Irish Whiskey
Photo/Jeff Harris

St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally when everyone puts an O’ in front his name and lifts a glass of Irish whiskey in deference to the Old Sod. But so much is happening to a spirit that hasn’t had a lot of excitement in a while that we suggest earmarking more than a day to catch up on an resurgence that includes record growth and new choices. Since the ’60s the category included venerable thrice-distilled blends (e.g., Jameson, Bushmills, Powers, Paddy), but forgotten was that Ireland had a proud tradition for pot-still whiskey, single malts and even peated whiskeys. Then in 1987, Cooley distillery reopened with the addition of pot stills next to its columns, and a renaissance began.  

The Tyrconnell, a historic single-malt brand was bought and given new wrinkles like Madeira-cask finishing. Connemara brought back the tradition of the peated, single-malt made with only two distillations (most Irish today is triple-distilled). Michael Collins is a slightly peated 10-year-old blend. Revived as well has been poitín, an Irish version of moonshine. Later Kilbeggan, with its claims to be the oldest licensed distillery on earth, reopened, making a blend of the same name. The venture was successful enough that Jim Beam bought it in 2011. 

Success emboldened others to create new brands. Clontarf 1014 is a charcoal-filtered blend. Knappogue Castle started as marketer of a stock of rare single malts (particularly a $2,200 36-year-old distilled in 1951) and has gone onto more affordable bottlings. A half dozen new distilleries are popping up including one for the consummately smooth Tullamore D.E.W., which is getting its own home after being made elsewhere. Jack Teeling, a son of the leader of the Cooley initiative is even bringing distillation to Dublin for the first time in half a century.

The big boys have not rested on their laurels, however. Midleton Very Rare Reserve has produced a succession of beguiling editions. Jameson’s Gold Reserve is a malt-rich blend, as is Bushmills Black Bush. The latter’s 21-year-old Single Malt mingles whiskey matured in former Oloroso casks and ex-Bourbon barrels. Midleton whisky legend Barry Crockett and his successor, Barry Nation, have created an impressive array of single-pot-still whiskeys (a variation that combines both malted and unmalted barley). Redbreast now has several iterations of the category in the U.S. (most recently a 21-year-old) and Green Spot has just arrived. The company has also committed to releasing two new expressions annually for the next 10 years. Let’s toast the luck of the Irish.

Good Life Guide Drink

More in The Good Life

See all
The Most Luxurious Golf Course in Las Vegas

The Most Luxurious Golf Course in Las Vegas

When it comes to the most luxurious round of golf in Vegas, it is undoubtedly the relatively new …

Jun 19, 2020
Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Buying dad the perfect gift for Father’s Day is a breeze if you know what he wants. To help shop for …

Jun 9, 2020
A Cigar-Lover Gets Creative During the Time of Covid

A Cigar-Lover Gets Creative During the Time of Covid

People have used their newly found downtime to learn new skills or improve on existing hobbies. For …

Jun 5, 2020
The Last Dance Review: The Final Episodes

The Last Dance Review: The Final Episodes

We all knew how this story would end, but no matter how well we thought we knew this team, surprises …

May 18, 2020
The Legend of Mr. Corvette

The Legend of Mr. Corvette

He’s wrestled Tom Cruise, played (and beaten) a man in ping-pong for a date with his daughter and …

May 15, 2020
The Last Dance Review: Episodes 7 and 8

The Last Dance Review: Episodes 7 and 8

The latest episodes of “The Last Dance” were the most emotional so far of the series, giving us a …

May 11, 2020