9 Outstanding Irish Whiskeys For Beginners


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Dating back as far as the 12th century, with some recipes passed down for generations, Ireland has produced some of the world’s finest whiskeys in history. The best Irish whiskeys for beginners are packed with rich flavours of fruits, vanilla, spices and smooth wood.

On your quest to move from whiskey enthusiast to connoisseur, these popular Irish whiskeys should be perfect for your initial steps into the vibrant universe of Irish whiskey. But first, let’s clear up a small matter of spelling;

Whiskey vs Whisky?

Whiskey spelt with an “e” (plural “whiskeys”) is produced in Ireland and the USA. Whisky spelt without the “e” (plural “whiskies”) is produced in Scotland (such as Johnnie Walker whisky), England, Wales, Canada, and Japan.

What Makes An Authentic Irish Whiskey?

The Irish Whiskey Act states that Irish whiskey must be distilled and then barrel-aged for a minimum of 3 years and reach maturity in Ireland. Additionally, Irish whiskey needs to be distilled either 2 or 3 times and be no stronger than 94.8% ABV.

Best Irish Whiskeys For Beginners

I‘ve selected 9 of the best Irish whiskeys for beginners to ensure that when you first try an Irish whiskey, it will be a love affair to last a lifetime.

1. Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey

Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey
Credit: Jameson

Overview

  • Distiller: Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard)
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Gold

Review

The Jameson distillery was founded in 1780 in Dublin by John Jameson, a Freemason and lawyer. The Jameson Distillery has won several Gold and Double Gold awards for its whiskeys at the World Spirit Championships. 

Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey is blended from two unique Irish whiskeys. The first is a rare grain whiskey that has been matured in oak barrels for 3 years. 

The second is a pot still whiskey made from malted and un-malted barley and matured in sherry casks. The two spirits are blended to create a full-bodied whiskey with depth (source).

On The Nose

A creamy toffee fudge and rich butterscotch aroma.

On The Palate

A light nutty opening with rich fruits. Delicate spices and sweet vanilla mid-palate lead to a smooth and gently smoked oak finish.

Best Served

I recommend that Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey can be enjoyed neat and is perfect for an Old Fashioned or a Whiskey Sour.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Redbreast 12-Year Whiskey

Redbreast 12 Year Whiskey
Credit: Redbreast

Overview

  • Distiller: Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard)
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

Redbreast Whiskey is one of only a few single-pot still whiskeys being produced today. The Redbreast brand name was first used in 1912, with the distillery relaunching Redbreast in 1991 with a unique single-pot still whiskey. 

Redbreast 12 Year Whiskey uses malted and un-malted barley for their mash. They then distil it with a single pot still to lock in the rich flavours. The whiskey is then matured in Oloroso sherry and American Oak bourbon casks for 12 years, resulting in an easy, distinctive Irish whiskey (source).

On The Nose

Light vanilla, spice, and toasted woody notes on the nose

On The Palate

Your palate is treated to a full and complex flavour of fruity sherry notes and spice with a hint of nuts and toasted wood.

Best Served

Redbreast 12-Year Whiskey is best served neat on the rocks. Try adding a small splash of water to release more of the aroma.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Teeling Small Batch Whiskey

Teeling Small Batch Whiskey
Credit: Teeling

Overview

  • Distiller: Teeling Distillery
  • ABV: 46% (92 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Teeling Distilleries was the first new whiskey distillery to open in Ireland in the last 40 years. Wanting to create their own style of Irish whiskey, the Teeling brothers Stephen and Jack launched their distillery in 2015. 

Casks of the finest grain and malt whiskeys matured in ex-bourbon casks are hand-selected for Teeling Small Batch Whiskey. The whiskeys are blended and poured into rum casks from Central America and aged for 12 months (source).

On The Nose

The aroma of vanilla, fruits and spice with hints of sweet rum that I really enjoyed.

On The Palate

A semi-sweet caramel opening, rum-like middle of dried fruits, and the soft spiciness of cinnamon and charred wood on the finish.

Best Served

Teeling Small Batch Whiskey is ideal for sipping neat, added to a delicious Irish Coffee, or enjoying it with freshly pressed apple juice for a summer cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Green Spot Irish Whiskey
Credit: Green Spot

Overview

  • Distiller: Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard)
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Amber

Review

In 1887 the Mitchell family entered into whiskey bonding (bottled under regulation). They sent used Sherry and Port casks by horse carriage to be filled with Jameson’s pot still whiskeys. This was the base of their bonded whiskeys, which created a unique whiskey flavour experience. 

A blend of 7 to 10-year-old single-pot stilled whiskeys matured in refill bourbon and Sherry casks to draw in the added flavours. Green Spot Irish Whiskey is only produced in small batches of 6000 bottles per year (source).

On The Nose

Apple flesh and skin, mild spice, hints of barley and oak.

On The Palate

Ripe green apples and cloves upfront, toasted woody mid-palate and a slight barley bitterness (a little too bitter for me personally) on the finish.

Best Served

Green Spot Irish Whiskey is best served with soda water and a slice of crisp apple.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Sexton Single Malt Whiskey

Sexton Single Malt Whiskey
Credit: Sexton

Overview

  • Distiller: Proximo
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Sexton Single Malt whiskey is created by Master Distiller Alex Thomas, a passionate whiskey distiller. Her unique touch and the use of only the best ingredients have made this flavorful Irish whiskey.

