The Irish Whiskey Awards 2023

Emerging and established Irish whiskey producers and patrons were honoured at the 2023 Irish Whiskey Awards which took place at the Jameson Bow Street Distillery in Co. Dublin on 29 November. Drinks Industry Ireland was the event’s media partner and key sponsors included the Irish Whiskey Association and Label Tech Tuath Irish Whiskey Glass. We have all the news and reactions from the winners below


Keynote speaker, Patrick Rigney, founder for The Shed Distillery, presented the awards

Keynote speaker, Patrick Rigney, founder for The Shed Distillery, presented the awards

The coveted Best Irish Whiskey of the Year prize was awarded to Connacht Irish Whiskey Distillery Exclusive Cask Strength. The Irish Whiskey Awards, now in their 10th year, spans 20 categories across Irish whiskeys and spirits. The evening of the awards commenced with a tour of the Jameson Bow Street distillery and a drinks reception hosted by Irish Distillers. Keynote speaker, Patrick Rigney, founder of The Shed Distillery, presented the awards.
Judging of the 2023 awards took place last August where organisers, Celtic Whiskey of Celtic Whiskey Shop Dawson Street, hosted several blind tastings in Dublin’s Flowing Tide pub on Abbey Street and have been coordinating other tastings throughout Ireland with members of the Irish Whiskey Society — Dublin and Dingle, Cork Whiskey Society, Waterford Whiskey Society, Kilkenny Whiskey Guild, Ennis Whiskey Club, 1875 Whiskey Club, Carlow Whiskey Society, Belfast Whiskey Club and the Aviator’s Whiskey Society.

The Irish Whiskey Awards 2023 took place in the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin

Commenting on the awards, organiser Ally Alpine, managing director of Celtic Whiskey Shop and organiser of Whiskey Live Dublin said “We are very excited to be able to co-host this year’s awards at Jameson Bow Street Distillery. The IWA’s are always a fantastic night celebrating the excellence and innovation in the Irish Whiskey and Spirits industry, all whilst raising funds for our incredible charity partner Mary’s Meals”.
The events charity partner, Mary’s Meals — — feed two million children everyday whilst ensuring they attend school. Tickets for the awards were priced at €60 and all proceeds from the night will be donated to sponsor the Kapatomoyo School in Zambia.


Top Irish Whiskey of the Year

Connacht Single Malt Distillery Exclusive was voted the Best Irish Whiskey of the Year at the Irish Whiskey Awards

Connacht Single Malt Distillery Exclusive from The Connacht Whiskey Company was named as the Best Irish Whiskey of the Year at the Irish Whiskey Awards. Founded in 2016, The Connacht Whiskey Company revitalized whiskey production in Mayo after over 150 years. Its malted barley, sourced from Hook Peninsula, and pure Irish water are enhanced by the Atlantic’s influence, crafting a whiskey deeply rooted in Ireland’s maritime climate. Its Distillery Exclusive, a double-distilled whiskey finished in a 225L French Oak Ex-Oloroso sherry cask, showcases its commitment to tradition and innovation. This 5 and a half year old single malt, released at Cask Strength, stands tall among the world’s finest, confirming our dedication to quality.
“The Connacht Whiskey Company is proud to announce its Connacht Single Malt Distillery Exclusive as the Best Irish Whiskey of the Year at the Irish Whiskey Awards. Alongside, our Straw Boys Poitin earned a Gold Medal, a testament to our craft and passion for Irish whiskey,” says Thomas Jensen, Connacht Whiskey Company’s CEO.
“Starting Connacht Whiskey Company, our aim was singular – to create exceptional Irish whiskey. From our strategic location, and custom stills, to our skilled team including master distiller Robert Cassell and master blender Julia Nourney, every step echoes our craft approach. Winning against global brands boosts our confidence in our innovative approach. We eagerly anticipate launching more unique single malts in 2024, continuing to delight whiskey enthusiasts,” explains Jensen.

