The Best Irish Whiskeys According To The 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

The top Irish whiskeys in the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) judging have just been announced. Best in Show winners will be announced at the Top Shelf Awards Gala and Grand Tasting on June 16 and 17 at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Tickets for the event are available at Top shelf website or via ReserveBar.

Eight Irish whiskeys won the coveted double gold medal and six won gold medals.

Founded in 2000, the SFWSC is the oldest competition in North America and the largest liquor judging in the world. A total of 65 judges from around the world judged approximately 5,500 spirits over three days in April 2023.

The competition is organized by the Tasting Alliance, an organization founded by Anthony Dias Blue. In addition to the SFWSC, the Tasting Alliance also organizes spirits competitions in New York and Singapore, wine competitions in San Francisco and New York, and beer and RTD competitions.

The two finalists for Best in Show, blended Irish whiskey, are Northcross Irish Whiskey, Triple Wood, 43% ABVand Carlin Bay, Oak & Coast Blended Irish Whiskey46% ABV.

The SFWSC judging panel described Northcross whiskey as:

Herbal notes on the nose with notes of caramel and vanilla. Sweet on the palate with slight notes of caramel and vanilla, as well as aromas of wood spices, cooked grains and dried fruit. Long finish with the sweetness of dried fruit with a slight lingering herbal note.

Cairlinn Bay, on the other hand, is described as exhibiting:

Fruity and spicy aromas with hints of caramel and vanilla on the nose. Smooth, sweet and fruity on the palate with aromas of caramel and vanilla. A long, sweet fruity finish with very mild pepper.

Other double gold winners in the blended Irish whiskey category are: Kinsale Spirit, Wild Atlantic Way IPA, and Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch Irish Whiskey.

The finalist in the Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey was Redbreast, 15 years old, Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 46% ABV. Redbreast has emerged as a consistent winner in international spirits competitions and has dominated the Pot Still Irish Whiskey category for the past decade.

The SFWSC judging panel described the Redbreast 15 YO as:

Slightly waxy on the nose with floral aromas, tropical fruit, caramel, vanilla and some spicy notes. Sweet and creamy on the palate, with fruity notes and mild pepper. Long sweet fruity finish with mild but persistent pepper.

The finalists for the best single malt Irish whiskey are Keeper’s Heart, 10 YO Irish Single Malt, 43% ABVand Egan’s Irish Whiskey, Endeavour, 46% ABV.

The SFWSC judging panel described The Guardian’s Heart as an exhibit:

Very fruity notes on the nose with pronounced aromas of overripe apple and a little pear. Smooth, sweet and fruity on the palate with hints of spice. Long sweet fruity finish with lingering notes of apple and pear.

While Egan’s Irish Whiskey is described as:

Dark dried fruit on the nose, with spicy notes of cinnamon, caramel and vanilla and slightly herbal aromas. Sweet, creamy and slightly fatty on the palate with pronounced notes of dried fruit. A long, sweet finish with dried fruit sweetness and mild but persistent pepper.

Other double gold winners in the Irish Single Malt category are: Bunratty Irish Whisky, a premium blend with peated malt (Single Malts Blend), i Sexton, single malt Irish whiskey. Sexton is a consistent winner in international spirit competitions. At an average US price of under $30, it’s also an outstanding value for a Sherry aged single malt whisky.

The 2023 SFWSC judging showcased an outstanding array of premium Irish whiskies. The revival of the Irish whiskey industry is now in full swing, with more than three dozen distilleries. Sales of Irish whiskey in the critical US market are growing by double digits, already surpassing $1 billion wholesale and, if the trend continues, will surpass sales of Scotch whiskey within the next few years.

It is hard to imagine that 30 years ago there were only three active Irish distilleries and their total sales were under 50,000 9 liter cases. By comparison, in 2022 the Irish whiskey industry sold more than 10 million cases worldwide, with approximately 6.1 million cases in the US.

A full list of all medal winners at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition is available at Tasting Alliance Web page.


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Forbes – Lifestyle

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