Only unpeated Irish malt is used in the mash to bring out the pure malt flavour. Triple distilled in copper pot stills for overall smoothness. The spirit is then aged in Oloroso sherry casks from Spain (source).

On The Nose

Nutty marzipan mixed with dark chocolate and a touch of spiciness on the nose.

On The Palate

Sweet dark fruits, spice, and honeyed malt please the palate and it benefits from a pleasant woody finish.

Best Served

Sexton Single Malt whiskey is best enjoyed neat on the rocks or served long with ginger ale and a slice of lemon.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Bushmills 10 Year Single Malt Whiskey

Bushmills 10 Year Single Malt Whiskey
Credit: Bushmills

Overview

  • Distiller: Casa Cuervo
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

Bushmills is named after the mills that were abundant on the hills of Northern Ireland. It is the oldest licensed distillery globally and produced its first bottle of pure malt whiskey more than 400 years ago (source).

This single malt whiskey is made using pure Irish unpeated malted barley. Triple distilled, left to rest, and mature in hand-chosen bourbon barrels and aged Sherry casks for 10 years.

On The Nose

Fresh citrus, floral notes, hints of honey, vanilla and chocolate reminds me of a Japanese whisky.

On The Palate

Upfront vanilla and floral notes push through onto cocoa and charred oak mid-palate. The finish is smooth with a honey twang.

Best Served

Bushmills 10 Year Single Malt Whiskey is best enjoyed neat with ice. As per my How To Taste Whiskey Guide, try a splash of water to open up the aromas.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Slane Irish Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey
Credit: Slane

Overview

  • Distiller: Slane Distillery
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Gold

Review

Nestled in the wild countryside and named after the town it is located in, Slane distilleries is a modern distillery surrounded by innovation. Focused on biodiversity, renewable energy, and becoming carbon neutral, it produces some of the finest Irish whiskey.

Slane Irish Whiskey is made by blending the finest mature malt and toasted grain whiskeys as one. The whiskeys have matured in ex-American whiskey barrels, Virgin oak, and Oloroso Sherry casks resulting in a smooth but complex Irish whiskey (source).

On The Nose

Hints of caramel, butterscotch, ginger, and rich, fruity aromas

On The Palate

Lots of upfront spice which I loved, sweet butterscotch and caramel mid-palate with a flavoursome finish of dried fruits, wood and a touch of burnt sugar.

Best Served

Enjoy Slane Irish Whiskey neat or with ginger ale and a slice of sweet orange.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

8. Roe & Co Blended Whiskey

Roe & Co Blended Whiskey
Credit: Roe & Co

Overview

  • Distiller: Diageo
  • ABV: 45% (90 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Roe & Co Blended Irish Whiskey was launched in memory of the golden era of the George Roe distillery that closed in 1926. The only remaining remnants of the old distillery are a pear tree and windmill tower, which both stand proud at their Guinness Brewery. 

The finest stocks of Irish single malt and grain whiskeys are hand-selected, blended, and aged in Bourbon casks that were only filled once. The result is a smooth Irish whiskey that balances fruitiness and silky creaminess.

On The Nose

Sweet pears, plum, floral notes, vanilla, gentle spices.

On The Palate

A creamy opening with notes of cinnamon-spiced pears, some plum-like notes and smooth vanilla. The finish is smooth and slightly woody which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Best Served

Roe & Co Blended Whiskey should be served neat with ice or as a tasty Old Fashioned. 

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

9. Dubliner Bourbon Cask Irish Whiskey

Dubliner Bourbon Cask Irish Whiskey
Credit: Dubliner

Overview

  • Distiller: Dubliner
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Amber Gold

Review

The Dubliner Distillery is situated in a building originally designed to be a mill in the 1700s. Still, the equipment is state of the art. The distillery uses a specific yeast strain that does not rush the fermentation process resulting in a flavoursome spirit.

Made from quality single malt and grain whiskeys that have been sourced from all over Ireland. The whiskeys are married together and then left to mature in Kentucky Bourbon white oak casks for a minimum of six years or till the whiskey is just right.

On The Nose

The nose is fragrant with ripe fruits, a whisper of pepper, and oak hints. 

On The Palate

Over ripe apples, plums and pears lead to vanilla and honey mid-palate. The finish carries pepper, spice, and soft caramel to the end.

Best Served

Enjoy Dubliner Bourbon Cask Irish Whiskey neat, or try with apple cider and a dash of Angostura bitters for something really different. 

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Andrew’s Top Pick

best Irish whiskey for beginners

Roe & Co Blended Whiskey

Roe & Co Blended Whiskey is my pick for the best Irish whiskey for beginners. The soft creamy opening soon releases cinnamon-spiced pears and lush vanilla with a woody finish. Delicious.

Conclusion

Andrew holding Roe & Co Blended Whiskey
Roe & Co whiskey smells incredible even from the bottle!

The best Irish whiskey for beginners does not need to be an expensive 25-year-old bottle from the Emerald Isle. This article has plenty of excellent choices for Irish whiskey newbies that will not break the bank.

Considering Irish whiskey is among the best in the world, you are in safe hands with most brands. Open a bottle of your choice, and relax as you savour the authentic flavour of Ireland.

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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