Best Irish Whiskey | Best comparison
Irish whiskey has the coast, and gaining notoriety. And that’s good: if the Scottish whiskey has stolen the limelight for many years, there are few known brands that are among the best Irish whiskeys. This renewal gives a good excuse to discover the best Irish whiskeys.
Getting into the adventure is another matter. all the Jameson known, strictly speaking Bushmills and we agree to say that they are very different from other types of whiskeys. But to explore, it’s a different story.
A bottle of whiskey is not usually given: how to be sure of getting good when you know nothing? With a wide selection of flavors and varieties before you, the point is to capture the names and characteristics of the most widely appreciated: that’s what we’ll do here.
For more information on the specific lexicon of Irish whiskey, head to the buying guide.
The best Irish whiskey in 2020
1. Original Peated Connemara Single Malt – A surprising Irish peaty whiskey
The Connemara distillery is little known to the general public, but it is a must for a niche of whiskey lovers: those who love peaty.
Irish whiskey is generally not peaty, a method that is more common to Scottish productions. But if you’re curious – or amateur! – this type of flavor, this whiskey is worth seeing.
His nose is initially very peaty, but underlying sweetness is detected, unique to Irish whiskey. The marriage of the two odors rather contradictory, gives a faint smell of burnt caramel. other influences are detected, cresyl, sugar and a hint of dark chocolate.
On the palate, it has coniferous forest fire rating and powerful, balanced by notes sweeter. It ends with rich flavors of chocolate and cream, softer.
A surprising together but convincing!
The peat used in the manufacture of this whiskey is 100% Irish. But the end product really comes from the collaboration between a Scottish distillery, Gordon Mitchell, and Cooley Distillery in Ireland that produce Connemara. For its unique flavor, it infused a peat smoke to barley malt.
It is less peaty than most Scottish productions, especially those of the Isle of Skye, and has more finesse. This is because, like many Irish whiskeys, it has aged in oak barrels that have contained bourbon.
Connemara is a surprising whiskey, which differs greatly from what one associates with Irish whiskey. It will be better or dry with a few drops of water, but will not suit cocktails.
If it stands out for its originality is a whiskey that will not displease fans to peaty flavors. The marriage between the mild Irish whiskey and Scottish peat seduce lovers
2. Traditional Kilbeggan – The best cheap Irish Whiskey
The Kilbeggan distillery existed since 1757. If she argues with Bushmills, the title of the oldest distillery in Ireland, it is because of its stormy history. It has not been active intermittently, and was revived during the American Prohibition.
It has a beautiful golden yellow color, richer than most mainstream Irish whiskeys. It is particularly noteworthy that Irish whiskeys are known for their color paler is less marked than Bourbon and Scotch whiskeys.
On the palate, it has the advantage of being traditional and pleasant, with dominant notes of grains and cereals subtly toasted. It ends with more sweetness, with a hint of vanilla, caramel and nuts.
The finish comes on cereals, more delicate, which becomes dry, woody and peppery. Overall, this is a balanced taste, round and classic, which connoisseurs blame a lack of character.
The Kilbeggan is distilled twice – not three – unlike most other Irish whiskeys. A feature which, according to experts, allows it to retain more subtle notes of cereal. And overall leaves a more important place to the natural flavors of the whiskey.
The Kilbeggan whiskey is a traditional, friendly expertise Irish, who can discover the typical flavors of this alcohol without taking risks. This is the one we would recommend to a novice who wants to deviate from the beaten track, but research still in a whiskey some accessibility. This classic mixes very well and enjoyed easily.
3. Lambay Small Batch Blend – Irish Whiskey most original
Lambay is not the name of this whiskey is also called as the small island off the east coast of Ireland, where the whiskey is distilled. His watchwords? Tradition and eccentricity. This is also why its rather original logo is a puffin – a native bird Lambay – wearing a tuxedo and bow tie!
If you have already tasted the porridge, the preparation of breakfast oatmeal base, this is the first smell that you will detect in this whiskey. Following him, we identify notes of honey and cinnamon, with a subtle touch of orange peel.
In the mouth, it is another matter. With barley, creamy vanilla, notes of strawberry and peach, all on a peppery base, this whiskey is explosive. We end with notes of blackcurrant and chamomile when the underlying peppery flavor becomes more flowery and dry.
