While Irish Whiskey bottles were formerly limited in the United States, sales have soared in the last decade, making it the world's fastest-growing liquor. It's easy to understand why. Because it's a smooth and easy-to-drink spirit, it's suitable for both new and seasoned drinkers. In fact, it's nearly impossible to come across an Irish whiskey bottle that's anything less than outstanding. Most of them are superb; they're smooth and pleasant to drink straight or in your favorite Irish whiskey cocktails.
When people think of whiskey, they often picture Scotch, but Ireland has a long tradition of distilling and creating world-class whiskey. The origins of whiskey have long been debated, with some claiming that they began in Scotland and others claiming they began in Ireland.
Nonetheless, being one of the first countries to distill, Ireland’s whiskey was once one of the most popular in the world, but it nearly became extinct in the 1970s. Fortunately, new, independent distilleries sprung up, and a few of the dormant brands came back to life.
With an ever-increasing number of Irish whiskeys to choose from, we've compiled a list of the best ones to try in the year 2021 and not just on St. Patrick’s Day! This list of the best Irish whiskey bottles includes everything from high-end splurges to daily mixers under $20.
In this list, you might discover some of the most well-known classics in the industry, as well as a few newcomers keen to push the frontiers. If you've never tried Irish whiskey before, we're convinced that at least one of these bottles will change your mind, and if you have, then we’re sure that at least one of these will be a pleasant discovery.
Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
Tullamore Dew is the world's second most popular Irish whiskey after Jameson so if you haven’t tried it yourself, now is the time. There's a reason this blended Irish whiskey is a crowd favorite: it's smooth and citrus-forward, making it an ideal choice for fruitier drinks like a classic sour. Using a combination of ex-sherry and bourbon barrels, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey is matured to perfection. This procedure imparts a particular smoothness to the whiskey, contributing to its global acclaim. It gives off a pale amber color with an orange tinge. It’s got a mild blend of spicy, lemony, and malty notes with charred wood undertones. It’s warm on the palate and finishes smooth.
Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
The Redbreast 12 is an Irish whiskey classic that’s got its own fanbase. It's a smooth, triple-distilled single-pot whiskey that’s packed with flavor, thanks in part to the use of bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks for the finishing process. Today, it remains to be one of the best single-pot Irish whiskeys there is.
If you’re looking for a holiday drink, take a sip of the creamy, flavorful Redbreast 12. This whiskey is known for its trademark Christmas flavor profile thanks to being aged in sherry casks. It’s got a seasonal flavor profile you won’t mistake for anything else. It’s essentially a Christmas cake in a bottle. Rich in flavor, a little spicy, and tastes of dried red fruit, it’s a drink you won’t regret. Enjoy it neat or on the rocks.
Teeling Small Batch Irish Whisky
This is the perfect whiskey for those who prefer a sweeter spirit over a spicy one because of the time it spent maturing in ex-rum barrels after starting in ex-bourbon barrels. On the aroma, it contains notes of baking spices and caramelized sugar, with flavors of vanilla and raisins on the tongue. This Irish whiskey, which usually costs approximately $40, delivers excellent value for money. Sip it straight with some dark chocolate after dinner for the ultimate after-dinner treat, or try it in an Irish Coffee.
While Irish whiskeys are known for their silky vanilla flavors, the more nuanced flavors of salted caramel and spices emerge while the creamy texture remains. This is because the whiskey was aged in both bourbon and rum barrels.
Teeling's Small Batch is wonderful neat, but you should also try it in cocktails and in drinks like Irish coffee.
