• Karla Alindahao

Best Irish Whiskey: 13 Superb Bottles To Try This St. Patrick's Day


If you’re looking for some great Irish whiskies to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you’d be wise to consult with Sean Muldoon, cofounder of the world’s best bar, New York’s Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog. The Belfast-born Muldoon—whose cocktail cathedral lists an extensive selection of Irish whiskies on its menu—suggested 13 Emerald Isle gems. Ranging from single pot still bottles (such as Redbreast 12 Year) to single malts (such as Bushmills 16 Year), Muldoon’s selections don’t require a special holiday to be appreciated, but March 17 is as good a time as any to try one.

Connemara Peated Single Malt ($46)

“Connemara Peated is a rarity amongst Irish whiskeys in that it’s a double-distilled and peated single malt—much like Scotch. This is a style of whiskey that died away in Ireland after the 19th century,” Muldoon explains. “And it is said that when Cooley started up in the 1980s, it had no intention of producing a peated whiskey. It’s named after the Connemara region in County Galway in the west coast of Ireland. Originally, the peat for the whiskey was sourced from Ireland, but it now comes from Scotland. It’s a lovely silky smooth whiskey, with honey sweetness—and malty, apple, and lemon notes, which give way to full-bodied peat.”

Powers Signature Release ($50)

“Powers Signature Release is one of the best value single pot still whiskeys on the market. This is the second single pot still whiskey to be released by Powers, following the launch of the ultra-premium Powers John’s Lane Release,” Muldoon says. “The whiskey is bottled at 46 percent ABV and carries no age statement. It is a made with whiskeys that are aged from seven to nine years old that have been matured mostly in bourbon barrels—but with a small amount having been aged in Oloroso sherry butts. This new expression bears the hallmark spicy flavors that are typical of all Powers whiskeys. It’s both sweet and fruity, with lots of spice, and toasted oak. If I have to pick a favorite Irish whiskey, this would be up there!”

Midleton Very Rare ($160)

“Produced by the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Ireland, Midleton Very Rare is a premium blended Irish whiskey. It has no age statement and contains a mix of pot still and grain whiskeys that have been aged from between twelve to twenty years in ex-bourbon American oak barrels. This whiskey has frequently received strong reviews and awards since its launch in 1984,” Muldoon says. “Each year, a new bottling is decided by the master distiller at Middleton—using whiskeys handpicked from the distillery’s warehouses. The objective is to produce the best whiskey possible from year to year. The fact that each vintage differs and is only released in very limited quantities (50 barrels per year) makes the whiskey extremely sought after.”

Jameson Black Barrel ($45)

“I feel that this whiskey perfectly bridges the gap between Jameson Original and the higher end of Jameson whiskeys. This whiskey contains a larger amount of pot still whiskey than Jameson Original. And it has been aged in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels. The term ‘Black Barrel’ describes the fact that some of the spirit is matured in heavily charred first-fill bourbon casks.” Muldoon explains. “This charring gives more cask influence, which in turn lends some butterscotch, dark chocolate, and vanilla flavors to the final whiskey. It is extremely well priced and is very versatile in cocktails. It has rich flavor with a strong sherry notes and is a clear upgrade from Jameson Original.”

Clontarf 1014 ($23)

“This whiskey is made up of 90 percent grain and 10 percent malted barley—meaning it is light, floral, and slightly sweet. It is a good introduction to Irish whiskey and its delicate flavor means it works incredibly well in an Irish coffee.”

Bushmills Black Bush ($35)

“Bushmills Black Bush is a blended whiskey that carries no age statement. Here, a high proportion (85 percent) of malt whiskey that has been matured in former Oloroso sherry casks for between eight to eleven years, is combined with a sweet, grain whiskey,” Muldoon says. “The resultant whiskey is rich, fruity, and intense—yet at the same time very smooth. It has a silky texture with a nutty character and the sherry influence is very evident. On the palate, there are also hints of cinnamon and honey. It’s an extremely tasty whiskey that I feel is great value for money.”

Green Spot ($60)

“Green Spot was first produced by a Dublin wine merchant called Mitchell & Son back in the 1800s. Mitchell & Son purchased single pot still whiskey from the Jameson Bow Street distillery and sold it as their own. (This was a common practice back in those days). They marked the barrels with a spot of paint and the colors of the paint were used as indicators of maturation period. The old Green Spot was at least a 10-Year-Old whiskey,” Muldoon explains. “However, from the 1970s onwards (ever since the whiskey has been distilled at the Middleton Distillery) it has generally been around seven to nine years old. These days the whiskey has been matured in a combination of new bourbon refill barrels and around 10 percent of it is whiskey that has been aged in Oloroso sherry butts. It’s a great introductory single pot still whiskey: very light and floral on the palate with notes of green apples and pears.”

Knappogue 12-Year Single Malt ($60)

“This is a lovely, warming single malt whiskey that has a nice creamy texture. It’s made with 100 percent malted barley and is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for a minimum of twelve years. On the palate, there are traces of honey, toasted malt, and white chocolate. I feel this whiskey manages to capture a great deal of character from the malted barley and the flavors are delicious.”

Powers John’s Lane Release ($72)

“This whiskey is a heavy, rich, full-bodied pot still whiskey, that is made from a blend of whiskeys that have been aged for 12 to 14 years in mainly first-fill bourbon casks, with a small percentage aged in Oloroso Sherry butts. It is 46 percent ABV and is named after the street on which the John Power & Son Whiskey Distillery was once located in Dublin. Whiskey connoisseurs everywhere applaud this whiskey and it is a great example of how Dublin Whiskey tasted a hundred or so years ago.”

Redbreast 12-Year Single Pot Still

“This Irish pot still whiskey has received a cult following in recent years. Another favorite amongst bartenders, this is a blend of pot still whiskeys that have been aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and sherry-filled barrels for 12–15 years,” Muldoon says. “On the palate it has a warm ginger spice—and (due to the heavy sherry influence) a rich dried dark fruit character, namely prunes and raisins.”

Powers Gold Label ($25)

“Powers Gold Label is a classic Irish whiskey. At one time it was the best selling whiskey in Ireland—and there are still parts of the country where it is more popular than Jameson,” Muldoon says. “It is made from a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys that have been aged in ex-bourbon barrels for five to six years. It has a lovely rounded character—and it’s light and zesty on the palate with fruit and honey notes.”

Bushmills 16-Year Single Malt ($80)

“This 16-year single malt from Bushmills is aged in three different cask types: bourbon, port, and sherry. The whiskey is initially aged separately for 15 years in bourbon and sherry casks, before being married together and then further aged in port pipes for another year,” Muldoon says. “The port wood finishing adds some delicious red and summer fruit flavors—with hints of Christmas spice. Like all Bushmills whiskeys, it is a very smooth whiskey. But this one has a sweeter, fruitier edge.”

Teeling Small Batch ($35)

“This whiskey has quickly become a bartenders favorite, due to how well it mixes in drinks and its affordable price point. It is the flagship whiskey of The Teeling Company and is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys that have been aged for a minimum of seven and four years respectively—before being aged for a further six months in Caribbean rum casks.”

SOURCE: FORBES

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