I'm always on the lookout for a new Trader Joe's product, be it whiskey or cheese, since they tend to have quality products at good prices, even if I haven't liked their private label selection of single malt Scotch.
Tipped off by one of my faithful commenters, on a recent TJ's trip, I picked up a new TJ's product, an Irish single malt made by the Cooley Distillery. At $20 it's certainly a bargain compared to other Irish single malts on the market, though it is only four years old.
The Cooley distillery makes a variety of styles of whiskey, including blends, grain whiskeys and single malts. They make single malts under the Tyrconnell label and peated single malts under the Connemara label.
Trader Joe's Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 4 years old, 40% abv ($19.99)
The nose on this is fruity and malty with some sherry (though the label says this is aged in bourbon casks) and a bit of peat as well. The palate starts off with dried fruit, sherry and malt, quickly yielding to peat smoke which gradually dominates along with some salty notes that are typical of peated whiskeys. The finish has fruit on the nose but peat on the tongue.
I have to say that given my experience with Trader Joe's private label whiskeys, I wasn't expecting much, but this is a surprisingly good whiskey. It is nicely balanced with distinctive notes of fruit, malt and peat which make it wonderfully drinkable (and I don't care what the label says, there is definitely some sherry in there). I'm guessing this is a vatting of the malts that go into Tyrconnell and Connemara. In fact, I think I like it better than the standard issue of either of those malts.
TJ's deserves some kudos for going for a non-traditional flavor profile for their store label Irish Whiskey. I'm guessing they will hear some complaints from people who aren't used to this range of flavor in their Jameson.
For $20, this is a no-brainer. If you live in the vicinity of a Trader Joe's, go get some.