To this day, Teeling is still chugging along, offering a wide range of superbly sourced and in-house distilled whiskeys of the highest caliber. While there are other variations, the core expression is Small Batch, which is a combination of grain and malt matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being wedded together for up to a year in rum casks. Single Malt, Single Grain, and Single Pot Still whiskeys are also available. This last one was distilled in Dublin and matured in virgin American oak, bourbon, and sherry barrels. Also, bourbon and Sauternes wine barrels were used to mature Blackpitts, a new peated single malt from Speyside, Scotland.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Jameson is a classic and it's hard to construct a list about the best Irish whiskeys without it. Crafted from a mash of malted and unmalted barley that is triple-distilled, this whiskey has a distinct taste owing to the barley, maize, and pure Irish water in its mash. It boasts spicy and sweet overtones due to its aging in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels.
Nothing beats this classic, and you won't be sorry if you get yourself a bottle. It's fantastic neat or with a large ice cube, but also absolutely enjoyable in a plethora of cocktails from a club soda to ginger ale. For those who have already experienced the classic Jameson, there are other offerings from their distillery that provide something fresh, such as the Caskmates Editions, which are partnerships with other brewers, and the Jameson 18, which has been matured for over two decades. When you're in the mood for a smooth Irish whiskey, you can trust that this will do the job.
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Another classic choice, the original Bushmills is extremely palatable and reasonably priced which makes it perfect for both novice and seasoned drinkers. It’s a blend of triple-distilled single malt whiskey with a lighter Irish grain whisky. It has a very appealing rich and warm taste of fresh fruits and vanilla with a lingering touch of honey, and it is often referred to be an approachable whiskey. Even though it is inexpensive, it’s definitely a high-caliber whiskey. Fans enjoy it on the rocks or neat, but because it's light, it's also fantastic in whiskey cocktails.
Egan’s Vintage Grains
Aged for 8 years in American bourbon casks, Egan’s Vintage Grains is a single grain whiskey with a pale straw hue and delicate profile. While it may not look like much on the surface, it has a far more complex scent and flavor than other single grains. This one is lighter and more delicate, with floral notes and a subdued cereal core that is earthy and somewhat sweet. Honey and fruit flavours abound on the palate. It finishes warm, not hot, just perfect for the holidays. We believe this is one of the best single grains available, and we urge you to give it a try.
Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
If you've never tried Irish whiskey before, Green Spot's bottle is a great place to start. This is a single-pot still whiskey that is highly regarded by connoisseurs. Though this Irish whiskey has come a long way since the 1800s when it was exclusively available in Mitchell's grocer shop in downtown Dublin, its flavor profile remains the same.
First and second fill bourbon barrels, as well as sherry barrels, have all been used to age the whiskey giving it a beautiful pale gold color. Its aroma is subtle but complex. You can expect notes of honey, sweet barley, apples, and tropical fruit, as well as a sherry-like undertone, vanilla creaminess, and a little herbal note.
When it comes to palate, it's creamy with vanilla, and you can expect apples to join in along with apricot and pear. There’s some spice in there as well, a bit of mint, and some malt sweetness. In contrast to its contemporaries, this is an inexpensive introduction to single-pot still whiskey that doesn't skimp on quality.
Glendalough Double Barrel Irish whiskey
This is a great introduction to Irish whiskey for bourbon fans who want to try something new. In fact, it's near enough to American whiskey territory thanks to the spicy grain and bourbon-cask aging. The Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey boasts a unique taste profile not seen in other Irish whiskeys since it begins aging in American bourbon barrels and finishes in Spanish Oloroso Sherry barrels.
Expect flavors of caramel, butter, blackberry, and marmalade to mingle harmoniously on your palate. Aside from the lovely creamy flavor, your nose will detect notes of vanilla, white chocolate, and buttery fudge. Because of its smoothness and flavor, Glendalough whiskey can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or with just a smidge of water to balance it out if you please.
Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey
Proper No. Twelve was created by "The Notorious" Conor McGregor, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion. It pays homage to his origins, Dublin 12.
This is pretty much your standard Irish blended whiskey: it's created in Ireland, triple-distilled from corn and barley, bottled at 80 proof, and matured for a minimum of three years in ex-bourbon barrels. To make this single malt Irish whiskey, a mixture of sweet Irish grain was used in the distillation process.
