A toast of whiskey

A toast of whiskey

Author: Chris Macias
Published: March 16th, 2011 02:09 PM

"A pint of Guinness sounds good for St. Patrick's Day, but this year we're ready to give a little Irish whiskey a spin. In the world of spirits, Irish whiskey's known for being exceptionally smooth compared to its counterparts around the world.

In Ireland, the majority of whiskeys are distilled three times during production, making for a clean and delicately sweet drink that goes down easy before yelling "Erin go bragh."

Whiskey's been produced in Ireland for centuries, and the country was home at one point to more than 1,000 distilleries. That number has been reduced to just a handful in Ireland today, but they still produce a range of whiskey styles from such brands as Bushmills, Jameson and Redbreast.

To get a head start on St. Patrick's Day, we're here at de Vere's Irish Pub, where the TVs broadcast a Champions League soccer match with Barcelona vs. Arsenal.

De Vere's carries 32 different Irish whiskeys, from smoky peat whiskeys to a bottle of Tyrconnell that's been aged in sherry casks. De Vere's even hosts its own whiskey society to introduce enthusiasts to the diversity found in this spirit.

"We get a lot of people who started as wine drinkers and then found something new they liked learning about," said co-owner Simon de Vere White.

"In an Irish whiskey, you'll be looking for something that's well-balanced with a little heat and some spice. It'll have less of the caramel and vanilla flavors that you'll find in American whiskey and bourbon."

So where to start with Irish whiskey? Well, make your first decision one that could save your life. If drinking away from home, designate a driver or keep a taxi service's number on hand.

St. Patrick's Day ranks as one of the most dangerous days on the road due to alcohol consumption. According to the CHP, a total of five people were killed and 142 people injured in 240 alcohol-involved collisions statewide on St. Patrick's Day in 2009 and 2010.

After you've checked this off your list, Liquid Assets recommends you check out these three Irish whiskeys on St. Patrick's Day and beyond:

Slane Castle Irish Whiskey (roughly $30 for 750 ml bottle, $7-$10 per shot at bars): De Vere White likes to start newcomers with this smooth and cask-y spirit that's been aged in American bourbon barrels. This whiskey definitely carries a little kick and a spicy finish, but paired with a smooth and balanced mouthfeel, just like a proper Irish whiskey should.

Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey (about $40 for a 750 ml bottle in stores, $7-$10 per shot at bars): Here's a tasty example of a peated whiskey, which uses grains that have been roasted over a peat fire. The result is a smoky and earthy drink that's something like the whiskey equivalent of a fine cigar. Look for an exceptionally long finish with a bit of sweetness and spice mixed in with that smoky character.

Redbreast 12-year-old Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey (roughly $40 per 750 ml bottle in stores, $9 to $11 per shot at bars): Take a sip of this full-bodied yet impeccably balanced whiskey and you'll see why it was named "Whiskey of the Year" by "Whisky Bible" author Jim Murray.

Full of complexity, with flavors of sweet caramel, spice and a touch of sherry, this whiskey is one to sip and savor."

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