Taste Test: Blended Irish Whiskey - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

It’s boom times for Irish whiskey, with sales increasing 140 percent between 2010 and 2020 and raking in more than $1 billion in 2020 in U.S. sales alone. It’s a popularity being driven by a hatful of new producers as well as stalwart brands releasing new expressions—and the quality is rising in step. With a spectrum of styles to explore, from single malt or grain whiskies to Ireland’s exclusive single pot still whiskey, blends can be the widest and most accessible entry point to the category. Here are six blended Irish whiskey standouts to get you started.

Roe & Co. Blended Irish Whiskey Diageo got back in the Irish whiskey game in 2017 with the launch of Roe & Co., named after the 19th-century Dublin distiller George Roe. Overseen by master blender Caroline Martin, the brand’s introductory whiskey is a sourced (for now) blend of grain and malt whiskies aged predominantly in first-fill bourbon casks. Martin collaborated with Dublin bartenders to create a blend that would stand up in cocktails. But sipped solo, the whiskey is smooth and creamy, with a balance of sweet vanilla and spice. $34.99, astorwines.com

Slane Irish Whiskey Triple Casked In a mash-up of historic-meets-modern, the Slane Distillery operates out of Slane Castle, owned by the Conyngham family since 1703. To further support the estate, the family decided to make whiskey and, with the backing of Brown-Forman, launched the brand in 2017. Their Triple Casked whiskey—initially a means of adding their own signature to sourced spirits—is a marriage of grain and malt whiskies aged in new oak, seasoned oak, and oloroso sherry casks. The harmonious blend, with notes of banana, butterscotch, and baking spice, proved so popular that it remains their flagship. $23, reservebar.com

West Cork Black Cask Launched in 2003, West Cork Distillers gets experimental with their aging process, maturing whiskies in casks that formerly held everything from Port and Calvados to IPA. Black Cask (formerly labeled Black Reserve in the U.S.) is a blend of grain and malt whiskies, aged three years in first-fill bourbon casks and finished with an additional year in heavily charred bourbon casks, resulting in sweet and slightly smoky notes of grilled apples and toasted bread with honey. $32.99, totalwine.com

Jameson Black Barrel Operating for well over two centuries, Jameson remains one of the most recognizable names in Irish whiskey, and for good reason. Black Barrel, a recent release, combines a blend of pot still and grain whiskies aged in both bourbon and sherry casks, with a portion matured in heavily charred American oak barrels (hence the name), resulting in noticeably intensified flavors of toffee, vanilla, toasted nuts, and spice. $38.99, caskers.com

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey Debuting as the first new distillery in Dublin in more than a century when it opened in 2015, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery is among the industry’s new wave of makers. Helmed by brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling, whose family whiskey history runs deep, the distillery has gained a fan base (and numerous medals) for their Small Batch whiskey. Made by blending fully aged grain and malt whiskies into rum casks from Central America, the medium-bodied whiskey takes on complementary flavors of dried fruit and honey. $39.96, astorwines.com

Writers’ Tears Double Oak Made in homage to a style that had supposedly been dubbed the “Champagne of Irish whiskey” back in the 19th century, Writers’ Tears Double Oak is a blend of single malt and single pot still whiskies. The producer, Walsh Whiskey, a relative newcomer having launched in 1999, ages the blend in both American and French oak barrels for a whiskey with notes of orchard fruit and brown sugar, balanced by smooth, toasty oak, and subtle spice. $52, reservebar.com

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