We could begin by saying that the once stagnant category of Irish whiskey continues to be a font of creativity as it increases in popularity, but with the delicate nature of timing—St. Patrick’s Day and all—you’re probably eager to find a worthy bottle for your own enjoyment. With that quest in mind, we’ve rounded up a fresh crop of Irish-made whiskeys below, along with one very qualified non-Irish whiskey. Sláinte!
Limavady Single Barrel Irish Whiskey
The name Limavady is old—dating back to 1750—but the label has only been recently resurrected. Its second coming is a single barrel product, triple-distilled from 100% malted Irish barely and aged in ex-bourbon barrels before a finish in former PX sherry casks.
Its nose presents earthy, malty grain with soil up top and a slightly sherried sweetness below. On the palate it’s warm and creamy, beginning with earthy malt and raisins before picking up biscuits and toffee in the middle. The finish is all creamy vanilla, oak, and the dark, sherry-sweet flavors of a dessert wine with a hint of plum. It’s played off by a delectable finish that has peaches, plums, and pears in a kind of dark-sweet sherry sauce with spice—think of it as a fruit salad packed in sherry.
Limavady has the lightness of a traditional Irish whiskey but combines it with the very best of what sherry and bourbon barrel influence can do.
46% ABV / $49.99
Clonakilty Distillery Single Batch Double Oak Whiskey
The Clonakilty distillery was founded in 2018 in West Cork and sits on Ireland’s southwestern coast. The juice that goes into their Single Batch Double Oak is aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in both European oak casks and ex-red wine STR casks, in a warehouse only a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean.
That coastal influence is felt from the first sniff, which reveals a sweet, slightly mineral nose touched by sea salt and ocean spray, and further fortified by crisp fruit flavors including apples and berries.
It’s light and exceedingly delicate on the palate, beginning with fruit notes that turn to berries and cream at the center accompanied by vanilla and banana. The rush of warm berries and bananas is mixed with sea salt and oak at the end, creating the oddly satisfying flavor of ripe berries rinsed in sea water. The finish sees sea salt enhanced by oak and played off by toffee, caramel, and ginger, much like biting into a salted caramel.
Clonakilty’s Single Batch Double Oak is another light-bodied Irish whiskey with fruit flavors, but the introduction of its mineral character and later spicy creaminess creates a contrast that’s hard to beat. I was not at all surprised to discover that it pairs well with chocolate.
43.6% ABV / $40
Waterford Single Malt Irish Whiskey Biodynamic Luna 1.1
This single malt from Waterford, launched in November 2021, happens to be the first whiskey made from biodynamic Irish barley. After distillation, the terroir-driven whiskey is aged in a mix of first-fill American oak, virgin American oak, French oak, and casks that had formerly held French vin doux naturel (naturally sweet wine).
Consequently, it’s got a sweet, earthy nose with plenty of farm to it. It’s vegetal, maybe even funky, but freshened by a hint of peppermint.
On the palate, that fresh peppermint proves more than just a hint: it’s robust and refreshing, adding a spearmint quality that’s coupled to the deep stone fruit sweetness of apricots, peaches, and plums. All that stone fruit sweetness is contrasted beautifully with a vegetal heat that recalls jalapeño peppers, mixing at the middle with spicy ginger and the ever-stronger spearmint. The latter is elevated to wintergreen chewing gum at the end, where it’s joined by spice and chocolatey malt.
No deep dive into biodynamic agriculture is necessary to enjoy Luna. Just know that it’s sweet, earthy, and lively, like drinking a stone fruit orchard, soil and all.
50% ABV / $125
A new entry to the label’s core collection, Egan’s Conviction is a marriage of single malt and single grain Irish whiskeys, each of which have matured for at least 10 years before they are mingled and finished in XO cognac casks.
It’s a creamy nose up top with sweet grains and vanilla, deepened by orchard fruits below. It is sweet and round on the palate with big flavors of peach, plum, and apricot, thickened by a bready touch of tapioca. At the middle we’re hit by vanilla custard and flan, then crème brûlée as it grows toasty and woody for a finish that pits oaky wood spice against rich vanilla bean.
Egan’s Conviction is a whiskey that knows what it is about, and misses no time expanding and contrasting on those core flavors to delicious effect.
46% ABV / $100
Egan’s Legacy Reserve IV
Drawing the Egan’s Legacy series to a close, the fourth and final installment is an 18-year-old single malt that was previously aged in bourbon barrels before a finish in Moscatel de Valencia casks from Spain.
Its nose might be best described as malty and bready with plenty of grape must and soil, balanced by a floral vein with flower petals and fruit skins. It’s highly delicate on the palate and starts off with a mix of fruit and flowers: think honeysuckle and a touch of potpourri. At the back, we’re met with the tart, acidic, and slightly sour tang of unripe stone fruits, which is touched by the minerality of sea salt and fresh honey at the conclusion.
46% ABV / $200
Glendalough 7-Year-Old Mizunara Cask-Finished Whiskey
This new expression from Glendalough is not the first time that the Wicklow-based distiller has aged its juice in the rare Japanese mizunara oak. They’d previously released a 13-year-old miznuara finish, and once sold a 17-year-old mizunara finish as part of their connoisseur series. But unlike those one-offs, the seven-year-old will be an ongoing expression, released in two small batches twice per year.