The range includes Connacht Spirit of the Atlantic Single Malt, Connacht Batch One Single Malt, Conncullin Gin, Straw Boys Poitin & Vodka, and Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey. Its distillery and visitor centre in located in Ballina, County Mayo.
For more, visit

Born in Belfast

McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish is aged for five years in first fill select Bourbon barrels

McConnell’s Irish Whisky was first established in Belfast in 1776 and was a hugely successful brand for over 150 years. A series of industry changes and company misfortunes including the introduction of prohibition in the USA and a warehouse blaze in Dunbar Street, Belfast, saw a decline in Irish whiskey and McConnell’s as a brand. Now the brand is thriving again and the team at Belfast Distillery Company are immersed in “Restoring The Legend”. Brothers John and James McConnell would be happy that the business they built in Belfast years ago, is once more in excellent spirits.
McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish is aged for five years in first fill select Bourbon barrels. It is then finished in the finest Oloroso Sherry Casks which bring out rich aromas of dried figs, dark chocolate and lingering spice. Bottled at 46% and ABV, non-chill filtered.
J&J McConnell’s Old Cromac Collection—a series that reverently pays homage to its origins and the esteemed legacy of the Old Cromac Distillery.

Established by J&J McConnell, this distillery, accompanied by a brewery, emerged on reclaimed land along the southern banks of the River Lagan. The distillery derived its name from the renowned Cromac aerated water, which, like J&J McConnell’s range of whiskies, reached the farthest corners of the world. McConnell’s Whisky enjoyed over 150 years of global success, triumphing over fires, wars, economic barriers, and more. However, the same global factors that contributed to the decline of the Irish whiskey industry also cast their shadow on the company, eventually leading to its closure in the 1930s. Drawing inspiration from this rich history, J&J McConnell’s introduces “The Old Cromac Collection”, a series of meticulously crafted single malts aged to perfection and offered in limited releases. Its 20-Year-Old Single Malt embarks on a two-decade journey, starting in 2002 in bourbon casks, gaining wisdom and depth. Aged in first-fill Tawny Port casks for a year, it emerges unapologetically at cask strength, unfiltered.

Hidden layers

Fans of Celtic Cask 44 can look out for the current release Celtic Cask 50 which features the same cask ageing profile using liquid from Dingle Distillery

Celtic Cask 44 was purchased in 2014 from Cooley distillery and was initially matured in a specially sourced virgin oak cask from the Bertranges forest in France. In December 2021 the liquid was transferred into another special cask but this time a 15 Year Old Pedro Ximemez from the Montilla region in Spain. When finally bottled in 2023 the whiskey combined the spice, oak and tannins from the French oak with densely fruity, sweet and soft elements from the PX cask. Even the team at Celtic Whiskey were surprised at how well the combination worked! It is a whiskey that has hidden layers that reveal themselves with each new sip and offers unrivalled quality for the price point.
Fans of Celtic Cask 44 can look out for the current release Celtic Cask 50 which features the same cask ageing profile but this time using liquid from Dingle Distillery. It also marks the first of many Celtic Cask releases to come from Dingle.
Another featured whiskey at the awards and winner of a Gold Medal in its category is Celtic Cask 47. This younger whiskey was distilled at Great Northern Distillery in 2016 and utilises the distillery’s highly regarded peated malt. It spent the entire seven years in a tiny 53 litre Oloroso Sherry cask which gave the whiskey a more mature profile than expected along with an incredible rich colour. Unfortunately it sold out very quickly as the cask yielded a very small amount of bottles.
Other current Celtic Cask releases of note are the Celtic Cask 48 which features maturation in an Anima Negra Mallorcan red wine cask followed by another special Pedro Ximenez cask, and also the Celtic Cask 49 which features an extended finishing period in a small Oloroso Sherry cask.
The Celtic Cask range was started by the Celtic Whiskey Shop in 2010 as a way of offering customers special edition whiskeys that were fully or partially matured in a variety of cask types.

