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Scotland may be renowned for its signature style of whiskey, but its neighbor, Ireland, has long been home to some impressive bottles of its own. And while scotch has certainly maintained its reputation, in recent years, Irish whiskey (that's with an "e"—it's "whisky" when it's from Scotland, England, Canada, or Japan) has been having a serious moment. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, Irish whiskey is "one of the fastest-growing spirits categories in the market," with a growth of nearly 7% (approximately $91 million) from 2021 to 2022, sell 6.1 million cases.
Unlike some of its international counterparts, Irish whiskey has a fairly flexible definition—it needs only to be made in Ireland and aged for a minimum of three years. This lends itself to a wide variety of flavor profiles that are incredibly versatile; you can find an Irish whiskey to suit almost any whiskey lover. Here are some of the finest Irish bottles on the market right now to toast with... St. Patrick's Day, or any other day of the year.
Tullamore D.E.W. Original
This blended Irish whiskey is a perennial favorite for its smooth finish and versatile, citrus-forward palette that makes it a perfect pick for fruitier cocktails like a classic sour.
Tasting notes: Winter spices, caramel
Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey
The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York, which has previously been voted the best bar in the world, teamed up with Dublin Liberties Distillery Master Distiller Darryl McNally to create this whiskey inspired by "notorious Irish street gang in New York City in the mid-1800s." It's a blend of aged Irish single malt and grain whiskies, and the bar's beverage director, Jillian Vose, says it's "great for mixing, approachable, affordable, and comes in a damn fine looking bottle. Smelling this whiskey brings visions of golden barley, and on the palate it's robust and spicy with black pepper."
Tasting notes: Spices, toasted grain, vanilla
Redbreast 15 Year
Micah Anderson, from Oklahoma City's Ponyboy, says Redbreast 15-year is "hands-down" his favorite Irish whiskey: "It's velvety and fruity, and has just enough oak to add character and flavor without getting too woody. And it won’t break the bank." Vose, who likes the 12-year-old Redbreast, calls it "the Christmas cake of Irish whiskey. You can't mistake it for anything else. It's rich, spicy and full of dried red fruit."
Tasting notes: Toasted spices, berries
The original bottling of this classic Irish whiskey, its lighter palette speaks of fresh berries and subtle vanilla notes that make it a perfect starting point for those who want to build their understand of Irish whiskey.
Tasting notes: Berries, vanilla
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Joey Ryan from Tu in Charleston, says Jameson is a favorite. "I don't typically recommend making cocktails with Irish whiskey because I like the taste of it uncluttered, but there's a classic cocktail called an Old Pal, originally made with Canadian rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari, which I make as an Irish whiskey variation."
Tasting notes: Toasted nuts, vanilla, spice
Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey
"Don't underestimate this guy because it says single grain," Vose says. "This whiskey is no joke. I love pairing it with flavors of nectarine, sumac, citrus—anything tangy, really. It's phenomenal for mixed drinks and one of the best in its category."
Tasting notes: Stonefruit, citrus
Roe & Co Blended Irish Whiskey
Faintly reminiscent of bourbon (it's aged in bourbon casks) this blended Irish whiskey is full of caramel and vanilla notes with a hint of core fruit and a lush, creamy palate that will have you coming back for more.
Tasting notes: Carmel, core fruit
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Made from 100% malted barley, this light Irish whiskey is aged in oloroso sherry casks which brings out the honey and dried fruit notes that set off its toasty finish.
Tasting notes: Honey, raosted fruits
Knappogue Castle Single Malt 16 Year
This nutty, slightly peppery whiskey spends a minimum of 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels picking up rich notes of stonefruit and caramelized sugar before heading for a final aging in sherry casts for a hint of malty toastiness.
Tasting notes: Dried fruit, caramel
Green Spot Irish Whiskey
Kyle Hilla, bar director at at Bourbon & Banter in Dallas, says Green Spot is one of his favorites. "It's one the few single pot stilled Irish whiskeys, and I like it neat and on the rocks for its smooth mellow taste with a hint of brininess. When making cocktails, I tend to lean toward a fresh, acidic-style cocktail with herbs. I find that pairs really nicely with the smooth flavors of Green Spot."
Tasting notes: Spice, core fruit, toasted grains
Powers Gold Label
"This heavier style of a blended Irish whiskey is great for all types of cocktails, but I really love it in a sour style drink. When I think of Powers Gold, I think of honey, golden raisins, and hay," Vose says.
Tasting notes: Baking spices, vanilla, core fruit
The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey
This easy drinking whiskey balances a lush toasted grain flavor with light flavor of honey and soft florals that make it as friendly to drink in warm weather and it is when the temps drop.
Tasting notes: Honey, malt, toasted nuts
Slane Irish Whiskey
"Slane is extremely approachable and great for mixing," Vose says. "For a blend it's quite complex, having three different cask components (virgin, seasoned, and sherry casks). Because of this, it makes great friends with other spirits when making drinks."
Tasting notes: Warm spices, dried fruit, butterscotch
Writers' Tears Double Oak
A little something for the writer in your life—they're sure to enjoy the joke, and the whiskey. A blend of single pot still and single malt whiskeys aged in American and French oak, its flavor profile is a nod to the history of Irish whiskey, as loved by some of he country's literary greats.
Tasting notes: Vanilla, warms spice, citrus
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