The 40 Best Irish Whiskeys for 2023

There’s an option for every St. Patrick’s Day drinker (or for any other day)

Updated March 2, 2023 12:48 pm
The best Irish whiskeys for 2021
Five of our favorite Irish whiskeys, from price points $30 to $300+
Gabe Serrano for InsideHook

I used to believe Irish whiskey was a gateway whiskey. It’s a smooth sipper. It’s relatively inexpensive — at least the stuff I was drinking — and it goes great in cocktails, particularly an Irish coffee. 

But I never gave the category enough credit, even though the Irish invented whiskey and an NYC bar pretty much devoted to the tipple — and walking distance from my apartment — kept winning World’s Best Bar awards.

Thankfully, I, along with the rest of the country, have caught up. U.S. consumer interest in the Irish Whiskey category is surging; it’s basically the fastest-growing spirit category outside of tequila.

“Over a century on from the start of Prohibition, it is worth remembering that Ireland was once the largest supplier of whiskey for the U.S.,” says William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA). “And now, once again, American consumers are flocking to discover the depth and diversity of Irish whiskey.”

So below, lessons learned from the past few years of truly diving into this fascinating spirit. Plus, when available, a convenient link to our friends at Drizly, Caskers, ReserveBar and Frootbat so you can pick up a bottle before St. Patrick’s Day (but honestly, you should be drinking this stuff year-round).

The Best Irish Whiskey Under $40

Note, this price range entirely depends on where you live

Powers
Powers Gold Label
Powers

Powers Gold Label

To quote an Irish whiskey expert we interviewed a few years back: “[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.”

The Sexton
The Sexton
The Sexton

The Sexton

Made from 100% malted barley triple-distilled in copper pots and aged for four years in Oloroso Sherry casks, The Sexton is blended by one of the few female Master Blenders in Irish whiskey.

The Busker
The Busker
Cask Cartel

The Busker Triple Cask

“Triple cask, triple smooth” doesn’t exactly make this Irish whiskey stand out, but the bottle’s typeface and the low price certainly do. As does its mission: The distillery wanted to create something that would appeal to bourbon drinkers and also be used in cocktails that don’t normally feature Irish whiskey. The Triple Cask release is matured and finished in, natch, three different casks (bourbon, sherry, Marsala).

Clontarf 1014
Clontarf 1014
Clontarf

Clontarf 1014

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 Irish Coffee.”

Slane
Slane
Slane

Slane

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. A premium Special Edition, which ramps up the virgin oak influences, arrived last year.

Keeper's Heart
Keeper’s Heart
O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company

Keeper’s Heart

We’re cheating slightly here: This was the first release from the Minnesota-based O’Shaugnessy Distilling Co., which hopes to showcase the best of American and Irish whiskeys, headed up by Brian Nation, formerly of Irish Distillers (aka the man formerly behind Jameson, Redbreast, Powers and Midleton). The distillery is also releasing some limited-edition Irish whiskeys with interesting cask finishes until their own juice is ready.

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Ballyhoo
Ballyhoo
Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo

This 4-year-old expression is rested at the distillery in first-fill port barrels for between three and six months. It features a real touch of sweetness.

The Pogues Irish whiskey
The Pogues Irish Whiskey
Caskers

The Pogues

Crafted at West Cork Distillers, one of Ireland’s few remaining independently owned distilleries (more on them in a minute), there’s a surprising amount of maltiness and smoke for an Irish whiskey, almost like a Scotch, along with subtle hints of wine and honey. 

Tullamore Dew XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish
Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish
Tullamore DEW

Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

Aged in Demerara Rum barrels, Tullamore’s whiskey is triple-distilled and a triple blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskey. The end result? Notes of banana, vanilla, spice and citrus, which you can completely use in lieu of rum in tiki cocktails.

Jameson Cold Brew
Jameson Cold Brew
Flaviar

Jameson Cold Brew

Almost all whiskey on the nose, but the coffee elements come into play as you sip. The smoothness of Irish whiskey works well with the rounded flavors of the roasted Arabica beans, and you’re left with a surprisingly dark chocolate note. Not robust but overall well balanced and obviously great in an Irish Coffee.

