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5 Great Irish Whiskies For St. Patrick’s Day – And Anytime You Want

“McConnell’s Irish Whisky: Perhaps the most newsworthy and interesting of the Emerald Isle’s recent bumper crop of colored spirits, McConnell’s is a bit of a historical curiosity and the only Irish whisky I’ve seen that uses the traditional Scottish (and Japanese) spelling, minus the “e.” That is because it is a revival of a very old brand, first established in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1776, and nearly 250 years ago, the original label said whisky, not whiskey (the date also makes it a great thematic choice for July Fourth!). The distillery closed in 1958, but McConnell’s had already dropped out of the U.S. market during Prohibition, so when it returned across the Atlantic last month, it was on these shores for the first time in about 90 years.

While most of the other choices below are newer single malt or single cask labels, the best-known Irish whiskies, including Jameson and Bushmills, have traditionally been blends. McConnell’s is one of these customary blended styles, aged for five years in American bourbon casks. The flavor is classic for Irish whiskey, smooth and easy drinking, but with a more complex layer of sweetness and vanilla from the ex-bourbon fill. It is a quality whiskey that I enjoyed both neat and on ice, unlike the single malts that I typically only drink neat, and it is also a good choice for cocktails (I like whiskey highballs). But most notably, it is also a bargain for any whiskey from any country, readily available at under $30. Until its new under-construction distillery is finished, it is being produced under contract at the Great Northern Distillery.”