A whole lot of swagger

Introducing the award-winning Dubliner Honeycomb Liqueur – where Irish whiskey gets a serious upgrade with a dash of irresistible flavour and a whole lot of swagger.
The Dubliner team has conjured up a luxuriously smooth liqueur that’s impossible to resist by fusing iconic Dubliner Irish Whiskey with the delicate sweetness of caramel and rich honeycomb notes. With each sip, you’ll experience a symphony of flavours that dances across your palate, reminiscent of honey, toffee, and cream soda, with a gentle vanilla spice finish.
With a robust 30% ABV, this Irish Whiskey Liqueur stands as the ultimate fusion of flavours. A must-try for whiskey enthusiasts and newcomers alike, providing a rich and diverse entry point into the world of whiskey.
Whether you choose to enjoy it over ice or ice cream, savour a captivating cocktail, or indulge in post-show revelry, Dubliner Honeycomb Liqueur knows how to make an entrance.
For more information on the Dubliner range check out
The brand is celebrating its win with 15% off a bottle of Dubliner Honeycomb, with the code: DRINKSINDUSTRYIRELAND
To have it delivered straight to your door simply visit*
Sláinte! *discount valid on until 30/03/24

An Irish whiskey with a measure of attitude

The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey is a devilishly concocted blend of aged malt and grain whiskeys. Serving a sentence of five long years in seasoned Kentucky bourbon barrels, before solitary confinement in half-sized, specially crafted virgin American oak casks. This whiskey is criminally good.At 44% abv Dead Rabbit Irish whiskey is bold with enough punch to be heard in the crowd. But smooth, with a spiced softness and long draw to be enjoyed on its own. On the nose there’s big hits of cedar and vanilla. The palate is a full-bodied bloom of dark chocolate, orange and oak that gives way to a finish of buttery pastry and black pepper spice.
A collaboration of The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York (by way of Belfast) and The Dublin Liberties Distillery, this whiskey is unmistakeably Irish and destined for great drinks.
To commemorate and celebrate our gold medal, you can get 15% off a bottle of Dead Rabbit* via with the code: DRINKSINDUSTRYIRELAND
*discount valid on until 30/03/24

Take me to the island

Deirdre Bohane, gin developer and distiller of Garnish Island Gin

Garnish Island Gin is a handcrafted small batch Irish gin that takes inspiration from the lush Italian gardens on West Cork’s Garnish Island. The Irish gin recipe includes locally foraged botanicals some of which include hibiscus, iris, rose, rosemary and thyme.
The taste is soft with a lingering glow on the finish with herbaceous and citrus notes and just a hint of spice. It has bright floral aromas of iris, rose and hibiscus that marry beautifully with hints of rosemary and thyme.

“Having worked as the gin distiller at West Cork Distillers for over eight years and have crafted over 40 premium gins for customers of West Cork Distillers both in Ireland and around the world it is a real honour and privilege to have won Ireland’s Best Gin award in the 2023 Irish Whiskey Awards for Garnish Island Gin,” says Deirdre Bohane, gin developer and distiller of Garnish Island Gin.
“Garnish Island was inspired by my childhood summers spent with cousins in Glengarriff and day trips to the island. I chose the botanicals that I think best capture the essence of the island. The botanicals are infused to release their essential oils and then slowly distilled in small batches in a custom built copper pot still. Non-chill filtered in order to safeguard all the delicious flavours.” Garnish Island Gin has an ABV of 46%.

