St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. For most of us on the emerald holiday, we choose to celebrate the passing of Ireland’s patron saint by hoisting a dram in his name a good choice is one of the five new Irish whiskeys that have come out in just the last few months.
Jameson Cold Brew
If whiskey really is a stimulant, then this concoction is that much more of a pick-me-up. It takes Jameson and stirs in cold brew coffee; the cold brew part is necessary because, as some American craft distillers discovered, hot brew adds far too much bitterness to the end product. That cold brew is 100% Brazilian and Columbian Arabica beans, and the result is that a shot of Jameson Cold Brew has as much caffeine as a shot of espresso.
Kilbeggan Single Pot Still
This is an odd, but classic example of Ireland’s signature style of whiskey, mixing the mandated malted and unmalted barley with a 2.5% proportion of oats. It draws on a recipe in use at the original Kilbeggan Distillery in the late 19th Century, and the addition of the oats are said to soften what is ordinarily a robust and spicy style of whiskey. Add in that it’s made on the oldest working set of pot stills in Ireland and you’ve got a story to tell that is very Irish, while having nothing to do with pots of gold or driving off snakes.
McConnell’s Irish Whiskey
Before Prohibition, McConnell’s was one of the most popular Irish whiskey brands in America; the revived version only made it back to the U.S. in February 2020. The new McConnell’s is a creation of Conecuh Brands, the same folks who make Clyde May’s Alabama Whiskey, using stock made at the Great Northern Distillery (the second whiskey distillery created by John Teeling, that whiskey family’s patriarch). If you’re looking for the latest thing to cross the Atlantic from Ireland, this is it.
Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest
The classy choice among these latest whiskeys from Ireland is the third part of the Dair Ghaelach series, which takes some well-aged Midleton single pot still whiskey and finishes it in casks fashioned from new Irish oak. The latter is especially noteworthy in that Ireland’s mild climate doesn’t experience harsh winters, so tree growth never really stops, giving the wood a wide grain. As a barrel aging nerd can tell you (and I happen to be one), a wide wood grain increases the absorption of compounds out of the wood. Thus, this particular whiskey (made from stock ranging from 13 to 26 years old) takes that well-aged, mellow-but-spicy pot still whiskey and adds a hefty dollop of vanilla to it.
Tyrconnell 16 year old Oloroso & Moscatel Cask-Finished
This expression takes the 16 year old, Cooley-made single malt behind the Tyrconnell, finishes it in two batches and brings those batches together. What makes it so interesting is how those batches clash. Oloroso is nutty and dry, while Moscatel is a raisin-like dessert wine. Instead of a balance, what one gets is a journey, as the whiskey starts with showing you its own nature, then the Oloroso and finally the Moscatel.