As the old stereotype goes, the Irish like a drink. And they especially like to drink on St. Patrick’s Day. So why not grab a dram and celebrate the patron saint of Ireland with some of these exciting Irish whiskeys?
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s a list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary state to state.
Created as part of the Whiskey Makers series, Cooper’s Croze is a wood-heavy Irish whiskey created by head cooper Ger Buckley, who put together a blend of barrels to showcase his craft as a cooper for the Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland. Buckley is a proud and humble man, despite there being an image of his fingerprint on the label of a bottle released by the biggest Irish whiskey on the planet.
The blend is made of whiskeys aged between 12 and 16 years and sings the vanilla and toffee notes you’d hope for from great ex-bourbon casks while being punctuated by a strong oak char influence with an overall fruity character on the palate—beautiful. The midlength, spicy finish is a joy in and of itself.
2. Redbreast Lustau Edition Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey ($75)
Released in the summer of 2016, this stunning Redbreast release is a gorgeous example of how Irish whiskey and sherry-cask maturation can deliver sublime results. The whiskey itself is matured between nine and 12 years in both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, but that’s just where the magic starts. For 12 more months, the whiskey is then finished in Spanish olorosso sherry casks. This gives the final spirit a fruity, creamy feel with heavy sherry notes of dark fruits with a rich depth of flavor you’d expect from a Redbreast release.
This dram was a Gold winner at the Irish Whiskey Masters and certainly lives up to the accolade. The Quiet Man is named after founder Ciaran Mulgrew’s father, who was a bartender in Belfast, Ireland.
Despite its young age, it is full of flavor and a complex palate. It’s matured in bourbon barrels that give it a nice sweet, warming note. The nose is fresh and fragrant, with floral hints and a nice bite to it. It’s filled with apples and pears that add depth and refinement. These grow on the palate, where they are allowed to intermix with vanilla and oak wood, bringing in slightly honeyed notes that are smooth and mellow. The finish is warm and long, with a last dash of apple and slight nod toward citrus fruits to end.
4. Teeling Carcavelos Barrel Aged Single Malt ($83)
This expression is matured for 12 years in an ex-bourbon barrel before being transferred to finish in a white Port barrel from Carcavelos in Portugal. This gives it a wonderfully light flavor, from nose to finish. It opens with ripe green grapes and thyme, giving it a refreshing and herby start. This grows into an aroma similar to fresh cut grass, with a slightly dewy quality to it.
This continues into the palate, where it’s used as a base for the other flavors. The body is soft but assured, with lots of sweet malt and bitter coffee to complement each other. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, with a thick, buttery quality to it, and goes hand in hand with the vanilla and caramel notes that come through. The Port is rich and refined, with a slight spice to it that makes for a lovely warming quality. It rounds off with a finish that’s sweet and long, with lots of texture and flavor.
The Tullamore D. E. W. distillery may only have been opened two years ago, but the old Irish whiskey stock of owner William Grant & Sons has been used to create a distinctive character long before the new-make spirit has matured into fully fledged whiskey. This Tullamore is finished for approximately one year in each of four different cask finishes—port, olorosso sherry casks, Madeira casks and ex-bourbon—to create something quite remarkable.
The nose is mature, like a 25-year-old scotch, with a strong malt influence, an oak char that gives off fresh, fleshy green apples and a wrap-around of sweetness. Once in your mouth, expect lots of tropical fruits and more sweetness. The mouthfeel is so so smooth it’s almost like buttercream, with a nice, long finish.