Skip to Content

15 Of The Best Irish Whiskey Brands (Taste Tested for 2024)

15 Of The Best Irish Whiskey Brands (Taste Tested for 2024)

This guide to the best Irish whiskey brands only contains whiskeys that I have enjoyed on 10+ occasions and I feel very confident recommending

As a young lad growing up in Ireland, my first encounter with Irish whiskey was memorable, but not in a good way – we bought the cheapest stuff on the shelf and it would tear at your tastebuds.

As I got older, and my palate (and wallet!) matured, I started to make a point of trying many different Irish whiskeys.

Over the years, I’ve developed a go-to collection of Irish whiskey brands that I love, and you’ll find them below. Cheers!

The best Irish whiskey brands

best irish whiskey in ireland

Now, something to keep in mind, first – every article to the best Irish whiskey brands on the web tries to convince you to click a link and buy a bottle, so they earn a commission.

In this guide, you won’t find any affiliate links – only a collection of Irish whiskeys that I know you’ll enjoy. Cheers!

1. Redbreast 12 Year

Redbreast Irish Whiskey

Taking the title of ‘Top Dog’ in our best Irish whiskey brands guide is the brilliant Redbreast 12, which is distilled at the famous Midleton Distillery in Cork.

This single pot still whiskey has been in existence for over 100 years now and, while Redbreast offers a range of styles, the 12 Year offers the best bang-for-your-buck.

Often referred to as ‘Christmas Whiskey’ because of the fruit sherry casks that it is kept in, its tasting notes include hints of marzipan, dried fruits and spices.

This is a good Irish whiskey for first timers as it’s smooth and has a very pleasant finish. I’ve finished more bottles of this than I’d care to remember!

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Spicy and fruity scents, complemented by notes of toasted wood
  • The taste: Velvety smooth, with a mix of spicy, fruity, sherry, and toasted notes
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Both first time sippers and experienced palates will appreciate Redbreast 12

2. Roe & Co.

Roe and Co

Situated inside the imposing former Guinness Power House in Dublin’s Liberties district, Roe & Co. is named after legendary 19th-century whiskey pioneer George Roe and only began distilling in 2017.

When I initially head of the launch of Ro & Co., I didn’t hold out much hope – it was launched with flashy marketing campaigns and looked like it’d be another Proper 12-type whiskey (i.e. a whole load of hype without the taste to back-it-up).

But that wasn’t the case. I first tried the 45% blended Irish whiskey, with its palate of velvety texture and sweet flavours, during a visit to the Dublin distillery and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Since then, I’ve always kept a bottle in the cupboard as it goes great in Irish whiskey cocktails (you can drink it neat too, of course!).

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Roe & Co. Distillery, Dublin
  • The smell/nose: Rich and creamy with notes of vanilla and cinnamon 
  • The taste: Hints of spice and mellow spun sugar with notes of spiced pears and vanilla
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those in search of an easy-to-drink, flavourful Irish whiskey with a medium budget

3. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

Tullamore Dew

Tullamore D.E.W is the smoothest Irish whiskey, in my opinion, and it’s always very well priced, which will suit those looking for a good Irish whiskey on a budget.

Created in 1829 and later prospering under general manager Daniel E Williams (hence D.E.W. in the name),  is the second largest selling brand of Irish whiskey globally.

That popularity makes it pretty accessible for those new to whiskey and the triple blend is known for its smooth and gentle complexity.

Expect a good body with notes of sherried peels, honey, grains and vanilla cream with a caramel and a toffee finish.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Tullamore Distillery, Offaly
  • The smell/nose: Notes of fruit, oak, vanilla and apple
  • The taste:  Sweet, fruity and spicy with a smooth finish
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those looking for a good Irish whiskey to drink straight as it’s smooth, sweet and doesn’t have a harsh finish

4. Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Bushmills Single Malt Irish Whiskey

On the wild north coast of Ireland, the Bushmills Distillery has stood proud for over 400 years and it is one of the oldest of the many whiskey distilleries in Ireland.

