The fact that Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t for a few months shouldn’t stop you from warming up this winter with a dram (or three) of Irish whiskey. The home country of Colin Farrell and Conor McGregor has much more to offer than a simple glass of Jameson (although we’ll gladly take one on a cold, winter day). Alexander Carlin, beverage director for Infuse Hospitality in Chicago, has been savoring the warming appeal of Irish whiskey for many winters spent along Lake Michigan and in New York.
“I cut my teeth as a beverage professional learning from the old school New York Irish bartenders that were institutions themselves at various NYC Steakhouses,” he says. “They represented generations of bar pros who would only give up a shift upon either retiring or dying, and in those instances, it was often their offspring who took over. They always had a case of Irish whiskey delivered that was often ‘misplaced’ by management and absorbed into their personal collections. I know we went through a lot of it, but it was never listed on any menu. After a long shift, a shot or two always ends up being my go-to when I think about the chilly winter seasons I spent learning all things bar-related.”
Like Carlin, many of our favorite bartenders have cultivated a longstanding love of Irish whiskey. So we asked them to share their favorite expressions to sip all winter long.
Teeling Single Malt
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Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC
My go-to Irish whiskey is Teeling Single Malt. It’s incredibly smooth and complex. They use different barrels for maturation, making really stand-out flavors.
Glendalough Pot Still
Jessie Smyth, bartender at Genever in Los Angeles
I was recently introduced to Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey and instantly fell in love- soft, sweet, nutty, delicious. They have several different offerings where they are playing with different barrel finishes and ages, but I haven’t tried one I didn’t like.
Will Witherow, beverage director at Live Oak in Alexandria, Virginia
My go-to Irish whiskey is Redbreast Lustau. A lot of people that I come across don’t think of Irish Whiskey as sipping whiskey. Whenever I give them a taste of Redbreast their minds are quickly changed.
Connemara Peated Single Malt
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🇬🇧 Irish and peated? So nice combination. Since I drunk it, it is my Irish single malt No.1! Connemara PEATED MALT 👌🏼 🇸🇰 Írska rašelinová whisky, musel som to risknúť a mať ju! Veľmi dobrá kombinácia. #whiskey #irishwhiskey #whiskeycavalier #whiskeys #whiskeyporn #whiskysocialclubslovensko #connemara #connemarapeated #whiskeylife #whiskeylover #whiskeyworld
Alli Torres, head bartender at Refinery Rooftop in New York City
I typically don’t find myself drinking too much Irish whiskey, but one has recently come across my palate that I can get on board with; Connemara Peated Single Malt. Still a true Irish whiskey, yet the barley is dried over a peat fire, attributing to that deep smoky flavor we love, with a little less salinity than an Islay scotch.
Spade & Bushel 10 Year Cask
Patrick Turner, bartender at B & O Brasserie in Baltimore
If I’m drinking an Irish whiskey, it’s going to be one that I can enjoy neat. Spade & Bushel 10 Year Cask Strength is easily one of my top five sipping whiskies. It’s smooth and perfectly at home on the rocks.
Kala Ellis, bar manager at O-Ku Bar in Nashville
Sexton Irish whiskey is an easy pick for me. It’s got a soft floral aroma and finishes clean and bright. In a cocktail, I love to mix it with a splash of table brandy, raw ginger syrup, lemon, and a red ale. By itself, I’ll pour it up in a nice big brandy snifter and warm it up in my hands to reveal more stone fruit aromatics.
Teeling Small Batch
Brandon Lockman, lead bartender at Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon
Teeling is doing something a little different with their small-batch whiskey. They’re aging it in used rum barrels. It’s unique and easy on the pocket-book.
Leia Pecotte, bartender at Tulio in Seattle
Tullamore D.E.W. is my Irish whiskey of choice. It’s smooth and easy-drinking, perfect if you’re looking for a neat sipper.
Emmanuel “Manny” Pressley, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia
My favorite Irish whiskey is also one of the most affordable whiskeys you’ll find. A bottle of Powers is perfect for just about every occasion. It’s a simple, no-fuss whiskey that is good for anything from shots, to cocktails, and even cooking.
Glendalough Double Barrel
Drew Hairston, beverage manager at Dirty Habit in Washington, DC
Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey is a newer kid on the block. It’s reasonably priced, has depth from its double-barrel finishes, and still light enough to drink in the warmer months.
Teeling Single Grain
Jason Werth, bartender at Motif in Seattle
I don’t drink a ton of Irish Whiskey, but when I do, it is usually Teeling Single Grain. It’s aged in both bourbon and rum casks that give it a sweet heat that I don’t find in many Irish whiskeys.
Alejandro Dieguez, head bartender at J. Bespoke in New York City
I’d choose Redbreast 12-year, an Irish whiskey that is full-flavored and complex. You can really taste the sherry finish from the Oloroso Sherry barrels, as well as the roundness that comes from American bourbon barrels. These qualities make this one my go-to until spring comes knocking on the door.
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye
Jef Tate, head bartender at Janitor’s Closet in Chicago
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye – I had this in a blind tasting — when they wheeled in the cart with all the bottles we had tasted that morning, I needed to know which bottle corresponded with the sip that stayed with me. That bottle was Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye. I had never seen an Irish rye before, and this just had the most tantalizing finish I had ever experienced in a rye whiskey.
Bushmills Black Bush
Wade McElroy, director of food and beverage development at Fieldhouse Jones in Nashville
I’ve always kept it pretty classic with my Irish whiskey leanings, enjoying blends like Bushmill’s Black Bush. I recently tasted some products from Glendalough that I really enjoyed and have always really liked their classic pot still.