Paddy's
Paddy’s
Paddy’s

Paddy’s

A classic trait of many Irish whiskies is they’re triple-distilled, making it a bit more approachable. Paddy’s does this times three: It’s a blend of three types of Irish whiskey. It’s clean and crisp with lots of toffee notes.

Roe & Co
Roe & Co
Roe & Co

Roe & Co

A newer brand that’s restored and re-purposed the Guinness Power House as its distillery, this blend of malt and grain whiskey is aged in bourbon casks and delivers a creamy mouthfeel, with notes of vanilla and a gentle fruitiness.

Grace O’Malley
Grace O’Malley
Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley

A blend that combines multiple batches of whiskey of varying age statements from three to 10 years old, with each batch matured in a range of barrel types (this includes grain whiskey aged in ex-bourbon casks and malt whiskey aged in ex-rum barrels). There’s a bit more sweetness here, and a few notes you wouldn’t pick up in other modestly budgeted Irish whiskeys.

Proclamation Whiskey
Proclamation Whiskey
ReserveBar

Proclamation

Overseen by a former winemaker and Bordeaux native, this blend of grain whiskeys is triple distilled and aged in new American oak (along with additional maturation in ex-bourbon casks) and blended with a touch of sherry-finished malt. Swap it into a bourbon-based cocktail for a bit of character.

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The choices of bartenders, distillers and other bar professionals we’ve interviewed over the years.

Green Spot
Green Spot
Caskers

Green Spot

“It’s delicious and it reminds me of the very best work days. Barley on the nose, palate and finish, mixed with a little iodine and bourbon-soaked fruitcake,” Lisa Wicker, former President/Master Distiller of Widow Jane Distillery, told us a few years ago.

Writer's Tears Irish whiskey
Writer’s Tears
Walsh Whiskey

Writer’s Tears Copper Pot

Another favorite of Wicker’s, this tipple was inspired by the “Golden Age” of Irish whiskey (late 19th/early 20th century). It’s a marriage of aged Single Pot Still and Single Malt Irish whiskeys and distilled entirely from barley, both malted and unmalted. Vanilla, orchard fruits and chocolate notes dominate here.

Bushmills Black Bush
Bushmills Black Bush
Bushmills

Bushmills Black Bush

Another favorite of The Dead Rabbit’s Sean Muldoon (who told us a few years back it was a great entry-level Irish whiskey), this expression features a high amount of malt whiskey married with a lighter grain whiskey. It’s then matured in former Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks, giving it fruitiness and depth.

Redbreast 12 Year
Redbreast 12 Year
Redbreast

Redbreast 12 Year

Trey Zoeller of Jefferson’s loves this expression. “It’s matured in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and sherry casks, which gives it a great combination of spicy and creamy notes,” he says.

Teeling Small Batch
Teeling Small Batch
Teeling

Teeling Small Batch

“It’s very easy to approach because of its subtle citrus notes,” as New York bartender Mike Di Tota told us. It doesn’t have a lot of ‘sting.’ It’s more rounded out.” It also makes for the best Irish coffee we’ve ever had. (Want something a little more elevated and unique? Teeling Wonders of Wood Single Malt Chinkapin Oak was one of our favorite spirits of 2022.)

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Green Spot Chateau Léoville Barton
Green Spot Chateau Léoville Barton
Jameson

Green Spot Chateau Léoville Barton

“I’m a big fan of pot still whiskey, but I found the addition of the wine cask finish elevated what was already a great whiskey to another level,” as Darren Green, manager at Garavans (a one-time Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year in Ireland) told us a few years back.

Connemara 12
Connemara 12
Caskers

Connemara 12

This one is double-distilled, as opposed to the usual Irish triple-distillation process. The whiskey is peated, so “you get these lovely chalky, phenolic tones off the nose that lead into a lovely smoked orchard fruit tone on the front palate (think barbecued pears),” explains Tre Stillwagon of NYC’s Analogue. “The distillation style also makes the whiskey more viscous so you get a nice smoky, mouth-coating dram out of it.”