From the garden of Ireland

Glendalough Wild Botanical Irish Gin by Glendalough Distillery captures the purest expression of the rich land

Glendalough Irish Gin is progressively crafted with fresh, wild botanicals, hand-picked by the distillery’s head forager Geraldine Kavanagh to capture the purest expression of the rich land of Glendalough through the depth of flavour in its luxury gins.
Treading lightly and never taking too much from one place, Geraldine considerately forages for fresh and flavourful ingredients all year round to capture the four Irish seasons in every bottle of Glendalough Wild Botanical Irish Gin.
Kavanagh says: “The inspiration for the flavour of our gin comes from the scents, sights and tastes of Glendalough and it’s my job to put that essence of place into the bottle. The ingredients that we use grow in the wild and we take a lot of care to ensure that we don’t adversely affect the areas we forage from.”
When it comes the distillation process, time is of the essence. Each day, within hours of foraging, Kavanagh’s harvest is handed to Ciarán “Rowdy” Rooney, Glendalough Distillery’s head distiller, who then uses small-batch slow-distillation to tease out the delicate flavours. Glendalough Distillery’s Wild Botanical Irish Gin serves the taste of ‘a year in every bottle’ and perfectly captures a place in time, with four seasons of foraging in wild Wicklow encapsulated in every bottle.

A whiskey finisher’s son

Jack Ryan’s is an independent, family-owned whiskey company around for more than a century

Eunan Ryan, MD of the multiple-award-winning Jack Ryan Whiskey Co says they are pleased and greatly encouraged by their latest award at the Irish Whiskey Awards. “Shelbourne was judged Best Overall 5YO – 11YO Single Malt, so it won though at the younger end of its category,” he says. Shelbourne is a 5YO Cask Strength 57.5% ABV, finished in first use oloroso, 980 bottles, numbered and signed, Batch 1 of a series of three.
“That’s our second such IWA award in a row. Finisher’s Touch won Best Overall in the 12YO – 15YO category last year, and it too was at the young end of its category,” he explains. Finisher’s Touch is a 12YO 46% ABV, finished in Justino’s madeira.
“I suppose you could say whiskey finishing is designing taste with casks,” says Ryan. “We’re an independent, family-owned business around for more than a century. We’ve our own bonded warehouse and bottling line, and we are constantly adding to our repertoire of casks. There are several more releases in finish as I speak, including Batches 2 and 3 of Shelbourne, and some tasty single casks we hope will be well received.
“We’re in our sixth whiskey generation now. It’s a great time to be involved in the Irish whiskey business. We Ryans are proud to be part of it, and delighted to be recognised through these awards, Shelbourne being the latest. Hopefully, we will garner a few more in the coming years.
‘I am a whiskey finisher, I’m a whiskey finisher’s son, and I’ll go on finishing whiskey till the whiskey finishing’s done,” laughs Ryan.

Reaching the Bridge

Lough Ree Distillery is delighted to be awarded Best Single Grain Irish Whiskey for The Bridge – Galey Bay Single Grain and a Gold medal for The Bridge – Inny Bay Single Grain. The company has won gold medals in this category for the last two years so it’s a huge honour for them to win the category along with a gold medal.
Both of these whiskeys are Single Cask finished 13 year old Single Grain releases distilled at Cooley Distillery. They are the 22nd and 23rd releases in their Independent Bottler series called The Bridge. These sourced, mature whiskies are their bridge to the point where they have their own mature whiskey distilled in a distillery in Lanesborough.
The Bridge – Galey Bay is a limited edition of 324 bottles. It’s named after the historic Galey Bay on Lough Ree in Co Roscommon. This whiskey has classic sherry notes of dark fruit and nuts, with plenty of oak spice character, gained from maturation in both Bourbon and Oloroso Casks.
Its sister release The Bridge – Inny Bay is a limited edition of 311 bottles. It’s named after Inny Bay on the Longford/Westmeath border on the eastern shore of Lough Ree. Inny Bay is matured in an unusual combination of Bourbon and Somontano wine casks, which leads to intense red fruits on the nose and palate balanced with vanilla and spice from the bourbon casks.
Both retail at RRP €110 and are available from and good independent retailers. For more information contact Lough Ree Distillery’s vanilla flavoured – 99 Vodka has won Best Irish Vodka in the Irish Whiskey Awards. This small batch vodka has done very well since it launched in late 2022. The delicious sweet and creamy taste are reminiscent of summer days and 99 ice creams, hence the name.
This vodka (RRP €35) is infused in small batches with natural vanilla pods and no added sugar or flavourings. The process gives it lots of aroma and sweet vanilla flavour, with hints of chocolate and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. This makes it prized by bartenders and mixologists for trending cocktails like the pornstar martini and espresso martini. It’s equally good as a long drink with lemonade or cola.
99 Vodka is among the first products available in ecoSPIRITS format in

