Happy almost St. Patrick's day! For those of you who are hoping to celebrate the holiday with something a little stronger than green beer, we've compiled a hitlist of three exciting new Irish whiskeys that will knock the beard off a leprechaun. Need a little Irish whiskey background? Head over to this post before you read on.
The Expat: Concannon Irish Whiskey
This offering is a blended whiskey, double distilled with aged malt and grain Irish whiskeys joining forces. The whiskey is aged in typical ex-bourbon barrels, but is then finished in Concannon Vineyards' Heritage Petite Sirah barrels—extremely unusual for an Irish whiskey! All of the mashing, distilling, and aging is done in Ireland, and the spirit is then shipped over and bottled at 80 proof in California for that final golden coast caress.
The result is a strong effort, displaying caramel and vanilla nougat aromas. It's surprisingly full bodied on the palate, with citrus and berries from the Sirah, and a pleasant oaky finish. An absolute bargain at $25, it's wonderful on the rocks or in an eye-opening Irish coffee.
The Fan Favorite: Redbreast 12 Cask Strength
One of the latest releases from the Irish Distiller's Group out of the Midleton distillery, the Redbreast 12 Cask Strength is an update of one of the most beloved Irish whiskeys, the Redbreast 12 Year Old. Like the 12, this is a triple-distilled single pot still whiskey—a blend of malted and unmalted barley mash distilled in a pot still. But unlike the regular 12 year expression, the cask strength is non-chill filtered and bottled at 115.4 proof.
This whiskey is everything we loved in the original and more. An intensely fruity scent (think apples, dates, and bananas) gives way to vanilla and oak on the palate. It's honeyed and the barley sweetness shines through, but this whiskey is wonderfully rich and complex and finishes with spices and butterscotch. This is your must-buy whiskey for high class Irish imbibing.
The Classic: Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel
Last but not least, the standard Jameson expression got an upgrade last year with this impressive offering. If you're a Jameson fan, or you like the sound of apricot, papaya, and nectarine flavors in your whiskey, check out our review for the full details. Falling in between the Concannon and the Redbreast on both price and complexity, it's a wee nip of heaven.
What Irish whiskey will you be drinking this St. Patrick's day?
Jameson and Concannon samples provided for review consideration.
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distillers and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.