If you’re looking for a unique pour to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the latest crop of Irish whiskies offers plenty of surprises. And interesting backstories stories abound, from a bottle released by a popular Irish band to a unique “single-tree” barreled whiskey.
The bottle: Jameson Irish Whiskey Caskmates Stout Edition; $30
The backstory: It’s Irish whiskey aged in craft beer barrels. The Stout Edition is available now, while a Caskmates KelSo Pale Ale Edition, in collaboration with Brooklyn’s KelSo Beer Co., is coming soon. The KelSo Edition will be in limited release around Brooklyn prior to a planned national launch.
The booze: Burnished gold in the glass, the flavor evokes a pleasing combination of beer and whiskey, accented with hops, bitter chocolate and a clove-spiced finish. It even feels slightly fizzy, like beer.
The bottle: The Pogues Irish Whiskey; $40
The backstory: Yes, the popular Irish folk rock band has released a whiskey label, inspired by their own words: “I am going where streams of whiskey are flowing.”
The booze: What’s in the bottle is made by West Cork Distillers, one of two remaining fully independent owned and operated distilleries in Ireland. A blend of 10-year-old single malt and a grain whiskey aged five to seven years, this robust pour is moderately smoky, layered with dried apricot and a mouthwatering hint of salted butterscotch.
The bottle: Writers Tears; $40
The backstory: Long a craft whiskey only available in Ireland, it’s now on U.S. shelves. The name is a tribute to Ireland’s great writers past and present, so pour a dram and break out the James Joyce.
The booze: Light and honeyed, with notes of orange peel and fresh apple, this is a mellow, easy-drinking whiskey.
The bottle: Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy; $80
The backstory: At 15 years, this is the company’s oldest release to date, and as the name suggests, everything good here comes in three. It’s a blend of three types of grain, three types of whiskey (pot still, grain and malt) and distilled three times. Most interestingly, it’s matured in three different casks that previously held various liquids—first ex-Bourbon barrels, then Oloroso sherry butts, and finally, former rum casks.
The booze: Look for tropical fruit aromatics, and a palate that combines fruit, spice and an unusual creamy, fudge-like note.
The bottle: Green Spot Château Léoville Barton; $100
The backstory: It’s Irish whiskey finished in former wine barrels. Specifically, casks from a Bordeaux winery established by native Irishman Thomas Barton in 1725, the Château Léoville Barton.
The booze: The wine influence is subtle at best. This whiskey is grassy and bright, with a baked pear note midpalate and a mildly smoky finish.
The bottle: Midleton Dair Ghaelach; $270
The backstory: Forget single barrel, this is a single-tree bottling. The whiskey, a range of 15- to 22-year-old distillates, is aged in special barrels crafted from Irish oak. These are,rarely used, as Ireland has been deforested aggressively over centuries. The barrels are made from one of just 10 trees that have been sustainably grown and harvested to make the barrels. Check the label to see the number of the tree from which your barrel was made.
The booze: Bourbon lovers will enjoy this big, flavorful whiskey with tons of peach, caramel and a warming cocoa and espresso finish. It’s overproof (58.2%), and needs a bit of water for balance, but remains complex and gorgeous.