The delicious sweet and creamy taste are reminiscent of summer days and 99 ice creams

Ireland. ecoSPIRITS is a circular economy technology company that has developed the world’s first low carbon, low waste packaging technology for premium spirits. Each refillable ecoTOTE displaces up to 1,000 single use glass bottles in its lifetime with carbon footprint and packaging waste savings of up to 90%. Lough Ree Distillery is the ecoSPIRITS licenced operator for Ireland and see this as a way to reduce carbon footprint while significantly reducing waste and delivering premium products at competitive prices for the on-trade in Ireland. For more information contact for more information.

Unwavering dedication to excellence

The Powerscourt Distillery is very proud of its gold medal-winning success at the 2023 Irish Whiskey Awards. The Powerscourt Distillery, producer of Fercullen Irish whiskey, is known for its exceptional Irish whiskey and has secured many accolades, marking a milestone in its short but impactful history.
The Powerscourt Distillery achieved notable success at the 2023 Awards, winning Double Gold in the “New Irish Whiskey” category for Fercullen Single Malt and Estate Series 3 “The Gates”.
This category is exclusive to distilleries open for three to six years and requires whiskey to be distilled on-site. This award is a significant milestone for both The Powerscourt Distillery and County Wicklow, highlighting the distillery’s commitment to quality and placing it firmly on the Irish whiskey map.
John Cashman, head of NPD and brand at Powerscourt Distillery, expressed his delight at the distillery’s achievements. “This recognition is a testament to our team’s unwavering dedication to excellence. Each award we receive is not just important for Powerscourt Distillery but an acknowledgement of the rich heritage and innovative spirit that defines Irish whiskey.

“As Powerscourt Distillery continues to rise as a leader in the whiskey industry, it remains dedicated to upholding the high standards that have earned it international and critical acclaim. The team at The Powerscourt Distillery looks forward to bringing more exceptional and innovative products to whiskey enthusiasts around the globe.”

Ireland’s only Absinthe

Robert Barrett and Bhagya Barrett makers of Rebel City Distillery Absinthe

Rebel City Distillery introduces a groundbreaking addition to the world of spirits with the launch of Ireland’s only Absinthe. Crafted by master distiller Robert Barrett, this exclusive small-batch release blends tradition and innovation. Inspired by a 1860s French recipe, each bottle is a testament to meticulous botanical blending, resulting in a well-balanced flavour profile at 50.4% ABV. Available in 50 cl bottles, promises a unique sensory journey. For enthusiasts and curious palates Rebel City Distillery Series Absinthe is now accessible at www.rebelcitydistillery. com and also at Celtic Whiskey Store. Rebel City Distillery Absinthe has won a Silver in World Drinks Awards 2023 and most recently a gold in Irish Whisky Awards 2023 in Other Spirits category.

The cream of the crop

It’s all about the ingredients, full butter fat cream from grass fed cows and St Patrick’s multi award winning Irish whiskey. Many cream liqueurs use a wine alcohol base or a neutral spirit, but St Patrick’s chose to use Irish whiskey, and the difference has been described as that between chalk and cheese!
St Patrick’s Irish Cream Liqueur was the overall winner at the Irish Whiskey awards in 2022 and are now working on St. Patrick’s White Chocolate Irish Cream Liqueur for 2024. n

The winners of the 2023 Irish Whiskey Awards are as follows:

Keynote speaker Patrick Rigney, founder of The Shed Distillery, presents Irish Whiskey Of the Year trophy to Connacht Distillery’s, master blender Julia Nourney and financial director Milo Molloy, along with Irish Whiskey Award sponsor Rosi Goswell, founder of Tuath Irish Whiskey Glass

