Ireland is known for many things from beautiful countryside to amazing people through to pints of Guinness, the food and the craic.
One thing that we are also known for all over the world though is great whiskey.
The whiskey industry has been taking off lately, both at a large corporate international level and also among smaller craft distilleries in Ireland, to a point where we are starting to catch up with the Scottish across the water.
We thought we'd share some of the very best whiskeys from Ireland that you might not have heard of but that are well worth tasting.
You can buy them all in most good off licences, online at their own distilleries and they are all available at the Celtic Whiskey shop.
1. Glendalough 13-Year-Old Single Malt
This excellent whiskey from the Glendalough Distillery is matured in first-fill bourbon casks and appropriately cut to 46% using local Wicklow water. The original plan was to release this as a 12-year-old, as is traditional, but it was matured an extra year in honour of rugby great Brian O'Driscoll, a shareholder in the company. O'Driscoll wore the No.13 jersey for Ireland during his playing days.
2. Hyde 1860 Single Grain Burgundy Finish
The 1860 is a fresh and lively tasting single grain that has been finished in the finest Burgundy wine barrels.
3. Knappogue Castle 1951 Pure Pot Still
The 1951 Knappogue Castle now has a legendary status amongst Irish whiskeys. The old Tullamore Distillery closed permanently in 1954, yet some casks were liberated by various entrepreneurs for maturation. Mark Edwin Andrews was one of these people, having returned to the land of his ancestors from America to live in Knappogue Castle in County Clare.
He managed to source a number of casks from different vintages, most of these were given away as gifts or were used for personal consumption.After 36 years in casks, he released the 1951 commercially in 1987.
To this day, the 1951 vintage of Knappogue Castle is still regarded as one of the finest whiskeys ever made. It is by no means perfect but its imperfections are what makes it so interesting! Old whiskeys can be an acquired taste and are not for everyone, expect to find lots of oak and spice flavours with this.
4. Silkie Blended Irish Whiskey
Named after the mysterious Silkies, mythical sea maidens that legend says once lived off the coast of Donegal. This is the first whiskey released from the newly formed Sliadh Liag distillery. Plans are still currently in action to build the distillery in Donegal and the whiskey for Silkie was sourced elsewhere.
5. Spade and Bushel 10-Year-Old Cask Strength
The first release of whiskey from the Connacht Whiskey Company. This is a limited release of just 5,000 with each half bottle individually numbered. It's bottled at cask strength of 57.5% to ensure that it delivers the most flavour possible.
The Connacht Whiskey Company is an Irish-American enterprise and their distillery is located in Ballina, Co Mayo.
Note this is a 35cl size bottle.
6. The Quiet Man Blended Traditional Irish Whiskey
A top-quality blended whiskey from Niche Brands, who have plans to build their own distillery in Derry. The name does not come from the famous film. It is, in fact, a reference to the brand owner's father who was a bartender and was well known for not telling any tales!
7. Yellow Spot 12-Year-Old Single Pot Still
Yellow Spot was perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited new releases from Irish Distillers in recent years. This is the recreation of an old brand that once was partnered by Green Spot and Blue Spot whiskeys.
The pot still content in Yellow Spot is medium weight, similar to Green Spot but aged for at least 12 years. Interestingly it is drawn from three types of casks. Ex-bourbon and sherry casks are supplemented by some Malaga casks that previously held Pedro Ximenez wine. These PX casks add a good bit of weight, body and flavour, giving an extra dimension to the whiskey.
Yellow Spot still retains some of the signature freshness that Green Spot has but offers a definite step up in quality and complexity. It's part of Midleton Distillery's commitment to single pot still whiskey, which is garnering more and more fans around the world as they cotton on to unique qualities of the most traditional of Irish whiskey styles.
8. Celtic Cask Sé Single Malt Cask 1916
This cask came to us via the Teeling Whiskey Company and is just over 22 years old. This is a double distilled single malt but curiously, it comes from a distillery that is more famed for triple distilled malts.
It spent around four months in one of the Anima Negra red wine casks, which has added to the fruitiness and spiciness of the whiskey. Expect aromas of fig jam, dried apricots, mace, citrus and pineapple.
9. Cork Distilleries Fine Old Cork Whisky 7-Year-Old
Distilled at the North Mall Distillery in Cork City. This is a rare old whisky that was bottled at 7-years-old by M Sullivan of Easkey, Co Sligo.
10. Tipperary Watershed Single Malt
One of the two whiskeys in Tipperary's Boutique Selection. Only six first-fill bourbon casks are chosen for each batch of Watershed, carefully selected for quality by Malt Master, Stuart Nickerson. After being cut to 47% with Ballindoney water, every bottle is numbered individually.