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Teeling Blackpitts
Teeling Blackpitts
Teeling

Teeling Blackpitts

Triple-distilled from malted barley, dried over peat fires and matured in both bourbon and sauternes French wine casks, Blackpitts is a deceptively light-colored tipple that brings together a fruitiness, butterscotch and smoke. It’s like a campfire dessert. 

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The Tyrconnell 16 Year Old Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish Single Malt
The Tyrconnell 16 Year Old Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish Single Malt
ReserveBar

The Tyrconnell 16 Year Old Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish Single Malt

A single malt double-distilled in pot stills, the 16 Year Old is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, followed by additional maturation in wine casks from the Andalucia region of Southern Spain; these casks were initially seasoned with Oloroso sherry before a second seasoning with Moscatel wine. The end result is sweet, floral, creamy and well-rounded, with a long finish.

McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish
McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish
McConnell’s

McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish

Established in Belfast in 1776 but only recently revived, McConnell’s — which doesn’t use an “e” in their whisky — has just two sourced releases for the moment (their distillery opens to the public later this year, and their own product should start in a few years). For now, try to find this surprisingly balanced expression, which is a whisky aged five years in first-fill bourbon barrels, then finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. Dark fruit, cocoa, spice and the creaminess of a good Irish whisk(e)y abound in a release that’s decidedly not a sherry bomb.

Glendalough 7-Year-Old Single Malt Mizunara Cask
Glendalough 7-Year-Old Single Malt Mizunara Cask
Glendalough

Glendalough 7-Year-Old Single Malt Mizunara Cask

This award-winning (Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition) Irish whiskey brand is based an hour south of Dublin. Glendalough is known for its double-barrel program, which finds some of its hooch resting (or getting additional rest) in Irish oak, Oloroso sherry barrels and, now, Japanese Mizunara wood.

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West Cork Stout Cask Matured
West Cork Stout Cask Matured
West Cork

West Cork Stout Cask Matured

A blend of grain and malt whiskey aged in first-fill bourbon casks and then finished in casks that had held Black’s of Kinsale Stout. While the distillery has also done something similar utilizing former IPA casks, this one has the bonus of bringing out the stout’s chocolate notes. 

The Legendary Midnight Silkie
The Legendary Midnight Silkie
Sliabh Liag Distillers

The Legendary Midnight Silkie

The core release from Sliabh Liag Distillers was a 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge winner for best blended Irish whiskey. Midnight is a tripled distilled peated single malt, matured in an array of casks (sherry, bourbon, oloroso, red wine, virgin oak and imperial stout). Given our love of the rare peated Irish whiskey (see: Blackpitts by Teeling), this is exciting — and here, orange zest, tobacco, dried fruits, baking spices and a very creamy and lush mouthfeel combine for an ideal cold weather sipper.

Kilbeggan Single Pot Still
Kilbeggan Single Pot Still
Beam Suntory

Kilbeggan Single Pot Still

Lightly fruity on the nose, Single Pot Still features a very rich mouthfeel and it’s undeniably creamy on the palate. Even with just 2.5% oats in the mashbill, this is a whiskey I’d drink for breakfast — “oatmeal” flashed through my mind repeatedly during my tastings.

CLONAKILTY SINGLE BATCH DOUBLE OAK
Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak
Clonakilty

Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak

Nine generations of farmers head up the coastland grounds where this newer distillery, opened in 2018, is set to make a mark. Right now, this eventual farm-to-glass brand is sourcing its goods; that said, they’re already winning World Whiskies Awards for their blended and new-make releases. The Single Batch Double Oak Finish is the world’s first Irish whiskey to be finished in shaved, toasted and re-charred ex-red wine European oak casks (NEOC, New Era of Cask).

Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old Chateau Pichon Baron Finish
Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old Chateau Pichon Baron Finish
Knappogue Castle

Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old Chateau Pichon Baron Finish

This is an extremely limited edition release — less than 1100 bottles made it to the U.S. The spirit spends 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels, then an additional 10 months in Pichon barrels from Bordeaux. It has a sweet, light and juicy taste, while the finish is more the traditional oak-y/vanilla/spice profile you’d expect. 

