The Top 5 In Ireland’s Premium, But Affordable Whiskeys
By Richard Thomas
One of the minor paradoxes of whiskey is how a given sector might have dozens, perhaps hundreds of premium expressions on the market, but the overwhelming bulk of what gets made and sold is concentrated in a small handful of names on the mass market end of the trade. As it is with bourbon, rye, and scotch, so it is with Irish whiskey too.
Yet it is the premium end that attracts the attention, and that explains why there are so many premium names, if so little actual premium whiskey in volume terms. This is the more expensive, generally superior stuff that serious whiskey drinkers want to get on their shelves, once there to keep and savor over a lengthy stretch of time. At the same time, Irish whiskey can generally be quite expensive, so the price cap was chosen to create a selection that offered serious quality for the money.
5. Writer’s Tears ($35/€35)
These days, pot still whiskey is where the Irish whiskey buzz is at, but even blended whiskeys with elevated pot still whiskey contents, such Jameson Signature (see below) can be a little expensive. Not so with Writer’s Tears, which is all the more remarkable because it is a blend of pot still and malt whiskey, with no grain whiskey whatsoever.
4. Green Spot ($45/£35)
So you want some go-to pot still whiskey or to find out what all the pot still hullabaloo is about, and the price tag on a bottle of Redbreast 12 strikes you as just a little too much? Then Green Spot is your answer. It’s cheaper, made using pot still whiskey from the same distillery (New Midleton), and almost as good.
3. Jameson Signature ($50/€42)
Now that this expression is out of travel retail and entering general circulation, it can be considered a good Irish whiskey value buy. Jameson Signature takes the familiar Jameson blend and bends it more heavily to the pot still contribution. The result is a very tasty whiskey, but what makes it particularly special is that it comes in a 1 liter bottle as standard. Depending on what part of the world you are from, that means Jameson Signature delivers another five or six shots worth of whiskey for the money.
2. Teeling Small Batch ($30/€30/£32)
Hands down, Teeling Small Batch offers the best bargain for a premium Irish whiskey blend. Finishing in rum casks and bottling at 46% ABV made it a cut above the staple, mass market blends of Ireland. Yet while it was always a good whiskey and a good buy, prices have fallen substantially since its introduction three years ago, making it even better.
1. Redbreast 12 Year Old ($55/£40)
This pure pot still whiskey from New Midleton is the hands down favorite among enthusiasts. Not only is it the best premium Irish whiskey, but the expression sometimes appears near the top of lists for best whiskeys in general, and it is the standard bearer for the single pot still whiskey revival. If you don’t think is a Top 5 Irish whiskey, it’s probably because you haven’t tried it.