If your Irish whiskey consumption has heretofore been limited to only that which you might call for as “Jame-o” and drink in shot form, perhaps this St. Patrick’s Day is a good excuse for an upgrade. Irish whiskeys are unfortunately often approached with the same wariness given to green beer and blinking shamrock headbands, but they needn’t be! A solid middle ground between caramelly American bourbons and smoky Scotches, Irish whiskeys are typically smooth, lightly flavored, and lacking the heavy peatiness that makes people think whiskey is only for cold-weather months. Take a look at our roundup below, and open your spring-ready heart to some easy Irish sippers.
It’s no wonder that the go-to whiskey in the Republic of Ireland has a little extra oomph, clocking it at 43.2% ABV. (What do you mean the best selling whiskey in Ireland isn’t Jameson’s?) Beyond the strength, a light spiciness makes it a perfect after-dinner whiskey with maybe a little ice or water.
Blended and triple-distilled for a smooth and mellow outcome, Paddy’s is exactly the kind of whiskey who wants to go by Paddy instead of Patrick. Easy sipper, but not so expensive that you’ll feel bad blending with a little ginger ale.
Biscuity with caramel and toffee, Tullamore Dew is delicious just about every which way you’d have an Irish whiskey. Fun fact: The Dew in the name is actually the initials of the distillery’s general manager in the late 19th century. How’s that for employee appreciation?
Tyrconnell whiskeys date back to the early 18th century, though they were only recently revived by the Suntory conglomerate. A little extra time in the American oak barrel followed by a Madeira cask finish produces an Emerald Isle gem that has both nutty complexity and easy-going fruitiness.
Complex and creamy, this pure pot still Irish whiskey is spicy and full-bodied, with a long finish. It’s an Irish whiskey Scotch drinkers can get behind.
A light and lemony single-grain whiskey. With vanilla and spicy oak, this easy sipper wants for nothing but sunshine and a sweeping green vista to look out over.
Lovingly called Irish moonshine, this rural spirit has had a cult following for years but was illegal to produce or ship to the United States until the ’90s. Now, there are a couple of producers, but we’re keen on Glendalough’s premium offering, made with sugar beets and malt grain.
You can’t discuss very good Irish whiskeys without discussing the Very Rare Midleton. Only 50 casks are produced each year, and much of that is already allocated to preferred vendors. Produced only in pot stills, it’s creamy and spicy on the palate with a long finish.
Here’s the thing: it’s not Jameson’s fault that user error has given it a reputation for being a shot instead of a sipper. In truth, it’s a fine brand, and their Black Barrel selection which is triple-distilled and aged in twice-charred oak barrels demonstrates the richest potential of Irish whiskey with notes of fudge and buttery toffee.
With humble roots as a fill-your-own-bottle grocery store offering, this now-renowned critical darling is an excellent metaphor for why you should drink more Irish whiskey in the first place. A beautiful selection with bright notes of green apple and citrus tempered by malt and butterscotch.
A partnership between the famed, lauded New York City cocktail bar and one of Ireland’s leading Master Distillers, you can expect the kind of nervy, spicy whiskey befitting of its namesake: one of the most notorious gangs of New York. Use it in your Irish coffee to put yourself up for the fight. (Or try it in some other St. Patrick’s Day cocktails.)
For more St. Patrick’s Day food and drink ideas, visit our St. Patricks Day headquarters. And for more whiskey intel, read up on Why Indian Whisky Is Giving Scotland Some Stiff Competition. Plus, find out the answer to that nagging question: What Is the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?
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Header image courtesy of The Whisky Advocate.