Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
As an at least partly Irish sort of fellow (my mother’s father’s family), it’s heartening that Americans finally seem to have caught on to the appeal of Irish whiskey. Not to insult Scotch or Bourbon, but Irish has a mellow sweetness that’s awfully hard to resist—or it certainly seems that it’s hard to resist, given we’re drinking about two-thirds more of it than we were a mere five years ago.
If you want to branch out a bit, though, the resurgent popularity of Irish whiskey has resulted in a number of new bottlings hitting the market. One of the more exciting is the new 12-year-old Redbreast Cask Strength ($65), a deliciously rounded, rich, oak-spicy and higher octane variation on one of the most loved (by whiskey fanatics) Irish whiskies around.
Alternatively, you could mix up an Emerald, a pre-Prohibition variation on the Manhattan: two ounces Irish, one ounce sweet vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters, stirred, straight and served as above. Sláinte!
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