With water sourced from the River Bush and named after the mills that made the Barley, Bushmills is an Irish whiskey icon.

Aged in Oloroso sherry and bourbon-seasoned casks, the Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt is the pièce de résistance and it comes with a hefty price tag (Between €180/$200 and €200/$220).

With a nose of rich toffee, honey, spiced fruit notes and dark mocha, followed by a long finish, this whiskey is best-suited to those with more experience palates.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Old Bushmills Distillery, Antrim
  • The smell/nose: Honey, ripe fruit and sweet hazelnuts
  • The taste:  Raisins, dark chocolate, vanilla and toasted wood
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those with an experienced palate

5. Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Teeling Whiskey

The first new distillery in Dublin for 125 years, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery is only a stone’s throw from where the original family distillery stood.

Located in the heart of the Golden Triangle, Dublin’s historic distilling district, Teeling opened in 2015 and is part of the area’s vibrant whiskey revival.

Matured in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon casks, Teeling’s Single Grain Irish Whiskey is sweet and fairly light but packed full of flavour

Arguably some of the most popular whiskey in Ireland in recent years, it’s very drinkable and lacks any harsh finish.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Dublin
  • The smell/nose: Spicy and fruity notes collide with a sweet and sugary undertone
  • The taste:  Smooth with spice, rich berry and the notes from the red wine barrels
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those that enjoy a sweet and easy-to-sip whiskey

6. Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson

Arguably the most famous Irish whiskey on the market, Jameson has been going since 1780 and few Irish drinks, aside from Guinness, have achieved success like it.

Now, while there are many different styles of Jameson, I keep going back to the bog-standard original.

The body has notes of orchard fruits, both fresh and cooked with a little vanilla cream and the finish is medium-length with spice and honey.

Although you can of course drink it straight, this is one of several Irish whiskey brands that’s often dressed up a dash of ginger and lime (see our Jameson cocktails guide).

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Light floral fragrance with sweet and spicy wood notes
  • The taste: Expect sweet sherry, vanilla, and spicy, nutty notes
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those looking for easy-to-sip, cheap Irish whiskey brands

7. West Cork Whiskey

West Cork Whiskey

I’d argue that our next whiskey is one of the most overlooked Irish whiskey brands on the market (and one of the best value price wise!).

From a small distillery in Skibbereen, West Cork Irish Whiskey is now sold in over 70 countries.

Triple distilled and carefully crafted using the finest of local ingredients, this one is matured in bourbon casks and is a fine single malt if you can get your hands on it.

A smooth and balanced sip is on offer here with notes of citrus, nutmeg, apple and malt. There are plenty of reasons for seeking out a bottle of West Cork.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: Skibbereen, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Malt, citrus, apple and nutmeg
  • The taste:  Malt, slight citrus and cracked pepper
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those on a budget looking for a flavour-packed whiskey that’s beautifully bottled

8. Kilbeggan

Kilbeggan

Established in 1757, Kilbeggan claims to be Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery and, after battling through a painful closure in 1953, it was revived by locals 30 years later who’ve kept it going ever since.

Based in Kilbeggan in County Westmeath, their double-distilled blended whiskey features a good body with honeyed sweetness and malt while the finish is short with oaked dryness.

While you can, if you’re so inclined, add a drop of ginger or cola to it, we’d recommend drinking it neat to truly understand its nuances.

Double distilled, this is one of a handful of Irish whiskey brands that manages to deliver both a complex and approachable flavour profile, which is no mean feat!

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: Kilbeggan, Westmeath
  • The smell/nose: Caramel, vanilla and toasted wood
  • The taste:  Almond, peach, caramel and vanilla flavours
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those with some experience with Irish whiskey and who fancy a drop with plenty of history behind it

9. Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Green Spot

Arguably one of the best Irish single malt whiskey on the market, Green Spot is a tipple that’ll suit those with a more experienced palate.

This single pot is made up of pot still whiskeys that have been aged between 7 and 10 years in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks.

There was a time when this single pot still Irish whiskey was only available from Dublin grocer Mitchell’s.