If this whiskey flavor naked bouquet so surprising is because it is aged twice. First in bourbon casks, as is customary. Then in Cognac casks Camus originating in the Charente, France. And it is made with natural spring water of Lambay Island!
It is a blend, ie a blend of several carefully selected barley malts. But this is not a bad thing, many blended whiskey are among the most prestigious of Ireland.
It is a perfectly balanced whiskey between originality and tradition. We can advise easily as a gift for an informed consumer, or an adventurous novice. If it appears surprising flavors, it has the advantage of being appreciated by more and should not put off anyone. It is ideal for a tasting
4. Kilbeggan Single Grain – Best Irish Single Grain Whiskey
We have already spoken of Kilbeggan Traditional; thereof is a little different. The Single Grain is part of the upper range of the distillery, and garnered numerous awards.
Because it is only 4 years old, this whiskey is clearer and fair as we talked about earlier. The nose reveals notes of caramel, dried grass, vanilla or new leather.
In the mouth it is more complex. Caramel is predominant, but there is a growing heat. The last notes of currant or eucalyptus, are more astringent and fresh, but do not last long.
It is aged in bourbon casks, as is the case in the tradition of Irish whiskeys. Its uniqueness is to be so young, which endows the more subdued and subtle flavors. In fact, one can drink without water even when not used.
It carries the label Single Grain, which means two things. Single informs us that it is produced as basic malts produced in the Kilbeggan distillery; Bean, it does not consist of barley, but a mixture of cereals.
It is a whiskey that is drunk easily, and probably one of the best in the Irish category that will appeal to everyone. It is also the best available Single Grain, and won two prestigious gold medals in this category.
5. Bushmills Black Bush – The best whiskey midrange
Bushmills is probably the second most famous after Jameson distillery. Widespread in the UK, you can also get it in many French rates. And if their classic whiskey is obviously recommended for its ease, its consensual aspect, its low price and its cocktail success, we decided to stop on his Black Bush. This special collection provided indeed very good surprises.
We start with a very ripe grape nose, with citrus diffuse keys, some notes of caramel and peanuts.
In the mouth, it is primarily a creamy vanilla and sweetness spring, near a sweet taste: the mark of a bourbon cask loaded and perfumed. In the background, we perceive an increasing note of citrus peel and chamomile, drier and hot cinnamon. The finish is a perfect synthesis of these two flavors, with a biscuit mix with butter, baked plum and orange.
Contrary to custom, the Bushmills started by his aging process in barrels of bourbon: there he finishes. Before that, he was placed in Spanish sherry casks, sherry Oloroso, which gives it a unique flavor. However, and this is more traditional, the malt is distilled three times.
It is simply a champion of mid-range, which may be suitable for a prestigious gift – and appreciated – which one comes out with it. This Irish whiskey mixes very well, but can also be enjoyed alone. It goes perfectly with citrus cocktail. Try the Scarlet Lady by example!
Its quality and specificity earned him a silver medal at the 2013 Outstanding competition.
6. Jameson Black Barrel – Irish whiskey Blend the report surprising value
This time, if we talk about whiskey Irish, everyone knows Jameson. This is simply the reference in this area, at least in France. The Black Barrel is however a range of the distillery. It’s a Small Batch – meaning small batch. Understand, a limited edition, do not miss so!
This whiskey has a rich nose with hints of tropical fruit, coconut, nectarines and cream, with a powerful heart of sweet cereal and warm.
In the mouth it is thick and full, intense and creamy, with many conflicting flavors. One can perceive dates, nuts or orange peel. Fishing and coconut spring gradually, with long notes Winter spice – cinnamon or nutmeg, according to the opinion – and dried flowers. We note, however, a persistent presence of coal behind, far from that of peaty whiskey, but still noticeable. It could be compared to that of a very dark chocolate.
The Black Barrel does not bear its name for nothing. He comes from a process called double charring. The drums that were used in its aging are charred twice, giving him his body and his wealth; but also a special taste that makes it difficult to mix in cocktails.
It is aged in Oloroso sherry like Bushmills, which gives it all its flavor.
Undoubtedly the Black Barrel is a surprising whiskey that rises far above the classic Jameson. At first glance, it is rather consensual, but it presents a confusing and interesting original elements, especially for this price. Eyes closed, it would be hard to believe that this is a Jameson.
