McConnell’s Irish Whiskey: Review

McConnell's Irish Whiskey bottle and pours in rocks glasses

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and fittingly, I’m sitting in the den drafting a review for McConnell’s Irish Whiskey. It is early morning, and I’m the only one in our house moving, minus Moose and the dog we are watching. It will be several hours before I pour out McConnell’s Irish Whiskey drams and sit with Alie in our parlor room or in front of a fire on the porch to record our thoughts.

Reviewing and tasting whiskey is much different than just sitting around enjoying it. The process begins with some research about the whiskey. This includes the company’s history, information about who owns it, and how long the brand has been around. Most whiskey brands have a fun origin story. Although the truth is often up for debate, these are fun stories to share, particularly while sharing pours

I also spend time researching the tasting notes. This includes examining the distiller’s website and analyzing other reviews. This process gives us a list of flavor profiles we might experience during our tasting. It informs our reviews, so we don’t rely on descriptions such as “smooth” to describe the taste. If you want to improve your whiskey-tasting process, check out our “Taste Whiskey Like a Pro” article.

Let’s see what I’ve learned so far.

About McConnell’s Irish Whiskey

Our good friend Craig gave us a bottle of McConnell’s Irish Whiskey. He presented it as a housewarming gift when he could finally circle back through Colorado Springs during his summer travels. Craig chose this particular bottle since they both shared a namesake. It piqued our interest because it wasn’t something we had tried.

McConnell’s Irish Whiskey is a historic brand that has recently been restored. Few Irish Whiskey brands survived prohibition and the decline of whiskey sales during the middle 20th century. McConnell’s was one of the unfortunate distillers who were unable to survive. However, those events always make for the greatest redemption stories.

According to McConnell’s website, the McConnell family began selling whiskey in 1776. It became so popular in Belfast that they were able to build a distillery. The McConnell Irish Whiskey distiller remained in operation until it was ravaged by fire on April 20th, 1909. Over half the distillery and 500,000 gallons of whiskey were destroyed.

Despite rebuilding their distillery, prohibition headwinds all but ensured the demise of McConnell’s Irish Whiskey. The brand disappeared into the annals of history until it was revived in 2020.

McConnell’s Irish Whiskey Tasting Notes

Today, McConnell’s Irish Whiskey is a blended whiskey aged for five years and bottled at 84 proof. It is finished in bourbon casks to bring out light yet sweet vanilla and oak flavors. According to the McConnell’s Irish Whiskey website, the nose offers light citrus, peppered spice, and vanilla. The palate offers hints of earthy fruits, butterscotch, vanilla, and oak. The finish is sweet, with a touch of oak and spice and a fruity note that lingers.

Alie and I noticed the citrus notes on the nose. However, we picked up more of a floral note than what I would call vanilla. Alie felt the nose was very similar to other Irish whiskeys we have tried.

Despite the lack of nuance on the nose, we were pleasantly surprised on our first sip. I picked up a bit of a bitter note that reminded me of a hoppy IPA. It wasn’t a flavor I particularly enjoyed. However, it was quickly erased by a botanical flavor with a touch of citrus. I picked up the oakiness with some lingering vanilla before it gave way to a light burn, like a touch of cinnamon on my lips.

Alie detected a hint of leather, which gave way to a fruitiness. She noticed the taste of pome fruit with a bit of citrus and a hint of light wood. She argued that with a few ice cubes, McConnell’s Irish Whiskey could replace a dry pinot grigio.

Our Ratings

Drinkability: 3.9

Solid. Typical Irish Whiskey with a touch of sweetness, likely from the bourbon cask finish.

Intensity: 2

Light, but lingers longer than the other flavors. It is pleasant to sip slowly.

Personal Preference: 3

There are others we’d grab off the shelf first, but not a bad second pour.

Beginner Friendly: 4

Like many Irish whiskeys, the sweetness makes it easy for a newbie to drink.

Availability: 4

Widely available.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, McConnell’s Irish Whiskey is a delicious and refreshing drink. It is an affordable bottle that will set you back about $30 in most markets. If you are looking for an easy-to-sip Irish whiskey or are just looking to add to your collection, we recommend you give McConnell’s a try. With a little luck, McConnell’s will soon regain the following they had before prohibition.

Happy Exploring!


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