In the last few years sales of "brown spirits," especially bourbon, have been red hot. However, that comes with a (literally) steep price as we have seen many favorites become unattainable for varying lengths of time or unfortunately disappear altogether.
The only good news is that there are several whiskey categories, one being Irish Whiskey, which offers many new entries and alternatives at relatively attractive quality-to-price ratio.
Irish Whiskey is divided into three categories; blends (which are usually less expensive), single pot stills and single malts. Each has their own place and distinct flavor profile.
Teeling is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years, and in addition to their small batch whiskey they have added single malt and single grain expressions. A bit more cash outlay with the latter two, but worth trying.
Glendalough (featuring St. Kevin on the label) is a new whiskey to the States with a Double Barrel Irish Whiskey (aged in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks) and a seven-year Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Both of these taste great and are indicative of some of the innovation we are beginning to see in the Irish Whiskey category.
I'm loving the just released Dubliner Irish Whiskey. It has a rich, appley flavor with a hint of smoke that belies its modest price tag ($24.99*).
The newly released Writers Tears ($36.99*) is a blend of pot still and malt whiskey and comes from the Walsh Distillery, which also is responsible for The Irishman-branded whiskeys.
West Cork Distillers (one of only a couple of independent distillers, Teeling being another) has just introduced "The Pogues" Irish Whiskey ($29.99*). Yes, it's THAT Pogues, the famed Irish band. Holy, Shane MacGowan!
The Big Guys:
Never one to rest on their laurels Jameson continues to expand their line and push the envelope with a stout beer cask-finished product called "Caskmates" ($34.99*). I couldn't immediately identify the beer flavor when I tasted it, but this edition does add some body and mouthfeel to the normally crisp regular Jameson profile. As does the "Black Barrel" edition which features whiskey from bourbon and sherry barrels that receive an additional charring. Both are recommended.
Spare no expense:
If an easy-sipping, satisfying dram is your goal look to one of these fine examples. Truly the best of the best.
The Green Spot ($59.99*) and Yellow Spot 12-year Pot Still Whiskeys ($99.99*) are also definitely worth the tariff.
There are plenty more to choose from at every price-point. Have fun exploring the category.
*prices as of 3/11/2016 and are subject to change