Did you know that Irish whiskey almost went extinct in the 1970s? In 1975, there were only two Irish whiskey distilleries left in operation, New Midleton just outside of Cork, and Old Bushmills in Northern Ireland. Both were owned by one company at the time, Irish Distillers, which is now part of Pernod Ricard. Things have come a long way since then, and the Irish whiskey renaissance has created new independent distilleries and allowed long dormant brands to be revived. Keep reading to discover our favorite Irish whiskey brands and explore the fascinating history of this beloved spirit.
1. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey (Best Overall)
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey is a triple-distilled whiskey that has been patiently aged in a mix of ex-sherry and bourbon casks. This process gives the whiskey its distinctive smoothness, which has lead to its popularity across the globe. After Jameson, Tullamore Dew is the second most popular Irish whiskey brands in the world.
Sip this spirit neat and you’ll taste appealing notes of citrus and spice which are a result of the malt and pot-still whiskey used in the blend. While delightful straight or on the rocks, for something a little fresher yet equally delicious, give a Tully & Tonic a try. Throw a splash of whiskey in with some cubed ice, a cut of orange and fill the cup with tonic water.
2. Bushmills Irish Whiskey (Best Budget)
If you’re looking for Irish whiskey brands with an appealingly rich, warming taste, Bushmills Irish Whiskey could be the right choice for you. You’ll find elements of fresh fruit and vanilla that appeal to your taste buds along with a finishing hint of sweet honey. While the whiskey does find itself falling into the budget-friendly category, it’s not an indication of the whiskey’s quality, which is evident in the fact it’s best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
3. Jameson Irish Whiskey (Most Popular)
When it comes to picking out a whiskey for social occasions, it’s hard to steer away from the classics. And there are few more popular options than Jameson Irish Whiskey. The crisp, sippable appeal has truly withstood the test of time as customers continue to return time and again to this classic Irish whiskey.
The recipe includes hints of vanilla, cream and freshly cut grass. Each production is aged for a minimum of four years, resulting in the smooth product. You won’t be sorry if you add a bottle of Jameson to your spirit shelf. Aside from drinking this whiskey neat, it’s also enjoyable when mixed with club soda, ginger ale or more complex cocktails.
4. Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey (Best Celebrity Brand)
Alright, alright, maybe not everyone is a fan of Conor McGregor, but damn — this guy makes one hell of an Irish whiskey. Proper No. Twelve (named after the area of Dublin McGregor is from) is an extra-smooth Irish whiskey that is bourbon-barrel-aged for four whole years. It’s perfect on ice, in a cocktail or as a shot. It doesn’t feel painful in the slightest going down and is palatable for most whiskey lovers.
5. West Cork Original Irish Whiskey (Best Independent Distillery)
The West Cork Original Irish Whiskey is a versatile whiskey option which works well for mixing but tastes great neat, too. This blended whiskey is aged in ex-bourbon casks to create a complex flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Taste-wise, you can expect to enjoy notes of buffalo grass, light caramel and poached pear with a finish that includes appealing notes of pepper and orchard fruit.
6. Powers Gold Label (Best for Cocktails)
If your raison d’etre is to find a whiskey best suited to mixing in cocktails, look no further than the Powers Gold Label. At 43.2% ABV, it packs a punch which is accompanied by a strong taste. Further hints of cinnamon, honey, caramel and vanilla add to the bold flavor profile. Additionally, you can look forward to mild hints of spice throughout and a long and creamy finish in this historic blended whiskey.
7. Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey (Best Double Barrel)
By starting the aging process in American bourbon barrels and finishing the process in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks, the Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey offers a complex flavor rarely seen in other Irish whiskeys. In addition to this memorable flavor, your nose will pick up notes of vanilla, white chocolate and buttery fudge, while your palate enjoys caramel and butter with underlying blackberry and marmalade flavors. Thanks to the smoothness of this Glendalough product, this whiskey is best enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a hint of water to balance out the strong flavor profile.
8. Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch (Best Small Batch)
The Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch is this modern Dublin distillery’s flagship product. The taste, complexity and consistency are aimed at demonstrating what the brand does best. The small batch process allows for hand selection of casks to ensure the resulting flavors are exactly as they should be. The blend is finished in ex-rum barrels to add a unique flavor, and as it’s bottled at 46% ABV, there’s plenty of character to be enjoyed, too. Best enjoyed as it is, expect sweetness, spice and hints of wood in every sip of Teeling Irish Whiskey.
9. Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey (Easiest Drinking)
Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey is an easy-drinking blend of pot still and single malt, which is relatively uncommon in the category. The award-winning spirit sports a bright amber color, complete with a range of appealing aromas, a round body and a rich flavor. All of these elements combined makes it a great go-to choice or easy drinker for any newcomer to the world of whiskey. Taste-wise, this spirit features hints of green apple, caramel, ginger and vanilla all culminating in a fruity finish. Enjoy it neat, mixed or as part of a flavor-filled cocktail.
10. Slane Irish Whiskey (Best Triple Casked)
This all-black bottle might look a little menacing but don’t be too scared, Slane is delicious. The whiskey undergoes a triple-cask method which means that three different cask types are used to age the components of the blend. The use of virgin oak, Tennessee whiskey barrels, and Oloroso Sherry casks means that the flavor at the end becomes very sleek and rich. We love sipping this stuff solo but feel free to throw a little bit of ice into your glass.