10 Best Irish Whiskeys for Beginner Whiskey Drinkers

With choices increasing, distilleries pumping out more variations and everybody shouting out their favorite dram, it can be hard to choose the right one. Trust me, I have been there. In this list, I am going to tell you about 10 Irish whiskeys that won’t break the bank and are all great whiskeys of which you can be proud to have a bottle in the cabinet.

If you are looking for an Irish whiskey as a gift, I recommend number 3, but you will make the other person happy with any of the bottles.

What is an Irish whiskey?

Next to the common fact that Irish whiskey is whiskey produced in Ireland, there are some factors a whiskey must adhere to when it is to be called “Irish Whiskey”. First of all, it must be produced on the island of Ireland. Second, it must have a minimum alcoholic by volume of 40%. Finally, it must be aged for a minimum of 3 years in wooden casks, such as oak, that do not exceed the capacity of 700 liters (185 US Gallons).

What is the character of an Irish whiskey?

Irish whiskeys are distilled three times, which is common for most of them. Because America has a massive surplus of used Bourbon barrels, many Irish distilleries buy them and use them to age their Irish whiskey. This gives most whiskeys vanilla, honey and spices as common flavors.

Next to these couple of characteristics, there are many different Irish whiskeys available that all have their own individual taste. Irish whiskey has regained popularity since the 1990’s and has been among the fastest growing spirits in the entire world.

But which one should you choose? There are increasingly more choices, and they are not all equally good. This list will provide 10 Irish whiskeys that belong to the best of them, but remain affordable to us. There are no bottles in this list that currently cost over a 100 bucks. Let’s dive straight in.

1. Connemara Peated

Let’s start off with something a little different. Unlike most Irish whiskeys, this Connemara Peated whiskey is double distilled instead of triple distilled. Also, all Connemara whiskeys are peated, which means that is has that smoky flavor many people love. The whiskey is aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, which means that the barrels were previously used in America to age Bourbon, after which it was sold to the Irish distillery.

If smoky, peated whisky is something that you like, than this Irish whiskey is one that you should definitely try and one that you will enjoy. If you are buying a whiskey for someone else and you are unsure if they like peated whiskey, it might be better to go for another kind of whiskey because the peated whiskey really is something you either love or you don’t.

Taste: When nosing, you will notice this whiskey definitely is smoky, but it’s not the really hardcore Islay smoke that is so prominent in some Scotch single malts. For the rest it is a sweet, slightly honeyed whiskey with heather freshness and floral notes. The palate is full of smooth woody aromas, as well as honeyed smoke with malty barley notes.

If you are interested in the Connemara Peated whiskey, feel free to check the current price on Master of Malt here.

2. Teeling single malt

Teeling is a popular brand that has been producing whiskey for just a short amount of years, as the distillery opened in 2015. The Teeling family was very active in the Irish whiskey scene before that though, so they knew what they were doing.

This Teeling Single Malt is an interesting Irish whiskey as a selection of 5 wine-cask-finished-whiskeys are used to create Teeling Single Malt. The 5 different wines are Sherry, Port, White Burgundy, Madeira and Cabernet Sauvignon, isn’t that interesting.

Taste: On the nose, notes that immediately can come to mind are toffee, fresh white grape juice and other things like herbs, spices and potentially even some citrus. It definitely is not a peated whiskey as there is no smoke to be found. The palate will enforce the spice notes, as well as some cinnamon, fruit and even a touch of floral aromas.

The Teeling Single Malt is available here on Master of Malt.

3. Writers Tears Copper Pot

If you are looking for a gift to someone else, I would recommend you look no further that Writers Tears. This incredibly smooth, accessible Irish whiskey is a great way to introduce someone to Irish whiskey or give a safe gift that the recepient will enjoy. This light, sweet whiskey is created using a mixture of single pot still and single malt, which results in tons of sweet honey’d, fruity notes.

This really is a quality whiskey which will be enjoyed by many people, even if those people have different tastes. At 40% you should not add too much water before drinking, but I recommend this whiskey and if you can, give it a try.

Taste: On the nose it really is a standard, good whiskey with honey, vanilla, woody and fruity notes for you to smell. It has a lot from sweet, smooth Speyside Scotch whiskies, which definitely is a good thing. The palate follows the nose, with honeyed aromas quickly developing. There are some sweet spices, mellow notes of vanilla, caramel and a hint of oak.

To buy this whiskey, follow this link to Master of Malt where you can order your bottle online.

4. Yellow Spot 12 Year Old

Now for the first Irish whiskey with age statement, the Yellow Spot 12 Year Old. This for sure is one of the more premium bottles in this list, and the price is justified for sure. I would argue Yellow Spot 12 could be one of the best whiskeys on this list, it really is delicious stuff.

This whiskey is created using a combination of American Bourbon casks, Spanish Sherry casks and Spanish Malaga casks to give the whiskey an extremely vibrant, sweet flavor with loads of fruit and citrus notes. Before I tell you what else is in this whiskey, I need to press enter once and type “Taste:” in bold.

Taste: Like I said, many stone fruits on the nose like apricot and peach as well as other dried fruit that will give this whiskey the initial punch of quality notes. The taste is equally fruity with substantial honeyed, fruity notes.