7. Connemara 12 years of age – the best Irish whiskey peaty
He had to return to Connemara, an Irish whiskeys most recognized. This time, he is a 12 year old. Those used to be Scottish whiskey can not be impressed. But be aware that Irish whiskeys are generally younger: 12 years is already a range of exceptions!
The nose starts with detecting hints of lemon or ripe pear, with a thick peat, with creamy notes.
The taste is very peaty, moist, with a link to milder flavors. The set recalls to some extent, creme brulee, but sea salt. We end on notes almost buttery, vanilla, smoke nutmeg and hazelnut.
This is a single malt – all malts come from the distillery. This whiskey is aged in bourbon casks exclusively, according to the pure Irish tradition, which gives it a sharper taste and uncompromising. We prefer the taste with a little water to lessen the power of peat and develop other flavors.
Connemara 12 year old has won numerous awards: three gold, one in 2008 at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. It is a safe bet for an original whiskey. Although slightly expensive, we can recommend for a prestigious gift or a wine tasting. Provided love peaty whiskeys!
8. The Irishman – Probably the best Irish whiskey in the world
This is one of the most select spirits of Ireland. Hence its price! Only 3,000 bottles were distributed in 2017, and each is numbered and signed. The most surprising ? This distillery has a little over 20 years: it proves that seniority does not necessarily excellence, and that the tradition of good whiskey is still alive in contemporary Ireland.
The nose has a smooth combination of bourbon and hot malt with a touch of spicy ginger. And that’s all ! On the palate it is delicately oily, with a creamy texture and a discreet malt. It detects notes of oak, dry, bitter and sweet at once, and we end up on a rich mixture of dark chocolate and spices.
Less original than other competitors? Perhaps. But the Irishman has a peculiarity. He strives for excellence in the tradition. Each malt used in this blend were carefully selected by Walsh Whiskey distillery that produces it. It is aged in oak bourbon casks after a triple distillation in the rules.
It is difficult to communicate the excellence of the whiskey in its field. It is a masterpiece of Irish whiskey, without using tricks or frills. It enhances the flavor of the barley, with poise and confidence. Naturally, it is strictly forbidden to make a cocktail! Enjoy it dry or with an ice cube.
Buying an Irish whiskey
You can not judge a book by its cover. But a book, it’s leafs! The bottle, sealed well, keeps its secrets until the opening. So can we judge an Irish whiskey by its label?
In other words, this is where to start the discovery of Irish whiskey. A whiskey is not a product that can return to the manufacturer, even at a modest price, this is a significant expense. How to be sure not to make mistakes without falling back on the Jameson or Bushmills?
The first key is to learn how to navigate the jargon of fans of whiskeys: under thick adjectives accompanying labels hide the signs of a whiskey that will suit you. And you will see, the difference between whiskey and whiskey … is not that the additional E!
What is a smooth finish?
As a novice, you’ll want to start with a whiskey with a smooth finish, ie a smooth finish, delicate and subtle. It is also one of the reasons why Irish whiskey is so popular. It presents this burn less alcohol than other types of whiskeys.
In fact, it is generally considered more affordable and easier to enjoy. This is an element that surprises many people that taste for the first time and which have associated this word – whiskey – with a Talisker Scotch or Lagavullin. A whiskey is a drink usually quite delicate palate, and certainly not as aggressive than they thought.
For this reason, the first advice that one can give to a novice is to look for this type of description. You will be sure to have chosen a traditional whiskey, delicate, which will have at least the advantage of not put you off.
What to choose between Single Malt and Blended?
generally associated Single Malt superior quality. In fact, it is a mistake that many have built. Before going further, some explanation is required.
The Single Malt label means that all the malts used were produced in the same distillery.
It should not be confused with the Single Grain, which informs us of the use of other grains such as corn, rye or wheat.
The Blend, Blended or so is a blend of several malts produced by various distilleries, until the flavor and the desired quality.
In fact, anything that negatively influences the taste, then. The injustice of the poor reputation of Blends also lies in the fact that some single malts are also the result of a mixture. As long as the malts are all from the same distillery, it is considered a Single Malt … even if several different whiskeys were used in its development.
Some Single Malts are disappointing, and some Blends have received prestigious awards. Finally, do not be swayed by those who tell you that the single malt is better – or, even more absurd, that it is better to start with a Blend if you are not sure to enjoy, to not “spoil” a Single Malt.
