Every March, whisky lovers set their sights on the 17th. (In 2018, that date fortuitously falls on a Saturday.) St. Patrick’s Day is a time to celebrate all things Irish, and there’s never been a better time for fans of Irish whiskey to experience the riches of the Emerald Isle. You could try out a cocktail made with Irish whiskey, or experiment to create your own perfect Irish coffee. Or you could just sip some excellent whiskey neat or on the rocks. While there are a number of classic drams every whiskey lover should taste, new releases likewise abound. These 17 whiskeys, all released in the past six months, give those drinkers who are serious about their St. Paddy’s celebrations new terrain to explore.
Upgrade Your St. Patrick’s Day Drinking With a New Irish Whiskey
Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
The success of Jameson’s stout barrel Caskmates in 2015 led the brand to make the whiskey part to its core range. In late 2017, Jameson Caskmates introduced a new edition, finished in Franciscan Well Brewery’s IPA casks. The IPA Edition scored 90 points in Whisky Advocate’s Spring 2018 issue. Also new from Jameson: The Blender’s Dog, which celebrates the art of blending, and was previously unavailable in the U.S.
Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish
Tullamore D.E.W. is following in the footsteps of fellow William Grant brand Balvenie with a rum cask finish, which debuted in late February. The rum is shipped from Guyana to the distillery, where it sits in casks for 3 months to season them. After emptying, the casks are filled with Tullamore D.E.W.’s core blend for a 3-month finishing period.
Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest
This pot still whiskey, the latest in Midleton’s Virgin Irish Oak Collection, combines whiskeys aged between 12 and 23 years, finished for 18 months in Irish oak from the Bluebell Forest of Blunden Castle in Kilkenny County. Reviewed in Whisky Advocate’s Spring 2018 issue, this whiskey scored 95 points.
Tyrconnell 15 year old Madeira Cask Finish
Last year’s limited-edition Tyrconnell 16 year old ranked as Number 16 on Whisky Advocate’s 2017 Top 20 list, scoring 91 points. This year, the single malt brand has rolled out another special edition, building upon its core 10 year old madeira cask-finished whiskey with one that’s aged an additional five years.
The Sexton Single Malt
A product of the Bushmills Distillery, this single malt was aged for four years in oloroso sherry butts. Reviewed in the Spring 2018 issue of Whisky Advocate, this whiskey scored 89 points.
While it debuted in Europe last year, the Pearse Lyons line—which includes The Original, Distiller’s Choice, Founder’s Choice Single Malt, and Cooper’s Select—has made its way to the U.S., available in Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida, with expansion is planned. Founder Pearse Lyons, who also started Kentucky’s Town Branch Distillery, passed away on March 8th.
J.J. Corry The Gael Irish Whiskey
The first release from Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, this whiskey blends three single malts—a 26 year old (5%), an 11 year old (27.5%), and 15 year old (27.5%)—and a 7 year old single grain whiskey (40%). The release represents a new return to the practice of Irish bonded whiskey, or whiskey sourced by non-distiller producers who age, finish, blend, and/or bottle under their own name. The Gael scored 90 points in the Winter 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate.
Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Special Reserve
This special edition Knappogue Castle ups the ABV of the brand’s 12 year old expression from 40% to 46%. Considering that the 12 year earned our Value Pick in spring 2017, the expectations are high for this higher bodied, and higher priced, offering.
West Cork Black Reserve 2018 Release
Previously available in 2016, West Cork Distillers has released a new batch of their Black Reserve whiskey. The blend uses 36% malt whiskey and 64% grain whiskey, both aged between 4 and 5 years and finished for 6 months in heavily charred first-fill bourbon casks.
The Dead Rabbit
The Dead Rabbit bar opened in New York City in 2013, and five years later comes this blend of malt and grain whiskies under the same name. Created by Darryl McNally, master distiller at the Dublin Liberties Distillery, the whiskey is aged for five years in ex-bourbon barrels, and finished in 24-gallon virgin American oak barrels.
Glendalough Distillery has three new expressions released this month. Glendalough Double Barrel is a single grain whiskey aged first in bourbon barrels, then finished in oloroso sherry casks, while Glendalough Black Pitts Finish 7 year old was finished in porter beer barrels from Dublin’s 5 Lamps Brewery. Glendalough Mizunara Cask Finish 13 year old, meanwhile, is the first Irish whiskey finished in casks made from rare Japanese mizunara oak.
Lambay Single Malt
Lambay is a new brand from family-owned cognac distiller Camus and the Revelstoke Community Trust, a non-profit organization led by Ireland’s Baring family. Offering both a Single Malt and Blended Small Batch, the whiskeys are blended and finished in Camus cognac barrels. The single malt’s finishing barrels are stored on Lambay Island, a wildlife preserve on Ireland’s east coast that the Barings have owned for over a century.
The Temple Bar
Named for The Temple Bar in Dublin, these sourced whiskeys are blended and bottled by pub owner Tom Cleary. Three versions hit the market in November 2017—Signature Blend, a 10 year old single malt, and a 12 year old single malt—with a cask-strength expression expected later this year and a 15 year old single malt in 2019.
This sourced whiskey from Connacht Distilling Company is made of made of 93% corn and 7% malted barley, and is finished in port barrels for one to three months. The length of the finishing period depends on how many times the barrel has been used.
John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey
This blend of malt and grain whiskeys is sourced from an unnamed artisanal Irish distiller and named after 19th century Irish-American fighter John L. Sullivan.
Irish drinks marketer Flor Prendergast and Steven Grasse of New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distilling teamed up for this blend that uses 10 year old malt and 4 year old grain from West Cork Distillers. The blend is finished in a rye barrel from Tamworth Distilling for 6 months.
DWD Heritage Edition
Named for the historic Dublin Whisky Distillery, this blend of malt and grain whiskeys was distilled two or three times and aged between 5 and 10 years.