Paddy Old Irish Whiskey Review

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By Richard Thomas

Rating: C+

Paddy Old Irish Whiskey

Paddy Old Irish Whiskey
(Credit: Irish Distillers)

Paddy is another example of a whiskey that is well-known in Ireland, but uncommon just about anywhere else. Just as with Powers, whenever I enter an Irish pub and see a bottle of Paddy Old Irish Whiskey on the shelf, I know I’m in a place that takes its Irishness more seriously than as just a matter of decor and having a Guinness tap.

Paddy Old Irish started life as a generic whiskey from the Cork Distilleries Company, which traces its roots back to 1779. More than a century later, that company hired one Patrick J. O’Flaherty as a traveling salesman, who was so good that his name became synonymous with the wares he peddled. Depending on which version of the story you believe, the distillery either honored their top salesman or bowed to marketing reality by renaming their signature whiskey “Paddy” in 1912.

Being from Cork, Paddy is part of the Catholic wing of the Irish whiskey family, although such distinctions mean little in the modern era of drinks conglomerates. The whiskey business is increasingly both consolidated and international in nature, and at one point, every distillery both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland was owned by the same company, Pernod Ricard.

The Whiskey
How Paddy is made makes it distinctive from the mainstream of Irish whiskey. While Paddy is triple distilled just like all other Hibernian whiskey, Paddy’s blend uses an unusually high proportion of malt whiskey. Irish whiskey-makers favor an emphasis on pot still whiskey, and only a few examples of mostly-malt or all-malt Irish whiskeys are on the market today.

I’ve always felt that Paddy’s bottling makes the whiskey look like a cheaper product than it actually is, because the labeling style is outmoded without looking old fashioned. Don’t let that deceive you, however, since Paddy Old Irish Whiskey is thoroughly middle of the road stuff. The whiskey has a pale straw-gold coloring, and is bottled at 40 % alcohol. The whiskey is aged for up to seven years, although it comes with no aging statement.

By Irish whiskey standards, Paddy has a light and smooth character. The whiskey is very easy going, and while a whiskey aficionado might find it unsophisticated, its simple virtues make it very approachable for casual drinkers and enjoyable for just about anyone. The nose is grainy in a honey-nut style, and has an oily, aromatic quality that make this aspect of the whiskey just about the heaviest thing about it. On the palate, it is a mellow, soft whiskey, distinctively malty and with hints of toffee and vanilla. The finish continues that flavor, running to soft and sweet before ending on a decidedly woody, dry note.

The Price
Paddy Old Irish did not enter regular distribution in the United States until 2012, so it is still a relatively rare bird there. Even so, it is very reasonably priced, so expect it to cost between $25 and $32 a bottle. That price tag is actually (and surprisingly) somewhat cheaper than what it costs in Europe, after you convert the currency. In the UK, Paddy goes for about £20, and on the Continent about 24 or 25 euros is the norm.

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12 comments

  1. I was admittedly somewhat surprised when Paddy’s popped up in the US. I was gifted a bottle of this whiskey from a friend upon return from Ireland almost 20 years ago, and to be honest, I didn’t think it was worth the trip.

    It was supposed to be (according to my friend) a vastly superior drink to the Irish Whiskey I was more familiar with (Bushmills, Jameson), but didn’t find it to be so.

    I’d have to agree with your rating in that C+ means “average” though I might have tilted it slightly closer to C or maybe a C-. Even though it is far easier for me to get a bottle of it now than it was then… I can’t see me reaching for it any time soon.

  2. i see and hear of much fewer ‘average’ to negative comments/reviews of Paddy. true, i wasn’t impressed with my bottle i got in the Shannon airport in 2003….but then, i had yet to jump into the serious whisk(e)y world…first came bourbon….then rye….a foray into scotch (i’ll return), but in this past year, i’ve given Irish whiskies another try….rye is still my favorite version of any distilled spirit, but i must say, Paddy is, for the price point (and just now available in Pennsylvania….and this month, on sale for $24.99 1.5L!), a massive bargain….very smooth…subtle depth…much much better than Bushmills….right up there with Tully and, yes, yes, gulp, yes, Jameson. i do think Tully 10 is really a more exquisite bargain, but Paddy is spot on as it hits the palate. it has definitely ruined my cyclocross season……. 😉 cheers/slante

  3. i’m a novice whiskey drinker who prefers a “light” or “smooth” easy drinking whiskey. i just picked up a bottle in AP for $20 and must agree that this review is spot on. nothing special but nothing off-putting either. my after work drink is usually a Tullamore in the rocks but Paddy’s might find itself in regular rotation.

  4. I just found a bottle on the clearance shelf at my local Ralph’s Supermarket for only $9.99 U.S. I grabbed it fast, and am looking forward to trying it soon.

    • I just found the same thing (same price at Ralph’s). Here it is four years later. I hope to try it soon.

  5. @ Arthur — now that was a real steal! Enjoy.

  6. Admittedly, not the most complex Whiskey in the world, but then, not intended to be either. If it can be had for a reasonable price in your location, then it certainly deserves a spot in your cabinet. For me, it is the Irish analogue of Seagrams 7. It is drinkable on its own or however you might serve it. It makes a fine whiskey drink (try it in an old fashioned) and isn’t likely to offend with coke, ginger ale or seven-up.
    If it seems I am damning with faint praise, it isn’t intentional, but it’s relative rarity Stateside shouldn’t be confused with any kind of ultra-premium status. I imagine this is the type of whiskey that most drank when most drank Irish Whiskey, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  7. I have a bottle of Paddy that I picked up in Ireland in 1979 while there on a high school graduation trip.
    Got it back home and tucked away, and it’s been with me ever since. Obviously a lot of sentimental value there, as it’s survived to marriages and the births of three children. It’s a running joke in the family that whatever special occasion it will take to uncap it oughta be a doozy, if it’s lasted this long.
    Honestly, I’d no idea what to expect out of the flavor. I don’t drink a lot, but I generally prefer the good stuff when I do. At least good as in within my price range. I’ve recently been on a Blanton’s binge, so I’m not expecting this to be on that par, but I expect it should be food enough…. if I can ever find a reason to open it.
    Maybe for my funeral….. 0_o

    • I love that story.

      You might just have some Old Jameson Distillery whiskey there too. Paddy was one of the brands that became part of Irish Distillers, which moved from Dublin to Midleton in 1975. Since the whiskey in a bottle of Paddy’s is at least three years old, the odds are good that some of it came from Old Jameson.

  8. Dear Sirs,
    I recently inherited a bottle of Paddys and I wonder if there is any way of dating it. Your help would be appreciated. I was also watching a super black and white film “on the waterfront” with Marlon Brando,Lee J Cobb and Rod Steiger. A mafia dockside film. On the table was a bottle of Paddys so that would have been in America in about 1945.
    Regards
    John Hall

  9. Just picked up a bottle of Paddy at the local store here in Iowa. Regular price was $18, on sale for $10. Will be stocking up at that price!

  10. It’s horrible..

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