You can celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day by passing a $10 bottle around until someone takes off their "Kiss Me I’m Irish" t-shirt or you can celebrate by passing around a really great bottle of Irish whiskey until someone takes of their blouse. We recommend the latter.
Your friends probably don’t think of Ireland as having a lot of diversity—they know Jameson, and if you press them they might remember Bushmills as a close second in production. Two or three decades ago, that was it—there weren’t any other names in Irish whiskey. Now, new distilleries are popping up like craft breweries stateside. Ireland also gets away with more flexibility than other major distilling countries; while Scotland is constrained to malt and Kentucky is tied to first-use barrels, Ireland can basically do anything they want, from innovative recipes to multi-cask finishes.
So it’s really a pity that Americans are stuck with the same ol’ Jameson name year after year, when the number of distilleries in Ireland has more than doubled in the last decade. Here are three of the newest challengers.
Glendalough Double Barrel
comes out more like bourbon than anything typically Irish. Its single grain mash—a mixture of barley and corn—is aged in two sets of barrels: a second-use ex-bourbon cask from Kentucky and then later a Spanish Oloroso sherry cask as the finish. It’s a lighter, straw colored whiskey that gets a lot of vanilla and tropical fruit character.
Teeling Single Grain
Built on a corn base, Teeling has a barrel finish: instead of tapping the South for emptied casks, Teeling looked to the West Coast, grabbing cabernet Sauvignon barrels from California. The result is boldly flavorful, with butterscotch and caramel characters being the most dominant.
It is technically not a new name, but after being discontinued in the ‘50s it returns this year (you may have seen its sister Green Spot already). The all-barley whiskey is aged 12 years in a combination of American bourbon, Spanish sherry and Spanish Malaga casks. The result is a bold, super-spicy whiskey with an underlying honey sweetness.