The Bottles – Irish Whiskey

Of all our bottles, Irish whiskey is the one people most often tell us to replace. It is also our most popular bottle and the fastest growing spirit category in the United States. So, as far as we’re concerned, it’s here to stay. As with Scotch, barley is the key grain behind Irish whiskey and, also like Scotch, malted grain figures centrally to the Irish whiskey making process. Along with the Irish traditionally favoring an extra distillation over their Scottish cousins, the chief difference – and we’re simplify here – is that when the Scottish embraced the more economical and pure (and often less flavorful) column still, the Irish held on for dear life to their pot stills, which produce funkier, more complicated and less economical spirit – and it was almost the death of them. Fortunately, times have changed, and Irish whiskey is making a comeback.
Today, pure pot still whiskeys such as Green Spot and Redbreast remain the truest expressions of Ireland’s distillation heritage while the more familiar brands such as Bushmills, Jameson, and Powers cut the pot still distillate with grain neutral spirit (vodka) to offer more “easy drinking” and lower cost blends. When it comes to making cocktails, we think Irish spirit soars, especially in a classic Whiskey Sour.

 

PREMIUM ($40 – $50 / 750 ml)

Some claim that to mix these whiskeys in a cocktail is tantamount to heresy. We say it’s heavenly.

 

Green Spot

Declared by whiskey expert Jim Murray to be “unquestionably one of the world’s great whiskeys,” this bottles will surely get the staunchest Scotch drinker to think twice. While it may be more difficult to track down, you will be absolutely rewarded for your efforts.

 

Redbreast 12 y.o.

This is a bold enough whiskey to stand up to any mixed drink and come out shining with notes of toasted nuts and gingerbread. Amazingly complex yet smooth. More importantly,. It makes, by far, our favorite Whiskey Sour.

 

MID-RANGE ($15 – $20 / 750 ml)

 

Powers Gold Label

Who are we to argue with the best-selling Irish whiskey in Ireland? While you won’t get the complexity of its pure pot still cousins, you will get something a bit bolder than Jameson, making Powers a great budget mixing whiskey.

As with all of our spirit reboots, these bottles represent just the beginning, and we’ll remain on the lookout for more exciting Irish whiskeys to send your way.

33 Responses to “The Bottles – Irish Whiskey”

  1. Lars
    April 15, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    So when the Redbreast website says to add a drop of water… do they literally mean “one single drop” of water?

    • April 15, 2010 at 10:44 am #

      Pretty much. It’s best to think of Redbreast as you would a Scottish single malt. For a 3 oz neat pour, about 1 tsp of distilled water (or other filtered water) helps the whiskey open up. Most purists will tell you that you can only use branch water — or the water used to make the whiskey — but that’s pretty impractical.

  2. April 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    “Hello Dave.” :) I think you missed a comma up there! Just kidding…awesome blog, and like someone else said, great photography. You are now officially at the top of my list of people I want to drink with (even though I’m a total lightweight and hardly ever drink). I say when this is all over we have an office party with you as bartender! Ok…enough cyberstalking for one night, see ya tomorrow.

    • April 16, 2010 at 7:51 am #

      Thanks, Max. Remember, drinking is like any sport — if you want to get better at it, you have to practice for hours everyday!

  3. Jim
    May 4, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    Hey twelvebottles,

    It’s Jim, whom you might remember from such international weddings as “Lars and Aimz: Italy, 2006″. While I only post on 3LP about once every six months, I check the site ever day. I’m really glad I came across this link, as it led me to trying – and really, really enjoying – a glass of Redbreast over the weekend.

    I’ve enjoyed a variety of different Scottish and Irish whiskies over the past 15 years, so I was surprised that I never heard of Redbreast. Reading your post made me eager to try this, so when we found ourselves in a place known for its single malt varieties, I asked for Redbreast on the rocks. “Redbreast? That’s someone with good taste,” was the bartender’s reply.

