Take it from a guy who tastes over a thousand whiskeys a year: great Irish whiskeys don’t come around often. That’s why, if you like Irish whiskey even a bit, you should consider a bottle of The Sexton: a 4-year-old single malt Irish whiskey rested in sherry butts, at an incredible price point under $30.
Single malts in Ireland aren’t rare, but it is rare to see new ones at low price points. Blended whiskey (Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore D.E.W.) are the most common, because releasing a blend is cost effective and captures profitable segments of the larger market.
You might be wondering how a new brand can have 4-year-old whiskey ready to go right away. The Sexton is a new brand, but it’s not from a new distillery.
Most of Ireland’s whiskey currently comes from one of four distilleries. Unlike in Scotland or the U.S. where whiskey distilleries are everywhere, in Ireland a small number of distilleries make the whiskey for a large number of brands. Because the country’s whiskey has gained attention in recent years, more are being built every year, but generally speaking if you’re buying a bottle of aged Irish whiskey in the United States right now, it came out of one of four stills.
The Sexton is one such whiskey: made in a distillery with another brand’s name on it. The problem is that sometimes contracts prohibit brands from saying who makes what, so figuring out which one can sometimes be tricky. In this case Sexton seems to have come from Bushmills. The Whiskey Wash did the legwork of walking the brand back through owners and parent companies, and this looks pretty open and shut.
But the thing that matters most is taste, and we found The Sexton to have the perfect amount of sherry cask influence. It’s warm and full of caramel, with a sturdy grain and oak body and a finish that’s all toffee and chocolate. It’s all tied together by a subtle dried fruit character that the sherry imparts elegantly, and it really rounds out this single malt where a lot of similar whiskeys finish tasting just a little too much like cereal.
The majority of new Irish whiskeys in the last few years have gone the other direction: bourbon barrel influence. That gives the whiskey a ton of vanilla and cereal character, but we believe that with something triple distilled, it needs some added texture from finishing, otherwise it can be too light.
The best part of this bottle is the price: $28 before taxes is astounding for anything with sherry influence these days.
Master Blender Alex Thomas, who The Sexton notes is one of the few female master blenders in the world, is the to-be-revered creator of this bottle. She gets it—really, really gets it. Grab one for yourself if you don’t believe us.