Whisky Advocate

New Irish Whiskeys to Kick Off St. Patrick’s Day

March 16th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

In the last few years, Irish whiskeys have begun crowding bourbon and scotch on the shelf. In fact, Ireland’s distilling scene is undergoing an exciting renaissance—as detailed in our Winter 2016 issue. So it’s no surprise to see new brands hitting the U.S., especially around St. Paddy’s Day. Check out these four Irish whiskeys rolling out now—two new expressions from Bushmills and Tyrconnell, a unique Irish-American hybrid whiskey from Connacht, and Jameson’s limited-edition St. Patrick’s Day bottle.

Bushmills Red Bush bar shot Bushmills Red Bush

Style: Blended Irish whiskey
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $23
Release: March 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: Joining Bushmills Original and Black Bush, as well as a couple of aged single malts, this is the first new expression in the Bushmills family in quite awhile. It’s matured exclusively in first-fill bourbon barrels and is recommended as a shot or with mixers like ginger ale or soda.

Whisky Advocate says: In a statement, master distiller Colum Egan noted that this whiskey is targeted at millennial drinkers, and the company is clearly going after the American market with its focus on bourbon barrels. But don’t expect it to taste like bourbon: This is a classic Bushmills blend, with a somewhat sweeter taste profile.

Brothershipfront_2375Brothership Irish-American Whiskey

Style: Blended whiskey
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $40-$50
Release: March 2017
Availability: Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know: A real category bender, this is a blend of 52% 10 year old pot still Irish whiskey and 48% 10 year old American whiskey, both from undisclosed sources and blended by Connacht Whiskey Company. “Brothership” refers to the partnership of one Irishman and three Americans, who together founded Connacht.

Whisky Advocate says: Connacht has a distillery in County Mayo where it’s producing pot still whiskey, as well as gin, vodka, and poitín. The company also sells a blended Irish whiskey and Spade&Bushel single malt Irish whiskey, which are both sourced. Connacht’s sister distillery is New Liberty in Philadelphia, and New Liberty’s master distiller Robert Cassell blended and Brothership there. Both facilities are new—Connacht opened in October 2015 and New Liberty in 2014—but as their stocks mature, we may see more collaborations like this one.

Tyrconnell16YO_btltube_wht copyTyrconnell 16 year old

Style: Single malt Irish whiskey
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $100
Release: March 2017
Availability: 18,000 bottles for the world, hitting select U.S. markets first

Need to know: This is the oldest Tyrconnell to date and joins the regular non-age statement single malt and three 10 year old cask finishes.

Whisky Advocate says: Tyrconnell has released some older single cask whiskeys in the past, but this is the first time that a 16 year old has been available. It’s only around for a limited time.

Jameson2Jameson Saint Patrick’s Day Bottle

Style: Blended Irish whiskey
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $25
Release: March 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: It’s the same old Jameson, but in a special-edition bottle whose label was created by Dublin artist Steve McCarthy. The design plays on the Irish expression “chancing your arm,” which means taking a risk or stepping outside your comfort zone.

Whisky Advocate says: As the most popular Irish whiskey in the country, Jameson isn’t all that risky a choice. But if you were going to buy it anyway, you might as well get this bottle, which looks pretty rad. In other Jameson news, the brand has reopened its Dublin visitor center after an $11 million euro renovation. The site—which is not a distillery—offers three tours, some of which include cocktail master classes and cask sampling.

5 Responses to “New Irish Whiskeys to Kick Off St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. Richard Turner says:

    “Poitin”? What do it mean? Sorry to be so unsophisticated; but I can’t recall ever having come across this term before.

  2. Joshua Powers says:

    Well, I picked up a bottle of the Red Bush as I make March Irish Whiskey Month. It is a great buy for the price and most retailers are near the higher end of $28. It is definitely sweeter and hints at that vanillin from the Bourbon barrel. If you are reading the article then this is the one to go with off the list.

    On a side note . . . I still struggle to understand how Jameson became so popular here in the states. The flavor is much lighter than other expressions made at the same distillery. Try Powers Gold Label people and see what you have been missing out on all these years from the same distillery. The Sherry Cask finish (Powers & Black BushI believe truly shows the potential of Irish Whiskey. So take a chance on these and your Irish Eyes will be smiling!

  3. Prentiss "TheMaltmaster" says:

    In the early days when IDC controlled the world of Irish whiskey, they did a couple of dumb-bold-stroke things and a couple of smart-bold-stroke moves. One that could be argued either way was a decision to spend every penny of marketing money on just two brands outside of Ireland: Jameson and Bushmills. Why those of us of a certain age remember when even well-informed American bartenders had never heard of another… a sad tendency even today among the less-informed.

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