A resurgence in Irish whiskey is seeing the traditional light and fruity style complemented by a dramatic range of styles and premium expressions. The number of distilleries producing and selling Irish whiskey has ballooned from four in 2013 to more than 40 today, making this one of the fastest growing spirits categories in the world.
The industry is still largely focused on whiskies blended to create a house style, such as the popular expressions made by Bushmills, Jameson and Tullamore Dew. These brands rely on consistency of the production process to produce a dependable — and overwhelmingly popular — style to deliver to consumers.
But there’s growing interest in exploring the fringes of what is possible by experimenting with production methods, notably different oak barrels for aging and finishing whiskies. As a result, liquor stores now feature a wide range of Irish whiskey with different age statements and barrel finishes.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style or just wish to check-in on recent evolutions in Irish whiskey, here are three expressive bottles to watch for.
Busker Triple Cask Irish Whiskey
Produced by Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow, Busker uses a mix of single grain, single malt and pot still whiskies that are matured in barrels that were used to age bourbon, sherry and marsala wine to produce this honeyed and spicy spirit. Great for cocktails, including the Irish Godfather, which calls for Irish whiskey with a splash of amaretto (a 2:1 ratio works nicely as well) served on the rocks. ($37.95 in Ontario, $36.99 ($34.49 until March 31) in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $40.99 in Saskatchewan, $28.49 in Manitoba, $37.50 in Quebec, $37.99 ($31.99 until March 31) in New Brunwick, $36.99 in Nova Scotia, $37.98 in Newfoundland.
Kinahan’s Kasc M Irish Malt Whiskey
Kinahan uses specially made barrels constructed from five different types of wood, oak from France, Hungary, Portugal and United States and chestnut. Each hybrid barrel has a mixture of staves, which results in complex and rich flavours. The fruity nature of the spirit gains depth and spicy character from the barrel aging. Enjoy neat or with some water to increase the complexity and aroma. ($79.95 in Ontario)
Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey
A modern take on the historic recipe for Irish whiskey, this blend of triple distilled, single pot still and single malt whiskeys results in an easy-to-appreciate spirit with appealing honey and fruity notes. This is a flavourful style that’s suited to sipping neat. ($54.95 ($49.95 until March 26) in Ontario, $71.99 ($68.99 until March 31) in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $76.99 in Saskatchewan, $56.49 in Manitoba, $55.99 in New Brunswick, $53.99 in Nova Scotia, $55.99 in Prince Edward Island.)
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.