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Booze banter: SB’s favourite Irish spirits

This year, St Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend – all the better for sampling some of Ireland’s best spirits.

Booze Banter Irish spirits
St Patrick’s Day isn’t exclusively for Guinness, as these Irish spirit recommendations will show you

While whiskey is where Ireland truly shines, the Emerald Isle is also producing amazing liquids in all spirits category.

Keep reading to find out which Irish spirits the SB team are hoping to find at the end of a rainbow this weekend.

Bushmills 30 Years Old

18 Bushmills 30YO Irish

“Pack for rain,” everyone said when I made my maiden voyage to Northern Ireland last year – but how wrong they were. For the few days I spent with Bushmills during the opening of its £37 million (US$46m) Causeway Distillery, the weather gods were shining bright.

One of my favourite whiskey memories to date was created during that trip: sipping a glass of 26-year-old Bushmills on the rocks of a sun-drenched Giant’s Causeway, surrounded by salty ocean air, and waves gently lapping against the legendary rock formation.

It was a stunning dram, too, befit of the spectacular setting in which we were standing. But Bushmills 30 Years Old, released during that trip as a permanent part of the core range, is etched in my memory as a truly sublime dram. Sadly, it is far beyond my price range at £1,990 (€2,000/US$2,360) a bottle. So while I’ll be wishing I had a glass in hand this St Patrick’s Day, I sadly won’t. But they say memories last a lifetime – so perhaps I’ll pour a dram of Bushmills Original – a wonderfully easy-sipping whiskey – to toast the occasion instead.

Melita Kiely, editor

Xin Gin

Xin Gin

The Irish gin sector has seen a boom in recent years with a fresh crop of distillers making world-class gins with locally-grown botanicals. I recently came across Xin Gin at a showcase of Irish distilleries held by Bord Bia at the Irish embassy in London, where County Galway’s Ahascragh Distillery was among its exhibitors. Catching my eye immediately, Xin Gin’s Asian-inspired red bottle with swirls is a delight with its flavours of orange and persimmon – and it goes brilliantly with a slab of dark chocolate too. I’ll certainly be adding Ahascragh on my list of must-visit distilleries in Ireland.

Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor

Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake Irish Cream Liqueur

Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake

Baileys needs no introduction, but the Irish cream is always appropriate whenever you’re in need of a sweet, creamy and – above all – boozy treat. The Vanilla Mint Shake Irish Cream flavour that the brand released for Paddy’s Day last year takes the indulgence levels to even greater heights and is exactly as it reads – recommended served in a milkshake (for adults), chilled on its own or over a few scoops of ice cream. It gets extra bonus points for being green, too.

Rupert Hohwieler, staff writer

Two Shores Rum – Irish Single Malt Whiskey Cask Finish

Two Shores Rum

Rum isn’t my favourite spirits category – I spent too much of my youth chugging spiced rum and coke – but Two Shores is one of the brands making me forget my past mistakes.

The brand sources its rums from Central America (as Ireland’s climate isn’t particularly well-suited to growing sugarcane) before finishing the liquids on the west coast of Ireland. Its finishes are representative of what the country does best, using former Irish whiskey casks to transform the rums into something unique. It’s a divine sipping rum, so hold the Coke, please.

Lauren Bowes, digital editor

Waterford Peated

Waterford Peated Cuvée Fumo Irish

From the terroir-obsessed mind of Mark Reynier, who revolutionised Islay Scotch with Bruichladdich, Waterford is reshaping the way we view Irish whiskey. By focusing on single estate-grown barley and questioning every step of the whiskey-making process, Reynier is doubling down on his commitment to flavour, provenance, and transparency.

All Waterford whiskeys offer a journey and a story worth discovering but the peated varieties, Fenniscourt and Cuvée Fumo specifically, tap into a facet of single malt Irish whiskey that even the most ardent Scotch lover can appreciate.

Ted Simmons, US correspondent

Shortcross Gin

Shortcross Gin

If you’re looking for a bold and punchy flavour profile that’s packed full of juniper, Shortcross Gin delivers. Created by Rademon Estate Distillery in Northern Ireland, this gin has been certified as a top-quality bottling through its Master medal win in The Gin Masters 2022.

The gin is made in small batches on a 450-litre copper pot still and two enrichment columns. Its botanical recipe includes fresh apple, elderberry, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel and cassia. With touches of floral notes to complement the fruity elements, this creates a deliciously complex G&T – because who says St Patrick’s Day is only for whiskey?

Melita Kiely, editor

Jameson Cold Brew


I’m a big coffee liqueur guy and an Irish coffee might be my favourite cocktail (though that changes regularly), so this one from Jameson is pretty much on point for me. The coffee extract is made from Colombian and Brazilian beans – 100% Fairtrade, of course – and the whiskey provides the edge. It’s strong and rich but not too bitter, or sweet, and it’s a lovely thing to drink at work in the morning as well – if you can get away with it. Highly recommended.

Rupert Hohwieler, staff writer

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin

The Shed Distillery launched Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin in 2016, and the blue, multi-ridged bottle is one of the most stunning pieces of glass in all of spirits. (Once you’ve mixed your last Negroni, the bottle makes a great vase.) And the gin is great, too, blended with oriental botanicals, Gunpowder tea, and local Irish ingredients.

There are also California Orange Citrus and Sardinian Citrus varieties, as well as a vodka made from the fruit of the sausage tree. They’re beautiful and inventive spirits packaged in glass that conveys the same.

Ted Simmons, US correspondent

Two Stacks Irish cream

Two Stacks Irish Cream

I’m a sucker for an Irish cream (it’s not just for Christmas!), and Two Stacks has gone beyond the traditional Irish cream liqueurs to offer a more complex bottling, made with four different styles of whiskey. The creamy, indulgent liqueur is said to contain eight times more Irish whiskey than other expressions typically found on the market.

I tried a sample of the stuff in a 100ml can – perfect for dropping in a picnic basket or drinking on the train – and I think it’s my new go-to for a post-dinner treat.

Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor

Shortcross 2017 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Shortcross 2017 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

This is the second showing from Rademon Estate Distillery’s Shortcross brand on this list, but it has definitely earned both spots.

In my third week in my role at The Spirits Business, with limited knowledge of whisky, I trundled off to a sustainability event at Berry Bros & Rudd with no idea of what awaited me. I was quickly thrown into a serious night of tasting, with representatives from 10 different distilleries giving fascinating insights into how they’re making their operations more sustainable while still creating stunning liquids.

Although all the whiskies (and Cognac) I tasted that night were mind-blowing (especially to my then incredibly inexperienced palate), Shortcross’ single pot-still expression stuck with me, with citrus on the nose and tropical and sweet notes on the palate.

Lauren Bowes, digital editor

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