No longer an aul lad’s drink, Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing spirit in the world having seen exports grow 300% over the last decade. Either the aul lads are upping their daily intake considerably, or the interest in whiskey has expanded to a wider demographic. Amazingly up until 4 years ago, Ireland had just four distilleries, but now you’re as likely to see a new distillery popping up beside your local Londis as you are a new Starbucks. Okay, if we’re going to be all facty, there are now 16 up and running, with 13 more on the way. So not that far off 😉
So with that in mind, I’ve put together my top three Irish whiskeys which you should honour with a connoisseurial sip this month (hey, why not) #drinkresponsibly :
JAMESON BLACK BARREL
Jameson dominates the export market with almost 70% of global Irish whiskey volume, but don’t let its size put you off. The brand now covers a whole heap of different whiskies including this little beauty, Black Barrel. A triple distilled blended whiskey, it gets its name from the use of double charred bourbon barrels in which it matures giving it a lovely caramel, toasted wood taste (if you can imagine what toasted wood tastes like) and beautifully deep, dark colour. It is usually priced around the €50 mark, but if you live in Austria you can get it for €29.99 in your nearest Spar. I kid you not!
WEST CORK 12 YEAR OLD RUM CASK
This lesser-known little gem is a limited release from the Skibbereen distillery, aged in first fill Bourbon casks for 12 years and then finished off in rum casks to give it a gorgeous malty, marzipany flavour. The 12 year olds are also available in Sherry & Port versions, but after my little trip to Barbados earlier this year, I’ve quite the penchant for rum of late. You can pick it up from your local whiskey specialist or online around the €50 mark.
REDBREAST LUSTAU EDITION
No top Irish whiskey list would be complete without at least one member of the Redbreast family. This whiskey is the result of a unique collaboration between the premier sherry producer in Spain, Bodegas Lustau and the Midleton Distillery in County Cork. The whiskey is initially matured in traditional bourbon & sherry casks and then finished for one extra year in first fill sherry barrels which have been specially seasoned with Oloroso sherry. The result is a very smooth whiskey with a honey, caramel, fruity taste which has been consistently winning international awards since it was launched last year. Expect to pay around €65-69 for the pleasure.