There was a time when Ireland had hundreds of distilleries,

all turning out whiskey to quench the thirst of local and distant populations (including the United States). Then two things happened. The first was World War I, which limited the grain used to make the whiskey. The second was America’s prohibition on alcohol, depriving Ireland of one of its biggest markets. The result was a landscape of shuttered and broken distilleries. Luckily all that’s changed, and Irish whiskey is back. And just in time for St. Patrick’s day, we bring you our favorites from the old country, all under $50.

Photo courtesy of Limavady

Limavady Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 46%, 92 proof); $49.99

Limavady is a single malt, single barrel Irish whiskey distilled with Irish grown barley and presented by former Bushmills master distiller Darryl McNally. While these first bottles of Limavady are sourced, McNally is planning to build his distillery outside of Belfast in a town by the same name near the original distillery site that operated from 1750 to 1910.

How Does It Taste?

McNally’s creation is complex whiskey that will please even the most discerning tastes. Expect peach and dark spices to the nose with caramel, baking spice, and apple flavors on the palate.

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Photo courtesy of Connemara

Connemara Original Peated Single Malt

Vitals: ABV 40%, 80 proof; $45

Connemara is the original peated single malt produced in Ireland and certainly the most widely available in the United States. Comprised of juice aged between four and six years, the mellow smokiness of this nicely balanced and unique Irish sipper plays a supporting role, not the lead. So if a smoky whiskey reminds you of the taste of an ashtray, Connemara might change your mind.

How Does It Taste?

Look for burned sugar, caramel, dark spices, and coffee; a dark and moody whiskey for end-of-night sipping.

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Photo courtesy of Slane

Slane Special Edition Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 45%, 90 proof; $37

Slane is a malt and grain whiskey aged in a trio of cask types: lightly charred, heavily toasted virgin oak, ex-Tennessee whiskey and bourbon barrels, plus Oloroso Sherry casks. For this limited edition, virgin oak is ramped up, resulting in a whiskey to put a smile on the face of scotch, Irish, and bourbon lovers alike at a price anyone can swallow.

How Does It Taste?

Fruitcake nose with caramel and soft ginger spice notes of burned sugar, more caramel plus fruit and baking spice, followed by a toasty, lingering finish.

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Photo courtesy of Teeling

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 46%, 92 proof; $45

While most Irish whiskeys combine grain, malt, and unmalted barley, this Teeling expression focuses only on grain distillate. From there, Teeling master blender Alex Chasko skips the expected ex-bourbon maturation in lieu of California Cabernet Sauvignon casks to strike upon something truly unique.

How Does It Taste?

Dark and deep, this whisky is full of sweet fruitiness and spice, leaving behind a long, peppery finish.

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Lost Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 40%, 80 proof; $40

In homage to the 70 million people of Irish descent worldwide, the producers of Lost wanted their Irish whiskey to embody the spirit of a wandering vagabond. Cofounder Tim Herlihy aged a combo of grain, malt, and pot still whisky in casks sourced from six continents to achieve that. He would have gone with all seven, but there’s not much oak in Antarctica.

How Does It Taste?

A tasty vagabond of a whiskey, indeed. Complex, with a myriad of flavors and a dark, spicy depth. The floral aromas and citrus are balanced by cinnamon and burnt sugar.

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Photo courtesy of Tyrconnell

The Tyrconnell Single Malt

Vitals: ABV 43%, 86 proof; $45

Named for a distillery shuttered in 1925 (called for a famous racehorse), Tyrconnell is single malt whiskey double distilled in copper pots, bringing effortless drinkability to a flavorful malt barley mash. This bright and crisp whiskey is perfect for a middle-of-the-day glass, especially outside with the sun shining.

How Does It Taste?

Beautiful straw color and hints of lemony citrus, this is a bright and crisp whiskey.

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Photo courtesy of Bushmills

Bushmills Black Bush

Vitals: ABV 40%, 80 proof; $36

Bushmills is best known as a single malt distillery, but Black Bush is a triple distilled blend of malt and grain whiskeys, aged in Oloroso Sherry casks between 8-10 years. The result is a lighter version of its age-stated single malt cousin, with a familiar dark fruitiness of malt and sherry that’s lightened up by the sweet cereal notes of the grain distillate.

How Does It Taste?

Aromas of honey, peach, and gentle spice. The taste is sweet with aforementioned dark fruit and a peppery finish flecked with hints of caramel.

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Photo courtesy of The Sexton

The Sexton Single Malt

Vitals: ABV 40%, 80 proof; $30

This oh-so-macabre Sexton single malt is triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in used sherry butts for four years. Why Macabre? How else would you describe a whiskey named after grave diggers, featuring a top-hat-wearing skeleton on the bottle. Right now you can score a limited-run Walking Dead Edition featuring the same juice in a zombie-adorned bottle.

How Does It Taste?

This easy-drinking Irish is light but flavorful with tastes of dried dark fruit, peach, nuts, and honey.

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Photo courtesy of Glendalough

Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 42%, 84 proof; $35

To make this expensive tasting whiskey at a modest price, the wizards at Glendalough (pronounced glen-da-lock) mature a single grain distillate in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. From there, Glendalough Double Barrel is finished in sweet Oloroso sherry casks for an additional six months.

How Does It Taste?

The best attributes of each barrel-style shine here, imparting extensive notes of vanilla and caramel from the ex-bourbon barrel and backed and sweet dark fruit and spices from the sherry cask.

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Photo courtesy of Kilbeggan

Kilbeggen Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Vitals: ABV 43%, 86 proof; $45

This limited-run Single Pot expression is only the second release to be distilled and matured at Kilbeggan Distillery since its restoration in 2010. What we have here is a grain combo of malted barley, raw barley, and a pinch of oats, a mash the company says harkens back to the original Kilbeggan recipes of the 19th century.

How Does It Taste?


Fruit-laden aromas of pear melon, tie together with honey and hazelnut. More fruit and citrus mingle with gentle spice on the palate, concluding with a minty note on the long, creamy finish.

Learn More About Kilbeggan
Photo courtesy of Jameson

Jameson Black Barrel

Vitals: ABV 40%, 80 proof; $37

Jameson wanted to do something different with this whiskey, and so they looked to their wood to figure out how to get more intense flavors. Their trick is in charring and then re-charring each barrel to produce intense barrel influence and heavier, more pronounced flavors.

How Does It Taste?

Aromas of chocolate and coffee, and tastes of nuts and allspice, raisin, and burnt sugar.

Learn More About Jameson Black Barrel

Clint Lanier is a professor in the English Department of New Mexico State University. He is also the co-author of Drunken History, Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America, and Craptails: the World’s Worst, Weirdest, and Most Disturbing Drinks. He has also written about spirits and travel for The Huffington Post, Fodors, Eater, and