Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with our selection of Irish whiskeys

Irish whiskeys on Saint Patrick's Day

Every year on 17 March, many people around the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. To mark the occasion this year, we have updated the selection of Irish whiskeys on our website.

Who was Saint Patrick?

You may think that the patron saint of Ireland would be Irish but, in fact, Saint Patrick came from fifth-century Roman Britain (most likely what’s now Wales). He was captured by Irish raiders as a child and taken to the Emerald Isle to work as a slave tending sheep. After escaping and returning home several years later, the faithful Christian received a vision from an angel that he should return to Ireland and convert its inhabitants to Christianity. He listened to this vision and spent the next 30 years travelling around Pagan Ireland spreading the word of Christianity and establishing monasteries and churches.

It is said that St Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed clover, to describe the Holy Trinity in his teachings. And that is why the shamrock later became an emblem of Ireland. Incidentally, blue was the colour originally associated with Saint Patrick but, in keeping with its lush landscapes, green has become synonymous with the celebration and Ireland itself in present times. Saint Patrick’s Day falls on 17 March, the day on which he died in 461 CE and was added to the church’s calendar of feast days in 1631.

Saint Patrick’s Day today

While Saint Patrick’s Day may have begun as a religious celebration for the patron saint of Ireland, its popularity has since spread throughout the world. In fact, the first parade in the United States dedicated to Saint Patrick’s Day occurred in 1762, which is over 100 years before the first such parade in Ireland! Today, there are massive annual celebrations in cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Dublin. The Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in Chicago is particularly famous for dying the city’s eponymous river green! The parades in Chicago and New York are the largest in the world, each welcoming around 2 million visitors, and Boston welcomes more visitors for the parade (around 1 million) than its entire population (around 650,000).

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday, and is marked by wearing shamrocks pinned to a lapel. While some attend church services and continue the religious element of the holiday, most will celebrate their national holiday by attending a parade or raising a glass in a local pub. Unlike the marching-band parades that line streets in the United States, St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland are a celebration of the arts, the youth, and traditional music and dance.

Beyond Ireland and the US, perhaps the more unique Saint Patrick’s Day celebration is the one which takes place on the small Caribbean Island of Monserrat. Due to the enormous proportion of inhabitants who claim Irish descent, the island is known as the “emerald isle of the Caribbean.” In addition to Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March also marks the date of an important slave rebellion which took place on Montserrat in 1768. The two events (Saint Patrick’s Day and the rebellion) now form the basis for a 10-day long celebration featuring food, dancing, and traditional costumes. The multi-faceted recognition of this holiday period reflects Monserrat’s unique demographic makeup, with many islanders claiming both African and Irish heritage.

Now let’s answer the question – what should you drink for the celebration?

Looking to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint in style? Look no further than the limited edition Middleton Very Rare 2023 Release. The lucky person to drink this whisky can expect aromas of vanilla and toasted oak followed by tastes of light pepper and fresh citrus with hints of cinnamon.

From the Waterford distillery, which was founded in 2015 by Mark Reynier, we have the Gaia 1.1. This whiskey has been produced with the same mindset as the great winemakers use to create their wines. The barley selected for this production comes from six biodynamic farms, and this distillery prides itself on being a pioneer in biodynamic whiskey. The whiskey is aged in a mixture of barrels: 42% matures in first-fill bourbon barrels, 17% American new oak, 23% French oak, and 18% former fortified wines barrels. This results in an exceptional nose and palate which has malted barely at the heart of it.

Also from Waterford, the Single Farm Origin Ballymorgan Edition 1.2 was distilled in 2016 from 100% Irish barley grown on a single farm townland (Ballymorgan) in the south-east of the country. It’s been crafted in a way to reflect its terroir which is full of fine granite and limestone notes.

Finally, if you are looking to grow your Irish whiskey collection, we suggest bidding on our partner website Fine Spirits Auction (FSA). Hundreds of whiskies, many of them Irish (but plenty of Scotch, Japanese, and Bourbon too!) go under the hammer every month on FSA. Bid here or set an alert for the next auction going live.

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