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 reclaim the title of 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.
But there are plenty of reasons to be excited beyond the category’s increasing number of producers (and celebrity entrants). 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.
Table Of Contents
The Best Irish Whiskeys Under $50
Slane Triple Casked Irish Whiskey
As you might expect from its name, this blended Irish whiskey gains much of its character from the maturation process. A combination of whiskeys aged in virgin oak, ex-American (likely former Jack Daniel’s) whiskey barrels, and oloroso sherry casks, Slane is rich in dried fruit, baking spice, and vanilla aromas, with a depth of flavors on the palate. Offering more complexity than most blends, this whiskey shows subtle signs of age and serves a generous finish.
Average price: $26
Egan’s Irish Whiskey Vintage Grain
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
The Busker Single Pot Still
One of four whiskeys offered by The Busker, this 44.3 percent ABV release represents 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
Ha’Penny Four Cask Irish Whiskey
Ha’Penny — a colloquial reference to an old denomination of British and Irish currency — is crafted using four types of casks for aging (port pipes, bourbon casks, sherry butts, and double-charred barrels), as well as two types of base whiskey (malt and grain). It enjoys a rounded, deep, aromatic profile, and the blend lands in wonderful harmony on the palate. The texture is rich, despite the blend featuring no pot still whiskey, making this a great option for cocktails and simple highballs.
Average price: $33
Lost Irish 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
Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey
From an Irish whiskey brand that needs no introduction, this bottling delivers more intensity and complexity than Jameson’s ubiquitous flagship offering. The name refers to a process of re-charring bourbon barrels for maturation. The influence is obvious on the nose and palate, with toffee and spice aromas leading to caramel, banana bread, and intense toasted oak flavors.
Average price: $37
Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
Made using a blend of grain and malt whiskeys that aged for up to six years in bourbon barrels, this small-batch whiskey was then married before spending a final six-month period in Central American rum casks. It opens with a sweet, caramel-scented nose, and follows with charred oak and molasses notes. This is a high-quality intro to Irish whiskey that will find many fans in American whiskey drinkers.
Average price: $42
West Cork Distillers Single Malt Irish Whiskey Bog Oak Charred Cask
Part of West Cork’s Glengarriff series, this single malt spent four years in sherry casks before an unspecified period in charred bog oak casks. (The unusually named vessel typically refers to wood that has been buried and preserved in peat bogs.) The use of these barrels has a notable influence, with the whiskey taking on a distinctively oxidized, savory character. Reflecting its deep orange hue, the single malt opens with sour apple cider notes, followed by a touch of honeysuckle. The palate is fruity and lively, setting this up as a summer sipping whiskey.
Average price: $46
The Midnight Silkie Irish Whiskey
A blend of triple-distilled whiskeys, this release combines five single malts that each aged in different barrel types, the most notable of which were imperial stout casks. While only one of those five base spirits was peated, this whiskey delivers an attractively smoky profile reminiscent of the many fine malt whiskies that hail from Islay, Scotland. Caramelized vanilla poached pears meet bonfire smoke on the nose, leading to a decadent richness on the palate.
Average price: $48
The Best Irish Whiskeys Under $100
Limavady Single Barrel Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Limavaday 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 Pedro Ximénez wine that runs throughout.
Average price: $51
Glendalough Pot Still Irish 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 provides a memorable finish to this fine sipping whiskey.
Average price: $55
Bushmills 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish 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
Killowen Distillery Single Malt Irish Whiskey Signature 5 Year Rum and Raisin Inspired
For cask-finished whiskey lovers, Killowen offers a range of intriguing and enjoyable 10-year-old releases via its “Bonded Experimental” series. While this “Signature” expression is aged for half that time, it offers just as much to geek out over and a flavor profile inspired by rum and raisin. The distillery achieves this flavor by finishing in rum and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, which contribute dried fruit and nut notes. Beyond that, expect generous servings of coconut, vanilla, and figs on nose and palate. Liquid dessert, anyone?
Average price: $70
Writers’ Tears ‘Red Head’ Single Malt Irish Whiskey
A quintessential modern Irish single malt, this triple-distilled whiskey is aged exclusively in sherry buts, which lend a rich copper hue, reflected in its name. The overall profile of this dram is fruity, with great intensity of aromas. Ripe banana notes set up neutral oak and complex dried fruits and nuts on the palate. Robust, sweet malt leads the charge on the finish.
Average price: $70
Method and Madness Rye & Malt Irish Whiskey
Owned by Irish Distillers International Limited, the parent company of leading brands Jameson and Redbreast, Method and Madness is an experimental project that offers innovative releases. Produced at the brand’s Midleton microdistillery, this expression contains a mash bill of 60 percent rye and 40 percent malted barley, which is double distilled and aged in ex-bourbon casks. It opens with a creamy, cereal-forward nose and follows with a rounded, sweet palate that shines with bright stone fruit and spice. At 46 percent ABV, it packs enough punch without requiring water or ice for dilution.
Average price: $80
Tipperary Single Malt Whiskey ‘Homegrown Barley’
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, which also adds to its overall complexity.
Average price: $93
Two Stacks Blended Irish Whiskey ‘Tawny Port Cask Finished’
Bottled at a cask-strength 65 percent ABV, this blend of grain, pot still, and malt whiskeys spent the final days of its maturation in Tawny port casks. That finishing touch is first apparent in its attractive red reflections, as well as ripe red berry aromas. Bottling at such a high proof only intensifies the dark caramel notes and baking spices that ignite on its fiery palate. Sipped neat, this is not for the faint of heart, but a few drops of water help tame this enjoyable blend.
Average Price: $93
The Best Irish Whiskeys Over $100
Waterford Single Malt Irish Whisky ‘Biodynamic: Luna 1.1’
More than any other distillery, Waterford seems perfectly poised to lure wine drinkers to Irish whiskey, with its terroir-driven approach and biodynamic barley releases such as this. Any worries that the producer aims to profit from the cachet of those terms among modern enthusiasts is quickly quashed: This whiskey has a notably distinctive profile. Its aromas recall fresh summer berries and succulent fruit, with botanical undertones. The palate delivers depth and weight, and finishes with one last burst of fresh fruit.
Average price: $120
Redbreast 21 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
In truth, any of Redbreast’s stunning single pot still whiskeys would be deserving of a place on this list, but if you’re looking to splurge on something particularly special, seek out this 21-year-old release. While age only tells part of the story here, the extended time in barrel is one of the most vital factors in developing this whiskey’s distinguishable, delicious, tropical fruit character. Those vibrant aromas and flavors prove an enjoyable contrast to its unctuous texture, delivering sips that are both mature yet full of life and vigor.
Average price: $300
High N’ Wicked ‘Saints And Scholars II’ 19 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
A rare, limited-edition release from High N’ Wicked, this 19-year-old single malt also oozes tropical fruit, with pineapple and mango aromas greeting notes of light brown sugar on the nose. The palate is deep and complex, with a dried fruit, malty, chocolaty finish that continues for an eternity. Released as a five-cask single-barrel collection sourced from the personal stocks of celebrated distiller Noel Sweeney, this is an opportunity that whiskey collectors won’t want to miss out on (if cash isn’t an issue).
Average price: $500
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 low price tag, Jameson is typically considered a “bottom-shelf” brand.