10 Unexpected Irish Whiskies you have to try

We round up 10 Irish Whiskies that aren’t always talked about but are definitely worth seeking out!

1.Writer’s Tears Copper Pot, €45, get it here

Created by the Walsh Distilery, Writer’s Tears is a traditionally made malt that still manages to challenge the other Irish Whiskies. It is triple distilled and matured in American Oak ex-Bourbon casks. It is packed with sweet fruits and lots of interesting spices.

The palate opens with oak wood, caramel and crisp red apples to give it a bit of bite. It becomes more sugary and introduces cotton candy and boiled sweets. There are also lots of apricots, mangoes and bananas to give it a bit of depth.

2. Connemara Peated, £36.13 from here

Connemara hails from the Kilbeggan Distillery in County Louth, which was originally founded in 1757. Connemara Peated is a particularly good expression and of one of only few peated malts to come from the island.

It opens with a nose full of orchard fruits and oak wood, giving it a tangy and sweet beginning. The smoke is introduced on the palate and is soft and easy going. This is a wonderfully mellow malt that showcases all the best parts of Irish Whiskey alongside a lovely waft of peat smoke.

3. Celtic Cask NaoiDeag, €395 from here

Released by the Celtic Whiskey Shop, an award winning Whiskey retailer based in Dublin, Celtic Cask is a series of independent Whiskey bottlings. The Celtic Whiskey Shop was one of the first specialist Irish Whiskey shops in Ireland and its founder, Ally Alpine, decided to turn his hand to bottling.

This is an excellent expression in the Celtic Cask series. NaoiDeag, simply meaning Number 19 in Irish, is fruity and sweet. It is brimming with mangoes, apples, oranges, grapefruits and melons, which are sharp and juicy. It moves into sweeter notes of white chocolate and buttercream. The finish is full of fruit.

4. Burke’s 15 Year Old Cask 7866, €132 from here

Burke’s is a brand of Irish Whiskies closely related to the Teelings, having been created at the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, which is owned by John Teeling. While GND is too young to release any of its own malt, its releases of Burke’s comprised of malt from another distillery are good indicators that any future malts they make will be pretty impressive.

Burke’s 15 Year is bottled at cask strength and released with the option of four different cask numbers. This cask number, 7866, is creamy and rich, with lots of sweet sugary notes and a brimful of fruit. Apples, pears, peaches and apricots all jump out, alongside thick caramel, boiled sweets, hints of tart citrus fruits and a gentle oak spice.

5. Hyde 6 Year Old No.5 The Áras Cask, £39.95 from here

Named for Douglas Hyde, who was Ireland’s first President after they gained independence from the British, this brand from Hibernia Distillers is simply brilliant. This particular bottling has been matured in Burgundy Wine casks and has a lovely sweetness to it. it opens with lots of berries and a thick caramel sauce.

The palate is packed with pastries, cereal notes and citrus fruits, with a nod towards vanilla and oak. Simply exquisite.

6. Lambay Whiskey, €42 from here

Nestled away on the Lambay Island, just three miles off the coast of Ireland, this malt is a result of the coming together of Cognac makers the House of Camus and the Baring family, who own Lambay Island. The Irish Whiskies they create are fascinating and definitely deserve to be shouted about.

It is matured in Bourbon barrels and finished in Cognac casks. The nose opens with lots of sweet nutty flavours before moving into a citrusy tang. The palate has more of a focus on oak wood, but the sweet nuts are ever present. More fruits join the mix, with cherries and apples making an appearance.

7. Pearse Founder’s Choice 12 Year Old, €63.99 form here

Pearse Whiskey finds its home in the Pearse Lyons Distillery in the Liberties area of Dublin, in a grand old church called St. James. The brand released when the distillery opened and has been very well received. The Founder’s Choice is a 12 Year Old Single Malt with lots of fruit and earthy notes.

It opens with pine needles, floral hints and orchard fruits. apples and pears lend a crisp bite to the aromas. The palate is smooth and delicate, with lots of honey and citrus fruits. these are zesty and really liven up the body. It finishes with a hint of oak wood.

8. Retronaut 17 Year Old, €125 from here

Retronaut is the first Irish Whiskey from the Blackwater Distillery and like a lot of new Irish Whiskies, and in fact, many on this list, its contents are from all over the island. This is a common tactic from distilleries to bring in some income before their malts have fully matured.

It’s refreshing that Retronaut are admitting to this though, as many brands don’t. So their first 17 Year Old release is part of the Curated Collection and is a brilliant malt. It has been matured in ex-Bourbon casks. It is sweet and sugary, with lots of caramel and a lovely oak wood throughout.

9. Knappogue Castle Sherry Finish 16 Year Old, €89.99 from here

Named after the Knappogue Castle in County Meath, this brand is bringing some great malts to the Irish Whiskey market. Their Sherry Cask Finish 16 Year Old is a great example of what they do. This malt has been matured in ex-Bourbon barrels before being finished in Oloroso Sherry casks.

It opens with lots of spices and some oak wood to add a bit of depth. This becomes softer and sweeter on the palate. There are lots of dried fruits, with raisins, dates and apricots coming through. it has a warming finish and a lingering note of malted grains.

10. SlaneCastle Triple Casked, €33 from here

Slane Castle Distillery opened in 2017 and this Triple Casked malt is their second release. It has been on quite an international journey, having been matured in virgin oak, ex-Tennessee Whiskey barrels and finally ex-Oloroso Sherry casks. The nose opens with lots of burnt brown sugar, caramel, treacle and cinnamon spice.

There is an underlying tone of oak wood that is dripping with caramel sauce. Sherried fruits and more caramel flavours pack the palate. It is luxuriously rich and soft. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg all appear to give it real depth and sophistication.

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Tags: Irish WhiskiesUnexpected


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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