Exploring Irish Single Malt Whiskey for St. Patrick’s DayBy Jake Emen
Single malt whiskey is not just found in Scotland anymore. Thanks to the growing abundance of American single malts, not to mention delicious offerings from Japan, it continues to grow in popularity around the globe. We must also not forget about the increasing availability of single malts from nontraditional locales such as Taiwan and India. Yet, there are great, undiscovered single malts being made closer to whiskey’s roots: in Ireland. Here are some of the top Irish single malts to explore.
Teeling is increasingly becoming known for its single malt selection. This includes the core Teeling Single Malt, incorporating whiskeys matured in five different types of wine casks. From there, the brand continue to showcase special edition single malts as well. The newest of the bunch is an exceedingly rare 34-year-old single malt, for which 43 total bottles were released. This follows a 24-year-old release, as well as the Revival Single Malt series; the most recent edition of which was a 15 year-old matured in bourbon barrels and then finished in muscat port casks.
The Tyrconnell 15 Year Madeira Cask Finish has just hit store shelves. This single malt first matures in bourbon barrels before finishing in Madeira casks. While Irish whiskey is associated most frequently with triple distillation, this is a double-distilled whiskey. It follows last year’s Tyrconnell 16 Year, a limited edition release matured fully in bourbon barrels. The Tyrconnell family also includes a trio of 10-year-old cask-finished single malts, showcasing Madeira, port and sherry. Not to be forgotten, The Tyrconnell itself is a no-age statement single malt as well.
The oldest licensed distillery in Ireland happens to make an entire lineup of excellent single malts, including a 10 year, 16 year and 21 year. The youngest is matured fully in bourbon barrels, the middle child is matured in a mix of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, and the big boy of the bunch is first aged for 19 years in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks before being married together for a final two years of maturation in Madeira casks.
Tullamore D.E.W. is known for its triple-blended whiskey, incorporating the three main styles of Irish whiskey production: single grain, single malt and single pot still. But recent years have brought new single malts to market, including a tandem of 14 and 18-year-old versions. The two whiskeys share the same four-cask lineage, matured in a combination of bourbon, oloroso sherry, port and Madeira casks.
Glendalough touts itself as Ireland’s first craft distillery, but like many Irish producers as of late, and other craft distilleries around the world, the company has been sourcing their whiskey releases. Single malts account for two of the three core offerings: a 7-year-old single malt and 13-year-old single malt.
New to the family this year are cask-finished versions of both. The 7-year-old has been finished in Dublin’s Black Pitts Porter craft beer casks, while the 13-year-old has been excitingly finished in Japanese Mizunara oak. This is the first Irish whiskey to be released showcasing the unique, and expensive, Japanese oak varietal.
Knappogue Castle is another sourced Irish whiskey brand, perhaps best known for its staggering 1951 vintage release. In terms of more commonplace drams, there’s a trio of single malts in their portfolio. The 16 year spends the bulk of its time in bourbon casks before moving to oloroso casks for two years. The 14 year is a marriage of whiskeys matured in both types of casks, while the 12 year matures solely in bourbon barrels.
The Sexton Single Malt was released in the U.S. at the end of 2017. You’ll spot this one on the shelf with ease due to its unique black, hexagonal bottle. As for the juice itself, it’s four year-old single malt matured in sherry butts, incorporating a combination of first, second and third use barrels. The result is a richly honeyed and nutty whiskey, and an approachable and affordable release.
Are you ready to try some Irish Single Malt Whiskey?
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