10 Best Irish Whiskey To Drink Straight

Posted by The Bottle Haus
Tue, Nov 16, 21
best irish whiskey to drink straight

The popularity of Irish whiskey is on the rise, making it one of the most popular alcoholic beverages on the market today. If you’re enjoying Irish whiskey only on St. Patrick’s Day, we hate to say it but you may be missing out. But don't take just our word for it; according to the Irish Whiskey Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, over five million nine-liter cases of Irish whiskey were sold in the US last year.

In the past, Ireland was the leading whiskey supplier in the United States, and today American customers are swarming to get a taste of the richness and variety of Irish whiskey once again.

Irish whiskey is distilled from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley and is created in Ireland. Ireland's lighter, sweeter flavor profile appeals to whiskey drinkers, and the product's historic heritage as one of the world's earliest whiskeys doesn't hurt either.

Given the fact that there are well-known distilleries like Jameson and Bushmills, there are many more to explore. Here are some of the best Irish whiskeys available right now to enjoy neat on St. Patrick's Day or any other day!

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Arguably one the most well known names in Irish whiskey, the Jameson with its familiar green bottle is always readily available and reliable. Triple distilled and aged in bourbon and sherry barrels for a minimum of 4 years, this is a smooth 80-proof whiskey that gives you the perfect balance of spices, nuts and vanilla. Jameson’s main ingredients are unmalted and malted barley, maize, and Irish water from the Dungourney River local to the distillery.

It’s a fan favorite for a reason. There are no gimmicks here, just a nice classic Irish whiskey so smooth it’ll keep you coming back for more. At an affordable price point, it’s always a great buy.

Powers Gold Label

Beautifully crafted whiskey and available in every pub, Powers Gold Label is a classic Irish whiskey by John Power & Son. It’s smooth, approachable and priced just right. Matured in American oak casks for five to seven years gives it a spicy, bold character. It’s blended with the finest matured grain whiskey that gives it an unmistakable flavor. Really, there’s quite no other whiskey like it.

On the nose you get hit with honey, then lemon, followed by a hint of hazelnuts. Meanwhile on the palate, what you smell is what you get. You get honey then lemon, followed by a touch of butterscotch. Reasonably priced with a delicious classic taste makes this a great intro for Irish whiskey.

Redbreast 12-Year-Old Irish Whiskey

This award-winning whiskey is a fan favorite, and it's easy to understand why. Made from malted and unmalted barley, this whiskey is aged in a blend of American ex-bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry casks from Ireland's Midleton distillery before being released. As a result, it has a wonderful balance of spicy and creamy flavors.

The seasonal flavor profile gives it the taste of Christmas cake. You get a taste of hazelnuts, crackers, and spice that combine in a smooth, creamy flavor profile that ends with a dry, clean finish. The complex flavors linger on the mouth for a long time, which is really satisfying. Sip it over the holidays and experience yourself why Redbreast is highly regarded by whiskey experts. It has a lovely, smooth flavor that’s best enjoyed neat. Redbreast is a spirit that just about everybody can appreciate.

Glendalough 13 Year Old Whiskey

The Glendalough Distillery's Irish whiskey is exceptionally smooth, with just the right amount of sweetness to make it a delight to taste. The 13-year-old Irish single malt is matured in first-fill bourbon barrels, delivering it waves of caramel and vanilla flavors. Everything about the nose screams "elegance," from the intensity to the richness to the sweetness to the chocolate and fruits to the candy and syrup.  It just gets better with time.

You’ll find it astonishing how good this wine tastes on the palate. The vanilla fudge at the start is robust, with a rich sweetness and touch of fruity undertones. After that, you'll comes some warm spices. It gives a lovely velvety mouth feel that lingers on the palate. All in all, this is an obvious winner that offers excellent value for money. It’s a delicious bottle that aims to please.

The Tyroconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish

This single malt, 15 Year Old whiskey is one that’s truly unique and special. Aged in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Portugal Madeira Casks gives it an added depth of flavour. The caramel-colored brew is produced in traditional pot stills and double distilled. Because it’s finished in fortified wine barrels, it gives it a complex and unique flavor notes. 

On the palate, you get a sweetness from the Madeira casks which is followed by a release of vanilla notes and stone fruit with a splash of spice at the end. 

Writers’ Tears Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Writers' Tears is one of the more contemporary whiskies that is redefining the way people think about Irish distilleries. It is modern, cool, and a little bit unusual. This is a blend of single malt and aged single pot still whiskeys bottled by Walsh Whiskey Distillery. Though technically a blend, it’s one that’s manufactured without grain whiskey. 

Furthermore, in contrast to using the now more common column stills, Writers' Tears is distilled in copper pot stills that allows it to retain more of the aromatics and oily essence of the grains. It's a lot more challenging procedure for sure, but it’s what elevates Writers' Tears.

