10 Best Irish Whiskeys
If you’re new to Irish whiskey, allow us to give you a quick breakdown on the spirit. This category of whiskey is known for being lighter, more approachable and sweeter than others. For the most part, Irish whiskeys aren’t smoky. They can be aged in just about any barrel and can be made from a variety of grains. And, unlike scotch or bourbon, Irish whiskey isn’t defined by how it’s made—only where it’s made: Ireland.
Until recently, most Irish whiskeys were only available in the U.K. Then, a couple of years ago, the spirit just blew up. Now, there are more bottles of Irish whiskey on American liquor store shelves than ever. To help navigate the booming spirit category, we tasted our way through the Irish whiskey section of our liquor store to find the best bottles available. Here are the 10 best Irish whiskeys to buy now.
Everyday Irish WhiskeysThese are Irish whiskeys you don’t mind mixing with ginger ale or with seltzer in a Highball.
Jameson ($29)Hands down the most popular Irish whiskey in the U.S., Jameson is synonymous with the American Irish pub. Produced since 1780, Jameson is a blended whiskey composed of spirits distilled from unmalted barley, malted barley and corn. After distillation, the blend is then aged in ex-sherry casks, ex-bourbon casks and ex-port barrels. It is light and fruity, with notes of custard and stone fruits and a distinct, lingering peppery finish and flavors of toasted oak. Poured over a couple of ice cubes, it is downright chuggable. For many, this is the gateway whiskey.
Powers Gold Label ($29)Powers Gold Label is complex, full bodied and extremely drinkable. A blended grain whiskey, triple distilled on pot stills, Powers is matured in American oak casks and non-chill filtered before being bottled. Higher proof than most Irish whiskeys at 43-percent ABV, this bottling is bright and boozy with hints of cinnamon, Corn Flakes, vanilla, apricots and honey. This is a bottle that can be sipped in any weather, straight, on the rocks or with a topper of extra spicy ginger ale. Once you try it, we assure you that you’ll have it regularly stocked on your bar.
Paddy ($21)This light, approachable Irish whiskey has been produced in Cork since 1779. A blend of single malt whiskey, grain whiskey and single pot still whiskey, Paddy is triple distilled and aged up to seven years in oak. On the palate, it is soft and honeyed, with flavors of vanilla, cedar, creamed corn, hay and salted almonds. With a gingery, spiced finish, this golden-hued dram is the perfect companion to a crisp ale and a basket of fish and chips.
Bushmills Original ($21)Distilled to be as delicious straight as it is in cocktails, Bushmills Original is a blended whiskey composed of triple-distilled Irish single malt whiskey and column-still Irish grain whiskey. Supple and creamy on the palate, it has notes of elderflower, sea salt, wet stone, honeycomb and oatmeal cookies. It is a great introduction for Irish whiskey newbies.
Higher End Irish WhiskeysThese are Irish whiskeys you drink with intention.
Teeling Single Malt ($60)This unique, powerful whiskey is a blend of malted barley whiskeys—some of which date back to 1991—finished in five different types of barrels, including port, sherry, Madeira, white Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is undeniably delicious. Dark and weighty, it has notes of orange rind, cloves, vanilla, raisins, treacle, white pepper, strawberries and pipe tobacco. It deserves to be sipped straight and appreciated.
Sexton Single Malt ($30)One of our favorite new releases of 2017, the Sexton Single Malt is dangerously drinkable—you have to be careful not to finish a bottle in one night with friends. Made from 100-percent malted barley, this whiskey is distilled on pot stills and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. In the glass, it’s light and floral, with flavors of fruitcake, brown butter, peaches, honeycomb, Frosted Mini-Wheats and malted milk balls. Serve it over ice—or at least with a dash of water—to reveal its softer, fruitier notes.
Wild Card Irish WhiskeyThese are whiskeys pushing the boundaries of the category.