Irish coffee is a popular after-dinner drink, says Mix That Drink, and doesn’t take a lot to make. All you really need is a nice Irish whiskey and some freshly brewed coffee. Of course, some sugar and whipped cream are never bad add-ons, too. This drink is an oldie but a goodie, as it’s been around for quite some time. The Irish coffee first came about in 1952 thanks to Joe Sheridan, a chef who worked at an airport in Ireland says San Francisco Travel. He created the hot drink when a bunch of passengers got stranded during a winter storm.
Today, the drink is still just as popular. After all, there is the International Irish Coffee Day on January 25th, says Irish Central. But not just any whiskey will do when making this favorite coffee drink. That’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up the 16 best whiskeys for an Irish coffee for the next time you need a (boozy) pick-me-up.
1. Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
While we normally like our whiskey bold — and tasting like barley or oak — with maybe a touch of vanilla, we can’t get enough of this peanut butter whiskey — and for good reason. According to Skrewball Whiskey, the flavor is completely unexpected, which we have to agree on. Like peanut butter, it’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty but never too overwhelming. Also, like peanut butter, it’s nice and smooth. For a whiskey that originally got its footing from a well-received cocktail at the brand’s Ocean Beach restaurant, it’s definitely worth a sip (or three).
The flavor combo makes for the perfect whiskey to add to your after-dinner drink. This is what the brand calls its Skrewed Up Irish coffee, but really, it’s made the same as the traditional, only with this tasty peanut butter whiskey. To top it off, this sweet rendition definitely calls for some whipped cream on top.
2. Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
The family business, once known as Mitchell & Son, matured its whiskey casks in underground cellars directly hidden under Dublin’s bustling streets, per Spot Whiskey. The company got its start in the 1800s working with Jameson’s distillery and maturing the spirit in wine casks. The spot labels were used to identify the length of maturity for each barrel, which is how it got its name today.
We’re big fans of the Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. It is aged for around seven to 10 years and matured in both bourbon and sherry casks, giving off scents of woods and spices with a hint of fruit, says Spot Whiskey. As for the taste, you can expect green apples and cloves with a finish that lingers with barely and spices. It’s the ideal flavor palate that will help enhance any Irish coffee to the next level.
3. Powers Three Swallow
When we make an Irish coffee, we want a whiskey with a bold and nutty, but woodsy, aroma and taste, which is why we turn to Powers Three Swallow. According to Powers Whiskey, the notes are a mix of backyard woods with fresh herbs and barley alongside some fruity hints of banana and grapefruit. It’s a complex whiskey that makes for one impressive sip, especially when added to coffee, providing a stand-out finish that is both sweet and spicy.
We believe this is one of the best whiskeys for Irish coffee — and think you might just agree. And while you can add sugar and cream to the mix if you want to sweeten the deal, Powers Whiskey says a sprinkle of nutmeg is the ultimate garnish when making your Irish coffee. It looks nice and adds just a little extra spice. We can’t argue with the professionals.
4. Teeling Small Batch
Teeling Whiskey says its unique flavor profile is all thanks to the way it’s made. Both grain and malt whiskey are first aged in ex-bourbon barrels that are then placed in Central American rum casks for about 12 months. It’s the rum casks that make this whiskey smell a bit like sweet and tangy dried fruit. What you’ll taste is a mix of vanilla and spice that is both sugary and woodsy, making for a cozy but well-balanced flavor combination.
That aromatic profile creates a delicious sipping whiskey, but also one that works well in an Irish coffee. Vanilla and dried fruit mixed with coffee is kind of perfect on its own without anything else added. However, Teeling Whiskey says you can always bump up the flavor even more by adding a spiced stout syrup to the mix. A boozy, sugary syrup sounds like the perfect addition to any coffee concoction.
5. Knappogue Castle 12-Year Single Malt Whiskey
There’s something about sipping on a whiskey crafted out of an Irish castle that makes it all the more enjoyable. According to Knappogue Whiskey, the Knappogue Castle in Ireland was in complete ruins when Mark Edwin Andrews originally purchased it in 1966. Andrews later restored the castle and began working with local distilleries to purchase fine pot still casks for his whiskey.
Knappogue Whiskey says its Knappogue Castle 12-Year Single Malt Whiskey is its "signature expression" that is made with malted barley. The whiskey is triple distilled in the copper pot stills and later added to bourbon oak casks to be aged for 12 years. The end result here has a profile of a spicy wafer cookie and juicy fruit. All of that makes this 12-year single malt whiskey one of the best whiskeys for Irish coffee (if we do say so ourselves).