Part of Mitchell’s ‘spot’ range, it’s been on sale continuously since the early 1900s but now its reach is global and thus (thankfully for us!) far more widely available.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Aromatic oils and spices with orchard fruits, barley and toasted wood
  • The taste: A full, spicy body with hints of cloves and apples
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Experienced palates that appreciate smooth and flavour-packed whiskeys

10. Powers Gold Label

Powers Gold Label

Powers Gold Label is another of the more famous Irish whiskey brands and it boasts a past that stretches back over 200 years.

First introduced in 1791 by John Power & Son, it was originally a single pot still whiskey but eventually evolved into a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys.

Matured in American oak casks, Powers Gold Label has a spicy taste with notes of cinnamon, apple and ripe pears.

The finish is short but spicy with honey lingering to the end and it goes very well in Irish cocktails.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Cinnamon, clove oil, white pepper, apples and pears
  • The taste:  Cinnamon with notes of green pepper, nutmeg, fruits, vanilla and toasted oak
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those on a budget looking for a great bang-for-your-buck whiskey

11. Slane Irish Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey

Slane Castle is often associated with epic rock concerts and the popular Slane whiskey pack’s a punch as proud as many of the area’s past performers!

The Boyne Valley’s clear water and lush soil provide a fine base for Slane’s triple casked whiskey.

Made using whiskeys drawn from oak casks, seasoned casks (which previously contained Tennessee whiskey and bourbon) and Oloroso Sherry casks, there’s a ton of flavour in their whiskey and is well worth checking out.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Slane Distillery, Meath
  • The smell/nose: Fruity with notes of caramel, toasted oak, brown spice, butterscotch and vanilla
  • The taste:  Spicy at first then sweet with caramel, vanilla and butterscotch notes
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those looking for an affordable Irish whiskey with sweet, fruity tones

12. Paddy Irish Whiskey

Paddy budget Irish whiskey

Paddy is a recent addition to our guide – this 12th position was been previously held by Yellowspot for several years.

However, I’ve found myself decidedly avoiding it in recent pub-visits, hence the switch (note: Yellowspot is still a great drop, but no longer one of my favourites).

One of the things I like most about Paddy is that it has a taste that is fairly inoffensive to novice whiskey sippers, which makes it a go-to for any occasion that warrants a bring-a-bottle-buzz.

Those with more experienced palates will find it smooth and easy to nurse. It’s also nice and affordable and widely available online and in-store.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Malty, fresh and woody with notes of spice, honey and vanilla
  • The taste: Light and crisp with notes of nuts, malt and charred wood
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Strong Irish coffees

13. Writers Tears Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Writers Tears

With an evocative name inspired by the creative thinkers and artists that defined Irish culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Writers Tears has many variations.

However, the one that I find myself returning to is their single pot still, which is matured in bourbon barrels (see Irish whiskey vs Bourbon) before being further matured in Spanish sherry casks.

I had heard from many that Writer’s Tears was ‘one you get used to with time’, but I found their single pot to be very drinkable, despite not being too-fond of whiskeys with long finishes.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Carlow
  • The smell/nose: Sweet (think toffee apples)
  • The taste:  Sweet and spicy with a light chewiness
  • A good Irish whiskey for: Those looking for a tasty whiskey at a mid-range price point (its impressive bottle makes it a good gift)

14. Knappogue Castle Whiskey

Knappogue Castle Whiskey

Named after historic Knappogue Castle (built in 1467) in County Clare, Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey is a brand of premium single malt Irish whiskey.

Triple distilled and aged in bourbon barrels for 12 years before bottling, this stuff isn’t easy to find but it’s a cracking drop if you do manage to seek it out.

