St Patrick’s Day on 17 March began as a day of feasting and drinking to honour the Patron Saint of Ireland. Good Christian folk could let their hair down and have a day off from Lent’s abstinence; hence, drinking and merriment are synonymous with the celebration.
We think of two great drinks when we think of St Patrick’s Day – Guinness and Irish Whiskey.
While Guinness is an easy pour from the tap at the local Irish pub, Irish whiskey is a broader church and one that rewards with exploration. St Patrick’s day presents the perfect opportunity to begin the journey of discovery.
Forget the Scots, the Irish claim whiskey as their own. The word for whiskey comes from the Irish Gaelic word ‘uisce beatha’, meaning water of life. In the late 19th century, Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit globally, and Ireland boasted 28 distilleries before it collapsed as a direct result of America’s prohibition laws.
Since the 1990s, however, Irish whiskey has been experiencing a renaissance. Just before the turn of the decade, the number of operating Irish whiskey distilleries hit a 120-year high. The 2020s is heading to be the decade of the Irish dram. The Irish Whiskey Association claims there are now 31 whiskey distilleries in Ireland when 15 years ago there were only three.
Teeling Irish Whiskey
Teeling Irish Whiskey is making waves on the global whisky judging circuit and was crowned World’s Best Whiskey at the World Whiskies Awards 2019 for its 24 year old single malt, judged the best across four categories. In 2021, it was named “World’s Best Irish Whiskey”.
Founder and managing director of Teeling, Jack Teeling says, “We are truly honoured that our Teeling Whiskeys continue to be recognised as the Best Irish whiskeys in the world. To date, we have won over 300 international awards for our whiskeys, reflecting all the hard work and dedication that goes into the production of every single bottle of Teeling Whiskey.”
James Duvnjak, Dan Murphy’s
A bottle of the award winning Teeling 24-year-old Single Malt will set you back around $650 so James Duvnjak, Category Manager – Spirits & Premix at Dan Murphy’s suggests starting with a more entry level whiskey.
The biggest selling Irish whiskey at Dan Murphy’s is Jameson’s with Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 growing in popularity.
He says that the Irish whiskies are softer than a Scotch, more versatile and will not overpower the flavour in any cocktails you might be making up.
His personal favourites, aside from the Teeling, are Bushmills and Whistler – a new entrant to the market exploring new ways of making Irish whiskey.
“I learned all that I know about whiskey from working at Dan Murphy’s. It started with one of those, ‘Come here son’ moments and they sat me down and started by teaching me the difference between a blend and a single malt,” said Duvnjak.
Oliver Maruda, The Whisky List
“The Irish Whiskey I’m drinking on St Pat’s day is the Bushmill’s 16 year old: delicious and great value – sipped on neat or with some ice. We’re also huge fans of the other Bushmill’s 10 year old and Black Bush,” said Oliver Maruda of The Whisky List.
Teeling and Redbreast are also at the top of The Whisky List’s favourites which is showcasing its seven favourites in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day:
- Green Spot
- Jameson Cask Mates
Maruda said: “Compared to a few years ago, Australians today have far greater choice in Irish whiskey. We currently list 210 unique types of Irish whiskey from 48 different Irish whiskey brands. And with the current explosion in the number of craft distilleries occurring in Ireland, it will be really exciting to watch the industry grow as they market in coming years.”
You can also check out their helpful guide on everything you need to know about Irish Whiskey, why it’s different and why it’s spelt with an extra ‘e’.
To sample a few treasures from Ireland, try Whisky Loot’s Limited Edition Irish Whiskey Pack that has just launched in celebration of St Patrick’s Day including:
- Midleton Distillery, Redbreast Lustau Edition, Cork
- Hibernia Distillers, Hyde 6 Year Old President’s Cask, West Ireland
- Kinahan’s Distillery, Kinahan’s 10 Year Old Single Malt, Dublin
Yes, Irish whiskeys are dram good right now.