Aidy’s drinks cabinet: Seven Irish whiskies for the end of summer

·5-min read
Sláinte! Aidy Smith is a huge Irish whiskey fan  (Aidy Smith)
Sláinte! Aidy Smith is a huge Irish whiskey fan (Aidy Smith)

Something about late summer has always given me a hankering for Irish whiskey. Perhaps it’s the higher concentration of orchard fruits like apple, pear and nectarine that I always associate with this dram, or its ability to so easily just sit with some ginger ale and ice in the last of the sunshine.

It’s hard to think that only a few decades ago, this wonderful stuff almost became extinct, but over the past few years things have picked up and there are some truly fabulous expressions out there to explore. With that in mind, here are seven Irish whiskies that give its Scottish cousin a good run for its money. Sláinte!

Slane special edition

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Amping up the flavour of their traditional triple cask release, this limited edition uses extra virgin oak casks blended with seasoned barrels and Spanish sherry casks. The distillery itself, Slane Castle, is rather intriguing, being one of the few castles to house a distillery and each year home to 80,000 music lovers for a giant gig. So what about the taste? A fierce punch of vanilla with baking spices, red fruits and a warm lingering finish. Bottled at 45 per cent strength for that extra kiss of heat.

£36, Whisky Shop

Glendalough 7-year-old mizunara cask

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

This year I spent some one-on-one time in Ireland with Glendalough’s chief botanist, Geraldine Kavanagh, and saw first hand the precision that goes into every little detail of their award-winning gin. Taking the same quality-first mentality with their whiskey, the idea was to source the most flavourful oak in the world. This journey took them from their home in the Wicklow Mountains to the volcanic north of Japan where they were able to get their hands on the most precious oak for whiskey, mizunara. The result is vivid and powerful, with intense floral notes and dark chocolate on the nose. The palate offers even more spicy dark cocoa with orange rind, toasted brioche and an elegant gracing of sweet smoke.

£66.90, Hard to Find Whisky

Sliabh Liag “The Legendary Dark Silkie”

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Now this really is something. In the remote mountain region of Sliabh Liag, husband and wife duo James and Moira Doherty decided to follow a life long dream of opening their own distillery. My goodness was it worth it. This, their flagship and icon has won hearts and palates all across the world. This voluptuous liquid is a double distilled smoky blend of single malts and triple distilled peated single malts using soft grain whiskey. This nod to an era of historic Donegal whiskies is incredibly smooth, offering a distinct nose of fresh orchard fruits and spicy smoke. The palate develops into a sweet natural tobacco, salted caramel and warm toffee and chocolate apple before a smoked malt and hazelnut soothe into the finish. Exceptional.

£31.45, Master of Malt

Jameson Orange

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

One of the latest releases from quite possibly the most famous Irish Whiskey on the planet. Technically a spirit drink rather than a straight whiskey, owing to various legal quirks, here the triple distilled liquid of Jameson’s core release is balanced with a zesty fresh orange rind flavour. This is the perfect welcome to whiskey for those who fear they may not be into it. Well balanced with aromas of fresh orange citrus and zesty clementine peel, the palate is smooth and velvety, continuing the orange zest theme with a sweet nutty almond and hazelnut before a sweet orange finish kicks in. Mix up a simple whiskey sour, sit back, sip and savour.

£22.49, The Bottle Club

Kilbeggan

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

A sublime example of a great quality whiskey with an affordable price tag. This steal of a dram is named after Kilbeggan distillery, brought back to life by a town who invested their own money into it for 50 years after prohibition. Elegant, sweet and malty, hitting all of the right notes. This is a perfect option for those who love their highballs or a whiskey and ginger.

£22.45, The Whisky Exchange

Waterford Bally Morgan 1.2

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Waterford is not only one of the newest distilleries in Ireland, it is also completely changing the conversation of how whisky is produced. Unusually, this is an Irish whiskey with no e, as that’s is how they refer to it. Influenced in the same way wine and terroir come together, each bottle of Waterford  is the product of one particular farm. Around 100 exclusive farms submit each year, giving an array of flavour profiles with different intensities. The result is quite sensational: no release will ever be the same and they embrace that.

£68.49, The Bottle Club

Teeling 30 Year Old Single Malt

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

One of the oldest Irish whiskies on the planet. A few years ago, Teeling introduced their special Vintage Reserve Collection. You don’t very often find older vintage Irish Whiskey, so this was a welcome treat. Matured in bourbon casks before been given an additional kiss of love in ex-Sauternes wine casks, only 4,000 bottles exist. It has won numerous awards and is a triumphant example of what luxury Irish whiskey is all about. Roasted nuts, honey apples and fresh pear meet smooth apricot and peach, raisins and a whiff of snoke. The finish is lingers with dried apricots, figs and a smoked sea salt. It is, unsurprisingly, a fortune.

£800, Teeling Distillery

Aidy Smith is an award-winning drinks expert, writer, and presenter of The Three Drinkers TV Series on Amazon Prime. Follow him @Sypped