Arriving in four different styles — one of which is unique to the country — Irish whiskey is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. While the category may never return to being the most popular whiskey in the world, gone are the dark days of recent decades when the number of operational Irish whiskey distilleries sat at a mere four.

And there are plenty of reasons to be excited beyond the category’s increasing number of producers. Some of the new wave aim to highlight terroir and the importance of farming; many are employing techniques like cask finishing, which is established among whiskey distilleries in other nations; and we’re starting to see single barrel and cask strength bottlings creeping into the space.

Based on a tasting that featured several dozen of Ireland’s finest whiskey brands, the following 20 bottles stood out as the cream of the crop in their respective price brackets. Queue up the YouTube tutorials on how to say “Slàinte!” like an Irish native: These are the 20 best Irish whiskeys to drink right now.

The Best Irish Whiskeys Under $50

Paddy’s Old Irish Whiskey

paddy old irish whiskey

This Sazerac-owned blended whiskey arrives at 40 percent ABV and brimming with character. Banana and dried red berry aromas lead its expressive nose, followed by a well-rounded malty palate. This budget offering punches above its price tag. Average price: $20. Rating: 89.

Michael Collins Irish Whiskey

michael collins whiskey

Another affordable option from Sazerac, this blend of pot still, malt, and grain whiskeys has an attractive fruity and floral profile. Dried raspberry aromas stand out on the nose and continue onto its easygoing palate. Whether you’re looking for something new, or you haven’t previously enjoyed the profile of Irish whiskey, this release should be on your radar. Average price: $24. Rating: 89.

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey

proper no. 12 whiskey

MMA star Conor McGregor and co-founders Ken Austin and Audie Attar last year sold their majority stake in this Irish whiskey brand for a bumper $600 million. A 40 percent ABV blended release, the whiskey leads with herbaceous, grainy aromas and follows with subtle hints of orchard and stone fruit. This whiskey is well priced for boilermakers and whiskey cocktails. Average price: $25. Rating: 89.

West Cork Distillers Bourbon Cask

west cork whiskey

A blend of grain and malt whiskeys, this expression ages in former bourbon casks and is bottled without an age statement. It has a lot more character than most similarly priced whiskeys and is also surprisingly delicate. Expect toasted grain and orange peel aromas and notes of caramelized nuts on the palate. Average price: $26. Rating: 89.

Egan’s Irish Whiskey Vintage Grain

egans whiskey

Single grain doesn’t typically get as much attention as other Irish whiskey styles but high-quality examples such as this prove that it’s deserving of more love. Light and expressive, this 46 percent ABV bottling attracts with floral and dried red berry aromas, then serves a lithe yet concentrated palate. This is an ideal summer sipper. Average price: $30. Rating: 93.

The Busker Single Pot Still

busker whiskey

One of four whiskeys offered by The Busker, this 44.3 percent ABV release offers an approachable introduction to Ireland’s native pot still style. Sweet cereal aromas spring from the glass, while the palate has a warm caramel core and subtle oak notes. It’s not the most complex pot still whiskey on the market, but The Busker is enjoyable and fairly priced. Average price: $32. Rating: 89.

Hinch Irish Whiskey Small Batch

hinch whiskey

Finished in bourbon barrels, this blended whiskey is notably influenced by the former contents of those casks. Bold caramel and vanilla notes build upon its sweet and malty baseline. The richness of its palate makes it a great option for stirred, spirit-forward cocktails. Average price: $32. Rating: 90.

Lost Irish Irish Whiskey

lost irish whiskey

A triple-distilled blend of grain, malt, and pot still whiskeys, Lost Irish is finished in casks from six different continents, including Japanese Mizunara oak and South African brandy barrels. While that sounds like a busy combination, the spirit’s final profile is focused and expressive, and serves equal helpings of fruit, sweetness, and spice. Average price: $37. Rating: 92.

Two Stacks The First Cut Irish Whiskey

two stacks whiskey

Two Stacks has proven eager to innovate in the Irish whiskey space, offering canned packaging and among the first cask-strength releases we’ve tried (and thoroughly enjoyed) at VinePair. This expression reveals toasted oak aromas that interact nicely with the character of the sourced, blended distillate. With botanical-like notes on the palate, this is a distinctive, stand-out offering. Average price: $46. Rating: 90.

The Best Irish Whiskeys Under $100

Limavady Single Barrel Single Malt Irish Whiskey

limavady whiskey

Limavady was launched in 2021 by Bushmills veteran Darryl McNally, and offers single-barrel single malt whiskey (currently sourced). The liquid ages in bourbon barrels and is finished in Pedro Ximénez casks before bottling at 46 percent ABV. It’s a whiskey of contrasts: youthful but full of character; light in color yet rich in flavor. Particularly enjoyable are its fresh fruit and honeysuckle aromas and the modest hint of PX wine that runs throughout. Average price: $51. Rating: 91.

Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Glendalough whiskey

Glendalough doubles down on its Irish credentials with this release, which sees the nation’s signature whiskey style finished in Irish oak casks. Its nose oozes creamy oats, while the palate switches to a more bright and fruity profile. A lick of cherries and stone fruit provide a memorable finish to this fine sipping whiskey. Average price: $55. Rating: 94.

