While we always have Irish whiskey in our liquor cabinet, you can bet that we’ll be having a dram on Sunday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We’re surely not alone: Sales of the alcohol have exploded over the last few years. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing liquor category, with sales up 22.5 percent in 2012. (To put that in perspective, more Irish whiskey than single malt Scotch is now consumed in America.) Here are four new bottlings you’ll definitely want to try.
2 Gingers Irish Whiskey ($20):
Kieran Folliard knows a thing or two about Irish whiskey. Before creating this brand, he owned a Minneapolis bar that sold more Jameson than any other watering hole in the world. 2 Gingers is very smooth and great for mixing drinks. It launched in Minnesota and is currently rolling out across the Midwest.
Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Twin Wood ($60):
Though aging Scotch in two different types of barrels is pretty standard, it’s still a fairly uncommon practice in Ireland. Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Twin Wood is an excellent example of this technique, calling for whiskies that have matured in former bourbon and sherry casks. As a result, you can taste some baking spices, stone fruits and wood.
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy ($249):
One of the people you can thank for the popularity of Irish whiskey is Jameson’s veteran master distiller, Barry Crockett, who is actually retiring this month. To honor his 47 years on the job, the company released a special Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy edition (pictured above) last fall. With hints of sweet fruit and gentle spice, it won’t disappoint.
Powers John’s Lane Release ($70):
Powers has been making whiskey for a long time—it started in 1791—and its latest spirit is the rich, creamy, full-bodied John’s Lane. It’s produced in a pot still and aged for 12 years in mainly American bourbon barrels (a bit is also matured in oloroso sherry butts). You could sip a glass of it for an entire evening.