In the pantheon of party holidays, it’s tough to beat St. Patrick’s Day. Regardless of whether your ancestors were from Cork or from nowhere near the Emerald Isle, it’s hard to deny the shenanigans and revelry that occurs every year on March 17th. It’s a day of parades, corned beef and cabbage, green beer, bangers and mash, Guinness (and other stouts), and of course, Irish whiskey.
Colin Berger, bar manager at Rare Society in San Diego, loves to enjoy Irish whiskey on St. Patrick’s day (and the rest of the year), but he has a tough time picking just one.
“Growing up Irish American with significant ties to the verdant isle, I saw a lot of not great Irish whiskey throughout my younger years,” he says. “With so many fantastic offerings, both newer and centuries old, it is a tough pick for me.”
Luckily, other bartenders aren’t as picky as Berger.
Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish Irish Whiskey
“Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish is my favorite Irish whiskey to sip. It’s well-balanced and has a great mouth feel and I love the nuances pulled from the rum barrel. Tropical fruits, coconut, vanilla, and other nuanced flavors make this a great sipping whiskey.” – Quinn Moore, USBG bartender in Miami
Jameson Irish Whiskey
“My favorite Irish whiskey would be Jameson. There are so many other great Irish whiskeys but unfortunately, not many bars carry a wide variety of options. I always refer to Jameson as an old reliable. With its deep flavor, it is consistently good and my absolute go-to.” – Donny Largotta, beverage director at Gansevoort Meatpacking in New York City
Glendalough 13 Year Mizunara Finish Single Malt Whiskey
“I’m so excited Irish Whiskey has been taking off and it’s great seeing other alternatives than just Jameson. It’s a tough call but my favorite has to be Glendalough. They have a variety of expressions, but the 13-Year Single Malt Mizunara Cask takes my top spot for a good reason. It accentuates the vanilla’s smoothness with notes of orange fruit marmalades and sandalwood.” – Joe Crivolio, general manager and beverage director at Testaccio in Chicago
Powers Irish Rye Whiskey
“Powers Irish Rye is a knockout and a standout in the rye category. On the palate, it begins with a familiar sharpness you’d expect from most rye whiskeys, then takes a more malted chocolate to turn into funkier and floral territory, finishing with notes of salted honey and toasted hazelnuts. This certainly shines beautifully in stirred Manhattan variations, preferably with a more bitter, less sweet aromatized wine such as Bonal or Punt y Mes, but I think this Irish Rye plays even stronger with citrus and almond in a Cameron’s Kick cocktail.” – Brian Evans of Sunday in Brooklyn and Lobby Bar at The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey
“My favorite Irish Whiskey is Jameson Black Barrel. The double charring of the barrels results in a full-bodied spicy, nutty flavor with a bold finish. I love it on its own, but it makes a delicious old fashioned as well.” – Christopher Hamm, lead bartender at Soif Wine Lounge in Chicago
Redbreast 15 Year Old Irish Whiskey
“You can’t go wrong with a Redbreast 15 Year Old Whiskey. I love the richness of this drink, still, Whiskey that you get as soon as you smell it. It has enough texture to carry the many flavors like tobacco, honey, allspice, dark fruits, and vanilla all the way through to its extra-long finish.” – Sly Augustin, bar owner of Trailer Happiness in London
Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
“12 Year Tullamore D.E.W. It’s the first bottle I was gifted on my 21st birthday, so it became a sip I associated with accomplishments and special occasions. Matured in ex-bourn barrels, it’s known for its sippable, sweet, complex, dried fruit, chocolate, and vanilla-filled flavor profile.” – J Sypien, bartender at The Graceful Ordinary in Chicago
Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey
“Knappogue Castle 12 Year is a great option. It’s sweeter than most Irish whiskeys and has notes of sourdough bread and maple syrup. It’s my favorite because my mentor at Seven Grand San Diego introduced it to me, and it has remained a favorite.” – Maya Bentley, lead bartender at El Dorado in San Diego.
Paddy’s Irish Whiskey
“I don’t really know who’s out here sipping Irish whiskey, but maybe that’s the Scot in me? I drank a lot of Paddy’s in my day, but it was the late nights working in loud clubs with some of the toughest people this city has spit out that made it memorable, more so than the flavor.” – Kylie McCalla, bartender at Offshore Rooftop and Lírica at the Sable Hotel in Chicago
Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
“Redbreast 12 Year. It is a single pot still Irish whiskey. It is bold and balanced with mild undertones of caramel and vanilla. It is finished in bourbon and sherry casks, which leave you with a nice, round mouthfeel, then a really dry finish, wanting another sip. It is super smooth but still offers you a little ‘kick’ to remind you of its delicious potency. I like my whiskey to taste and feel like whiskey.” – Sarah Clark, bartender at The Dearborn in Chicago