The best bottles of Irish whiskey are masterpieces of the dark spirit. The subtle use of barley and sometimes even maize (corn) that’s triple distilled and aged with a nuanced barreling program (often incorporating both bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks) makes for an amazing sip of whiskey.
This is the good stuff and it’s making a roaring comeback in the world of whiskey. Irish whiskey has seen a 20 percent increase in sales in the U.S. alone. That number bumps up to 30 percent in markets like East Asia. 2019 may well be Irish whiskey’s big moment (again) on the world stage, which means it’s time to buy up a few bottles for your next party.
The five bottles of Irish whiskey below are all absolute essentials to start your journey into that world. These bottles represent a broad range from north to south and points in between with variations of flavor front-and-center. Start inviting guests. Stock those shelves with whiskey. Ready the ice and soda water. Let’s go!
Redbreast 15 — The Welcome Drink
What to talk about: If you dig on Jameson, you’re going to love Redbreast. The small-time distillery is like Jameson amped up to eleven. The spirit is made in the New Midleton Distillery in Cork and aged in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Luckily, you don’t have to head to Cork to try this one. Redbreast has consistently been winning award after award since its relaunch in 1991, meaning you can get this expression all over the world these days.
Tasting notes: The aging is very present here. The wood comes through with a nice balance of mild spice and honey sweetness. There’s a buttery toasted nature to the underlying malts that gives way to a nice cut of lemon zest freshness. Finally, the cinnamon-forward spicy burn of the alcohol finishes of this mild sip.