A new player has been making the rounds at nearly every liquor store in my area: The Busker. Based out of Ireland, The Busker is produced at the Royal Oak Distillery, “located on an 18th century estate in Ireland’s Ancient East region.” The brand is positioning itself as one that honors Irish tradition while encouraging drinkers to wander and write new stories for themselves.
There are currently four expressions in The Busker’s portfolio, each meant to showcase the main styles of Irish whiskey: blended, single malt, single grain, and single pot still. Furthermore, a combination of bourbon, sherry, and/or marsala casks are utilized for maturation and finishing, but only their blend makes use of all three. We’ll be looking at the blend today, otherwise known as Triple Cask Triple Smooth. Exact percentages aren’t disclosed, but it’s touted as using “a very high percentage of Single Malt and Single Pot Still,” along with Single Grain. It’s non-age-stated, bottled at 40% ABV, and sells for around $20.
Nose: Really light, buttery pot still character. Faint cinnamon sugar, shortbread cookie, and standard honey malt aroma. Fair amount of yeast and youth, which become more obvious over time. Cinnamon apple oatmeal.
Palate: Light overall with a slightly silky mouthfeel. A bit metallic upfront, followed by honey, then some copper-like essence. Sherry casks come through surprisingly well. Honey Smacks cereal with ginger and dried apple.
Finish: Surprising bit of spice for the proof. Bit of grain, maybe some pepper. Almond butter and cream with an impression of dates.
I feel simultaneously pleased and indifferent to this whiskey. There’s enough tangible pot still character and cask influence to where I’d probably consider this over standard Bushmills and Tullamore D.E.W., but whether I’d take it over Jameson is still up in the air. What holds The Busker’s blend back the most is its obvious youth, followed by its low proof point. Neither are surprising, given the shelf space it occupies, but the point stands.
I think Irish whiskey has a lot of untapped potential, and The Busker are clearly positioning themselves as a more budget-friendly option. This goes doubly so for their blend, which I’ve seen for as low as $16. At that point it’s perfect in a pinch, especially for less picky drinkers come Saint Patrick’s Day. Otherwise? It leans on the forgettable side. I like it well enough, but I say the same thing about Hershey’s chocolate bars when brands like Dove and Ghirardelli exist.