Irish whiskey is having a moment. While it was once largely defined by a single green bottle, the spirit has experienced a recent surge in both production and popularity (plus newfound celebrity intrigue). This means the number of delicious Irish whiskeys on the market — including those made in the category’s unique single pot still style — is ever-growing, with new distilleries cropping up in the past decade.
With such an impressive selection of Irish whiskeys to choose from, there’s undoubtedly a bottle for every type of spirits lover on your list. From classic offerings for those new to the category, to unique releases fit for aficionados, these are seven of the very best Irish whiskeys to give this holiday season.
- Best value Irish whiskey: Egan’s Vintage Grain
- Best splurge Irish whiskey: Bushmills 21-Year Old Single Malt
- Best Irish whiskey for beginners: The Irishman Small Batch Founder’s Reserve
- Best Irish whiskey for whiskey geeks: Green Spot Single Pot Still
- Best Irish whiskey for cocktail lovers: Sexton Single Malt
- Best Irish whiskey for the boss: Redbreast 12 Year Old Single Pot Still
- Best cask strength Irish whiskey: Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Cask Strength
Best Value Irish Whiskey
Egan’s Vintage Grain ($28)
This single-grain whiskey has a welcoming aroma of dried cherries, warm vanilla, and roasted pecans. It’s aged for 10 years in bourbon barrels, imparting a delicate sweetness ideal for mixing in simple highballs or sipping on the rocks. At under $30, you won’t find a better bang for your buck, so keep a few bottles on hand to give to party hosts and coworkers.
Best Splurge Irish Whiskey
Bushmills 21-Year Old Single Malt ($248)
From a brand with a long, storied history, Bushmills’ 21-year-old single malt is aged for almost 20 years in sherry and bourbon casks — imparting notes of overripe bananas, leather, and spicy pepper on both the nose and palate. This is a sipping whiskey for sure, with a rich viscosity that lingers on the palate long after the final sip. Needless to say, this would be a memorable and welcome present for any collector.
Best Irish Whiskey for Beginners
The Irishman Small Batch Founder’s Reserve ($32)
With its unique blend of single-malt and pot still whiskeys, this entry-level bottle is bold enough to stand up to myriad flavors in a cocktail but has enough body and sweet stone fruit notes to be enjoyed solo. It’s sure to turn any spirits novice into an Irish whiskey fan.
Best Irish Whiskey for Whiskey Geeks
Green Spot Single Pot Still ($64)
Beloved by bartenders and critics alike, this offering represents the gold standard of Irish single pot stills. Following an intriguing nose of creamy banana and dried fruit is a complex palate characterized by sweet oats and black pepper, plus a rich, layered mouthfeel that will keep any enthusiast coming back for another dram.
Best Irish Whiskey for Cocktail Lovers
Sexton Single Malt ($28)
Quaffable yet bold, Sexton represents the new era of Irish whiskey. With its modern bottle and unconventional-yet-approachable tastes of green apple, spiced chocolate, and fresh petals, this whiskey is delightful on the rocks but is especially expressive in cocktails. Try it in an Irish coffee and be instantly transported to the Emerald Isle.
Best Irish Whiskey for The Boss
Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pot Still ($64)
Redbreast was the brand that kept the Irish pot still style alive before the category was recently re-embraced by whiskey lovers. And boy, are we glad it did. This whiskey is rich and nuanced, yet incredibly approachable and easy to drink. Its aromas of muesli, pear, and baking spices carry over from the nose to the palate. This is an enticing liquid that’ll impress the boss with its long finish and recognizable label.
Best Cask Strength Irish Whiskey
Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Cask Strength ($60)
Cask-strength whiskey — a method borrowed from American bourbon distillers — is a rare yet up-and-coming style in Ireland. This bottling is a great example of the style; its complex palate includes notes of caramel and banana, along with plenty of spice that adds to its intrigue. One sip of this high-proof, slightly smoky spirit, and you’ll understand why you’ll soon be seeing more and more cask-strength Irish whiskeys on the market.