6. Roe & Co Blended Irish Whiskey
While this whiskey may not have been around for too long, it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. Roe & Co says its Blended Irish Whiskey is named after a man named George Roe, who once had the largest distillery in Ireland that spanned more than 17 acres. While that historic distillery closed back in 1926, the Roe & Co brand helps the legacy live on by honoring Dublin’s roots in the thriving whiskey business. And thank goodness for that, as their Blended Irish Whiskey is one we would have never wanted to miss. Malt and grain whiskey are aged in bourbon casks that give off a fragrant aroma with a taste of pear and vanilla and an ultra-creamy finish.
This whiskey will not disappoint you in your Irish coffee either. To get an extra sweet finish, Roe & Co says to try whipping your cream with maple syrup and a drop of vanilla essence.
7. Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask
We admit we love our rum cocktails. Between the sweet and fruity flavors, rum always provides that little bit of a refreshing tropical getaway in every sip. So no wonder we’re all about Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask. According to Tullamore D.E.W., its distillery was first established in 1829 after a town in Ireland with the same name. One of the creators, a man who went by the name of Daniel Edmund Willians, later become known as one of the "greatest distillers" in Ireland.
Tullamore D.E.W. says its Caribbean Rum Cask whiskey is a triple blend that is finished in XO rum casks, an aging process that honors the Irish Immigrants from the 17th century who helped the start of rum in the Caribbean. The whiskey itself offers a taste of tropical flavors mixing caramel, banana, and raisins all in one — yum. But don’t just take our word for it — this whiskey has won all kinds of awards. When mixing it with your Irish coffee, Tullamore D.E.W. says to try using espresso coffee for that added kick.
8. Mad March Hare Premium Irish Poitín
According to Mad March Hare, its Irish Poitín dates all the way back to the sixth century, winning the title as the "oldest spirit in the world." Originally distilled by monks, Irish Poitín was later banned by the British in 1661. Thankfully, it is legal once again today and worth getting your hands on. The whiskey is made with malted barley and Irish spring water, and it is distilled in small copper pot stills, all of which help provide an extra smooth taste.
Who doesn’t want to add the oldest spirit into a cup of coffee for a boozy afternoon sip? For a little added flavor, Mad March Hare says try adding Demerara syrup to an Irish coffee instead of a traditional simple syrup. A Communal Table explains a Demerara syrup uses Demerara sugar rather than white sugar which adds more of a caramel taste. Pass the syrup, please.
9. Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey
There are a lot of different whiskeys out there that are modern and fancy. While we always enjoy trying those, sometimes all you really need is the original. Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey is the go-to spirit that gets the job done time and time again. According to Bushmills, it’s the "oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world" as it received its distillery license back in 1608. Naturally, this brand knows what it’s doing, which is why it is on our list of the best whiskeys for Irish coffee. It combines both a single malt whiskey and a light grain whiskey, and it is aged for five years in bourbon and sherry casks. In this bottle, expect to enjoy tasting notes of honey and freshly baked oatmeal cookies.
With flavors like this, you can’t go wrong using Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey in your Irish coffee. And you don’t have to do anything fancy here either. Bushmills says to use your favorite coffee when making this hot drink and leave the rest up to the whiskey.
10. Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon
According to Baker’s Bourbon, "no two barrels are alike" when it comes to making its single barrel bourbon, which is why we think it’s so special. Each barrel used for its whiskey is aged for at least seven years, so it brings on the aroma of vanilla and charred oak. And this brand is not about mixing or batching their whiskey either. Instead, it comes from only one barrel that helps create a bourbon with a strong profile but has different unique details in each bottle.
You can’t go wrong using Baker’s Bourbon for your whiskey of choice when whipping up an Irish coffee. With a bourbon named after Jim Beam’s grand-nephew who was known as both a rebel and bourbon enthusiast, this bottle will surely do the trick when it comes to crafting a well-balanced coffee drink that anyone and everyone (of legal drinking age) can appreciate.
11. Jameson Caskmates Stout
Jameson Whiskey says its Caskmates Stout first got its start during a conversation between a local craft beer brewery and Jameson’s Head of Whiskey Science while hanging out at a local bar. Thanks to that conversation, we now have this delicious triple-distilled blended Irish whiskey that has been finished in Irish craft beer seasoned barrels. With this whiskey, you’ll smell everything from fresh hay on the farm to apples and pears picked from the orchard. There’s also a hint of lime in there. The taste starts on the sweeter side that is well-balanced thanks to the beer cask it’s finished in, adding hints of hops and cocoa beans with the perfect butterscotch finish.
