The Global Spirits Masters is a tasting panel comprised of master sommeliers, masters of wine, senior buyers and acclaimed mixologists. Each year they convene to blindly judge entries from thousands of brands, entered across dozens of categories. The experts have just released their autumnal list of the best liquid on shelves right now. And today we’re going to take a closer look at what they named as the top bottling of Irish Whiskey: The Donn.
This ultra premium single malt from The Craft Irish Whiskey Company went on quite the journey before it ever even arrived at the judges’ table. Initially it spent four years in ex-boubon barrels, before heading into ex-Tawny Port pipes. The whiskey then went back into ex-boubon—only this time, heavily toasted examples of the oak—before being kissed by a final finish in 68-liter PX barrels. That’s four different barrels in just over six years of maturation.
It’s a decidedly laborious, and unusual, approach for relatively young juice, bottled at an exacting 46.1% ABV. But clearly the methodology has paid off remarkable dividends, as evidenced by the glowing praise of the GSM judges.
“The Donn has a rich nose with rye-like dusty character, a beautiful deep amber color, and Port-like red fruit notes on the nose,” said panel chair Bryan Rodriguez-Curtis, of Harvey Nichols. “The palate is very rich – pure luxury; it makes you stop, it demands your attention and delivers indulgence, complexity, a full-bodied texture, and wonderful, complex flavors. This is a divine whiskey that should be sipped slowly and savored with good company. Superb.”
Hard to imagine higher praise than that. The only thing he fails to mention is the unique mouthfeel of this particular whiskey. It boasts a silky nuttiness, which is rarely found in alcohol of this age.
It’s also worth noting that this expression comes from the same brand that made headlines for releasing a $2 million luxury set back in 2021. In fact, The Craft Irish Whiskey Company has made a name for itself with flashy, showstopping design elements and astronomical pricing for the flagships of its portfolio.
But the brand has been busy proving that there’s significant substance behind the style. Last year, Craft Irish collected the prize for World’s Best Irish Whiskey at the 2022 Worlds Whiskies Awards for its Devil’s Keep release. That bottle sits on shelves at a jaw-dropping price of £12,400. The Donn happily retails at around $220, making it the company’s most accessible bottling to date.
Nevertheless, it will rest resplendently on any backbar. Its geometric design is meant to evoke the shape of Tech Duinn, the mythical house of the Irish god, Donn—from whom the release takes its name. The bottle is topped by a stopper fashioned out of copper and obsidian. If you’re looking to uncork one, you can still hope to find one of the 4,477 bottles comprising last year’s inaugural release across Europe. On its website, CIWC promises forthcoming information on a subsequent release, which should soon be headed to US markets.
Stay tuned for more award winners coming out of the Global Spirits Masters 2023 Bling Tasting…