Vanilla, honey, and toasted oak flavors abound in this bourbon mix that's been triple distilled three times. You’ll probably enjoy this smooth and well-balanced whisky alone, but mixed cocktails are where it really shines.
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey
A bold, robust single malt, The Sexton Single Malt Irish whiskey was created by master blender Alex Thomas. Aged in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks imparts into it a rich and fruity character with a soft, honeyed finish.
You’ll easily recognize this bottle thanks to its unique hexagonal design with black and gold accents. Just the bottle alone looks like a winner but it is so much more.
The Sexton, distilled three times in copper pot stills, has a pronounced scent of roasted pear that lingers through to the first sip. Caramel and marshmallows are the first flavors you notice, followed by citrus zest and honey sweetness. On the nose, you’ll detect notes of golden raisins, honey, and a whiff of wood. While it has a more earthy flavor than other Irish whiskeys, it has a unique crispness that makes it perfect to drink plain or with a cube of ice. This is the real deal, and it's affordable enough that you can experiment with it in different cocktails.
What is Irish whiskey?
First and foremost, it must be created and matured in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, according to legislative criteria. The aging process must take place in wooden casks for a minimum of three years.
Irish Whiskey is traditionally created from unmalted barley and other grains in a copper pot still and then aged for a minimum of three years before being bottled, giving it its legendary smoothness and complexity. The additional distillation imparts a milder taste to Irish Whiskey, as well as a smoother mouthfeel.
Following distillation, it is bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, or 80 proof) or slightly higher. Today, the most majority of Irish whiskey is blended, with various kinds like single malt, single pot, and single grain whiskeys available as well.
What is Irish whiskey supposed to taste like?
Irish whiskey has a unique flavor profile, although it is most well-known for its smooth flavor, which contains hints of vanilla in the background. In general, it is regarded as being light and fruity, with distinct cereal grain flavors. The aging imparts the signature whiskey oakiness and caramel flavor that has become synonymous with the beverage.
What are the types of Irish Whiskey?
- Blended Irish Whiskey: Blends account for 90 percent of all Irish whiskey production. They are, by far, the most popular. These are a blend of at least two different whiskey types sourced from Irish distilleries. Blended whiskey is available from a variety of brands, including Jameson, Tullamore, and Bushmills.
- Single Malt Irish Whiskey: This whiskey is made from 100 percent malted barley and is distilled in a pot still by a single distillery. In Ireland, it is typically, but not always, triple distilled. After distillation, whiskey is matured in barrels such as ex-bourbon, sherry casks, and virgin oak to generate most of its flavor.
- Single Pot Still Whiskey: This whiskey, once known as "pure pot still," is a distinctively Irish whiskey produced in a single distillery in a pot still from a mash bill of malted and unmalted barley. As a result, the whiskey has a spicy flavor and a somewhat slick mouthfeel.
- Single Grain Irish Whiskey: Single grain whiskeys, or simply grain whiskeys, are prepared at a single distillery using continuous column stills with a blend of grains. These grains may contain up to 30% malted barley, corn, wheat, or unmalted barley. The ultimate result is a whiskey that's a tad sweeter but also more versatile in cocktails.
How to Drink Irish Whiskey
When it comes to drinking Irish whiskey, just about anything goes because of its smoothness and drinkability.
Whiskey novices may want to consider diluting it first though. Either a few drops or asking for half water, half whiskey can do. Drinking whiskey with water enhances the flavor by releasing scents and flavors you wouldn't receive from drinking whiskey straight. With time, you'll learn how much water you prefer, or you may end up going neat or with just a few drops of water.
For more seasoned drinkers, it's perfect to drink neat or on the rocks. Obviously, it goes well with food, particularly traditional Irish fare. Shots and shooters love it, too. Aside from elegant martinis and simple soda highballs, it may be used in practically any type of beverage. It goes great with coffee, too! The options are unlimited when you have a fine bottle of Irish whiskey on hand.