Review #61: Exclusive Malts Cooley 13

While it is certainly less expensive to make cocktails or drink the whisky we have acquired, sometimes it’s fun to go out on the town and grab some cocktails while eavesdropping on your neighbors’ conversations. We have been eyeing San Francisco amari-destination Bar 821 for a long while but have never made the trek and Uber ride out there. But we finally made it.

We started out with two cocktails: their house negroni (highly recommend) and the Smokey Italian (an Islay scotch and amaro blend that sounded good but was quite frankly awful). Because not much else in the way of cocktails seemed intriguing from the menu, we called for the check with the intentions to visit another bar.

What stopped us from walking out was the schadenfreude from eavesdropping on the painful Tinder first date playing out loudly next to us: a lanky awkward young man and a quiet but (later we found out – quite complainy) young lady. His attempts to impress her (mostly revolving around his high metabolism) were falling flat – and so to make it up, he was ordering up a storm of drinks. While we quietly listened, we both were pretending to observe the back bar and contemplate the whisky selection. In fact, something did catch our eye that was not on the spirits list. We tried first to zoom in by taking a picture and zooming in, but could not make out the distillery on the label. Finally, we just asked how much it was and upon finding out it was only $14, ordered a pour of the mystery bottle.

Good choice; the dram turned out lovely and we got to stay around for more entertainment.

The camera zoom-in attempt. We knew it was Exclusive Malts and 2002, but could not make out the silver label beneath it. Turns out all it said was “10th anniversary special edition”. There were no hopes of finding out it was Cooley until we saw it up close.
Exclusive Malts 2002 Cooley 13-year-old 10th Anniversary Special Edition

  • - 8/10

Tasting Notes

Nose: Malty and yeasty off the bat. Slightly sour mash and beer. Sour goat milk? Yogurt. Very unique smell unlike standard Irish. Flower leaves. Sourdough. Very butterscotch if you smell at an angle.

Palate: Chocolate. That then turns to cherries jubilee. So good and decadent. Rich rich cherry Garcia. Vanilla ice cream. Expresso. Wuthers dropped into bubbly cherry Coke. Raisins and starfruit.

Finish: Mocha and chocolate at the end with 🍊 peel.


Summary: 8/10. Excellent whisky. Highly enjoyable and one of the best Irish whiskies we have had.

TLDR: Sweet chocolate Irish coffee

Bought for: $14/pour (bottle retailed for $170 on Love Scotch but is sold out)


Quick overview of our scoring system. Our average review score is a 5.

Additional Information

  • Distilled January 21 2002
  • 13 years
  • Cask type: refill hogshead
  • One of 334 bottles
  • ABV: 52.4%

About Exclusive Malts and Cooley

  • Exclusive Malts is an independent bottler that we have actually been impressed with, such as our review of their Lagavulin bottling
  • Cooley was converted from a potato alcohol plant by John Teeling (who later founded the Great Northern Distillery, while his sons founded Teeling)
  • Cooley is owned by Beam Suntory and produces several well-known brands, including: Kilbeggan, Connemara, and Tyrconnell

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