When Conor McGregor’s new brand of Irish whiskey, Proper Twelve, hit the shelves several weeks ago, it was hard for many to find a bottle. Depending on location, your local liquor store might not yet or may never carry the brand. Luckily for me, the proper people at Proper No. Twelve, sent a bottle to sample.
I received my 750ml bottle just a few days prior to the historic UFC 229 fight card in which McGregor was to headline. I decided that I would wait until fight day to pop the top and give it a try.
Keep in mind that I am more of a craft beer connoisseur than I am of the hard alcohol, however, I have thrown back a shot, or two, or six, in my day. Also, I would have written this review sooner, but like I said…. I drank it during UFC 229 over this past weekend so Sunday morning was a bit foggy and the afternoon was consumed by eating greasy foods to help fight the hangover. Speaking of hangover, I was surprised to not have a headache after consuming a good portion of the bottle, along with a variety of beers.
First things first. Let’s take a look at the bottling. We won’t spend too much time here because you are not buying the bottle for the bottle, you are buying it for the alcohol. With that being said, it’s something we have to look at.
Each 750 ml bottle weighs approximately 3.5 lbs. The labels on the green glass bottle play homage to the UFC star and his native country of Ireland. McGregor’s inscription states that each bottle sold carries a contribution to first responders. Further research shows that McGregor will be donated $5 USD for every case sold, up to $1million annually.
The main image on the front is a tiger with a crown upon his head. While you might be quick to think about McGregor’s iconic tattoos, a Google image search will remind you that the Tiger on Conor’s stomach does not have a crown, but the gorilla on his chest does. The connection between the image on the bottle and McGregor’s tattoos was not what I thought it was. Maybe Conor had a different message in mind?
According to labels on the bottle, Proper Twelve is “distilled, aged, and bottled in Ireland, Proper No. Twelve is smooth and balanced with a fine blend of golden grain and full flavored malted barley. It’s aged a minimum of three years in bourbon barrel and offers hints of vanilla, honey-like sweetness and toasted wood.”
If you read the sentence above you notice that it says “aged a minimum of three years”. McGregor only recently started talking about creating his own line of whiskey, so he likely aligned himself with the right distillers at the right time.
Each 750 ml bottle is 40% ABV (80 proof).
I have heard people say that “whisky is whisky”. In this instance, it would be whiskey with the “e” because it is Irish. However, that statement is not necessarily true. Maybe if you are completely drunk, after a while they may all taste the same, or you may be too inebriated to care. I certainly would never say “beer is beer”. There is a huge difference between a watered down, cheap can of beer, and a craft beer with a much higher ABV.
With that being said, I went into this tasting with a few things in mind. One, if McGregor, one of the wealthiest fighters in combat sports today, is going to put his money behind something, he is not going to put out a product that he is not proud to stand behind. Two, while the whiskey needs to be somewhat affordable for the masses to buy, he does not want the price tag to fall too far below the competitors whereas people would think the product is cheap and with poor taste.
I opened the bottle and poured a small amount into my old fashioned whisky glass. The smell, what I expected. Not too strong, but strong enough to let you know you were about to put some hair on your chest in your first swig.
What came next is something that I did not expect. It went down smooth just like the bottle said.
While McGregor himself bashed the Jameson brothers, founders of Jameson Irish Whiskey, earlier in the UFC 229 fight week, I did paint a mental picture in my head that the two were equally comparable. At least to me, they were somewhat similar in taste.
My brother came over the house to watch the fights, and he too is more of a beer guy, but he decided to sample. The next thing you know, between the two of us, more than 3/4 of the bottle was gone.
I thought Proper No. Twelve was pretty proper. I don’t know if it is something I would order if out at a bar (if it is even yet available in bars), but I was not disappointed.
It seems however, that not everyone is a fan. A review from Business Insider states that the Irish Whiskey is just as bad as you would expect.
Not everyone is going to have the same opinion, and that is ok. It’s what makes the world go round. But if you are open to giving Proper Twelve a go-around, do so with an open mind. Don’t take your opinions of McGregor as a fighter into the taste test with you. Like him or not, leave those feelings outside the door.
Because of the marketing behind the brand, Proper No. Twelve has sold more bottles in just one week than most companies do in an entire year. If you did get to catch McGregor’s fight on Saturday night, you noticed that Proper No. Twelve was an event sponsor, which likely will lead to even more bottles being sold, making the whiskey even harder to get your hands on.
Go ahead and give Proper Twelve a try, but do drink responsibly……. but only if you are 21 or older. Also a good idea for those of you who are pregnant to keep away from the hooch.
Check Proper No. Twelve out online.