I’ve found the flavour of Knappogue to be similar to a Scotch (see Scotch vs whiskey) and, at first, hard to drink. However, a drop of water makes the vanilla ‘pop’, transforming it into a more enjoyable sip.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Rich and peppery with vanilla, apple and biscuity notes
  • The taste: Fruity and spicy with a smooth finish
  • A good Irish whiskey for: Those willing to try something new (there’s mixed reviews for this one)

15. Midleton Very Rare

Midleton top shelf irish whiskey

Produced at the New Midleton Distillery east of Cork, Midleton Very Rare is matured for twelve to twenty years in ex-bourbon American Oak barrels and is one of the most expensive whiskeys regularly produced by Irish Distillers.

One of the unique things about this lesser-spotted drop is that each bottle is individually numbered and signed by the Master Distiller, and sold in an accompanying wooden display case.

Enjoy its ever-changing flavours ranging from fruity to tangy to spicy, with a very long finish.

If you’ve cash to splash (the 2023 vintage is around €250/$300 a bottle!) this a top Irish whiskey to add to even the most finely-stocked collections.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Midleton Distillery, Cork
  • The smell/nose: Notes of nectarines, ripe melon, green apple, apricot and spices
  • The taste:  Fruity, floral and creamy
  • The top Irish whiskey for: Those not afraid to splash the cash on a superb sip

16. Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

I greatly disliked the original Connemara Peated Whiskey the first time I tried it. On the second occasion, about two years later, I still disliked it… greatly.

The only reason I came around to it is thanks to a friend from the UK who buys a bottle every time he passes through Dublin Airport. It has become our ‘Sure, we’ll have a night cap’ drink and it has grown on me.

Housed in a beautiful green bottle, Connemara was inspired by the 18th-century art of drying malting barley over peat fires. It is now the only Irish Peated Single Malt Whiskey widely available.

The need-to-knows:

  • Where it’s made: The Cooley Distillery, Louth
  • The smell/nose: Peat
  • The taste:  Very peaty with smokey, sweet tones
  • The best Irish whiskey for: Those with an experience palate looking for a very non-Irish-tasting Irish whiskey

What Irish whiskey brands have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some top Irish whiskey brands from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

Related reads: Check out our guide to the tastiest Irish beers and Irish gins to Irish stouts and Irish ciders!

FAQs about the best Irish whiskeys

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is the best Irish whiskey for newbie drinkers?’ to ‘What are some good top shelf Irish whiskey drinks?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best Irish whiskey brands for newbies?

If you’re new to Irish whiskeys, Redbreast 12 Year, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Tullamore Dew are all excellent options, as they’re less severe tasting.

What is a good Irish whiskey to give as a gift?

Certain Irish whiskeys make great gifts. If you’re looking for a mid-range bottle, you can’t go wrong with Redbreast 12. If you have cash to splash try Midleton Very Rare.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lindsay Graham

Thursday 16th of November 2023

A thorough investigation and look into some great Irish whiskeys. I personally love Tullamore DEW, but they are all good. Cheers

Gary Charleville

Tuesday 14th of November 2023

Wow what a wealth of choices. I've been sipping Tullamore for about 5 years. I received a 12 year old version as a gift 2 years ago. Not sure my palate could discern anything above that! Loved the information. For now the 12 year old is my favorite although I'm partial to 12 year Gibson's Canadian as well. Cheers.

Sarah Kathman

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Red Breast 12 is our favorite! We loved The Busker, but we canโ€™t buy it here in the Dallas area.๐Ÿ˜•. We also really love Teeling! I would suggest Ides & Still. Great price & smooth going down! I really like Jameson Stout. It has a slight chocolate taste! BUT in the decanter for more convenient & frequent use my โ€œgo toโ€ is Jameson!

Slainte!

(From a lady who grew up in a VERY dry household!๐Ÿ˜‰)

Bernard Delaney

Wednesday 13th of September 2023

After a lifetime of whiskey drinking I have gone back to the old reliable Paddy. Paddy is a mellow, smooth and soft blend particularly suited to the older palate!

Graham Patrick

Saturday 17th of June 2023

For special occasions.. 'John Jameson and Son 12 Year Old Liqueur Dublin Whiskey' is a cracker, if you can still find it.. Ordinarily, 'Paddy's' is unbeatable..

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.