St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on the death date of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland as well as celebrates the heritage of the Irish in general. That’s the official reason for the holiday, but in the US it’s largely an excuse to drink just like Cinco de Mayo and Mardi Gras. In New York they hold an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down fifth avenue, meanwhile thousands of party goers hit the bars early for some drinks. Consider celebrating the Irish with some Irish whiskey. Here’s my top suggestions for Irish whiskey that will help make your celebration all the more joyous. I’ve categorized the whiskey by price range.
Casual (Under $45): When you’re at the bar about to order your first round, consider asking for Jameson Black Barrel which is a nice step up from the entry level Jameson and Bushmills. It’s not a whiskey you’ll want to shoot, but rather one that you should sip. This expression is composed of a high proportion of single pot still whiskey blended with grain whiskey and matured in a charred bourbon barrel. The nose contains hints of nectarines and apricots but the dominant scent is oak spices. This blend has a nice creamy feel on the mouth which will be appealing to casual drinkers. The mouth has toasted nuts, vanilla and some orange rinds in the background. It’s not super sophisticated, but it doesn’t have to be because it’s market is not the connoisseur. There’s a distinct charred flavor on the finish accompanied by oak spices and vanilla creme. Another to consider is John Powers Gold Label
Classy ($45-$100): This category is for the more discerning whiskey fan who appreciates single pot still whiskey. These whiskies are also reasonably affordable and a bottle can be enjoyed with a group of friends. I just had the opportunity to try the award winning Redbreast 12 which is a single pot still whiskey. This style of whiskey is made from a mixed mash of malted barley and unmalted barley in a pot still. It’s aged in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks and ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of 12 years. The fruity nature of the 12 is evident on the nose with candied dried fruits, orange peels, cinnamon and a hint of vanilla. The silky texture is easy to drink but is also packed full of flavor. There’s brown sugar, honey, apricot and toasted marshmallows. The honey gets even sweeter on the finish along with some oak spices and custard. This whiskey is highly enjoyable and once you start you may not be able to stop. Some others in this category include Green Spot, Redbreast 15, Bushmills 12
Luxury ($100+): Either you’re A) balling out of control and can be found making it rain on the dance floor with piles of wads of cash on the weekend or B) a whisky connoisseur willing to pay an obscene amount for older whiskey. If you answered either A or B then you should look into getting a bottle of Redbreast 21. This is the pinnacle of Irish single pot still whiskey in the US and it’s priced accordingly. The nose smells like a sun-kissed forest right after the rain. The palate is full bodied with vanilla bean at the front, then guava, apple skin, cinnamon and cloves. There’s a nice kick of spice at the end which bleeds into the finish. This is a refreshingly spicy dram which has a full bodied tropical flavored palate. When it comes to Irish whiskey I haven’t tasted one that is better so if you’re willing to shell out the cash, you’re definitely getting the best.