Little-known fact: Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world.
Lesser-known fact: Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in your heart.
Awww. That was cute. And it's probably half-true, too, at least for the duration of St. Patrick's Day Weekend.
Which, lest you forget, is this very weekend. So before you go dyeing your hair green, consider this trio of new(-ish) Irish whiskeys. There's something for everyone here. The Japanese whiskey lover. The Bourdeaux snob. The rye guy...
Hey, we all know a rye guy...
The Distillery: Glendalough, a newer craft distillery from County Wicklow that has a knack for finishing their whiskeys in interesting casks.
The Expression: A 13-Year Mizunara Finish Single Malt. It's the first and only Irish whiskey on the market that's been finished in Japanese mizunara, an extremely rare oak wood sourced from Japan's oldest cooperage in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in the country.
The Taste: Expect the typical creamy smoothness of a single malt with hints of apricot and peach, and what famed whiskey writer Jim Murray considers "the longest milk chocolate finish in the history of Irish whiskey."
Where to Buy: Celtic Whiskey Shop
The Distillery: Knappogue Castle. Using pure Irish spring water, malted barley and traditional copper stills, it's named after the 15th-century Irish castle the owner's father purchased and restored in the '60s.
The Expression: The 12-Year Single Malt Château Pichon Baron. In this limited release, the whiskey is aged in bourbon barrels for a minimum of 12 years before being finished in French oak casks from a renowned 19th-century Bordeaux winery. Made available late last year, only approximately 1,200 bottles exist.
The Taste: You should notice a burst of red berry notes from the Bordeaux before it settles into a more traditional vanilla finish.
Where to Buy: Ludwig's Fine Wine & Spirits
The Distillery: Kilbeggan, Ireland's oldest continually licensed distillery with one of the oldest working whiskey pot stills in the world. It was first established in 1757.
The Expression: Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye. While in the late-1800s, many large Irish distilleries used rye in their mashes (the mixture of grain, yeast and water initially fermented to produce alcohol), it all but disappeared from Irish whiskey production around American Prohibition and the Irish War of Independence. The levels of rye in this batch (30%) make it unique amongst Irish whiskeys currently on the market.
The Taste: You get the vanilla and cream but you also get the spice and everything nice. That is our official tasting note.
Where to Buy: The Wine and Cheese Place (or use the store locator)