St. Patrick's Day drinks

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17 Year Old Single

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (March 2012) (Credit: Handout)

There are plenty of ways to raise a glass on St. Patrick's Day. One with Irish whiskey will do just fine.

New this year is Bushmills Irish Honey, a blend that does contain some of the isle's honey. The result is a mild whiskey, easygoing, with more than a trace of sweetness. It's not on par with either Bushmills 10 or Black Bush, but the Irish Honey is a satisfactory introduction, and it works with Irish coffee. It's about $25.

A traditional winner is Michael Collins Single Malt Irish Whiskey, which has a comparatively long finish and some sweetness. The whiskey is aged in oak casks and delivers a hint of vanilla. Overall, a smooth choice and easy to enjoy. Priced in the $32-$40 range.

The big, new Irish whiskey for 2012 is expensive but excellent. It's the Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey -- a mouthful in almost every way. This whiskey was distilled in 1994 and bottled in December 2011.

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17 aged 15 years in bourbon barrels, followed by 21 months in casks infused with oloroso sherry, the deep-brown, aromatic and raisiny one. That sherry finish lends a distinctive style to the whiskey, completing a slightly nutty, balanced and celebratory production. Rich, as it should be, for about $100.

In addition to these, look for the masterful Midleton whiskeys, Tyrconnell, Kilbeggan and Jameson 18 Year.

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