Celebrate St. Patrick's Day With These Inspired Irish Whiskeys

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Celebrate St. Patrick's Day With These Inspired Irish Whiskeys

March 13, 2023 –––––– Julia Higgins, , , ,

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, there’s no better time of year to savor Irish whiskey. While Jameson has long ruled the roost as the most readily available Irish whiskey on the market, there’s now a wide world of Irish whiskeys out there to enjoy, with the Irish whiskey renaissance moving into full swing. We’ve rounded up some of Ireland’s most exciting releases for a wee bit of exploring on St. Paddy’s.

Method-and-Madness-Rye-and-Malt_600.jpgMethod and Madness Rye and Malt, 46%, $80

Rye and Malt is new to the States, and comes from Irish Distillers Micro Distillery at Midleton, the experimental unit where the company’s whiskey makers try new and different combinations while the main distillery next door takes care of the star brands. Rye and Malt is triple distilled, and it combines 60% rye and 40% malted barley. It was aged for just over 6 years in bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength.

Powers-Irish-Rye-Feb-2023_600.jpgPowers Irish Rye, 43.2%, $32

This is the first 100% Irish rye ever—according to current records—and it also comes from Irish Distillers. Previously, commercial agriculture in Ireland couldn’t support Irish Distillers’ rye needs, so they sourced it from other countries. Company archivist Carol Quinn found historical evidence that John Power & Son experimented with rye in its old mashbills, and that discovery helped inspire this expression.

Bushmills-12_600.jpgBushmills 12 year old, 40%, $60

While this one is made from 100% unpeated malted barley and triple distilled in copper pot stills, it separates itself from other Bushmills releases by marrying two 12 year old whiskeys, one aged in oloroso sherry casks and one in bourbon barrels. It’s ultimately finished in marsala wine casks from Sicily. As a permanent addition to the Bushmills single malt range, you should have no trouble tracking this whiskey down—and it was our No.-16 whiskey of 2022.

Writers-Tears-Red-Head-600.jpgWritersTears Red Head, 46%, $70

This single malt takes its name from its rich amber color due to its aging in oloroso sherry casks. Walsh Whiskey, the company behind Writers’ Tears (and The Irishman), has previously offered Redhead in European markets, so this marks the first time it has been made available in the U.S.

Red-Silkie-March-2023_600.jpgRed Silkie, 46%, $55

The Legendary Silkie, a peated Irish whiskey, is from James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distilling, located in the northwestern reaches of Ireland. While the whiskeys, including this new limited-edition release, are currently sourced from Great Northern Distilling, Doherty says that’ll transition to own-make by 2025. Red Silkie takes the original Legendary Silkie blend and puts it in Rioja and Ribera del Duero casks; after six months, the casks are disgorged and blended together.

Waterford-Heritage-Hunter-USA-600.jpgWaterford Heritage: Hunter, 50%, $130

Waterford is all about showcasing Ireland’s terroir, and this whiskey is the first in a series that resurrects rare barley varietals. The barley in this single malt was first introduced in 1959 by plant breeder Dr. Herbert Hunter; it was revered for its distinct flavors, but eventually discontinued in favor of higher-yield varieties. The whiskey was matured in a combination of 45% first-fill American oak, 19% virgin American oak, 21% French oak, and 15% vin doux natural (French sweet wine) casks.

Slainte-Irish-Whiskey-Sept-2022-(1)_600.jpgSláinte, 40%, $40

Owned in part by actor Liev Schreiber, Sláinte throws its hat into an ever-growing Irish ring—that of blended whiskey. This is a marriage of single grain and single malt whiskeys distilled at Great Northern Distillery, then aged separately in sherry casks before being vatted together in bourbon casks.

Jameson-Black-Barrel-750ml_600.jpgJameson Black Barrel, 40%, $37

Jameson Original is the ubiquitous Irish whiskey, but its creators have been known to branch out from time to time. Black Barrel was first introduced in 2011. It’s a triple distilled blend of single grain and single pot still whiskey matured in double charred barrels for up to 16 years, which lends it a bevy of sweet and spicy flavors.

McConnell_s-Flagship_600.jpgMcConnell’s, 42%, $35

McConnell’s dates back to 1776, when it was founded in Belfast, Northern Ireland by brothers John and James McConnell. The distillery was shuttered in the 19th century, but has returned with the backing of Conecuh Brands. Like some others on the list, the flagship whiskey is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys sourced from Great Northern Distillery and aged for five years in bourbon casks. A McConnell’s distillery in Belfast is in the works.

clonakilty-single-batch-double-oak-finish-9-2019_300.jpgClonakilty Double Oak, 43.6%, $45

Owned by the Scully family—which has owned farmland five miles from the Clonakilty Distillery on the southern coast of Ireland for three centuries—Clonakilty Double Oak is the flagship whiskey in the distillery’s Cask Finish series. While the distillery has been laying down whiskey since 2019, this release is a sourced blend that’s first aged in bourbon casks, then finished in a combination of virgin oak and STR red wine casks.

the-busker-single-pot-still-irish-600.jpgThe Busker Single Pot Still, 44.3%, $30

The four whiskeys in the core Busker lineup are the first made by Royal Oak Distillery, which opened its doors in 2016. Royal Oak was once owned by Walsh Whiskey in partnership with Disaronno International, but that relationship ended in 2019, leaving Disaronno as the sole owner. The Busker focuses on the four distinct styles of Irish whiskey: blended, single grain, single malt, and this single pot still.

killowen-poitin-bottles-hi-res_600.jpgKillowen Poítin, 55%, $60

While technically not a whiskey by modern rules, poítin was Ireland’s original spirit—it dates back to the 6th century when it was distilled in small pot stills from a malted barley base. The Irish moonshine has made something of a comeback, with more distilleries contributing their own iterations, Killowen’s poítin is made from a precise mashbill of 69.2% malted barley, 23% unmalted barley, 3.8% maris otter malt, 2% oat, and 2% wheat.

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