To be fair, most of us are yet to come across an Irish whiskey that disappoints. Most brands are a treat to the taste buds and make for great additions to a variety of cocktails, no matter what one prefers.
Unfortunately, since there are just a handful of distilleries across Ireland, the choice is somewhat limited. But even so, the smoothness and craftsmanship of Irish whiskeys is unparalleled thus far and will likely remain so, considering they come with a unique touch.
For whiskey enthusiasts and drinking club members, there are many popular Irish whiskeys out there that you would definitely like to try, from small-batch whiskeys and single malts to some surprisingly refreshing concoctions that have been aged in special barrels for years.
They are some that cost a fortune and other, more affordable varieties, worth a spot on your bar. That is why we have compiled this list of the 10 best Irish whiskies of 2021. Read on and thank us later!
ABV: 46% | Age: 15 years | Volume: 750 ml
Arguably the most popular brand of Irish whiskeys, Redbreast is known for a mild taste that is hard to dislike. This single-pot golden elixir is made by combining malt and unmalted barley and then distilled three times in copper pots that hold it for the next 15 years.
Redbreast comes in an assortment of flavours to cater to drinkers of all sorts, with a dash of fruitiness to add a refreshing touch. It is relatively heavy on the pocket. But the smooth taste is well worth the money.
Best for the Money
ABV: 40% | Age: No Age Statement (NAS) | Volume: 750 ml
The Irishman is one of the two major whiskey brands to come out of the Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Carlow County. In fact, this single malt is a highly-rated and award-winning blend that offers a rich experience whilst being surprisingly affordable for the common man.
The Walsh Whiskey Distillery maintains its quality by limiting the triple-distilled liquid to 6,000 bottles a batch. The whiskey is aged in oak bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso sherry casks to give it that delectable mix of fruits, vanilla and almonds. The Irishman is the ultimate uncomplicated whiskey, ideal for a post-supper sip or two.
Best Single Malt
ABV: 40% | Age: 16 years | Volume: 750 ml
You may have noticed that each bottle of Knappogue Castle evidently mentions the minimum amount of time the blend has spent in the barrel. An expert in single malts, Knappogue Castle is amongst the few Irish whiskey brands that pride themselves on their ageing processes. The ‘younger’ options (aged for 12 to 14 years) are delicious and cheap but the 16-year-old Single Malt is every drinker’s dream.
Much like the Irishman, the Knappogue Castle Single Malt is aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels and perfected in Oloroso sherry casks, too. Open the bottle and take the whiff: you will immediately be engulfed in the fruity, warm vanilla and malty undertones of this smooth, 80-proof blend.
Best for Irish Coffee
ABV: 43% | Age: NAS | Volume: 750 ml
As the legend goes, the gifted bartender who devised the Irish coffee had been aiming to make a “whiskey that is smooth as the wit of the land.” No other style of Irish whiskey embodies that better than the Kilbeggan Single Grain – sweet, versatile and available at any local grocery or liquor store at guilt-free prices.
For the uninitiated, the term ‘single grain’ means the whiskey was made in one place using malted barley and other grains. Kilbeggan Single Grain comprises corn, which affords it a welcome sweetness that compliments the flavour of the bourbon barrel it is steeped in.
One will find hints of butter, vanilla, oak and nutmeg upon the first sip. Together, these make for a deep flavour that serves as the perfect base for a strong, sweet Irish coffee recipe.
Best for Drinking Straight
ABV: 40% | Age: 12 years | Volume: 750 ml
Generally, Irish whiskey is smooth. But anyone looking to break away from that and enjoy a spunky, spicy and hardcore drink ought to try out the Connemara. It comprises peat-dried malted barley from the Cooley Distillery in Louth County, north-eastern Ireland, to make a unique blend of sophistication with a touch of that wild Irish spirit.
In this way, Connemara is balanced rather well, with the right amount of sugar and spice to tantalise the taste buds and leave you feeling revitalised. Some may find it a little more expensive than it should be but in all honesty, the 40% ABV makes it worth it.