What does “Pure Pot Still”?
On some labels, you’ll be marked “Pot Still” or “Pure Pot Still ‘. What does that mean in practice?
This is an Irish whiskey made from malted and unmalted barley and distilled in an alembic copper Charentais-type. Conversely, a classic single malt, which will also be distilled in a Charentais alembic, uses only malted barley.
It’s in the Pot Still lies the pure Irish whiskey tradition that goes back, like many things, a simple tax history. In the 17th century, the British crown imposes a heavy tax on malted barley that impacts the production of whiskey and beer; Irish producers circumvent the tax by mixing these two different barley. And that’s how it was born the whiskey!
Today whiskeys with the Pure Pot Still label are popular because it is a guarantee of quality and expertise.
Fair questions about Irish whiskeys
How much is a good Irish whiskey?
No need to spend hundred miles and to have fun, especially in the field of Irish whiskeys. The thing is to find one that suits you. There are excellent bottles around € 30-40, with positive surprises between 20 and 30 €.
Some exceptional bottles can reach several hundred euros, with dizzying records, to 35,000 €. However, it is far from the madness of some single malt Scotch, which can reach several million.
What is a peated whiskey?
If they are quite rare in Ireland, peaty whiskeys are popular with fans for their unique flavor. Some like it, others hate: peaty flavor is very special and do not necessarily please everyone.
In English, peaty peaty says, a word that comes from peatlands. The peatlands are characteristics bogs of the British Isles, consisting of plant and soil decomposing, with distinctive aromas and sometimes salt. In the hot, it gives off a thick smoke that flavors the green malt used in the manufacture of whiskey.
Peaty flavor is stronger or weaker depending on the amount of peat burned and the time of exposure, but also the quality of the peat itself. Those of Skye, Arran and Jura, Scotland, are especially prized for their high salt and flavors that made the success of their whiskeys.
Those who love you describe that taste like the meeting between an oceanic storm and fire. Those who hate you will say that they feel they drink dirty barbecue grill. Tastes and colors !
What makes a good Irish whiskey?
In general, the respect for tradition is a good indicator of the quality of a whiskey. Indeed, some productions can cheat on the quality of their product by adding, for example, food colors, which have the advantage of giving the whiskey an older appearance.
However, tradition and seniority are two things totally different. And the Irishman Walsh Whiskey is a good example, since it is considered one of the best tradition of whiskeys in the world when it is only produced for twenty years.
In general, you can trust the awards from various competitions, including those organized by the Irish and British institutions. They show a stickler manufacturing methods – and of course, the taste!
How to serve an Irish whiskey?
One of the elements that made the success of the Irish whiskey is its versatility. It is usually easy to drink and goes well with cocktails.
Warning, this is not the case for all, including those who stray a little off the beaten track in terms of manufacturing process. For those, including those peated, we prefer to add rigor an ice cube.
On this point, do not be influenced either by claims – quite risky – according to which a whiskey should taste dry. It is quite legitimate to prefer cool with ice, though the best way to bring out all the flavors and add a few drops of water. The slight dilution of whiskey helps reduce the presence of alcohol and reveal all the bouquet he proposes. But in general, especially follow your instincts and your tastes.
What is the best cocktail with Irish whiskey?
Of course, the Irish coffee is a must. But if you want to shine in society, or you are looking for a refreshing alternative, you can indulge yourself with the Irish Whiskey Sour, very simple to make and amazing every time.
Count 3 cl of whiskey with a smooth finish, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sugar and sparkling water to taste. Mix well and serve chilled. presentation Bonus: you can drag an orange peel for decoration and bitterness.
Because Irish whiskeys are soft and sometimes already present aromas of citrus more or less prominent, they usually blend well with lemon or orange peel.
This is particularly true for classics such as Jameson, Bushmills or Kilbeggan. It is more difficult to succeed cocktails with a temperamental whiskey or complex as Lambay or Connemara.
If you have a bit of a fever, let yourself be tempted by the Hot Toddy, a great Irish classic. Equivalent in Britain grog, it is an infusion lemon, clove, honey and whiskey.
Plant cloves in one slice of lemon, put it at the bottom of a cup, add a dose of whiskey and a tablespoon of honey. Then pour boiling water over all and let steep a while.
The effect is not medically proven, but at least it’s delicious. The recipe is particularly recommended with Kilbeggan Traditional.