Bushmills 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

bushmills whiskey

This 12-year-old release joined Bushmills’ permanent lineup early this year. After 11 years in sherry and bourbon casks, the spirit is finished in Marsala wine barrels, and the character of fortified and sweet wines is apparent from first sniff to final sip. It’s not quite a sherry bomb, but this new release will certainly please those who enjoy nutty and dried-fruit- heavy single malts. Average price: $61. Rating: 93.

Writers’ Tears Double Oak Irish Whiskey

writers tears whiskey

From Walsh Whiskey, this double act combines single pot still and single malt whiskeys that are aged in American and European oak (bourbon and Cognac barrels, specifically). Dried fruit and baking spice aromas recall the Cognac casks, while the sweet tropical fruit and toasty finish resembles American whiskey — all at an enjoyable 46 percent ABV. Average price: $61. Rating: 91.

The Tyrconnell 10 Year Port Cask Finish Irish Whiskey

tyrconnell whiskey

This single malt ages for 10 years before it’s transferred to port pipes, where it spends a final six to eight months. The deep red hue of the barrels’ former contents can be seen in the whiskey’s attractive ruby reflections. Lively, spicy, and energetic in profile, port comes through again on the finish, rounding out the whiskey and taming some of the spice from the mid-palate. Average price: $75. Rating: 92.

Tipperary Single Malt Whiskey ‘Homegrown Barley’

Tipperary whiskey

Distilled from barley grown on Tipperary’s farm, this whiskey ages for at least three years in former Rioja barrels. The expression of malt arrives very pure, with dried apricot, vanilla, and spice aromas joining the grain on the nose. The palate is extremely energetic thanks to the whiskey’s 50 percent ABV content, which also adds complexity overall. Average price: $78. Rating: 93.

Teeling ‘Blackpitts’ Peated Single Malt Whiskey

teeling Blackpitts whiskey

Unlike Scotland, peated whiskey remains an outlier in Ireland, with just a small handful of producers offering the style. This 46 percent ABV example from Teeling begins with a bang: Intense barbecue sauce aromas fly from the glass, followed by bruised banana and charcoal. The palate serves wonderful depth of flavor, and finishes with a soft, malty, vanilla landing. Average price: $79. Rating: 92.

Dingle Single Malt Whiskey Batch No. 4

dingle single whiskey

One of the newer wave of Irish whiskey producers, the Dingle Distillery was established a decade ago and produces all of the whiskey for this bourbon-, sherry-, and port-aged release. Despite being a single malt, there’s a cereal-like quality to its nose and texture that seems to recall pot still whiskey. Honey and ripe fig aromas provide a sweet beginning, while caramel joins earthy malt on the palate and sets up a lasting, toasty finish. Average price: $95. Rating: 92.

The Best Irish Whiskeys Over $100

Waterford Irish Single Malt Whisky The Cuvée

waterford whiskey

Founded by former Bruichladdich CEO Mark Reynier, Waterford produces terroir-driven whiskeys that highlight the importance of grain provenance. The company’s flagship Cuvée expression was inspired by some of the world’s finest wine blends, combining 25 single malts that each have single-farm origins. The result is an earthy and perfumed dram that dazzles as much with its texture as it does with complex flavors and aromas. Exciting things are happening at this distillery. Average price: $101. Rating: 94.

Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Pedro Ximénez Edition

Redbreast whiskey

Launched as a limited-edition release at the end of 2021, this single pot still whiskey is initially aged in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, then finished for 12 to 22 months in Pedro Ximénez hogshead casks. Smaller than standard sherry barrels, the vessels intensify the influence of fortified wine in the final whiskey, which is attractively sweet, has nutty complexity, and a velvet, creamy texture. Irish whiskey aficionados, consider yourselves warned: This is not a release you want to miss out on. Average price: $124. Rating: 95.

High N’ Wicked ‘The Wild Rover’ Single Malt Irish Whiskey

high n wicked whiskey

This is the second release from Wyoming-based High N’ Wicked, a producer that puts out limited-edition whiskeys in conjunction with the importer Altamar Brands. A triple-distilled cask-strength single malt, The Wild Rover was made at Ireland’s Royal Oak distillery and aged in bourbon barrels, then former Pedro Ximénez casks. Its high alcohol content (58 percent ABV) magnifies its sweet and floral profile, which flutters between notes of heather, lavender, and vanilla, as well as countless others that present themselves as you slowly sip. This is worth the splurge. Average price: $152. Rating: 95.

FAQ

What are the main types of Irish Whiskey?

The main types of Irish whiskey include malt, grain, pot still, and blended. While the malt category includes whiskeys made from 100 percent malted barley distilled in copper pots, grain Irish whiskey is made from both malted barley and unmalted cereals, and must be distilled in column stills. Pot still whiskey must contain both malted and unmalted barley (and can also contain other unmalted grains) and must be distilled in copper pot stills. Finally, blended whiskey is made from a mixture of at least two types of Irish whiskey and can be made in both copper and column stills. There’s also a generic category simply dubbed Irish whiskey, which is a sweeping term that includes any whiskeys that don’t fit into the aforementioned categories.

What’s the best selling Irish Whiskey?

Jameson is the best-selling Irish whiskey.

Is Jameson considered top shelf?

With its comparatively lower price tag, Jameson is often considered a “bottom shelf” brand.