“The Irish invented whiskey!” as every Irish whiskey brand ambassador and bartender has told me in the last few years.
And it’s true. Plus, Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world, and these are all really fun facts to know and tell (over and over again) when you’re imbibing on St. Patrick’s Day ... which, thanks to falling on a Sunday, pretty much means you’ll be drinking Irish style the entire weekend, even in non-Irish bars.
Which is fine: Irish whiskey is a smooth sipper and extremely versatile in cocktails. And, bonus, there’s a lot to love if you’re working within a budget. So while we’d love to sip on Knappogue Castle 16 or Red Spot, your St. Patrick’s Day drinking certainly won’t suffer with one of these 10 extremely affordable Irish tipples — all of which we’ve personally tried and approved.
Sláinte, as the Irish say. Which means health, and is the local way of saying cheers and take care of yourself this Sunday.
(Note: Depending on where you live, most of these whiskeys will be just under, right at, or a bit over $30. Some will be 750ml, some will be one liter.)
West Cork Bourbon Cask
Matured in first-fill bourbon casks, this young independent distiller crafts an approachable spirit that our office easily polished off (neat) over a few late-night work sessions.
Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish
Aged in Demerara Rum barrels, Tullamore’s whiskey is tripled distilled and packs a triple blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskey. End result? Notes of banana, vanilla, spice and citrus, and you can use it in lieu of rum in tiki cocktails.
Proper No. Twelve
We may not have loved Conor McGregor’s foray into Irish whiskey at first sip, but a recent follow-up drinking session put it on par with other, similarly priced Irish tipples. Besides, it was crafted with help from a former operations manager at Guinness, so now you’ve got your drink pairing.
Kilbeggan Single Grain
Hailing from Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery, this complex Irish whiskey is double-distilled (most are triple) and aged in ex-bourbon and fortified wine barrels.
Jameson Caskmates Stout
Blended Irish whiskey finished in Irish craft beer-seasoned barrels. It’s subtle, but it’ll pair nicely with the beer you’re undoubtedly drinking this weekend.
Bushmills Red Bush
Probably the smoothest hooch you’ll sip all weekend, this is the whiskey to order for your non-whiskey friends (get it in a highball).
Powers Gold Label
To quote one of our Irish whiskey experts from last year: “[This is] smooth, approachable and the right price point ... drink it neat. Perfect to aid in washing down a pint of Guinness, Smithwicks or Magners Cider. In that order.”
Made from 100% malted barley triple-distilled in copper pots and aged four years in Oloroso Sherry casks, The Sexton is blended by one of the few female Master Blenders in Irish whiskey. Also, love that bottle design.
As Sean Muldoon of perennial “best bar in the world” The Dead Rabbit told us a few years back, “This whiskey is made up of 90% grain and 10% malted barley, meaning it is light, floral and slightly sweet. It’s a good introduction to Irish Whiskey and its delicate flavor means it works incredibly well in an Irish Coffee.”
This smooth, triple-cask Irish whiskey (which spends time in virgin oak, seasoned oak and sherry casks) hails from the family behind Ireland’s excellent Slane Concert series.
Just launched (so it might be difficult to find), this 4-year-old expression is rested at the distillery in first-fill port barrels for between three and six months. We haven’t spent much time with it, but it was pleasant the first go-around with a real touch of sweetness.
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