Veering somewhat off course, this week I am featuring an impressive Irish whiskey liqueur, Shanky’s Whip, from Shanky and Shireman’s and imported into this country by Biggar and Leith. Just from looking at the bottle you can tell that it is the result of the application of care, skill, and innovation.
The bottle is dumpy in shape and made from clear glass, with the word “Ireland” embossed on its shoulder. The artwork is terrific and designed to make it stand out from the field. It looks like the front of a vintage matchbox with banners in a bold red with white lettering and an illustration on a yellowy gold background. Look more carefully and the illustration is of the fantastical Irish jockey, Shanky, the wild boy of racing. Having been thrown from his horse, he picks himself up, attaches an ostrich to a cart and, whip in hand, completes the course.
You could call it a whiskey liqueur for those who are not too keen on whiskey, blended and distilled to eliminate the burn that you associate with a drop of the hard stuff. A combination of Irish spirits and aged pot still whiskey, blended with the natural flavour of vanilla and infused with caramel and with an ABV of 33%, it is distilled in County Cavan and bottled by Shanky and Shireman under bond in Ireland. It is designed to stand out from the field.
In the glass it is black in colour rather like a stout. It is remarkably smooth in the mouth, rather like a cream liqueur but without the texture you associate with cream, and rich, mixing wonderful notes of caramel and vanilla with the spiciness of but not the astringency of Irish whiskey. If you could put the best bits of Irish stout, Irish cream, and Irish whiskey into one glass, the result would be Shanky’s Whip.
The presentation bottle had a very distinctive racing theme, another clever piece of marketing. The suggested servings came in the form of a race card, giving the odds and run down of the runners and riders. I always think that you should taste a drink for the first time neat and so I went for On The Rocks, running in plain yellow colours with a starting price of 2-1. A big measure of the spirit and a couple of ice cubes provided for an enticing introduction to the subtlety and deliciousness of the spirit.
Next up was The Long and Short of It, red with a yellow sash and with odds of 5-2. The serving was one part Shanky’s Whip, four parts Coca Cola Spicy Notes, featuring lime, ginger, rosemary, jasmine, and jalapeno, served over ice in a long glass. This made for a refreshing and moreish drink, the liqueur showing that it was more than capable of working in conjunction with other flavours without losing its distinctive edge.
For those of you who like to take your spirits in the form of shots, Short and Stout, yellow with spots with a starting price of 6-1, encourages you to drop a shot of Shanky’s into an ice-cold pint of stout. It worked well, but for the purist there is nothing better than The Whip, yellow with red band, 100-1 outsider, a chilled shot of Shanky’s Whip. Perfection.
This is a very versatile drink which shows its colours either on its own or as part of a cocktail. It quickly made its way into my winners’ enclosure.
Until the next time, cheers!