Because it’s been aged in American bourbon casks, it has a light, smooth flavor profile. This whiskey smells nice and clean, a bit floral, a bit green. You'll notice a pronounced yet faint gingerbread spice on the first sip followed by a hint of charred wood and cocoa on the lengthy and lingering finish. This one is honestly best enjoyed neat or with just a few drops of water.

Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey

Tullamore Dew is a well-known Irish blend due to its accessible quality. It’s an entry-level whiskey at a wonderful price range making it a good alternative to the more pricier bottles. It's a well-balanced spirit produced from three unique spirits: grain whiskey, malt whiskey, and pots still whiskey.

On the nose it’s pretty complex, you can anticipate it to give a sweet scent of red apples, dried fruit and banana chips with a touch of honey, caramel, vanilla and wood. Meanwhile, it's quite smooth and somewhat sweet on the palate.

Unlike other whiskies, this one isn’t smokey or spicy but light and malty with a slight woodiness. It's a medium-bodied whiskey with a buttery smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a fantastic buy for the money and tastes best neat.

Bushmills Irish Whiskey

Bushmills is an Irish whiskey so popular that it can be found in most pubs. It also has one of the world's oldest licensed distilleries. Despite having a wide variety of bottlings, its flagship whiskey remains one of it's best. It's one of the most approachable Irish whiskeys on the market, due to its mellow and honeyed taste, and to a formula that's remained unchanged since 1988.

Bushmills Original is a classic Irish blend of grain whiskey matured for five years before being blended with malt whiskey. It's triple-distilled and unbelievably smooth.

The scent is earthy yet mellow and pleasant, with hints of cookies, sesame seeds, and an apple note. It has a woody edge that is laced with honey on the palate, with a mildly spicy biscuit finish. Overall, it's light and easy, but it's still among the best Irish whiskey there are.

Jameson Black Barrel

Jameson's Black Barrel is a major improvement over their original in terms of flavor. This is a fantastic release. It's a blend, but it has a significant amount of Irish pot still whiskey as well as small batch grain. This one, aged in double charred first fill bourbon barrels, has a more powerful flavor with creamy toffee smells and a lengthy toasted wood with a vanilla finish.

It has a grassy malt, caramel, butterscotch, and a hint of fruit on the nose, which is backed by a wonderful lemony citrus and some spice. Thanks to the single pot still, you could detect a trace of wood and some coppery undertones. On the palate, there's a remarkable smoothness of caramel, toffee, malt, and some fruit. Some coppery notes emerge, followed by a malty, fruity, and woody finish.

It's a really approachable blend that's great for sipping neat.

Connemara Original Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The Connemara Peated Single Malt Whiskey is a welcome change from the traditional unpeated Irish Whiskey. It's one of the few Irish whiskies that honors the resurgence of the centuries-old practice of drying malted barley over peat fires.

While there is some smoky character to this whiskey, it is hardly the star of the show. At 40% ABV, this whiskey isn't too potent, favoring subtlety.

At first whiff, you'll notice notes of smoky peat, yet this whiskey is everything from one-note. With a soft undertone of malted barley and charred wood, the peat gives way to subtle floral and honey notes. This whiskey has rich flavours of chocolate, smoked honey, and toasted barley, with distinct hints of brilliant peat smoke that become apparent with each sip. Smoke, sea salt, and heather honey linger on the palate after the drink's last sip.

This superb whiskey is a must-try, it’s one of the best and it deserves to be known as such.

Irish Whiskey: What Is It and Where Does It Come From?

The triple distillation process, which gives Irish Whiskey its silky smooth finish, is a significant and, in many ways, the most essential component influencing its style.

For legal purposes, the whiskey has to be Irish-made, triple-distilled, and wood-aged for a minimum of three years. While most Irish whiskey is blended, several distilleries are experimenting with single malt versions as a different approach. There are several exceptions to the rule, such as Cooley's Connemara Irish whiskey, which is unpeated. Irish whiskey is often triple-distilled, although it's not always the case. Irish whiskey used to be created primarily in pot stills, but nowadays it may be either pot-distilled or a blend of column- and pot-distilled spirits.

It's important to know the difference between pot still and single pot still, which refers to a whiskey made from a pot-distilled blend of malted and unmalted (or green) barley. This gives the whiskey a distinct oiliness and spice flavor that's both delectable and unique. Enzymes may be added to Irish whiskies to help prepare starches for fermentation.

When it comes to maturation, Irish whiskies may be aged in a variety of casks, including Madeira, Sherry, Bourbon, and rum barrels, and completed barley whiskies can also be combined with grain whiskies to create the final product.

Irish whiskey defies many traditional preconceptions because of its versatility in terms of peat, grain, and finishing barrels. But this does not mean that Irish whiskies aren't still smooth and light; rather, they're becoming more diverse and showcasing more.

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.