It has a sweet, tropical nose loaded with honeycomb and peaches. As for the palate, it couples a weighty, malty foundation to shaved coconut, pineapple, and peaches, which are pleasantly ambushed by sandalwood spice and dark chocolate at the finish.
In sum, Glendalough 7-Year-Old Mizunara Cask-Finish delivers pronounced mizunara flavors while fulfilling the classic, fruit-forward template of an Irish whiskey.
46% ABV / $100
Killowen Bonded Experimental Series Jamaican Dark Rum Cask
Killowen Jamaican Dark Rum Cask is part of the maker’s newly launched Experimental Series, which sees their signature blend of malt and grain whiskeys finished in a variety of casks before being bottled at cask strength. In this case, the juice has been further matured in barrels that once held Jamaican rum.
Fittingly, its nose is rich, fruity, and dark with top notes of coconut, banana, and tobacco. Its palate is loaded with tropical fruit, particularly coconut, but also kiwi, limes, and the just-below-ripe flavor of green bananas. These flavors are greeted by juicy pineapple at the middle, which grows astringent at the back before meeting a spicy finish loaded with black pepper and ginger spice, and ultimately fulfills the earlier olfactory promise of tobacco leaf mixed with rich leather.
The end result? A bold, rich rum lover’s idea of an Irish whiskey.
52% ABV / $80
J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey The Gael
The Gael, which was released stateside this past summer, is the label’s flagship blend. It’s the brainchild of J.J. Corry founder Louise McGuane, who’s on a mission to revive the almost-lost art of Irish whiskey blending. In the case of The Gael, that blend is 60% malt and 40% grain mix composed of Irish whiskeys ranging from seven to 26 years of age, matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks.
Its nose presents raisins, vanilla pudding, and warm oak, and the palate is crisp and clean with plenty of fruit. It begins with lime, green apple, and the light tartness of just-underripe citrus; these flavors thicken to rich vanilla and sherried fruits as the palate progresses, hitting snappy ginger and peppercorn at the finish.
It’s a crisp, zingy Irish whiskey that maintains the delicate lightness and bright fruit flavors Irish whiskeys are prized for, but adds considerable value via its warm, sherried richness at the finish that sets up a remarkable contrast and justifies its status as a high-end sipping spirit.
46% ABV / $80
Teeling Single Pot Still Chinkapin Oak Whiskey
This new, limited edition release from Teeling sees their triple-distilled single pot still aged in virgin Chinkapin oak, which is not native to the Emerald Island but Central and Eastern North America. It has a fruity, oaky nose fortified by peaches, apples, plums, and pears, plus the heavy, moist and above all woody aroma of a forest after rainfall, and lastly a touch of bready malt.
It is soft on the palate with an immediate rush of orchard fruits followed by the more astringent flavors of kiwi and lime backed by a bready, caramelized sweetness recalling banana bread. That sweetness is tacked to faint butterscotch, which is infused with ginger, cinnamon, baking spices, and a powerful smack of oak at the conclusion.
It’s not dissimilar from the standard Teeling Single Pot Still, which leads with fruit and a light butterscotch touch, but it builds on that profile with much more intensity while adding rich oak and woody spices.
50% ABV / $99
Slane Special Edition
Slane Special Edition is a limited release marking the 40th anniversary of the eponymous music festival held on the Slane Castle grounds (the festival long predates the whiskey, which was introduced in 2017). It differs from the flagship, triple-cask whiskey in that it uses a higher amount of new American oak casks in the blend (which also includes virgin oak and sherry) and is bottled at a slightly higher 90 proof.
That higher quotient of new American oak is felt on the nose, which leads with vanilla and caramel before slipping into ripe fruits and malt. It’s initially soft on the palate with juicy fruit flavors including apple, pear, plum, and raisin. It receives a surprise burst of baking spices toward the finish (which in tandem with a biscuit note, had me thinking of a spiced pear tartlet) before engaging with the sherry-influenced flavors of treacle syrup and prune juice at its richly dark and sweet finish.
It’s the familiar flavor profile of the original Slane triple-cask, but with a bit more oomph—which I’ll happily accept.
45% ABV / $36.99
Kentucky Owl St. Patrick’s Limited-Edition Bourbon
As the name implies, Kentucky Owl St. Patrick’s Limited-Edition Bourbon is not an Irish whiskey. However, it’s not just a bourbon with a green label slapped on the bottle, either. It’s a blend of Kentucky straight bourbons between four to 11 years of age that have been blended by J.J. Corry’s own Louise McGuane.
The result is something that’s recognizably a bourbon—one whiff of its nose dominated by oak, vanilla, brown sugar, and apples is enough of a signal—but it also feels like an Irish whiskey. How? It’s decidedly fruit-forward, starting with apple slices, brown sugar, and vanilla pudding, leading into fruit leather, brown sugar, baking spices, and sweet treacle syrup. Its finish is spicy and sweet, chock-full of bold fruit flavors.
Compared to the original Kentucky Owl, it’s fruitier, juicier, and lighter—in other words, a bit more like an Irish whiskey.
50% ABV / $135