A decade ago, there were just four Irish whiskey distilleries… and that’s if you count Bushmills, which some do not, because it’s in Northern Ireland.
That tiny number has exploded in recent years, with Ireland in the midst of a distillery building boom. Nowadays, Hibernia has more than two dozen distilleries that are either newly opened or under construction.
Irish whiskey law is quite different from that of the United States. In America, there is no minimum age for whiskey, and even a straight whiskey might be only two years old. Irish law requires a whiskey to be aged a minimum of three years. But a few from the new class of Irish whiskey makers have been around long enough to start putting their own upscale releases on the shelves.
Dingle Single Malt Batch No. 4 ($70)
Dingle Distillery opened in 2012, but initially made only vodka and gin, and it took the company a few years to start making whiskey. Even so, its single malt series is already in its fourth batch, which was released this past April. It’s a cask-strength whiskey, drawn from stock aged in the distillery’s three main types of casks: ex-bourbon barrels, Sherry butts (both PX and Oloroso, in this instance), and Port pipes. Batch No. 4 is also the largest batch yet, with some 30,000 bottles (as opposed to just 2,000 for Batch 3), so it will also be the easiest whiskey from Dingle to get your hands on.
Pearse Lyons Five-Year-Old Single Malt ($79)
Although the Pearse Lyons Distillery didn’t open in Dublin’s St. James Church (yes, it’s inside a historic, deconsecrated church, complete with a churchyard cemetery) until 2017, the parent company, Alltech, had been running Louisville-made stills at the Carlow Brewing Company since November 2012. Some of the other whiskeys in the Pearse line are blends of sourced whiskey, but this expression was made entirely with its own equipment (albeit back in County Carlow) and is indicative of just how good a youngish Irish single malt can be.
Teeling Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey ($51)
When Teeling opened its Dublin distillery in 2015, it was the first distillery to operate in the city since Powers and Jameson packed up and moved to Midleton in the 1970s. The distillery began with pot still whiskey, a distinctly Irish approach noted for its smooth spiciness, made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley. The first batch was released just last year, making Teeling only the third distillery to put out its own single pot still whiskey in modern times—and it’s been releasing batches steadily ever since.