Two Stacks Cask Strength
Two Stacks Cask Strength
High Road Spirits

Two Stacks Cask Strength

Yes, the core release is available in a can. But go for the bottle here; a blend of grain, malt and pot still whiskey that’s matured in virgin oak, ex-bourbon and former Oloroso sherry casks, the Cask Strength has real sweetness, some malted biscuit notes, spice (it definitely dries the palette quickly), caramel, fruit, etc., but at 65%, it’s also the strongest Irish whiskey we’ve ever tried.

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye
Kilbeggan

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye

Kilbeggan, the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, reinvented a rye-based Irish whiskey, crafted in the oldest working pot still in the world. There’s more depth and spice in the Small Batch Rye than a typical sipping Irish whiskey, and it’s a wonder in cocktails. 

Killowen RUM & RAISIN 5 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT
Killowen Rum & Raisin 5 Year Old Single Malt
High Road Spirits

Killowen Signature Rum & Raisin

Ireland’s smallest craft distillery recently launched an Experimental Series, featuring six blends finished in six unique casks (from rum to peated malt to txakolina acacia). We’re partial to their Signature Blend, a “rum & raisin” inspired 5-year single malt that’s spent time in dark rum and PX sherry casks. They also produce a Poitin, an unaged spirit that’s sort of like Irish moonshine.

Pearse
Pearse 5 Year Original
Pearse

Pearse 5 Year Original

An Irish whiskey with an American sibling, several releases here are aged in ex-bourbon barrels from Town Branch Distillery in Lexington, KY. While the 7- and 12-year are great (Pearse is one of the few modern Irish whiskey brands to use an age statement), the standout here is surprisingly a 5-year blended release, with hints of chocolate, malt, oak and even a little (non-peaty) smoke.

J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey - The Gael
J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey – The Gael
J.J. Curry

J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey – The Gael

Founded by Louise McGuane, the rare woman in a leadership role in Irish whiskey, this brand is reviving the art of “whiskey bonding” — sourcing new make spirit and mature Irish whiskey from local distilleries and maturing, blending and bottling on-site in rackhouses on the McGuane family farm. Through their expansive “flavor library,” they’ve been able to release unique blends like The Gael, a fruit-forward Irish whiskey built from a blend that includes everything from 7-year-old single grain up to a 26-year-old single malt aged in ex-sherry casks.

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest
Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest
Caskers

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest

This one’s about the barrel and the age. It’s an Irish Single Pot Still aged for 15–28 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished in rare Irish oak from the Knockrath Forrest. And only 42 casks exist (expect to pay in the high three- or low four-figures).

Waterford Single Farm Origin
Waterford Single Farm Origin
Waterford Distillery

Waterford Single Farm Origin: Rathclogh

A distillery that’s proving terroir can significantly alter your whiskey. We recently loved their Rathclogh release; it features an almost oily mouthfeel with a bit of salinity. Once you sip, there’s candied apple on the palate with vanilla and a bit of cherry, along with a wonderful finish. And their new peated release is also exceptional.

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Blue Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey
Blue Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey
Spot Whiskey

Blue Spot 7-Year-Old Cask Strength Single Pot Still

Rejoining the Spots range for the first time since 1960, this recently relaunched and reimagined pot still whiskey includes liquid aged in Madeira casks, imbuing the spirit with notes of fruit, hazelnuts and sweet spices. And at 58.7% ABV, it’s got a real kick.

Lost Irish
Lost Irish
Lost Irish

Lost Irish

Lost Irish is crafted from casks sourced from six continents and triple distilled using all three whiskey production styles. It’s a unique and easy drinker, with different elements and influences coming through on each sip.

Egan's Conviction
Egan’s Conviction
Egan’s

Egan’s Conviction

A multi-generational distillery with a history that dates back to 1852 (albeit with a multi-decade break in the latter half of the 20th century), these whiskey releases are noted for their finishes, including Moscatel de Valencia casks and, recently, Egan’s Conviction, a blend of 10-year single malt and single grain married together and finished in XO Cognac casks. Here, the maltiness of the whiskey takes on candied fruit and chocolate notes.

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