Irish Whiskey of the Year 2023
Connacht Distillery Exclusive Cask Strength

Whiskey Liqueur
Winner: The Dubliner Honey
Gold: The Whistler Honey Liqueur
Gold: Tullamore DEW Honey
Cream Liqueur
Winner: St Patrick’s Cappucino Irish Cream
Gold: Two Stacks Double Irish Cream Liqueur
Gold: Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur
Winner: Straw Boys Poitín
Gold: Micil Heritage Poitín
Gold: Bán Cask Aged Poitín
Winner: Lough Ree 99 Vanilla
Vodka Gold: Míl
Vodka Gold: Istil Vanilla Vodka

Winner: Garnish Island Gin
Gold: Micil Gin
Gold: Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
Best Other Irish Spirit
Winner: Stillgarden Café O’Maro
Gold: Stillgarden Berrissimo
Gold: Rebel City Distillery Series – Absinthe
Single Pot Still 11 and Under
Winner: Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask
Gold: Jameson Single Pot Still
Gold: Powers Three Swallows
Single Pot Still 12 Year and Over
Winner: Red Spot 15 Year Old
Gold: Yellow Spot 12 Year Old
Gold: Redbreast 15 Year Old
Single Malt 11 Years and Younger
Winner: Jack Ryan Whiskey 5 Year Old Oloroso Finish Cask Strength
Gold: Dunville’s 10 Year Old Pedro Ximenez Cask
Gold: The Irishman Legacy
Single Malt 12 – 15 Year Old
Winner: Tullamore DEW 14 Year Old
Gold: Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old
Gold: The Irishman 12 Year Old
Single Malt 16 Years & Older
Winner: The Irishman 17 Year Old
Gold: Dunville’s 21 Year Old Palo Cortado Cask
Gold: McConnell’s Irish Whisky 20 Year Old Port Finish Single Cask
Blended No Age Statement
Winner: Writers’ Tears Double Oak
Gold: Jameson Crested
Gold: Powers Gold Label
Blended Age Statement
Winner: McConnell’s Irish Whisky Sherry Cask (5 years)
Gold: The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey
Gold: Clan Colla 13 Year Old
Blended Limited Release
Winner: Writers’ Tears Japanese Cask Finish
Gold: Dunville’s 1808 “Casked in Bond” Dick Mack’s Honey & Hemp IPA Cask, Cask No. 1451
Gold: Writer’s Tears Inniskillin Ice Wine
Peated Irish Whiskey
Winner: Micil Single Cask Release with Garavan’s Bar
Gold: Killowen Barántúil Single Cask KD202
Gold: Celtic Cask 47 Daichead a Seacht 2016 Peated Oloroso
Single Cask 11 Years & Younger
Winner: Celtic Cask 44 Daichead a Ceathair 2014 PX Cask Finish
Gold: Dunville’s PX 11 Year Old Single Malt Cask Strength
Gold: Dunville’s 11 Year Old Palo Cortado Cask Strength

Single Cask 12 Years & Older
Winner: Dunville’s 22 Year Old Palo Cortado Cask No. 1204
Gold: Dunville’s 20 Year Old Oloroso Cask
Strength Cask No. 990 56.2% ABV
Gold: Dunville’s 21 Year Old PX Sherry Cask Finish – James J. Fox

Single Cask Cask Strength

Winner: Connacht Distillery Exclusive Cask Strength
Gold: Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength
Gold: Dunville’s 20 Year Old PX Cask Strength, Cask 1644, 55% ABV
Single Grain
Winner: The Bridge – Galey Bay
Gold: The Bridge – Inny Bay
Gold: Method and Madness Single Grain
New Irish Whiskey
Winner: Pearse Genesis Irish Whiskey
Gold: Fercullen Single Malt
Gold: Fercullen Estate Series ‘The Gates

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