    Holy smoothness, Batman! I oohed and aahed over how this pure flavorful whiskey glided over my tongue that I even convinced Jenn to take a sip – she usually can’t stand brown liquor, and while she didn’t completely agree with my assessment she remarked that it tasted better than other single malts she’s tried. :)

    So now, I’m planning on how I can empty my liquor cabinet of the 6 or 7 half-full single malt bottles I have so that I can make room for Redbreast. My drinking habits tend to ping-pong back and forth between Scottish whiskey and American bourbon (usually Knob Creek or Woodford) but your suggestion has my Irish eyes seeing plenty of Redbreast in my future.

    Thanks, and BTW, congrats on parenthood! We hope you and Mrs. twelvebottles are doing great.

    JW

    • May 4, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

      Wow, I guess I’ve done my work here. Glad you liked the Redbreast, Jim. Thanks for taking the time to read and, more importantly, drink (and the kudos on the kid). By the way, the best way to finish off all those malts is to drink them!

      If you want really smooth, rustle up some Midleton. Like a wine, it varies form year to year. We’ve got a 2006, and it is stupendous. For Bourbon, have you tried Buffalo Trace or Bulleit?

      I’ve got a couple of other great bottles left, so stay tuned.

  4. Lars
    May 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Not that you need me to tell you this, but dead on with the Redbreast. This Sour I’m drinking right now is the best I’ve made yet.

    Plus I love that Waz impressed a bartender by ordering it. Awesome!

    • May 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      Excellent. The other whiskeys are good, but the Redbreast shines through in ways that are sublime. Glad you enjoyed.

  5. Steve
    June 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    I wish I had read the comments before picking up a bottle of Jamison’s. I got a bit of sticker shock seeing the price of the bottle at my local Beverages & More.

    Gosh darn, now I have to drink the bottle of Jamison’s to be able to buy a bottle of Redbrest. ;)

    • June 18, 2010 at 5:17 am #

      What a horrible fate. :) The Redbreast will be worth the wait.

  6. MikeD
    September 25, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    I just discovered this site, and I have a feeling I’m going to come back early and often.

    Anyway, about a few years ago I was on a family vacation to Ireland, England and Scotland for three weeks. While we were in Dublin there was a bit of free time and I decided to go wander around and explore the city. I came across a whiskey shop. (calling it a liquor store would be an insult to the place.)

    Long story short, I was looking for a nicer bottle of whiskey or two to take back. I didn’t want to get something readily available back home, I wanted something a little harder to find. I was recommended and purchased both Redbreast, and the Green Spot. The only thing I regret, is only buying one bottle each.

    • September 25, 2010 at 11:49 am #

      Believe it or not, my discovery of both Redbreast and Green Spot was identical to yours. I love them both, but I couldn’t tell you where to get Green Spot in the States. As the cold weather moves in, expect more Redbreast posts, and we really appreciate you reading.

      For an exhaustive review of Irish Whiskies — but one which inexplicably omits Redbreast, Green Spot, and Midleton — head on over to Drink Spirits.

  7. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Redbreast is the whiskey that got me drinking whiskey.

    I had no appreciation for scotch, whiskey, or bourbon until my first sip of Redbreast.  Since that fateful day, I have been chasing that experience forever- trying taste after taste of single malt, Irish, Scotch, you name it.

    But I keep coming back to Redbreast.  It’s fantastic.

  8. Will
    September 3, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Ah folks are going to Ireland next week. Told them to pick-up as much Green Spot as they can carry.

  9. Will Wagner
    November 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    So the Green Spot I asked my folks pick up for me arrived this weekend. I have to say that the only drink I might make with this nectar is a old fashion as it lives up to the hype of being one of the best whiskeys in the world. It tastes like an orchard on a fall day with a fire burning in the distance. Totally something to drink on its own with a drop of water or a small ice cube.

    The interesting thing is that it is basically Jameson with different finishing casks and aging. Of course this makes all the difference.

    To buy Green Spot…my folks needed to go to Mitchell and Sons in Dublin Ireland and set-up a personal account. Once the account was set-up they were able to order 1/2 cases to ship to Illinois. There is a limit to how much one can have shipped but we were not told exactly what that limit was. My dad and I are planning an order once a year to keep the account up to date.

    • twelvebottles
      November 22, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Yeah, it’s pretty magical stuff. Glad that you’re enjoying.

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