In Ireland, it’s traditional to offer guests “a drop” as a show of hospitality—assuming you can tear them away from the Guinness which, for whatever reason, really is better there. If you’re a whiskey fan, accepting is a no-brainer, and with plenty of good reasons.
Funny, though: Irish whiskey accounts for just 2 percent of total spirits volume in the United States, according to data authority ISWR. The category is predicted to grow quickly in coming years as new distilleries emerge in the Emerald Isle. Plenty more good reasons.
Honoring a legendary chieftain and pirate queen born in 1530, Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey produced by The Great Northern Distillery in County Mayo is apparently the first Irish whiskey named for a woman, recently breaching the pond to hit the U.S. market. Like the plucky namesake herself, the product ($37) boasts a bold and noble profile. The malt content weighs in at 46 percent (the other 54 percent is grain-based), on the high end for blended whiskeys. Aging takes place in a variety of bourbon, French oak, and rum casks, imparting depth and complexity to the blend.
The nose leads with nutty caramel and smoky vanilla, progressing into a brash malt-forward first impression. Initial sips hit the tip of the tongue first and bloom into full mouth flavor before fading into a medium finish that hints at Irish brown bread and tea. Not as sweet as bourbon, the whiskey stands up well to a splash of boiling water and a generous glug of honey in the classic Irish hot whiskey application. Good for whatever ails ye. Slainte!