St. Patrick’s Day is full of big decisions. Will you wear something green? Will you call out of work the next day? And will you sing along to the lyrics of “Erin go Bragh” when it undoubtedly plays at the bar?
But who are we kidding? The most important decision of all is which whiskey you’ll be drinking with your requisite Guinness? We reached out to 10 beverage professionals from around the country to find out the best bottles to enjoy on this iconic holiday.
“I think there are two directions you can go here. I think St. Patrick’s is as good a time as any to really appreciate how distinctive and beautiful pot-stilled Irish whiskey can be, and in this case I’d recommend Redbreast 12 Year. But that being said, there’s a also a time and a place for a shot with friends, and you can’t go wrong with Powers Gold Label.” — Ryan Lotz, Beverage Director, Traveler Street Hospitality, Boston
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“Choosing a favorite whisk(e)y is like choosing a favorite child: You shouldn’t do it. The world of Irish whiskey is such a broad and exciting category, with a lot of variation, from using specific wood to age to different distillations. If I am following my heart, which I usually do, I will be drinking a dram of Redbreast 21. A pot-still blend of malted and unmalted barley gives it tropical fruit notes that jump out of the glass, and its rich body makes it a perfect sip for St. Patrick’s Day celebration.” — Paul Taylor, Beverage Manager, Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.
“I like Power’s John Lane if you want a nicer bottle to sip on but don’t want to really put a dent in your wallet; and Teeling Small Batch for a bottle you won’t mind replacing time and time again, arguably the best Irish whiskey for the price.” — Westin Galleymore, Spirits Director, Underbelly Hospitality, Houston
“Jameson is my personal favorite. Smooth and reasonably priced, I also enjoy it because it’s usually available everywhere.” — Michell Boyd, Beverage Manager, Hampton + Hudson, Atlanta
“Green Spot from the Midleton Distillery is by far one my favorite Irish whiskeys to sip on. It’s a single pot-still produced from a blend of whiskies matured 7-10 years in a combination of new and refill bourbon casks, then finished in sherry casks. I absolutely love its notes of green apple, honeysuckle, vanilla, soft hints of clove, and its incredibly velvety texture.” — Sharon Yeung, Head Bartender, The Roosevelt Room, Austin, Texas
“For a good quality Irish whiskey that won’t cost you a whole pot of gold for St. Patty’s Day, I highly recommend Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey. Coming in at 43.2 percent ABV, this whiskey provides notes of white pepper, cinnamon, red apple, and green peppers. Also, pairs great with an Irish Stout.” — Harry Chin, Bar Director, Here’s Looking At You, Los Angeles
“Proper No. Twelve. We like to support smaller craft distilleries and really enjoy a slightly longer aging process that infuses the whiskey with some of the more sought-after qualities of new world whiskeys.” — Adrian Diersen, Beverage Operator, Holmes, Alpharetta, Ga.
“If we are drinking for quantity on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s Jameson. Inexpensive and good quality. If I’m drinking to really enjoy the whiskey, it’s Yellow Spot— it’s a reliable, well-aged blend.” — John Lindquist, General Manager, Tam O’Shanter, Los Angeles
“I’d have to say West Cork Bourbon Cask. It’s a blended Irish whiskey finished in old bourbon barrels. The balanced notes of pepper, citrus, and malt make it a pretty versatile whiskey. It is well rounded and works great in cocktails, or if you’re just taking a shot. And the price point is attractive as well.” — Will Lee, Beverage Director, Grey Ghost & Second Best, Detroit
“Powers Irish Whiskey. Everyone knows Jameson, but Powers is a beloved brand that the Irish themselves drink readily and, in my opinion, is a better quality whiskey.” — Mohammad Rahman, Bar Manager, Kata Robata, Houston