Two hundred years ago, savvy tipplers drank Irish whiskey. These days not so much. With all the top-drawer Scotch, bourbon, and rye sloshing around, it may be hard to justify another happy-hour contestant—but you should try. The rich liquor is too approachable to ignore, displaying a natural (but not cloying) sweetness and lacking the pungent smokiness of Scotch. The plan for discovering one of the most underappreciated spirits out there is quite simple: Buy a choice bottle, pour, and start drinking. See how easy that is? Rob Willey
This 12-year-old potion packs a punch. It's full-bodied and fiery, with the dense sweetness of roasted fruit and a slow-burning finish.
It seems 1995 was an excellent year for delicate, ridiculously addictive whiskey with hints of vanilla and apricot. The proof's in this bottle.
Irish whiskey for the Scotch-drinking man: The malted barley it's made from is dried over peat fires (most Irish malt dries in a closed kiln), which imparts a brash smokiness.
This robust, leathery whiskey is sweeter than most, the result of aging in bourbon, sherry, and port casks.
You know the Jameson you chase with cheap beer? This isn't it. The 18-year-old version is to be savored for the rich nuttiness it developed during its two-decade rest.
A blend of single-malt and grain whiskeys—some more than 20 years old—this hard-to-find spirit is delicate, spicy, and wildly complex
THE RECIPE: IRISH COFFEE
Irish coffee evokes an era when dinner parties wrapped up with cordial carts and soufflés. Revive the nightcap using good but not extravagant whiskey—like Bushmills or Jameson—and make it for a crowd.
1 cup Irish whiskey
4-8 tsp light brown sugar
3 cups strong, hot coffee
¿ cup chilled heavy cream, whipped
In a small saucepan, warm the whiskey over low heat, then divide among four mugs. Add a teaspoon or two of sugar to each and stir until dissolved. Fill each mug with coffee and top with whipped cream.