Spirits & Liqueurs Other Whiskey

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey Review

It's an affordable bottle, but not an enjoyable one.

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey bottle

Liquor.com / Laura Sant

liquor.com rating:

An unpleasant astringency and medicinal notes on the finish mean we wouldn't reach for this Irish whiskey as either a sipper or a mixer.

Fast Facts

Classification Irish whiskey
Company Eire Born Spirits
Distillery Bushmills (Bushmills, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom)
Cask ex-bourbon
Still Type copper pot
Released 2018
Proof 80 (40% ABV)
Aged at least 3 years
MSRP $25
Awards Gold, 2020 Bartender Spirits Awards; Gold, 2020 USA Spirits Ratings

  • $5 from each case sold is donated to local first responder programs, up to $1 million annually.

  • Its green glass bottle and old-school label, featuring a tiger wearing a crown (perhaps representing its founder, Conor McGregor?), are terrific-looking.

  • This is objectively not a good whiskey. The palate is oddly astringent and the finish has pronounced medicinal notes.

Tasting Notes

Color: A very appealing golden straw

Nose: Light and sweet. At first, paint thinner is the dominant aroma, but once it opens up, it takes on more agreeable floral and citrus notes.

Palate: Light and oddly astringent—a little bitter and slightly sour. There’s some vanilla in there too, but it fails to overcome the weird dominant flavors.

Finish: Long and quite unpleasant. Lots of oak, which is surprising for a three-year-old whiskey, combined with Listerine (the original medicinal flavor, not the cool mint). 

Our Review

Launched in 2018 by the controversial former UFC champion Conor McGregor, Proper No. Twelve lists David Elder, previously of Guinness Brewery, as its master distiller. The distillate is sourced from Bushmills, the legendary distillery which has been making fine Irish whiskey for centuries. A blend of single malt and grain whiskeys, it is triple-distilled (par for the course for Irish whiskey) and aged a minimum of three years in ex-bourbon barrels. What could go wrong? Apparently, judging from the final product, quite a bit.

As a sipper, this whiskey is unpalatable, with an oddly astringent palate and over-oaked, medicinal finish. As a mixer, it’s best buried among other ingredients—but at 80 proof, it doesn’t even bring a lot of alcohol to the party. On the plus side, at $25 a bottle, Proper No. Twelve is one of the more affordable Irish whiskeys on the market. But there are plenty of superior options for roughly the same price, including Bushmills’ own flagship expression.

Interesting Fact

Conor McGregor’s whiskey is named for the Dublin suburb of Crumlin, postal code 12, where he grew up. “It’s proper Irish whiskey, and twelve is my hometown,” he explained in a press release.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a fan of good Irish whiskey, it’s best to steer clear of Proper No. Twelve, a blend of single malt and grain whiskeys with pronounced astringent and medicinal notes.