Whiskey and golf. The two go together like, well, whiskey and golf, especially in Ireland and especially on St Paddy’s Day. So in honour of the holiday that drinks all others under the table, we decided to pair a few of our favourite Irish whiskies with a few of our favourite Irish golf courses, creating the ultimate Emerald Isle travel guide in the process. So kick off your spikes and belly up to the bar. The less said about the scorecard, the better, so let’s just let the whiskey do the talking.
Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
Course Pairing: Cork Golf Club
Just up N25 from quaint Cork Golf Club lies Jameson’s sprawling whiskey utopia. And while you may think you know what to expect from the Irish whiskey giant, the Caskmates IPA Edition side-steps the predictable, finishing its straw-coloured elixir in craft IPA barrels for a bright, hoppy flavour profile that’s perfect for the (excruciatingly eventual) coming of spring.
Green Spot Chateau Montelena
Course Pairing: Old Head Golf Links
Perched on the edge of a windswept peninsula jutting into the Irish Sea, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more dramatic course in all of Ireland than Old Head Golf Links. When it comes to Irish whiskey, the same could be said for Green Spot’s new Chateau Montelena. A joint effort with the French-sounding California winery from which it derives its name, the latest Green Spot gem – finished in Zinfandel wine casks – is a slow-burn sipper that fades from sticky sweet to delicately dry as you drink.
Knappogue Castle 14-Year-Old Twin Wood
Course Pairing: Lahinch Golf Club
Though by no means as old as its County Clare neighbour Lahinch Golf Club – a course as ancient as it is exhilarating – the Knappogue Castle 14-Year-Old remains one of the oldest whiskies on this list. Its lengthy maturation shows as well, unfolding in deep, dusky layers of vanilla and honey thanks to the charred ex-bourbon and sherry casks where it has spent the better part of the last decade and a half.
Course Pairing: Royal County Down Golf Club
Tipping its top hat to the foggy moors of Northern Ireland, The Sexton is the newest, boldest addition to the Irish whiskey category in years, and not just for it’s gorgeously gothic bottle design. Aged in Sherry casks, this single malt expression bursts with a blend of all-spice and dried fruit, going down smooth and reliable from start to finish. When you’re posted up in the Royal County Down clubhouse waiting for the mist to burn off, ask for one of these … and then maybe another.
Teeling Single Grain
Course Pairing: Portmarnock Golf Club
On a two-mile peninsula just outside Dublin, sits Portmarnock Golf Club, one of the most accessible, picturesque plays in Ireland. You’ll find your ideal caddie 15 minutes south, however, at the Teeling Distillery in the heart of Dublin itself. That’s where the 236-year-old whiskey maker crafts their singular Single Grain, a rich fruit bomb beast aged in California red wine casks and brimming with notes of ripe berry and red grape. But don’t let the Single Grain’s deep amber hue fool you; it finishes high and dry like a nice glass of Chianti.
Bushmills Red Bush
Course Pairing: Royal Portrush Golf Club
If Royal Portrush is a North Irish icon, then Bushmills is downright mythological, dating all the way back to 1608, when Sir Thomas Phillips was first granted licence to distill by King James I (yes, the first). But while both Portrush and Bushmills have seemingly been around since the dawn of County Antrim itself, the latter has something new in store just in time for St Paddy’s Day: Red Bush, a versatile, easy-drinking blend for those days when you just want damn good whiskey for a damn good price.
The Tyrconnell 15-Year-Old Madeira Cask Finish
Course Pairing: The K Club
If you’re lucky enough to play The K Club, one of the most exclusive courses in Ireland, you better have a fittingly regal whiskey in the ol’ hip flask. Enter The Tyrconnell 15-Year-Old Madeira Cask Finish, a sultry new expression from the modern pioneer of single malt Irish whiskey (think single malt scotch, only Irish). Finished in Portuguese wine casks, this sun-kissed Tyrconnell offers a little taste of Iberia in the heart of Kildare.
Course Pairing: Belmullet Golf Club
North Atlantic crosswinds, untamed rough, and dunes that make the great pyramids look like the food pyramid. Needless to say, after a long day hacking it at Belmullet – set down in the heart of Ireland’s western wilds – you’re going to want something that goes down easy, and Connacht’s latest expression, the fittingly titled Ballyhoo, is just the ticket. Bottled by hand at Connacht’s County Mayo outpost, the Ballyhoo is a pure, simple 4-year-old grain whiskey that eschews artificial colouring and kitschy trends in the name of something that actually lasts: Authenticity.