its use of peated barley. According to Kate
Laufer, director public relations at Sidney
Frank, the blend attracts mainstream Irish
whiskey drinkers as well as bourbon lov-
ers, a fertile ground considering that Irish
whiskey sales still pale in comparison to
bourbon’s 16 million cases.
also been key, as promoted in advertising
and on the website.
Like Michael Collins 10, Knappogue
Castle 12 Year Old, from Castle Brands
Inc., points to the increasing importance
of age statements, especially in winning
consumers of high-end Scotch, where age
statements are a defining measure of qual-
ity. Knappogue ceased making the annual
vintage whiskies that emerged in the ear-
ly ’90s in favor of a flagship 12 Year Old,
while leaving room for special editions
true to the brand’s super-premium posi-
tioning. The newest is Knappogue Castle
Twin Wood 14 Year Old Single Malt, bot-
tled at 92 proof, following aging in both
bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks.
Perhaps the surest sign that the Irish
whiskey category is far from peaking: Con-
cannon Irish Whiskey was enthusiastically
embraced by both on- and off-premise ac-
counts during the 2012 launch, says James
Park, VP of sales for The Wine Group
Spirits, which markets the brand. Concan-
non may be a new name but also embodies
four generations of family heritage. Park
expects sales to double in 2013.
With a passion for the past and opti-
mism for the future, the last thing these
Irish producers require is luck. New ex-
pressions are growing the category both
up and out, exciting sophisticated whiskey
lovers with single malts and specialty fin-
ishes that challenge Scotch malt whisky,
while soft, sweet, drinkable blended Irish
whiskies appeal to converts from vodka,
beer and bourbon.
In addition to quality, however, Irish
whiskey may have one thing going for
it above all else—just being Irish. Says
O’Leary: “I’m Irish, and like a lot of Irish-
Americans, that makes these whiskies an
important part of my heritage and a mat-
ter or personal pride.”
Pennsylvania-based writer Jeffery Lindenmuth is
a consumer of fine drink for reasons personal and
professional. His writing on food and drink has
appeared widely in print and online.
As the popularity and diversity of Irish
whiskey continue to grow, here are some top
picks, with points of distinction to help make
the right recommendation.
Top shoTs and ClassiC pours
Pernod Ricard USA; $22
Triple-distilled and renowned for smoothness, the
Irish category leader is the go-to pour for shots
and everyday enjoyment, earning the youth vote
for its unmatched name recognition.
Tullamore dew original
William Grant & Sons; $21
The second largest Irish whiskey in the world,
Tullamore D.E.W. is triple distilled, and uses all
three types of Irish whiskeys; the pot still, malt
and grain whiskies.
Bushmills BlaCk Bush
Matured for up to seven years in a combination
of sherry casks and bourbon barrels, a generous
80% malt whiskey makes this premium blend a
top shelf classic.
BourBon lovers’ FavoriTes
Jameson seleCT reserve BlaCk Barrel
Pernod Ricard USA.; $32
A high proportion of pot still whiskey with
small-batch grain whiskey, demand is soaring
for this newcomer aged in bourbon barrels and
sherry casks. Like bourbon, this whiskey uses
greenore 8 year old single grain
Beam Inc.; $45
Smooth and mellow, this Irish whiskey is made
predominantly from corn and aged for a minimum
of eight years in ex-bourbon barrels, imparting
the abundant oak and vanilla notes familiar to
miChael Collins Blended
Sidney Frank Importing Co.; $24
A smooth yet flavorful blend, this whiskey
includes double-distilled malt whiskey aged four
to 12 years in small bourbon-seasoned casks.
Bushmills 21-year old single malT
This rare malt spends a minimum of 19 years in
Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, followed by
two years in Madeira-infused casks, delivering
dark chocolate and raisin notes.
Concannon Irish Whiskey; $25
Intrinsically connecting this whiskey to its name-
sake winery, barrels previously used for Petite
Sirah are used for aging along with bourbon bar-
rels; the makers call this “the Concannon effect,”
imparting extra fruity notes.
Connemara peaTed single malT
Beam Inc.; $42
Double-distilled using peat-dried malted barley
and aged in ex-bourbon barrels, this full and
rounded whiskey, balancing fruit and smoke
flavors, will win fans among discerning Scotch
redBreasT 15 year old
Pernod Ricard USA; $74
Like all Redbreast, this exquisite whiskey is pure
pot still, a rarity crafted with both malted and
unmalted barley. In addition, it is aged in bourbon
and sherry casks and non-chill filtered.
TyrConnell 10 year old sherry Cask
Beam Inc.; $74
One of a collection of specialty finishes (the oth-
ers being Madeira and Port), this rich and creamy
single-malt layers grape and berry fruit over
sweet vanilla, caramel and dried fruits.
Beam Inc.; $24
Double-distilled in the oldest operating pot stills at
the world’s oldest licensed distillery, this relative
newcomer combines real heritage and great taste.
Beam Inc.; $20
A four-years-aged blended Irish whiskey, 2
Gingers was inspired by the red-headed mother
and aunt of founder Kieran Folliard, who is now
looking to take its cult-like devotion national.
powers gold laBel
Pernod Ricard USA; $22
With a substantial pot still component, this full-
flavored Irish blend is a true classic and sleeper
hit, now that savvy bartenders have discovered
the difference in its long, honeyed finish.
Bushmills irish honey
Ireland hops aboard the honey trend, a natural
partner for sweet and gentle flavors of Irish
whiskey. And one that may put Bushmills back on
the lips of consumers.
William Grant & Sons; $25
This sweetened Irish spirit is not technically
whiskey, but The Knot is a hearty 100 proof,
embracing the high-proof trend among young
male consumers and targeting shot glasses.
Prices listed are SRP and may vary by market