With St Patrick's day just a few hours away it's almost time for the global celebration of all things Irish (despite the fact the St Patrick was born in England and only taken to Ireland by kidnapping Pirates).
Here, we look at our favourite whiskeys from over the Irish Sea. Whether you like your whiskey straight, in a cocktail or to go alongside your favourite stout there's plenty choice so everyone can have a bit of Irish in them this week...
10. Redbreast 12yo
At number 10, it's straight in with an old favourite. Red Breast is named after the robin which lives all year round at the Middleton Distillery, its Pot Still Whiskey is made in the traditional Irish method of using both malted and unmalted barley and triple distilled. It’s then matured using American oak and sherry casks to give it a beautifully balanced rich, slightly spicy whiskey.
Also available in Cask Strength, 15yo, 21yo, non age statement (NAS) and Single cask expressions it's well worth exploring the range but for value for money the 12yo is the one to go for!
9. Kilbeggan 8yo Single Grain
If you want bang for your buck this Single Grain Whiskey really cannot be beaten. This can be found for less than £25 a bottle!
The prominent grain is Corn as oppose to barley or wheat which produces a creamier mouth feel and then matured for 8 years in ex-bourbon casks to give that familiar vanilla sweetness with a bit of spice. Perfectly acceptable on it's own but also fantastic in a cocktail!
8. Glendalough Double Barrel
While we wait for the spirit distilled at the new Glendalough distillery to reach maturity the team from the Valley of Two Lakes have been producing their own Poitin (new make) and also showing off their skills by maturing and finishing other distilleries spirits. This expression starts it's journey to maturity in American oak before being transferred to Olorosso sherry caks for the final six months. Tasting notes of ginger, chocolate and christmas cake make this a great accompaniment with a crisp Irish cider.
7. Bushmills Original
Bushmills is 410 year old this year so you can be sure they've learnt a thing or two about producing great whiskey in that time. Last year new owners took over the distillery and early signs suggest that we're going to be seeing, hearing and tasting a lot more from the brand but for this list we've opted for the original.
This bottle uses five year old grain whiskey blended with triple distilled malts to produce a super smooth light, floral whiskey with a slight coastal spiciness. It's often a whisky overlooked in favour of their single malt or the more sherried black
bush version but here at Boom Whisky we agree that
this is the most character full and versatile whiskey
from Bushmills and always features on our annual
St Patrick's Day Whiskey Tasting.
6. Connemara Turf Mor
Connemara Whiskey is produced at The Cooley Distillery and is different from most other Irish Whiskies for a number of reasons- firstly its a single malt but more unusually is that its Peated! This version is peated to a level of 50ppm (think Ardbeg, Laphroaig etc) and is bottled after just 3 years at cask strength. It was a limited edition from a few years ago but is still available from some retailers- we suggest getting a bottle while you can! The flavour is more Islay than Ireland with lots of bonfire smoke, bacon frazzles and spice.
5. Green Spot
Like the Redbreast at number 10, Green spot is a Pot Still whisky from the Middleton distillery but this certainly isn't reflected in the taste.
Where the Redbreast is all about fruit and richness the Green Spot is much lighter with notes ofgreen apple and cinnamon.
The mouth-feel is thick and honeyed. The spot range (green, yellow, blue and red) have been difficult to source in the past but with the recent boom in Irish whiskey- especially in the States, we're hearing rumour of a re-launch and rejuvenation of the range. Fingers crossed we'll be seeing much more!
4. Teeling Vintage Gold Reserve 1987
This is the most expensive on the list but worth it! With big companies seemingly sending Age Statements on their way to the history books (more on this in blog post) and the majority of smaller Irish Whiskey distilleries being founded in the last 5 years we might have a long wait before we get to try older Irish Whiskey again.
This expression from Teeling is matured in white wine casks which lends the whisky flavours of lemon grass, vanilla, marshmallows and a dry finish. Only 100 bottles were ever produced so they won't be around for long!
3. Jameson Black Barrel
For as long as most of us can remember Jameson has been THE name in Irish whiskey. This expression (formerly known as select reserve) uses extra charred bourbon casks to add a more intense sweetness and fudginess. When combined with a proportion of sherry cask whisky this balances to a perfectly mellow and rich whisky with a white pepper finish complimenting the fruit tones.
2. Writer's Tears
This is one of our most asked about Irish Whiskies- and mostly because of the name. The origin of the name apparently comes from and old Irish folk song which makes reference to Irish poets and writers in the early 20th century drinking so much whiskey to overcome writers block that they cried whiskey. Whether or not this can be called responsible marketing it makes for good story! The brand describes itself as a Pot Still Blend which makes it a blend of Malt whiskies and pot still whiskey similar to what would have been drank in Dublin in the days of James Joyce. The result is a bourbon-sweet, soft whisky with a nice citrus character.
1. Jameson Cask Mates
The Ultimate St. Patrick's Day Whiskey: Whisky matured in Irish Stout (No, not that one) casks.
The story goes that Jameson's Head Distiller Brian Nation met the Head Brewer of Cork's Franciscan Well Brewery (presumably in a pub). Brian agreed to give the brewery some old Jameson's casks to age a new stout the brewery has been working on with the condition that he could have them back after the beer was finished. On receiving the stout-conditioned casks he re-filled them with Jameson's spirit producing stunning results. The whisky still has that smooth yet spicy Jameson character but with a healthy amount of coffee, butterscotch, dark chocolate and roasted chestnuts flavours.
After the success of the stout edition Jameson are now said to be exploring other breweries and types of cask to continue the range. And we can't wait!
And that's it! Let us know what you think on Twitter @boomwhisky or Facebook. Or if you want to try some of these fantastic whiskies why not join us in Manchester on the 17th March.