Our 2018 Whisky of the Year proves that blends deserve to be taken seriously, and in the field of Irish whiskey, there are an array of options. From advanced aging to inventive finishes, there is enough diversity within Irish blends to fit almost any palate. Below, we highlight 19 blends that cater to single malt fans, cocktail champions, and curious sippers alike. What’s more, most of these picks register below $50 making the leap a bit easier to take.
The Artful Ascent of Irish Blends
For Pot Still and Single Malt Fans
Ideal for everyday sipping, these whiskeys allow you to appreciate the subtle flavor contributions of the different styles of Irish whiskey in the blend.
The Dubliner—90 points, $28
An easy-drinking blend of single malt and grain whiskeys brimming with blossom honey, vanilla, whole peach, butter toffee, and an uplifting floral bouquet.
J.J. Corry The Gael—90 points, $75
Fresh hay, floral blossoms, comb honey, dry spice, oak, lemons, and spices on this blend of single malt and grain. Lemon sherbet, vanilla, and pepper with a rich finish of barley sugars.
Slane—90 points, $30
A triple-cask finished blend of single malt and grain whiskeys. Blackberry and apple-toffee meet malt, vanilla, and sherry. Butterscotch, nuts, dried apple, and red berries, with a touch of leather.
The Irishman’s Founder’s Reserve—89 points, $30
A blend of single malt and single pot still whiskey brings clove, cinnamon, and star anise balanced with green apple, blossom honey, and vanilla pod.
Dublin Liberties Oak Devil—88 points, $40
A blend of bourbon cask-matured, double distilled single malt and grain boasts vanilla cream, cedar sticks, cinnamon, and banana chips, with citrus, pepper, and cardamom flavors adding to the pleasure.
Tullamore D.E.W. 15 year old Trilogy—88 points, $80
Triple distilled single malt, single pot still, and grain whiskeys receive a golden rum cask finish to yield sweet fruits, citrus, vanilla, hazelnut, and a spicy finish.
The Temple Bar Signature Blend—87 points, $40
Celebrates the blending of whiskeys in the iconic Dublin bar; sweet barley, citrus, vanilla fudge, pastel-colored macaroons, brown sugar, and a lengthy finish of buzzy spices, lemon peel, and brown sugar.
Writers Tears Copper Pot—86 points, $40
A single pot still and single malt Irish whiskey blend without grain suggests toasted spices, Quaker Oats, light citrus, green apple, fresh apricot, golden honey sweetness, and a dark vanilla aftertaste.
For Cocktails and Highballs
These wonderfully smooth and affordable blends are proven winners for building stimulating Irish cocktails. Whether you are throwing together the classic Jameson, ginger, and lime, the perfect whiskey Highball, or a more ambitious creation in your home bar.
Jameson Black Barrel—91 points, $37
Intense with aromas of toasted nuts and butterscotch. A deep-centered sweetness with caramelized sugars, dark vanilla, peppery spices, and a satisfying toasted aftertaste make this a good bourbon substitute.
The Dead Rabbit—89 points, $43
A 5 year old blend of single malt and grain finished in half-sized virgin American white oak. Delicious over ice, tasting of sweet caramel, dried peel, toasted oak, vanilla, and dark chocolate cookies.
Teeling Whiskey Small Batch—89 points, $44
Creamy rich toffee, tropical fruits, and rum and raisin. The sweetness of the initial bourbon cask meets a marriage of single malt and grain, aged in rum casks for 6 months. Its higher proof dazzles in a cocktail.
Bushmills Red Bush—87 points, $23
An ideal alternative for bourbon-based cocktails, this smacks of cinnamon, molasses, sultanas, tarte tatin, pear, caramel popcorn, vanilla, spun sugar, and sweet crème brûlée, with wood char, burnt sugar, and toffee apple on the finish.
Bushmills Black Bush—86 points, $35
The oloroso sherry cask maturation brings autumn fruits, cinnamon, cocoa, raisin, and chocolate and combines well with dark fruit, berry, and spice elements in mixed drinks.
Bushmills Original—86 points, $23
This malt-dominant blend bursts with honey, vanilla, and malty sweetness imbued with heady floral scents. The juicy palate oozes citrus flavors, well-balanced spices, and banana custard, with a touch of marmalade.
For Adventure Seekers
There are prize pickings out there, from premium whiskeys for special occasions to great value offerings on idiosyncratic Irish whiskeys that promise a fresh spin on traditional flavors through innovative finishing.
Midleton Very Rare 2017—93 points, $300
Spicy nose, with sweet barley, dried apple, sweet baklava, and rose-scented Turkish delight. Smooth and glossy, with honey, raspberry, apple, mixed peel, butterscotch, baked orange, and a spicy core.
Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition—90 points, $45
Hoppy notes, crisp grains, green apple, and pomelo. Coconut macaroons, apple, and peppery spices, and a creamy plateau of citrus, stewed fruits, and chocolate.
Prizefight—90 points, $45
This knockout whiskey stands out for its rye barrel finish, which delivers toasty notes of cinnamon bark, malt, vanilla, active spices, and a dry nuttiness.
Dublin Liberties Copper Alley—89 points, $60
The sherry finish produces a moreish, velvety whiskey with toffee aromas, raisin, and fig, with cherry, dark orange, chocolate-dipped dark berries, and wood spices.
Lambay Small Batch Blend—88 points, $35
This Cognac cask-finished blend of single malt and grain has light, airy aromas of vanilla cream, heather honey, golden syrup, flaked coconut, and tangy orange which builds to a lengthy spicy finish.