The wolfhound symbolizes the spirit of our whiskey and our hometown. We’re friendly, we’re loyal, yet when we’re on the hunt to make the best-tasting whiskey on the planet, we’re determined and unstoppable."
The 12 year Special Reserve blend is part of the brand's core range which includes the traditional non-age statement blend and 14yr and 18yr old single malts. The 12yr blend is triple distilled and bottled at 40% abv. The blend consists of all three styles of Irish whiskey: single malt, single pot still, and single grain. This triple blend differentiates it from other classic two style blends like Jameson or Powers. Tullamore Dew 12yr is also a triple cask blend with maturation in traditional refill barrels, ex-bourbon barrels, and ex-sherry butts. The blend contains a higher proportion of single pot still and single malt that have been matured for 12-15 years.
Tullamore Dew is the 2nd largest selling Irish Whiskey brand in the world. Fans of the traditional blend (and there are many) should also enjoy this further aged version. At the same abv, the differences are more derived from the additional maturation time and characteristics from the wood. Spiciness from the pot still and woody undertones provide nice balance to this very enjoyable blend.  Per their website, this expression has flavors of chocolate, dried fruits, and nuts along with a praline note. It is very approachable (similar to the traditional blend) but offers additional nuances that make it worthy of the average $45 price tag in the USA.

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