A whiskey that has these warm and sweet notes is the perfect complement to a cup of joe. When making your Irish coffee, be sure to garnish it just right. Jameson says a vanilla pod or a cinnamon stick is a great way to make this coffee drink come together.
12. Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey
According to Proper Whiskey, it’s No. Twelve Irish Whiskey is triple distilled, which helps offer the perfect blend of fine grain and single malt for a profile full of honey and toasted wood. After the barley is steeped and germinated, it is air-dried and ground down into a grist before being fermented and later distilled in copper pot stills. But since this whiskey is triple distilled, it doesn’t stop there. After the initial distillation, the whiskey is then distilled in what is called a "low wine still" and eventually in a "spirit still." As for the aging process, the whiskey is placed in bourbon barrels, presenting a distinct vanilla flavor. But the big thing here is the blending process, which combines an Irish grain spirit and single malt into one that packs a flavor punch.
With such an elaborate process to get this whiskey just right, we say keep it simple when it comes to your Irish coffee. Proper Whiskey says the only real addition is the whipped cream on top, which is best made by hand and with heavy cream.
13. The Sexton Single Malt
We’re big fans of The Sexton Single Malt, and not just because of the cool packaging on the bottle. Who knew a skull in a top hat could be so inviting? But we’re also fans of the actual product, too. The Sexton says its Irish Single Malt whiskey is distilled in copper pot stills and then aged for four years in a sherry cask straight from Spain. It uses Irish malted barley and has a reputation of being "the best selling Irish Single Malt in America." There’s probably a good reason for that, as this whiskey has a wide range of flavors to enjoy. Here, you’ll taste a mix of dried fruit, nuts, and honeycomb, making for a rich and complex flavor all around.
And with such a complex flavor profile, we feel The Sexton Single Malt is a great addition to our list of best whiskeys for Irish coffee. We know you won’t be able to resist the perfect combo of fruits and nuts in one sip.
14. Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
A relatively newbie to hit the market, Nikka says its Coffey Grain Whisky was originally released in 2012, and we’re happy to have it. This Coffey Grain Whisky is made from corn along with whisky that has been distilled in a Coffey still. To get this sweet and oaky flavor profile, the whiskey is then aged in two old casks, including re-charred American oak casks. Plus, the Coffey Grain Whisky has everything that is needed to be labeled as a Japanese whisky, which is a total win for us.
According to Nikka, its founder, Masataka Taketsuru came from a sake brewing background in Hiroshima and launched his very first whisky back in 1940. With a rich history like that, you know it’s one of the best whiskeys for Irish coffee. That oaky taste makes for the ideal companion to the bitterness of the coffee, which hardly needs any added ingredients to achieve this simple yet delicious drink.
15. Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey
When it comes to the best whiskeys for Irish coffee, we say a sweet one always works well. Kilbeggan Whiskey says its Single Grain Irish Whiskey is nice and sweet as it’s made with corn and malted barley, which helps soak up the flavors of the casks. It is first aged in ex-bourbon barrels, then finished in both ex-bourbon barrels and fortified wine barrels. This aging process helps make it a smooth whiskey that’s ideal for mixing well-crafted cocktails. You’ll be smelling everything from coconut cream to fresh berries when you sniff this whiskey, while the taste is oaky with a touch of hazelnut and a buttery biscuit. The finish is both crisp and fruity, so it never truly loses that sweetness that makes it go down easy.
The Single Grain Irish Whiskey is perfect when making Irish coffee. Kilbeggan Whiskey says to try using a medium or dark roast coffee for the right amount of zip.
16. Slane Irish Whiskey Triple Casked
Slane Irish Whiskey says its Irish Whiskey Triple Casked combines both grain and malt whiskeys in three casks that create a wide range of flavors. Here, you’ll pick up notes of banana and butterscotch, along with heavenly spices used for baking. The nose is warm and spicy, as is the taste, with its flavors of caramel, vanilla, and dried fruit. The finish is woodsy but still has the right amount of sweetness that lasts. Who wouldn’t want to put this flavorful whiskey in their coffee?
This Irish Whiskey Triple Casked is hands-down one of the best whiskeys for Irish coffee. The flavors complement any beans and provide a wonderful warming sip anyone can appreciate. To make your coffee cocktail a little more like a dessert, Slane Irish Whiskey says garnish your Irish coffee with dark chocolate shavings. Honestly, we wonder why we haven’t thought of that before.