Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
“This bottle falls somewhere in between Jameson and Powers—beefier than the Jameson, it is less so than the Powers, and is quite good.” Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 750ml $22.99.
“If you like a lighter whiskey, Jameson is, of course, the classic.” Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 1L $29.99.
Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
“A recently revamped distillery hidden among the lochs of central Ireland, Kilbeggan was an old distilling site that until a few years ago lay dormant.” This crowd-pleaser—double distilled in a copper-pot still from the mid-1800s—is a first-rate introduction for novice drinkers. Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 750ml $29.99.
Paddy Irish Whiskey
“Ireland is a little weird, possessing its own way of doing things, which is certainly not the Scotch way,” explains Wondrich, describing Paddy Irish’s unique makeup. Providing a fruity, sweet finish is an atypical mix of three types of whiskey: grain (a high-proof variety made with a mix of kernels), single-malt (a style crafted with all malted barley produced in a single distillery) and pure pot still (a category based on a blend of malted and unmalted barley). Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 1L $29.99.
Powers Irish Whiskey
Wondrich favors the entry-level Powers for its richness and the ease at with which it slides down the throat: “a great bar whiskey that is also cheap.” Available at 67 Wine, 179 Columbus Ave at 68th St (212-724-6767). 1L $32.99.
Bushmills 10-year single-malt
“One of my top-five whiskeys.” An excellent bang for the buck, this deceptively light spirit hits Wondrich’s sweet spot for Irish-whiskey aging: between 10 and 15 years (as opposed to the longer-aged Scotch). Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 750ml $49.99.
Redbreast Irish Whiskey
“This is a 100 percent pure pot-still whiskey that you should try.” The pure-pot-still distilling process is found only in Ireland, and utilizes a blend of malted and unmalted barley, imparting a musky and complex flavor. Available at 67 Wine, 179 Columbus Ave at 68th St (212-724-6767). 750ml $64.99.
Powers John’s Lane
Hitting U.S. shelves just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this expressive bottle is aged for no less than 12 years in both bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts—just another name for barrels—and refined in pure pot stills. Available at Lowery Liquors, 40-14 Queens Blvd between 40th and 41st Sts, Sunnyside, Queens (718-784-2334). 750ml $69.95.
Redbreast 15-year-old Irish whiskey
“This pure pot-still whiskey is quite lovely.” Lacking the addition of grain whiskey—a hallmark of pot-still tipples—this intense quaff evokes rich, chocolaty toffee and ripe figs. Available at Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 750ml $76.99.
For a splurge, Wondrich proposes the Jameson 18—“just discussing it makes me thirsty.” The triple-distilled spirit is matured in both American bourbon barrels and European oak casks, instilling complex flavors of toffee, spice and leather, along with an underlying tone of nuttiness. “A wholly different animal than the regular Jameson, very sophisticated.” Available at Union Square Wines, 140 Fourth Ave at 13th St (212-675-8100). 750ml $134.99.
Break out of the Guinness rut this St. Patrick’s Day—with a slug of Irish whiskey—not, however, in the form of a car bomb. Drinks enthusiast David Wondrich, cocktail columnist for Esquire, ranks his favorite bottles of the Emerald Isle import. From affordable to blowout, light to rich, these selections of the best Irish whiskey offer a range of price points and flavor profiles.
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