The Yellow Spot 12 Year Old is available through this link on Master of Malt.

5. Bushmills 10 Year Old

Arguably the nearest distillery to Scotland that isn’t actually in Scotland, the Bushmill distillery lies really close to the Scottish border. The Bushmills 10 Year Old definitely is an Irish whiskey, but has a lot of characters similar to Scotch. There is a lot to tell about Bushmills, but all you should know for now they make excellent whiskey that you should try if you haven’t up to now.

This whiskey has even won the award for best Irish Single Malt Whiskey at the 2007 World Whiskeys Awards.

Taste: On the nose you will be able to find banana skins, there is some butter mint. There is a lot of honey and vanilla, which are signs of the ex-Bourbon casks that they use. The palate includes fruity notes, but overall does not really match the nose of the whiskey. Some people even find chocolate pudding as an aroma on the palate, which can be because of the copper stills that they use.

To check out this whiskey, you can more here on Master of Malt to order it online.

6. Redbreast 15 Year Old

Another one of the more premium whiskeys on the list is the Redbreast 15 Year Old Single Pot Still whiskey. A delicious Irish whiskey that is created in a pot still, that has a lot of beautiful complex flavors for you to discover. I know this is starting to sound like a sales-pitch, but I think you will not be disappointed when you try this whiskey for the first, second and even 20th time.

This whiskey has been aged for 15 years, as the age label says. The whisky is triple distilled and bottled at 46% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).

Taste: There are many notes of honey, vanilla, fruits, cut hay, guava, green spices, pepper and other tropical fruit. You may also find hints of cucumber, green melon, kiwi and other green notes. And this is just on the nose. The freshness really shines with a lot of fresh fruity notes. Now for the palate, the whiskey has creamy, soft texture. There are many aromas of cooked fruits, fried banana, gooseberry, butterscotch and even nutmeg.

Now there are so many tasting notes you can be looking for in this whiskey that you could be overwhelmed. I want to say that you are not alone, and that the taste of the whiskey can be subjective as well! I could get cucumber, and you could get other tastes. This bottle of whiskey is very complex and can keep giving new experiences.

This fine whiskey can be found over here on Master of Malt.

7. The Irishman Single Malt

Back to a little bit more of a standard Irish whiskey, we get to The Irishman Single Malt, a whiskey from: Ireland! Who could have guessed. This is a triple distilled whiskey which has been aged in both Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks, giving the whiskey notes of fruit, vanilla and wood.

Taste: The whiskey is light and fruity on the nose. There are hits on sugar/honey notes as well as some vanilla. Taste-wise there is plenty of peaches, crushed biscuits and almonds. The Bourbon influence is definitely noticeable, giving some of those peppery spices to the whiskey. The finish is pretty long and ends with a delicious oak flavor.

To check out this dram, follow this link which will take you to the product page of Master of Malt.

8. West Cork Cask Strength

This whiskey might blow you off your chair, careful! The cask-strength whiskey is bottled without diluting it first, giving the dram a solid 62% ABV. This bottle definitely is one of the lesser known Irish whiskeys, and will not be on many of the lists out there. It is a blended whiskey, but never underestimate the art of blending a fine whiskey.

Whenever you buy and drink a cask-strength whiskey, I always recommend adding some water. Now, there are many people who would advice you to drink your dram neat, but enjoying your cask-strength whiskey can be challenging that way. Instead, try it neat first, go ahead. After that, add some clean water, just a couple of teaspoons of it. This could help open up the whiskey, making it more accessible and give you more aromas that you previously did not notice.

Taste: The nose of the whiskey is pretty sharp due to the high ABV, but also very intense and rich. There is a lot of fresh, green apples and lime that comes up. In the palate you are really getting something unique, with notes of cookie dough, spices, cooked banana and raw cinnamon. This whiskey really is different from other Irish whiskeys you might have tried.

The link that you are looking for is here, which will direct you to the product page on Master of Malt.

9. Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey

This single malt Irish whiskey also is not very popular, not because of its inferior quality, but because not many people know about it. In fact, this is a decent whiskey that has rightfully earned its place on this list.

It is bottled at 46% and is packed with vanilla and honey notes.

Taste: Really noticing the influence of the Bourbon refill casks, the whiskey is filled with a lot of vanilla and sweet honeyed notes. On the nose you may find melted honey, cereal and some citrus. On the palate expect to find more vanilla, fudge, toast and more sugary sweet notes.

Follow this link to Master of Malt, where you can order this dram right to your door.

10. Jameson

Finally, the list would not be complete without the classic, recognisable, popular, widely available Jameson Irish Whiskey. This is the Irish whiskey everybody knows and the bottle everybody recognizes. Despite its popularity, it still delicious. Popular does not mean bad, it just means popular.

Taste: The whiskey is full of floral notes, leading to smells of fudge, marmalade and cut grass. The honeyed sweetness can not be forgotten. On the palate, there are fresh orchard fruits like apples and pears, accompanied with vanilla cream. In the finish you will really be able to find that spice and meet again with the honey.

Use this link to order this classic bottle of whiskey, you will not be disappointed.

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