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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Pluck of the Irish: What to Tipple for St. Patrick’s Day

When Pierce Brosnan, as Agent 007, ordered his martini shaken and not stirred, the Irish born actor might have cringed, being partial to the wealth of whiskey coming from the Emerald Isle. To honor St. Patrick I have amassed a collection of Irish goodies to enhance your celebratory efforts. So if you’re craving Irish Coffee, whiskey, Irish Cream or something more, these Irish products will have your eyes smiling. Whether Scotland or Ireland started making whiskey first is a matter of conjecture, but we do know that as far back as 1757 Kilbeggan had been licensed to make whiskey in Ireland, yet the first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in America 20 years earlier in 1737, with, we assume, not much Irish whiskey. Erin Go Bragh!
(NOTE: The original version of this article first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter)

Brady’s Irish Cream Liqueur
Made in small batches from locally sourced fresh Irish cream, single malt Irish whiskey and neutral grain spirits, this sumptuous liqueur has a full, lush taste and silky consistency. This is way to easy to drink, velvety and smooth with coffee notes, a mild whiskey, nutty aroma and a very satisfying kick, this is that simple but amazingly addictive; the kind of thing you drink too fast because it’s too good. ($10,

Clontarf 1014 Blended Irish Whiskey
Named after the battle of Clontarf that took place on Good Friday and which lead to the final defeat of the Vikings in 1014, this lithe whiskey is produced from a blend of pot-stilled single malt whiskey and column stilled grain whiskey. Distilled three times and filtered through Atlantic Irish oak charcoal, then aged for four years in bourbon barrels, the result is a medium golden colored whiskey with warm flavors, subtle hints of vanilla, a slight maltiness, and notes of toffee. Mild and soft, there is toffee, sweet almond and wood notes, with a back note of orange and resin. ($21,

Connemara Peated Single Malt Whiskey
Peat is common in Scotch, less so in Irish whiskies and the process nearly died off in the early 1900s, but Kilbeggan Distillery revived the method. Named for the town of Connemara on the West Coast of Ireland this is the only peated whiskey to currently come out of Ireland. The balance between the peat and malt is ideal, along with a touch of sweetness so that the peat is pronounced, but not overpowering. There are backnotes of citrus, sweet almond and resin making for an intense but alluring whiskey. ($44.99,

Kerrygold Cheese
Kerrygold may be a name you recognize since their hormone-free butter and cheese, from grass-fed cows from Ireland are available in more than 80 countries. Irish cheese pairs perfectly with Irish whisky and beer, and you’ll definitely need to get the Dubliner, their signature cheese. The Vintage Dubliner is a medium hard, dry and flaky aged cow’s milk cheese with mature nut and biscuit flavors and it fills the palate with a mild tang and sour milk notes. Skellig is a medium soft sweet cheddar with mild notes of sharp cheddar and a hint of sweetness. (

Red Breast 12 Year Old
Made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley distilled in a large single pot still, and then rested in Sherry casks for 12 years, Redbreast dates back to 1903. The name refers to a robin redbreast since the owner of the company at the time was an avid birder. Red Breast offers up notes of caramel and butterscotch, sugared almond and citrus, clove and an attractive maturity with deep resin qualities. This is ultimately a smooth and charming Irish whiskey, a terrific sipper. ($64.99,

Teeling Irish Whiskey
The Teeling family traces their distilling history back to 1782, but it was only 1987 when John Teeling reopened a distillery with the goal of producing age-old Irish recipes that had been long forgotten. Recently served at the 2015 Oscar Wilde Awards this is a soft and aromatic whiskey with notes of citrus, resin, cinnamon, vanilla, cedar and rose water. This is an elegant, gracious and personable whiskey, finished in rum casks and easy to drink, offering a maturity and complete lack of harshness. ($40,

Tom Bergin’s Pub
An Irish institution in Los Angeles having opened their doors in 1936, stars like Bing Crosby, Carey Grant and Julia Roberts have graced their door. Bergin’s is the “home of Irish Coffee,” and according to owner Derek Schreck, true Irish Coffee is a cocktail, not a sweet coffee drink, and they offer patrons the authentic original recipe first created in 1938, served in traditional six-ounce toddy glasses. The result is a juxtaposition of a cool cream cap which breaks into the hot coffee with warm woody notes and a great balance of coffee and whiskey. ($8,
Warm 6 oz. glass with hot water. Then add:
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ½ ounces of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
Add to nearly the rim dark, strong coffee
Top with Irish hand whipped cream.

Tyrconnell Single Malt
This single malt Irish whiskey is also the name of a racehorse that won at 100 to 1 odds at a race in 1876 - talk about your Irish sweepstakes! This malted barley whiskey is one of only a handful of single malts coming from Ireland, as the majority of whiskeys are blends. There is a sweeter profile and bursts of orange, charred oak, and this is surprisingly smooth and refined. This is a terrific introduction to Irish whiskies, one even a non-whiskey person might enjoy. ($34.99,

Tullamore Dew
Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix is a premium, high-strength blend of all three types of Irish whiskeys – pot still, malt and grain, and is finished for two years in Sherry casks. In 1785, a hot air balloon accident over the town of Tullamore sparked a fire that destroyed most of the town center. But the hearty community banded together and rebuilt the town, which included the construction of a distillery. Solid gold in color with a heavy sweet oak and resin, the Phoenix commands the palate with potent orange and wood flavors, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and a hefty weight and mild after burn. ($54.99,

Uisce Beatha
Loosely translated as “water of life” and co-founded by John Paul Dejoria of Patron Tequila fame, (Matthew McConaughey is a fan of “UB”) this mild and pleasant whiskey offers sweet oak, caramel, sugared almond and leads to a spicy, semi fruity whiskey with resin and cinnamon. Aged in bourbon casks this is a terrific Irish whiskey for newcomers to the game as it is light and mild, but nonetheless offers a diversity of flavors. Plus the price means most everyone can sip Saint Pat’s day in style. ($29.99,

Yellow Spot
Aged in a combination of American bourbon barrels, and Sherry and Malaga casks, this Irish whiskey first appeared for sale in 1933, the yellow spot referring to the dab of paint on the cask to identify it. Flavors of rich orange blossom fill the glass with an almost Cognac-like nose, and this is a medium bodied whiskey that attacks at the front of the palate and then lets go and warms you up. Throughout there is clove, cinnamon, meringue and it offers maturity along with a whisper of sweetness. ($99.99,

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