This is a true story. A friend of a friend is in a band, and he's talking to some guy at a party about instruments they play. The partygoer says that he knows how to play violin. "Bummer," says the friend. I play guitar. "I was going to see if you wanted to come jam with us sometime, but I don't think it'll work."
"What are you talking about?" asks the partygoer. "Think about Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve. That's a great rock song and a violin is the central part."
The guy thinks about it. "You're right," he says. "I'll tell you what: show up with us one day, and we'll jam." So the guy comes back to his band and tells them a friend is coming buy to play violin. They groan, he shares the Bittersweet Symphony story, then they warm a little and agree to give him a shot.
When the new guy shows up, the band says, "Play a little for us." So he does that violin bit from Bittersweet Symphony. The band nods in approval. "Great dude," they say. "We're just going to mess around, but if you see an opening to jump in with the violin, go for it." So the guy waits a little for a good break. And then starts playing the same bit from Bittersweet Symphony.
This story is far more interesting than Tullamore DEW, but it illustrates how exasperating it is to think, "Okay, so you're just going to do that the whole time, huh?"
Tullamore DEW is sometimes spelled so that the second word comes off as if the bottle is angrily correcting you, as if you forgot to say "Dew" or mispronounced it. Sometimes it's spelled Tullamore D.E.W., which sounds like a bad secret agent codename. Sometimes they just call it Tullamore Dew, albeit rarely. In any of these three permutations of brand identity, you may know this as the other Irish whiskey brand that isn't Bushmills or Jameson. (On this point: there's a lot of incestuousness in Irish whiskey production that complicates the discussion of provenance, but I won't get into that here.)
I was expecting something better than what I got. Remember Snapple's "We want to be number three" ad campaign? Sometimes you need to work pretty hard to capture market share when you're in a saturated space. I wondered if the William Grant company had what it took to make a good impression with their brand, considering I don't like the Jameson standard bottle and I give a begrudging pass to Bushmills. They DEW not.
If it only tasted as good as it smelled. The aroma of Tullamore DEW has an inviting blend of sweet malt, apple cider, and blueberries. On some tastes, the whiskey was able to cash the check written by the nose. After the first tart sip, there was some baked apple and oak spice on the development. That was nice.
I kept trying to hang onto those moments, but let me tell you: it was hard. The finish is where this dram just falls apart. As soon as you swallow, there's the telltale sourness of young grain whiskey, and it completely dominates the finish. The nice flavors from the development vanish so quickly after you take the tiniest swallow they might as well be accompanied by an audible "whoosh."
Basically, that musty, sour lemon aftertaste gets all over everything. It's also the slightest bit chemical-laden, which is progressively more unappealing as it lolls around your taste buds. At the end of the day, Tullamore DEW leans real hard on that one shitty thing it knows how to do. I was happy to be done with the glass I had.
Incidentally, the official tasting notes describe the finish as "buttery mellowness," though that'd be about the last pair of words I'd use to describe the sensation.