Put down your pilsner of green beer this St. Patrick’s Day and discover the rich, smooth flavors of Irish whiskey. Ashley Danford, from the blog “The Whiskey Women,” describes Irish whiskey as light. “Irish whiskeys are definitely not as strong or peaty as Scotch or Bourbon, but they boast such great flavor and a rich heritage. You can never get bored with either the drink or the history.”
THE ART OF TASTING WHISKEY
St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to experiment with whiskey. Mike Sedor, Andy’s Liquor general manager, and Ari Kolas, whiskey aficionado from Apollo Liquor, have lots of Irish whiskeys to choose from. They can help you find the perfect Irish whiskey in the price range that fits your budget. But, if sipping straight whiskey sounds daunting, try mixing it with cream, coffee, chocolate or all three.
For those who are intimidated by whiskey, tasting whiskey is similar to tasting wine. The first step is called nosing. Bring the rim of your whiskey glass to your nose and sniff with your mouth open. If you leave your mouth closed you’ll get an intense alcohol smell they may burn your nose. Then pour the whiskey slowly onto your tongue and taste it. Sedor says, “Good whiskey has a creaminess and layers on your tongue giving it a smooth, long finish, but other whiskeys may burn all the way down.”
A safe bet is Jameson Irish whiskey. It’s the number one seller of whiskeys. “It holds about 80 percent of the market share and is recognized from New York to Alaska,” says Sedor. However, Andy’s has a little over 50 different Irish whiskeys ranging from $17.99 per bottle to $260 per bottle which makes it nearly impossible to choose. That’s why Andy’s is expanding their tasting room. They hope to have their new tasting room ready by St. Patrick’s Day to provide guests with the ultimate whiskey tasting experience.
Apollo Liquor is hosting an Irish whiskey tasting for St. Patrick’s Day, featuring Jameson Caskmates Castle, Clontarf Whiskey and Knappogue Castle 12. The tasting will be held at the Cambria Gallery located downtown on Broadway Street from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on March 3.
THE SCIENCE OF AGING WHISKEY
Kolas says, “The Jameson Caskmates, a special in the Jameson release, is the original Jameson Irish whiskey aged the last six to 12 months in beer barrels. Jameson itself is a smooth tasting whiskey, and the beer barrels make it richer in color with a chocolatey, nutty flavor. It’s a unique twist adding whiskey to beer barrels.” The Jameson Caskmates is about $29.99 per 750ml bottle.
Knappogue Castle 12-year-old is from a smaller distillery in Ireland. It’s a pale, straw-colored whiskey with the aroma of malt with a hint of spice. This whiskey spent extra time in the barrel giving it a richer taste. At first sip, or entry, Knappogue tastes slightly astringent. Then, mid-palate it has an oaky vanilla taste with a clean finish. Kolas says, “This is a unique and very rare Irish whiskey. It’s aged in oak barrels for 12 years and has a rich taste.”
If sipping Irish whiskey neat or on the rocks isn’t your thing, whip up a batch of Irish Cream.
IRISH CREAM RECIPE
- •1 can (14 oz.) of sweetened condensed milk
- •1 cup half and half
- •1 2/3 cup Irish Whiskey
- •2 Tbsp. Chocolate Syrup
- •2 tsp. instant coffee
- •1 tsp. vanilla extract
- •1 tsp. almond extract
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Store in the refrigerator. Serve on the rocks. Yields about four cups.
For more information on whiskey tastings visit andysliquor.com or apollowineandspirits.com.
Nicole L. Czarnomski is a freelance writer.