From apricot-brandy casks to ex-Pinot Noir barrels, these uniquely finished Irish Whiskeys are perfect for Saint Patrick’s Day and beyond.
Irish whiskey has always been a well-liked option for fans of brown spirits, but recently, it seems, the range of deeply exciting options has increased exponentially. Producers everywhere Ireland aren’t just experimenting with the spirit itself, but also with the ways during which barrel finishes can affect the ultimate dram.
The following 11 Irish whiskeys run the gamut from widely available expressions to smaller-production standouts that are well well worth the effort to accumulate . All of them, however, share one vital thing in common: They’re definitely not just meant to be enjoyed around Saint Patrick’s Day, but throughout the whole year. They’re that good.
Knappogue Castle 16-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Sherry Cask Finish ($90)
After spending a minimum of 14 years in ex-Bourbon barrels, this beautiful whiskey is then aged another two years (minimum) in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks. The upfront nuttiness here is powerful and assertive, yet because the finish rolls on, notes of honey-coated cacao nibs, coffee beans, and apricot pits come to the fore also . Toasty hints of graham crackers provide a final flourish for this elegant dram.
Egan’s “Conviction” 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey ($100)
Blended from single grain and single malt whiskeys that were then brought together in casks that previously held XO Cognac, this is often almost overwhelmingly beautiful on the nose, with chocolate-enrobed caramel, sachertorte, and heather aromas that tee up rich, generous flavors of chocolate ganache, carob, woodsy spices, cinnamon-vanilla pot de crème, candied oranges, almonds, and candied ginger. Their 17 Year Old Legacy Reserve, which was aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in casks that previously held Cadillac sweet wine, is another stunner, overflowing with sweet spice, nectarines, perfectly ripe apricots, and a finish that sings an aria of mashed yellow apples, lemon blossoms, and citrus oils.
Glendalough 7-Year-Old Irish Mizunara Finish ($100)
Finished in Mizunara, the famous—and famously rare and expensive—Japanese oak (Quercus cruspula, for you Latin binomial fans out there), this is often a desirable whiskey, oozing with aromas of syrup-coated pancakes, Honey Smacks cereal, and biscuits before a palate of lemon-blossom honey and maple-drizzled biscuits. The finish fans out with chocolate, cafe mocha, incense, sandalwood, and hints of darkly toasted shredded coconut.
J.J. Corry “The Gael” Irish ($87)
J.J. Corry became Ireland’s first modern-era “whiskey bonder” in 2015, meaning they purchase unaged and aged spirit from distilleries around Ireland then blend and finish them at their home base on the McGuane Farm in County Clare. This one, a mix of malt and grain whiskeys that are finished in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, is biscuit-y and kissed with spice, and finishes with a stunning note of peppercorn spice dusting dried golden raisins, lemon gels, and caramel.
Killowen 10-Year-Old Blended Irish “Bonded Experimental Series” Burgundy Pinot Noir Cask ($90)
This highly successful “experiment” is redolent with cherries and red berries, a subtle tug of honey cap mushrooms, heather, and flowers. It manages to channel the depth and elegance of red Burgundy while still maintaining its own sense of self. and therefore the Basque Txakolina Acacia Finish is nice and subtly herbal, with slightly of white licorice and lemon pith, also as autumn orchard fruit through the long finish. search for their range of experimental series expressions, which are fantastic ways to experience great whiskey and the way unique barrel finishes (virgin Hungarian oak, Jamaican dark rum, tequila, and more) impact them.
Limavady Single Malt Single Barrel Irish ($50)
This small-batch gem, finished in ex-PX sherry and bourbon barrels, dances between counterpoints of sweet edible fruit , beurre noisette , and earthier aromas, all of which cause a palate of leather, salted caramel, dehydrated apples, and cacao beans, also as almond shortbread and cooked sugar . Long, complex, and generous.
Slane Triple Casked Irish ($29)
This triple casked Irish brings together grain and malt whiskeys that are aged in seasoned oak, virgin oak, and ex-Sherry casks, and each sniff and sip drips with caramel , toasty vanilla, and bananas, also as sweet-spice-dusted dried apricots, flan, and banana-studded pastry crème.
The Busker Triple Cask Triple Smooth Irish ($25)
This gulpable whiskey is crafted from a mix of single grain, single malt, and single pot still whiskeys that have matured during a combination of ex-Sherry, ex-Bourbon, and ex-Marsala casks from Cantine Florio, lending it hints of coffee fudge, cinnamon, edible fruit , and chocolate.
The Tyrconnell 10-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Madeira Cask Finish ($77)
A savory, almost leather-like nose is sweetened up with nougat and chocolate before sweet-spiced flavors of caramel, nougat, chocolate, mashed Amarena cherries, and sweet cigar tobacco, all joined by grilled drupe and honey. Their Sherry Cask and Port Cask finishes also are notably delicious.
Two Stacks Irish “The Blender’s Cut—Apricot Brandy Cask Strength” ($93)
I’ve been impressed with the work of Two Stacks, and this expression is further reason for that: The finishing in ex-apricot-brandy French oak casks has lent this whiskey notes of grilled apricots and peaches spread with almond butter, cooked honey, beurre noisette , and sweet spice. It’s bottled at a strong 127 proof, but it wears that prime alcohol with real grace: this is often an incredible and surprising Irish .
Walsh Whiskey Writers’ Tears Double Oak Irish ($60)
Not such a lot finished during a separate barrel as blended together, this delicious dram is that the results of mingling single malt and single pot still Irish whiskeys that are aged in both ex-Bourbon and ex-Cognac casks. The result’s silky and sweet, with notes of honeysuckle and sweet brown spice, coconut and sultanas, slightly of pear fritters, and a finish that’s drizzled with caramel and a touch of tropical fruit.