For one reason or another, Irish whiskey tends to draw a certain respect in my social circles. How so? When on the topic of drinking spirits with casual drinkers, some variation of “I can’t drink whiskey neat, but I can do Jameson” will be uttered. I can’t say whether this applies to other groups, but I can say that it surprises me. The more highly consumed Irish whiskeys are often blends and triple distilled, so they tend to be light and clean. Breaking into single malts usually carries a decent price hike, but today we’re looking at something that seeks the best of both worlds (and then some).
The Sexton is something of an oddball. Chances are you’ll find it at most liquor stores, but the details on it are somewhat obscure. As with most budget-oriented Irish whiskeys, it carries no age statement. More interestingly, the actual distilling location is a minor mystery. The bottle does mention County Antrim in its backstory which, combined with being imported by Proximo Spirits in New Jersey, points to Bushmills being the likely distiller. Proximo owns an assortment of brands, including Jose Cuervo, 1800, Kraken, Tincup, Maestro Dobel, Pendleton, and Stranahan’s. The stylish bottle does disclose being copper pot distilled and aged in ex-sherry oak casks. Let’s see how it holds up:
Nose: Mellow fruit; feel like I can smell the still itself (metallic). Golden raisins, buttered walnut and graham cracker, and honeyed apricot. Swirling brings out a snickerdoodle cookie note, sugary sweet almond butter, golden fruit, and maple syrup. Positively and coyly indulgent.
Palate: A bit thin and grainy. The fruit notes carry a touch or two of honey-like consistency, just not enough to make a convincing impression. Banana, nut butter (walnut or almond), fig newton, and soft orange peel. Amaretto maple syrup and snickerdoodle cookies.
Finish: Touches of sherried fruit that end up being short-lived. Maple, pecan, and brown rice crackers with a bit of golden fruit paste.
I only recently killed a bottle of this after purchasing it in March this year. At the time I found it mightily impressive for a sub-$30 bottle. Since then I’ve tried several more whiskeys and, with every revisit, The Sexton revealed something a bit different, for better and for worse. The sherry influence is obvious without imparting the rubbery funk I get from sherry-finished (not to be confused with sherry-aged) spirits. The consistency was initially soft and silky, but after exposing myself to more spirits, the grain and probable youth of The Sexton quickly became obvious. What did remain consistent was the flavor profile, even after picking up on more fruit notes over time. One of the best things I can say about this whiskey is different people are bound to get different things depending on what they’re looking for, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Considering its price and accessibility, The Sexton really doesn’t need such a flashy bottle design, but it does and has likely sold that many more cases as a result. Purchasing a bottle of this is almost a no-lose scenario, provided expectations are kept in-check. Worst case scenario? You’ve got an above average cocktail pour. Best case? You get close enough to superior Irish single malts without breaking the bank. The discerning drinker in me wouldn’t go out on a limb and say it competes with them directly, but the vast majority of people buying this bottle likely won’t fit into that category. For those reasons, The Sexton is an easy recommendation to all but the pickiest of drinkers.