Unveiling the Finest Irish Whiskeys of 2024: A Toast to Excellence at the IWSC

The 2024 International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) has heralded an extraordinary year for Irish whiskey, with a record-breaking number of Gold medal winners. Six exceptional Irish whiskeys clinched the prestigious Gold Outstanding medals, while 14 more secured Gold medals, marking a milestone in the revival and continued growth of the Irish whiskey industry.

The Elite Gold Outstanding Medalists

All six Gold Outstanding winners scored an impressive 98/100 points, showcasing the pinnacle of Irish whiskey craftsmanship. Here are the top three Single Malt whiskeys that stole the spotlight:

  1. Powers Court Distillers, Fercullen Single Malt Irish Whiskey (46% ABV, 750 ml)
  2. Irish Distillers, Knappogue Castle, 12 YO Single Malt Irish Whiskey (43% ABV, 750 ml)
  3. Bushmills, 30 YO Single Malt Irish Whiskey (46% ABV, 750 ml)

Each of these whiskeys is triple distilled, a testament to Ireland's rich distilling tradition. The IWSC Judging Panel had high praise for these exquisite spirits:

  • Fercullen Single Malt: "A luscious blend of malt and oak character underpins rich pineapple fruit flavors. The tropical nose is restrained, saving its power for the palate, which delivers rich, rounded toffee notes and a fruity finish."

  • Knappogue Castle 12 YO: "An aromatic bouquet of blooming florals and dark fruits transitions seamlessly onto the palate. Sweet and dry spice flavors are balanced and intertwine effortlessly through to a superb finish."

  • Bushmills 30 YO: "Rich Sherry and brown sugar aromas lead to a juicy exotic fruit palate with harmonious cask undertones. The palate is graceful with a hint of straw and a spiced close."

Gold Medal Winners: A Celebration of Diversity

In addition to the outstanding winners, the Gold medal category saw a diverse range of single malts, including:

  • Teeling Whiskey, Blackpitts Peated Cask Strength (56.5% ABV, 750 ml)
  • Powers Court Distillery, Fercullen 21 YO Single Malt (46% ABV, 750 ml)
  • Tullamore DEW, Rouge 13 YO Single Malt (40% ABV, 750 ml)
  • Irish Distillers, Knappogue Castle 16 YO Single Malt (43% ABV, 750 ml)

The Teeling whiskey, a double distilled gem, stood out among the triple distilled counterparts.

The Rich Heritage of Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey has a storied history, marked by the malt tax of 1785 which led distillers to incorporate unmalted barley into their mash bills, giving rise to the unique Irish pot still whiskey. Today, single malt whiskey must be 100% malted barley, while pot still whiskey includes at least 30% malted barley, 30% unmalted barley, and up to 5% other grains.

Dominance in Pot Still Whiskey

Irish Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod-Ricard, showcased its prowess in the pot still category with three Gold Outstanding medals:

  • Blue Spot 7 YO Cask Strength (59% ABV, 750 ml)
  • Powers, Three Swallow Release (40% ABV, 750 ml)
  • Redbreast, 27 YO (54.6% ABV, 750 ml)

The panel's descriptions highlighted the unique qualities of these whiskeys:

  • Blue Spot 7 YO: "A perfumed and intricate tipple with delicate aromas revealing rich fruit and spice on the palate."
  • Powers, Three Swallow Release: "A bright, enticing nose with tropical fruits and honey, showcasing precision and balance on the palate."
  • Redbreast 27 YO: "An indulgent winter spice character with layers of raisin, sponge cake, and tropical fruit on the finish."

Gold Medals Across Categories

Five pot still whiskeys took Gold medals, with Irish Distillers' Redbreast expressions dominating the list. The standout blended whiskey was Kinahan’s, The Kasc Project (B) (43% ABV, 750 ml), described as having "indulgent caramel and spice aromatics with a velvety cocoa finish."

Teeling Whiskey also shone in the Single Grain category, winning Gold medals for its Single Grain Irish Whiskey (46% ABV, 750 ml) and

15 YO Single Grain Irish Whiskey (50% ABV, 750 ml).

A Testament to Tradition and Innovation

The IWSC Irish whiskey judging is second only to the Irish Whiskey Awards in terms of the number of whiskeys evaluated. This year's Gold medalists represent a blend of historic iconic producers and emerging craft distillers, underscoring the dynamic growth and innovation within the industry. As of 2024, Ireland boasts 47 operating whiskey distilleries, with another 35 permitted but not yet operational—a stark contrast to the mere two functioning distilleries 40 years ago.

Raising a Glass to Irish Whiskey's Resurgence

From meticulously crafted single malts to the intricate flavors of pot still and blended whiskeys, the 2024 IWSC has showcased the crème de la crème of Irish whiskey. Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or new to the world of whiskey, these award-winning selections offer a rich tapestry of flavors and aromas that celebrate the heritage and future of Irish whiskey.

Next time you have the opportunity, raise a glass of one of these exceptional whiskeys and toast to the remarkable renaissance of the Irish whiskey industry. Explore these winners and discover the depth and diversity that Irish whiskey has to offer.

For more insights and reviews on the finest whiskeys, visit our site and join the conversation. Cheers to excellence in every drop!