It's hard to find a bottle of Irish whiskey that's truly disappointing. Most are genuinely good, pleasant to sip, and fun to mix into your favorite Irish whiskey cocktails. And yet, there are some notable Irish whiskeys you'll definitely want to seek out. From a high-end splurge or two to affordable everyday whiskeys and some special bottlings from the best-known brands, these are the ones worth adding to your bar.
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Redbreast is a favorite among Irish whiskey connoisseurs. Their 15 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is a perfect example of this style of whiskey. It offers an array of flavors, from malt to caramel, with a little fruitiness thrown in for good measure. The finish is long, and the entire experience is as smooth as can be. This whiskey is bottled at 46 percent ABV (92 proof) and typically sells in the $90 range, though it's completely worth that high price.
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A brilliant, bright, and spicy whiskey, Connemara is the brand for anyone who enjoys a little peat in their Scotch whisky. Malted barley dried over peat is the heart of this premium bottle produced at the Cooley Distillery in County Louth, Ireland.
Connemara 12 Year Old is the best of the portfolio. It's simultaneously smooth and bold, offering a ton of character and a full force of peaty spice. For what this 40 percent ABV (80 proof) drink has to offer, the $75 price is not unreasonable.
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Tipperary is one of the few "boutique" distilleries in Ireland. Started in 2016, they keep everything small and local, including the barley and water, both of which are sourced from the family-owned Ballindoney farm.
The Watershed bottling (priced around $65) is a nice introduction to the brand. It's aged in former bourbon barrels and bottled at a pleasant 47 percent ABV (94 proof). Impeccably smooth, you'll enjoy the warm flavors of vanilla and black pepper along with sweet fruits and the surprisingly long finish.
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Straight out of Dublin, Teeling Small Batch shows off the family's two centuries of experience crafting fine whiskeys. It's made from whiskey aged in hand-selected barrels, then finished in former rum casks for an additional six months. Bottled at 46 percent ABV (92 proof) without chill filtering, they offer the full-bodied taste of a great Irish whiskey. The fact that this one sells for around $40 is simply a bonus. Feel free to mix this one in The Massey and similar whiskey cocktails.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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A 2018 release from the Kilbeggan Distillery, this one will appeal to fans of rye whiskey. Bottled at 43 percent ABV (86 proof) and aged for six to seven years, Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye is very interesting on the palate. You get that underlying smoothness of Irish whiskey with a fantastic punch of spice that can only come from rye. It's warm and inviting and even more appealing at just $35 a bottle. Pour it into any rye whiskey cocktail, including the delicious Sneaky Pete.
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Every bar needs at leas one Irish whiskey that's always in stock so you can mix up a drink or pour a shot whenever you want. Tullamore D.E.W. is the perfect everyday whiskey with a hard-to-beat $24 price tag.
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Knappogue Castle is the Irish whiskey to get on your radar. It uses all the classic techniques in Irish whiskey, from malted barley to triple distillation in copper pot stills, and the 12 Year Old Single Malt is pure elegance.
At a smooth 40 percent ABV (80 proof), this whiskey is perfectly mellow. It's an ideal introduction to the world of Irish whiskey and is both sippable and mixable, a great choice for drinks like the Irish ale. It sells for around $42, so it doesn't break the bank, either.
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It's fun to taste of spirits aged in a variety of barrels. The previously used wood soaks up flavors from its former inhabitant and imparts unique qualities to the new liquor. That's what happened in The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask, which is produced at the Cooley Distillery.
This single malt whiskey is finished in Portuguese port wine casks for six to eight months. This results in a warm fruit sweetness and fascinating, but not overpowering spice. It's bottled at 46 percent ABV (92 proof) and generally sells for $65.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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In Ireland's County Carlow, the Walsh Whiskey Distillery is doing fantastic things with Irish whiskey. The Irishman is one of two labels they produce and the Single Malt is not only top-rated and award-winning, but it's also affordable at just $40.
The distillery limits batches of Single Malt to just 6,000 bottles. After aging in bourbon barrels, it's finished in Oloroso sherry casks and offers delicious fruits, vanilla, and almost flavors. The finished profile would indicate you paid a lot more for it, so it's a nice surprise for the budget-conscious drinker who enjoys shaking up the occasional cocktail.
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Jameson is arguably the best-known name in Irish whiskey, but there's more to discover from this brand than that familiar green bottle that's in nearly every bar.
One of the recent additions is Blender's Dog. Part of the Whiskey Makers Series, it shows off the skills of the head blender, Billy Leighton. It is rich, smooth, butterscotch-y, and spicy—everything that makes Irish whiskey so great. It's bottled at 43 percent ABV (86 proof), sells in the $70 range, and creates an amazing Irish coffee.