We all know that March's Gin of the Month, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, is a great triumph for the Irish drinks industry – but what other top-quality tipples has Irish curiosity given the world?
1. Irish Cream Liqueur
The delicious chocolate bar March's Gin of the Month box is doubly indulgent, because when you take a bite you’ll find that it’s filled with tasty Irish cream. This delicious liqueur – a blend of Irish whiskey, cream and sometimes other ingredients like coffee or vanilla – seems like it could be a historical recipe with roots in Ireland’s ancient past. But, in fact, it was invented in the 1970s by a group of enterprising Irish booze bosses. But when it tastes this good, who needs a good backstory? Bailey’s isn’t the be-all and end-all, either – branch out and give Kerrygold or Feeney’s a try.
The next time you’re looking for a truly authentic Irish beverage, you have to check out Poitín. The original Irish spirit, Poitín was outlawed by the English in 1661 and remained illegal until the late 1990s. That drove production underground, and Poitín (which translates to ‘little pot’) became known primarily as moonshine. These days the tradition of Poitín-making has been embraced by a new generation of Irish distillers, who are pushing for quality controls and, slowly but surely, changing the reputation of this ancient Irish spirit for the better.
3. Irish Stout
When Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on an unused brewery in Dublin’s Market Street, there was no way he could have known what a phenomenon the beer he made there would become. Using a recipe some say his father got from a Welsh employer, Guinness’s eponymous stout is now available in more than 120 countries around the world – but it’s not the only option for lovers of this style of beer!
This thick, beguilingly dark style of beer is hugely popular with Irish drinkers and brewers alike. Beamish Irish Stout – still made with an original yeast dating back to 1792 – and a lighter, sweeter stout made by Murphy’s are both beloved in Ireland and beyond.
4. Irish Whiskey
Whiskey gets its name from the Gaelic words for ‘water of life’, and this spirit has been distilled in Ireland for hundreds of years. Because much of this work was done in secret and Irish records tended to be oral rather than written, mystery shrouds the past of this iconic drink. But the future is bright: craft distillers are opening new distilleries all the time.
The first whiskey from PJ’s team at The Shed Distillery, home of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin will be ready to take out of the barrel this winter.
5. Barry’s Tea
Getting weary of all the hard drinking? Revive yourself with a good, strong cup of the quintessential Irish breakfast tea: Barry’s. From their tea shop on Prince’s Street in Cork, the Barry family slowly but surely built one of Ireland’s best-loved brands.
Founded in 1901 by James J. Barry, to this day it is family-owned, community-oriented and committed to making “teas of real character”. It’s said that almost 40% of all tea sales in Ireland go to Barry’s and, fortunately for English tea lovers, this friendly red box is widely available on the eastern side of the Irish sea.