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. Adulting is the new green for St. Paddy’s this year, and Irish whiskeys have much to offer when consumed in a gentler, nobler form.
A solid middle ground between buttery 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. Like many spirits, the category of Irish whiskey includes not only stalwart traditional brands, but newcomers looking to make an imprint in a market that increasingly favors craft approaches. Take a look at our roundup below, and open your spring-ready heart to some easy Irish sippers.
In 2019 Teeling’s Limited Edition 24 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey took home the gold for Best Single Malt at the World Whiskey Awards, the first time an Irish brand had done so, leaving Scotland scratching its collective head. With richness and spiciness from older whiskies with a variety of cask finishes in the blend, this younger version of the big winner is your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.Buy Now
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.Buy Now
Blended and triple-distilled for a smooth and mellow outcome, Paddy 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.Buy Now
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?Buy Now
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.Buy Now
If there ever was a whiskey most historically suited to St. Patrick’s Day it’s this one: the Slane distillery sits on the very hill where St. Patrick, a Catholic missionary, lit the Paschal fire and used a shamrock to illustrate the concept of the holy trinity to the Irish people. History, in this case, is best drunk neat, with the rich and savory flavors imparted to the whiskey in a triple-casked approach. (Another trinity!)Buy Now
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.Buy Now
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.Buy Now
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.Buy Now
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.Buy Now
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.)Buy Now
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?
Header image courtesy of Grant Faint/Getty Images.