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Keeper's Heart Irish + Bourbon Whiskey Review


Keeper's Heart Irish and Bourbon Whiskey Blend

There's a fun new release on the market capturing a new form of whiskey innovation: blending Irish whiskey with American bourbon. The brainchild of master distiller Brian Nation, this release aims to bridge a gap between categories that have historically remained very distinct. Though many Irish whiskeys will employ used bourbon barrels in their finishing, the river doesn't often flow the other way given that bourbon needs to be aged in new,, charred American oak.


From the Keeper's Heart website, Brian's background is described well:

He is an absolute legend in the world of Irish Whiskey and we couldn’t be more proud to call him a member of our family. Brian’s experience speaks for itself. For the last 7 years he was Master Distiller for some of the most renowned and high quality Irish whiskeys in the world including Jameson, Redbreast, Midleton Very Rare, the Spot range and Powers Irish Whiskey.
It is not just Brian’s taste for whiskey that brought him to Keeper’s Heart—Brian was captivated by the opportunity to bring his skills and family to America in order to explore new expressions in whiskey, bringing together two whiskey traditions to create something entirely new. We are thrilled he is part of the family.

The blend consists of triple distilled pot still Irish whiskey, Irish grain whiskey, and presumably MGP bourbon given the mash bill listed.



I've long been vocal about keeping Irish whiskey and bourbon separate, previously berating Redbreast cask strength for having too much bourbon influence. I mentioned that at "117.4 (and with some bourbon barrel aging going on) I'm too closely reminded of a plain bourbon itself; something that I would reach for if that was my hankering". I've long enjoyed both styles of whiskey, and long preferred to keep them separate, to be used for different moods and different times of year. Despite all that skepticism, I have ventured to give this release a fair evaluation tonight. I have had several previous tastings where I explored and jotted down some formative thoughts so I know that any individual tasting I conducted was not a one-off. Now let's get down to business!


I want to mention that Keeper's Heart provided this bottle at no cost to me and with no strings attached. I thank them for the opportunity to give this an honest review!


 

Company on Label: O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co

Whiskey Type: Blended Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: Unconfirmed percentages of 100% Malted & Unmalted Barley, 100% Malt and the bourbon mash consisting of 75% Corn, 21% Rye, and 4% Malted Barley

Proof: 92°

Age: NAS, though all subcomponents are listed as minimum 4 years

Further identification: This is a release I believe came out in 2022; it comes alongside several other releases that spans an interesting product family

 

Nose: Right away creamy pot still viscosity coats the nostrils. A deep inhale produces bright notes of vanilla, hay malt and buttered King's Hawaiian dinner rolls. Layers of malt part to reveal hints of caramel and butterscotch. Creamy coffee bean aromas mix well into a tiramisu sweetness. The Irish influence seems to dominate on the nose. Traditional notes of shortbread cookie can be found in every corner. There's an inherent metallic characteristic that seems to attach to all the other flavors. Deep inhales leave me wanting for more volume. Let's dive into a sip.


Coming back I find a lot more oak alongside a soft river of freshly squeezed orange juice. Delicate nutmeg and gingerbread characteristics layer in softly. I can't understate how low volume this pour is. It's beyond approachable and would stand out to novice whiskey drinkers who don't want to appreciate layers of taste and smell. Ground coffee and raspberry tart can be found when really (and I mean really) chugging some air through the nose. The empty glass smells of Pirouline wafer sticks, clementines and a big city asphalt jungle.


Palate: Oily buttercream frosting jumps out at me first. Another sip evolves the simplicity of the first sip with popcorn and orange pound cake. Caramel and light lemon peel layer in softly. Everything here is beyond delicate to the point of being nearly muted. Another sip evolves into raisin bread, though it is distinctly missing a desired layer of cinnamon to complete the profile. My last sip is oily, viscous and perfectly content being a silky smooth delivery of the same buttercream frosting the glass started with. The linger is short and mellow with hints of tarragon, menthol cigarettes and raspberry gelato.


 

Rating: 3/5


This is a very simple whiskey. I think it's been blended for true mass-consumption and that's totally cool. A ton of people are going to love this release, but your diehard Irish whiskey lovers and long time bourbon fans are probably not going to be flocking to find a backup of this one. I myself found this quite off-putting when I first opened it, but it has started to grow on me now on the fourth time I've revisited this. Hopefully this review helped you. Let me know what you think down in the comments. Cheers!

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2 Comments


Dave Bieter
Dave Bieter
Nov 26, 2023

I bought this based on hearing about it on sports radio. That sounds dumber than it is— I never buy anything based on advertising. I like Irish whiskey. I really like bourbon. The combination intrigued me.

I agree 100% with your analysis. The second and third glasses with days in between tasted much better. But ultimately, no.

But I have to comment on your descriptions. “Big city asphalt jungle”? Really? “Another sip evolves into raisin bread?” This is the first time I‘ve read this. I thought you were satirizing, and had missed the joke— the Onion does whiskey reviews.

So. Really glad I read this. I will read it again. You’re very good. But dial it down…

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AmongstTheWhiskey
AmongstTheWhiskey
Dec 01, 2023
Replying to

Hey Dave - thank you for taking the time to check out the review as well as go above & beyond with a thoughtful comment. I'm glad to hear we're aligned well generally on our experiences of this whiskey! It's decent enough, but not something I'll find myself going out to buy again personally.

As for some of the tasting notes, those are indeed things that I perceived in my slow & thoughtful tasting of this glass, which can sometimes take as long as 2 hours to fully go through. I air on the side of thoroughness rather than trying to distill what is already fairly indescribable into something simple and boring. Since writing this I have started to add…

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