After getting to know the team behind Royal Oak Distillery for our October/November issue, we had to know more about The Busker Irish Whiskey, one of the most anticipated new brands in the category.
Nestled in Carlow, Ireland, the distillery blends historic roots and modern sensibility seamlessly. We had the chance to catch up with brand ambassador Woody Kane to learn more about the launch of the line, the four whiskey styles, and how they all are made.
You are a long-time whisky lover – how does it feel to be at the front of such an exciting launch?
Excited, positive, but above all a great sense of pride. I am proud to be part of such a launch into the whiskey market. Not only is The Busker offering a beautiful range with our fantastic quality that we stand behind in these 4 releases, but also adding creativity and innovation to the marketplace in our distillation and packaging. It is an exciting time for us here at Royal Oak Distillery and we look forward to a bright future with The Busker.
You are using three different types of barrels for your aging process – can you share some more info on where they come from and why you chose them?
Our casks are chosen for quality. Wherever they come from, this is our number one requirement as we have treated our spirit with nothing less than the highest quality in the distillation process. It is essential to us to do the same for the spirit as it takes up home in the casks for the journey of maturation.
Our Bourbon casks come from the US and are specially selected for what we are looking for. The Bourbon casks give some beautiful notes of vanilla, caramel, sweetness, and that creamy feel.
Our Oloroso Sherry casks come from Spain and are once again selected for the offering that it gives with those deep, dark notes we get as well as the nutty and ripe fruits we expect too.
Our Marsala casks are hand selected from Cantine Florio 1833 and the finest casks are used for us to get beautiful sweetness and complexity of spices.
Walk us through the four whiskey styles launching and the flavour profiles of each.
The Busker Single Grain is made by choosing only the highest quality spirit produced in our Column stills. This is then matured in hand selected American Bourbon casks and rare Marsala casks from one of the oldest Sicilian wineries (Cantine Florio 1833). This beautiful whiskey offers some sweet caramel and vanilla as well as some oak and hay notes combining to give a long sweet finish.
The Busker Single Malt is distilled in our superb copper pots through a triple distillation process before taking time in both American Bourbon and Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. This will bring some fruit with hints of pine and malt biscuit. We get some rich notes joined with chocolate that bring this to a sweet creamy finish.
The Busker Single Pot Still is a distinctive expression of Ireland where we use malted barley as well as unmalted barley in the mashing process. This then takes its time in American Bourbon and Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks to bring about a complex bouquet of fresh flowers and honey with some fudge, along with fantastic spices and peppery notes before a long warm, rich spicy finish.
The Busker Triple Cask, Triple Smooth is an amazing blend that joins the highest-quality Single Grain with a very high percentage of Single Malt and Single Pot Still whiskey which has all spent its time in all 3 mentioned casks to bring you a splendid rich body with tropical fruit and vanilla notes with malt sweetness and hints of dark chocolate. Beautiful toffee and cinnamon combine here as we find a well-balanced finish with a mellow sweetness.
We read that you have experience training bar staff all over Ireland – can you share some of your top tips for bartenders who will be working with Busker?
The main top tip for me is always – know the product. Some people want to know everything about the whiskey while others are happy to trust an informed bartender’s choice, so know the product you are working with. By experiencing the brand and what it offers, it gives you the confidence to stand behind the whiskey. To compliment this, I would learn a little about the Irish whiskey background and how the distillation process works, and you will be perfectly fine in any barstool conversation.
Can you share some of the best ways to enjoy each Whiskey?
With any whiskey I always say the best way to enjoy it is truly how you like it. Neat, on the rocks or with a mixer. With all whiskey I personally like to try them neat first and then experiment, perhaps with a few drops of water or ice. This simple change can bring out flavors that you may not have noticed when you had it neat. I would personally recommend leaving it neat with the Singles, and then the Blend, while perfect on its own, is equally fantastic to work with for cocktails and mixers. Its smooth feel and sweet finish really work well with other ingredients. But over all my personal favorite way of having one of The Busker range is with a few friends.