It’s tough to name the best Irish whiskey, since there are so many factors in play. Some of the most expensive options are just too costly to justify the price, and personal taste plays a huge part too. Everyone has their own favorite Irish whiskey; here are a few of mine.
Okay, I don’t actually drink every day. I actually try to moderate my intake as much as I can, since I just love the stuff so much. But when I do, I try to keep the costs down as much as possible. And that’s one of the great things about Irish whiskey: there really are no bargain basement, bathtub-moonshine brands. Even the most affordable Irish whiskey is typically quite palatable.
Jameson Original is a great standby, as is Bushmills Original. A lot of people keep one or the other on hand, even if they aren’t big on Irish whiskey. That means you’re usually safe ordering one of these at a bar, or asking for one at a friend’s place, even if the selection isn’t too great.
Bushmills pairs good with either 7up or coke, but it’s smooth enough to drink by itself or on ice. If there isn’t anything else available, I’ll definitely order Bushmill’s Original on the rocks. If they’ve got Black Bush, then all the better.
Expand your palate.
Tullamore Dew is another bottle I always keep stocked. It’s not too pricey, so I can confidently break it out without simultaneously breaking the bank. It’s also a little more complex than the basic Bushmills and Jameson bottles, so I’ve used it to introduce more than a few people to the wider world of Irish whiskey.
Another favorite I latched onto a few years ago is Knappogue Castle. The price isn’t too bad for what you get, and it’s also a great way to introduce people to a few more complexities. It has an almost peaty flavor to it, which is a great way to make inroads with staunch scotch drinkers. I have an uncle who is ardent about the superiority of scotch whisky, but even he loved the Knappogue when I poured him a glass.
I don’t have a bottle of Knappogue 1951 on my shelf, but if the opportunity ever presented itself I’d have to stop and think. (The most expensive bottles on my shelf are in the $1-200 range, so the 1951 represents a pretty big step up.)
It’s genetically different.
The same company that produces Knappogue Castle also has another label. It’s called Clontarf, and it’s probably my own personal favorite Irish Whiskey. It comes in three varieties (Classic Blend, Single Malt and Special Reserve) and they’ve all got places on my shelf. Single malt was the first Clontarf I tried, and it remains my favorite.
A lot of people prefer the classic blend, and some even say it’s better than the special reserve. I feel like they both have slightly harsher flavor profiles than the single malt, which is why I reach for the white label first.
There’s also a “trinity collection” that includes all three varieties in a clever packaging scheme. The collection consists of three bottles that nest into each other, so that you can stack them up into a single bottle. I not sure if it’s the first whiskey/transformer crossover, but it’s definitely the first one I’ve seen.