12 Irish Whiskeys for St. Patrick's Day
By Halle Cook Published February 2021
Ireland is known for countless things, from beautiful landscapes to fun traditions—but our favorite is their whiskey. Bold and packed with flavor, Irish whiskey is one of the European’s earliest distilled spirits, dating back to the 12th century. The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic language and means “water of life,” relating to the smooth finish and easy drinkability of the spirit.
With passion and pride put into every bottle, it’s no wonder we choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with traditional Irish whiskeys like the ones that follow:
Created by Boann Distillery, The Whistler is not only full of rich flavor, but also rich in history. Legend has it, the river on which the distillery stands was created by the Irish goddess Boann. It is a tripled-distilled whiskey with notes of bergamot orange and nougat. Aged in ex-bourbon barrels for the warm flavor and oloroso casks to provide fruity tones. You’ll find hints of coconut, banana and pear while your nose receives dry sherbet lemon, white grape and walnut aromas.
With a smooth and mellow nose, Jameson Irish Whiskey will bring you the perfect blend of whiskey flavors. Hints of sweet sherry are complemented by a balance of nutty, spicy and vanilla notes. These flavors are conceived after a triple distillation of both malted and unmalted barley and at least four years in oak casks. Try this versatile spirit in various whiskey cocktails like the Jameson sangria.
Established in 1829 and hailing from the small Irish town of Tullamore, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey is a blend of cultures, thoughts and ideas. It is named for one of the greatest distillers Ireland has ever had, Daniel Edmund Williams, who believed success came not from desire, but from caring about what you do. Imparting its flavor from several years in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, you’ll receive notes of marzipan combined with a distinctive vanilla finish. It was awarded Gold by the International Spirits Challenge in 2020 for its balanced triple blend of grain whiskey, malt whiskey and pot still whiskey.
What’s more inspiring than your local watering hole? For turn-of-the-centry writers and playwrights—nothing was. Legend has it that their success was achieved due to their whiskey consumption and they enjoyed their muse so much, that they wept whiskey tears when their glass was empty. The gold medal winner of San Fransico World Competition in 2018, Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey is aptly named for its liquid inspiration and copper pot distillation. Boasting flavors of gently spiced ginger, orchard fruit and caramel, the spirit has a long, elegant finish with notes of dark chocolate, honey and marzipan. Highlight these decadent flavors in a delicious dessert cocktail like the Irish cookie.
Champion MMA Fighter, Conor McGregor, set out to create a spirit that could share his love for Ireland and its whiskey. Through years of trial and error and a dedicated partnership with his master distiller, the two found a unique and special brand. Due to a triple distillation that involves copper pot stills, a low wine still and a spirit still, Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey provides a deliciously smooth flavor with hints of vanilla, honey and toasted wood. This whiskey is a result of blending a sweet Irish grain spirit and single malt Irish whiskey to produce the rich character.
With the motto, “You have a single life. Drink a single malt,” this Irish whiskey is intended for celebration and honoring all of life's moments. The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey was created by Alex Thomas, one of the few female master blenders in the industry. Slightly unconventional, using just an unpeated Irish malted barley, this unique whiskey has a clean and mellow honey malt flavor that is followed by rich dried fruit, spice, nuts and sweet oils. It is best served on the rocks in order to enjoy the smooth and rich texture.
Using specifically constructed sherry cask butts and former bourbon barrels, the Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey follows a strict guideline to achieve the strongly flavored, signature whiskey produced only by Redbreast Irish Whiskey. It is aged for 12 years to achieve full maturation and provide an assertive and harmonious balance of spice, fruit and toasted sherry notes. Enjoy a satisfying finish as complex flavors linger on the palate.
Born in 1608, Bushmills is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, located on the north coast of Ireland. The distilling tradition of using the Bush River as a water source has been passed down for generations. A recipe that dates back before prohibition, Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey is a triple-distilled blend. Try this delicious, medium-bodied whiskey with vanilla and dried fruit flavors in a cocktail. We recommend the Belfast bramble. In addition to the whiskey's warming, smooth and rich taste, you’ll receive acidity from lemon juice and a sweetness from the simple syrup and berry jam garnish.
Spot Whiskey began long ago as an old bakery in Dublin by the name “Mitchel & Sons.” At the time, it earned royal warrants and the title of “Confectioner to Her Majesty,” but to those in the know, the Mitchel family was perfecting the whiskey distillation process underneath the cobblestones. In order to keep them organized, the family marked each different cask with a spot of paint to identify how long the barrels were aging. This process is still used today. Green Spot is aged 7-10 years using sherry and port casks to provide a spicy body. It exhibits a fresh nose of aromatic oils and spices with orchard fruit while finishing with lingering flavors of barley.
Named after legendary Irish traveler, Patrick “Paddy” J. O’Flaherty, the whiskey is as magnetic, outgoing and generous as he was. In the true spirit of “gatherin’ around,” Paddy’s Old Irish Whiskey is a delicious flavor that people gravitate towards. The taste is light and crisp with hints of honey, nut and charred wood. Your glass will finish with a sweetness that fades gently into a lingering flavor of mild, woody malt for the comforting and genuine feeling that Paddy was all about. For a drink as charming as the man, try the ginger paddy.
If you are a fan of a simple drink, try Powers Irish Whiskey. Due to its maturation, it is clean and smooth enough to drink neat. They are all about the finer cut and bolder flavor. Powers’ goal is to provide a whiskey with a simple story but complex taste. Originating in 1791, the distillery takes influence from its founder, John Powers. It is matured in 2nd and 3rd fill American oak casks to achieve the bold and robust cinnamon, green pepper and orchard fruit taste. It is triumphant with its touch of nutmeg that leads into a slowly fading, complex honey flavor.
Slane Irish Whiskey is a blend of three casks with a taste that is spicy at first, but melts into a rich caramel, vanilla and butterscotch flavor. The whiskey greets you on the nose with aromas of complex fruits, brown spice and toasted oak. At Slane Distillery, they not only focus on making a delicious spirit, but also work towards sustainability. With efforts to lower their carbon footprint, there is a focus to protect and enhance nature. In 2021, the distillery will be planting 14,000 new trees next to their barley production fields to capture carbon as well as provide future casks for distillation.
What differentiates Irish whiskey from the rest of the world’s spirit?
Firstly, it must be distilled in Ireland. The country currently hosts 18 distillers which produce the libations you drink today. These whiskeys must be distilled from a mash of cereal grains and stored in wooden casks, in Ireland, for no less than three years. Traditionally these whiskeys are tripled-distilled to create the signature smoothness, however, this step is not required in labeling the spirit. You’ll find all Irish whiskey to be spelt “whiskey” versus “whisky.” The “e” was added in the 19th century to differentiate the spirit from its Scottish cousins.
Pricing, selection and vintages may vary by location.