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Lesser-Known Irish Whiskeys You Should Try This St. Paddy’s Day

The Irish whiskey market is dominated by big names. Even if you don’t know much about whiskey, you’ve probably heard of brands like Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Bushmills, and Redbreast. But just like in the US (where Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniel’s, and Maker’s Mark gobble shelf space), there are a lot of smaller brands deserving of your love.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the lesser-known-but-equally-well-made Irish whiskeys on the market. Each one is nicely suited to St. Patrick’s Day drinking. Even if there won’t parades and epic Dropkick Murphys sing-a-longs at your local pub, you can still enjoy a few drams of the triple-distilled stuff. Check them all out below, pick a few that sound tasty, and crank up The Dubliners or The Pogues.

Egan’s Vintage Grain

Egan

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $36.99

The Story:

With a name like Vintage Grain, you know this is a unique expression. This hand-selected single grain whiskey was aged for eight years in charred, ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a well-balanced whiskey that bridges the gap between fruity and spicy.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of charred oak, sweet caramel, and cocoa powder. The sip yields notes of buttery vanilla cream, subtle tobacco, rich leather, and a nice, final hint of oak and spicy cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

Six generations of Egan family members have made whiskey, so you can bet they’ve become fairly good at it over the years. Give this gem a try if you love bourbon but want to experiment.

West Cork Bourbon Cask

West Cork

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $22.99

The Story:

This inexpensive Irish whiskey is a blend of grain (75%) and malt (25%) was aged in ex-bourbon casks. It’s bargain-priced around $20 and is mellow, well-balanced, and filled with sweet, spicy, and rich, sippable flavors.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas and you’ll be transported to a world of sugar cookies, dried fruits, and toasted vanilla beans. Take a sip and find notes of buttercream, caramel apples, and just a hint of sweet cinnamon. The finish is medium in length, filled with pleasing heat, and ends with a final crescendo of cracked black pepper.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of a bargain and bourbon, this sweet, spicy, highly drinkable Irish whiskey deserves a permanent spot on your home bar cart.

Kilbrin 10-Year

Kilbrin

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $56

The Story:

This pot still distilled 100% malted barley, single malt Irish whiskey was aged for ten years in former bourbon barrels. The result is a unique, highly sippable, deeply memorable whiskey that you’ll go back to again and again.

Tasting Notes:

Give this whiskey a nosing and you’ll find aromas of caramel apples, banana bread, creamy vanilla, and charred oak. Take a sip and you’ll find flavors of buttery caramel, clover honey, and a nice bit of spicy cinnamon. It all ends with a long, warming, salted caramel finish.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced single malt Irish whiskey, you can do much worse than Kilbrin 10, with its nice mix of sweet and heat.

Hyde No. 2 President’s Rum Cask

Hyde

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $78.99

The Story:

This limited-edition release from Hibernia Distillers was named after Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland. Similar to many well-known American whiskeys, the brand sources the single malt whiskey from another distillery. It’s aged in both ex-bourbon barrels and rum casks for a total of ten years.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find sweet molasses, tropical fruit flavors, and sticky toffee. The palate is filled with sugar cookies, dried fruits, creamy caramel, orange zest, and a backbone of sweet rum. It ends with a finish of spicy pepper and sweet toasted vanilla beans.

Bottom Line:

Hyde plans to make its own whiskey within the next five years. For now, if you want to enjoy a Hyde product, it will have to be a sourced whiskey they finish themselves and this gem is a great place to start.

Roe & Co

Roe & Co

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Story:

Released in 2017, Roe & Co is a blended Irish whiskey. This blend of single malt and grain whiskeys is non-chill filtered and matured in ex-bourbon casks. The result is a smooth, highly drinkable blend perfectly suited for mixing or slow sipping over a single ice cube.

Tasting Notes:

The nose features the aromas of almond cookies, sweet cream, and toasted vanilla beans. The palate adds hints of sweet treacle, butter toffee, charred oak, and a slight, spicy, cinnamon finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a new brand in the blended whiskey world. It’s owned by Diageo and you’ll probably start seeing it often on bars, bar carts, and liquor store shelves.

The Quiet Man 8-Year

The Quiet Man

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $42.99

The Story:

This single malt whiskey was aged for eight years in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and actually gets its name from the brand owner’s father, John Mulgrew, who was a bartender. Mulgrew famously lived by the “barman’s code” and told no tales about his customers — hence the “quiet man” moniker.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of caramel apples, clover honey, charred oak, and vanilla. On the palate, you’ll be treated to notes of orange zest, sticky toffee, almond cookies. A sweet, buttery, caramel finish ties everything together nicely.

Bottom Line:

This is a sublimely well-rounded, sweet, mellow whiskey perfectly suited for slow sipping with a single ice cube while you think of memories of St. Patrick’s Days gone by.

Knappogue Castle 12-Year

Knappogue Castle

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $40

The Story:

Knappogue Castle 12 is the brand’s flagship expression for a reason. This single malt whiskey made from malted barley is triple distilled in copper pot stills before being aged in ex-bourbon casks for twelve years.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to nose this memorable single malt and you’ll find sugar cookies, cinnamon, and charred oak. The sip is filled with sticky toffee pudding, sweet cream, buttery caramel, and just the right amount of peppery spice. The finish is long, loaded with warming heat, and ends with a final note of dried cherries and vanilla.

Bottom Line:

For the price, you’ll have a rather difficult time finding a great-tasting 12-year-old single malt Irish whiskey better than this one.

Dublin Liberties Oak Devil

Dublin Liberties

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $50

The Story:

If you’re anything like us, you find the name “oak devil” confusing. This blended whiskey, which’s matured in ex-bourbon barrels, gets its name from the nickname of “hell” bestowed on the rowdy, tough Dublin Liberties neighborhood in the 1700s. A carved oak devil even stood at the entrance to the area.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of dried cherries, charred wood, and sweet, toasted vanilla beans. Once you take a sip, you’re sure to pick up buttery caramel, sweet vanilla, cracked black pepper, and raisins. The finish is medium in length, warming, and ends with a nice sweet, chocolate, and vanilla one-two punch.

Bottom Line:

Pay tribute to the raucous Dublin of the past by sipping on this mellow, easy-to-drink blended whiskey.

The Busker

Busker

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

The Story:

Here’s another exciting, unique blended whiskey. Named for the street performers you’ll find all over Dublin, The Busker is a blend of single grain, single malt, and single pot still whiskeys aged in ex-bourbon, sherry, and marsala casks.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to nose this whiskey and you’ll be greeted with scents of vanilla beans, toffee, and a subtle hint of peppery spice. The first sip yields dried cherries, sweet sherry, candied orange peels, buttery caramel, and a final flourish of candy apples at the very end.

Bottom Line:

For $30 it’s hard to find a triple-barreled, easier to drink whiskey. It’s perfect for mixing into your favorite cocktail or sipping on its own.

Glendalough Double Barrel

Glendalough

ABV: 42%

Average Price: $38

The Story:

This single grain Irish whiskey is first matured in ex-bourbon barrels before finishing for six months in Oloroso sherry casks (hence double barrel). The result is whiskey with a perfect mix of caramel sweetness and pleasing, spicy heat.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find hints of creamy chocolate fudge, charred wood, vanilla frosting, and cinnamon spice. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of crème brulee, dried fruits, salted caramel, and a final note of baking spice and charred oak.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect bottle for fans of sherried single malt Scotch whisky. Try this instead of your usual expressions from The Macallan or GlenDronach.

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