Break out of the Guinness rut this St. Patrick’s Day with a slug of Irish whiskey (ideally not in the form of a car bomb)—these are the ones you'll actually want to taste. Drinks enthusiast David Wondrich, a 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. Order yourself a glass at one of the city's best Irish pubs after watching the St. Patrick's Day Parade or checking out other great events in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: See the full St. Patrick's Day in NYC guide
The best Irish whiskey
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, astorwines.com). 750ml $53.
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 67 Wine, 179 Columbus Ave at 68th St (212-724-6767, 67wine.com). 750ml $127.
“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, astorwines.com). 750ml $32.
“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, astorwines.com). 1L $30.
Wondrich favors the entry-level Powers for its richness and the ease 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, 67wine.com). 1L $45.
Powers John’s Lane
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 Astor Wine & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7500). 750ml $71.99.
“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, astorwines.com). 750ml $98.
“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, 67wine.com). 750ml $63.
“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, astorwines.com). 750ml $30.
Oenophiles will want to check out Wine 34, a wine bar and restaurant. Order a glass of wine ($12–16), or choose a bottle from the extensive list of more than 300 wines from around the world. Suds and spirit lovers will also be happy to see that Wine 34 has a draft beer and craft cocktail menu. As for food, the menu changes seasonally and focuses on fresh and local ingredients. Like any good wine bar, Wine 34 offers a customizable selection of cheese and charcuterie (one for $7, three for $16, five for $23) as well as appetizers like gulf shrimp with green peppercorn sauce ($14) and pan-seared scallops with asparagus risotto ($15). Entrees include lamb loin eye with lemon mashed potatoes and shaved Brussels sprouts ($30), grilled hangar steak with sauteed spinach, red wine sauce and truffle fries ($26) and a selection of flatbreads with toppings like prosciutto, ricotta and sweet onions ($12 for a small, $16 for a large).
Venue says: “It’s Wine thirty…four. Another place to relax and have a glass. We are proud to have received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for 2016.”