Top 10 Irish whiskeys
Did you know there are now more than 30 operational whiskey distilleries in Ireland? It’s a far cry from really very recent history, when the industry was sustained by just four: Cooley, Bushmills, Kilbeggan and Midleton, home of Jameson.
Today, with its blend of historic producers and vibrant new players, Irish whiskey looks to be thriving. And the main winners are… us! Whiskey lovers who pursue flavour experiences and all-round deliciousness. But with so many expressions now available, it can be a challenge where to splash the cash next.
We’ve done the leg work for you. Read on to discover our take on ten Irish whiskey bottlings to snap up now, from both the old guard and the young challengers. Enjoy!
A single pot still Irish whiskey expression from the Midleton distillery, Redbreast 12 is renowned for its glorious oiliness and mouth-watering flavour, while maintaining its impeccable balance. It’s made from liquid matured in both American ex-bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts – and it’s a classic for a reason. An essential for every drinks cabinet.
One of the Irish whiskey newbies right here! Roe & Co Distillery is located in Dublin and opened in 2019 – but we don’t have to wait for its spirit to come of age! This blended Irish whiskey was released in 2017 (from casks bought in to fill the time gap), and it’s a wonderful blend of single malt and grain whiskeys matured in ex-bourbon casks. We’re excited for what’s to come from Roe & Co!
Another new-wave Dublin distillery here, Teeling Small Batch is made from a blend of single malt and grain initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels. It’s then moved into casks that previously held rum from Central America! This is delectably fruity stuff, bursting with orange blossom notes, creamy vanilla and sweet spices, too.
We find ourselves up in Northern Ireland now with Bushmills 10 Year Old! This is an old-school classic that’s well stood the test of time. It’s incredibly fruity, with loads of banana notes, wrapped up with a chocolate pudding vibe. On the finish a load of tasty tannins come through, and it’s really fun to try with a drop of water. Delightful!
Another Midleton bottling, this Jameson expression is well worth checking out. It’s got a high proportion of Irish pot still whiskey along with a helping of grain, and the result is a richer, fuller expression than the core bottling. It gets its name from its maturation in double-charred, first-fill bourbon casks. And it’s a tropical fruit fiesta!
Think peat-lovers can only get their fix from Scotch? Absolutely not! Connemara comes from the Cooley Distillery, and the clever folks there recognised that Irish whiskey fans like the smokier side of life, too. This is a single malt offering all manner of heather and honey notes in with the peat. It also pairs magnificently with cheese…
Behold! Right here we have the first-ever pot still Irish whiskey finished in Bordeaux wine casks! And not just any Bordeaux wine. Château Léoville Barton’s founder Thomas Barton was Irish, and known as the ‘Wine Geese’ winemaker. Both producers are celebrating their Irish heritage with this whiskey, and it tastes wonderful, too!
Renowned New York bar The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog not only tops the bucket lists of barflys the world over, but it also boasts the largest collection of Irish whiskey in North America! The founders teamed up with The Dublin Liberties distillery to craft their own expression. And here it is! We can all have a taste of The Dead Rabbit in our very own homes.
Ireland also offers tasty single grain expressions! Method and Madness is a more experimental brand to come out of the Midleton Distillery, and this is a particularly pleasing bottling. This makes use of virgin Spanish oak casks, and boasts notes of rose petals, grapefruit and cereal, along with a luscious rain-on-pine vibe. We like.
We round off our round-up with a classic Irish expression, first released way back in 1791 by John Power & Son. Today, it’s a blend of both pot still and grain whiskeys, and is characterised by its shortbread and honeysuckle notes, along with zesty tangerine peel, wrapped up in a creamy helping of milk chocolate. Thoroughly lovely!
There we have it. 10 exceptional Irish whiskey expressions to try in 2020, blending the new world and the old. Enjoy!
Updated 30th June 2020