Irish Whiskey Is Ideal For Loyal Rum Drinkers Who Want To Explore

For lovers of spirits, there is much to explore within a single liquor style. Just consider the 30 or so agave species that go into mezcal varieties for every level of expertise. And then there are all the types of brandy, which range from apple-based calvados to dry and floral Peruvian pisco. That's not even mentioning beloved liquors like rum and whiskey — which also come in many delicious expressions.

So, if barrel-aged rums are your sipping go-to, but you're keen to break into other spirit styles, consider sampling Irish whiskey. Even though the liquors are made from distinct ingredients in vastly different locales, there's a surprising amount of overlap. Irish whiskey packs in lightly sweet, earthy, and fruity notes, with a distinct flavor coming from the barrel. It's a style known for its smoothness, with a relatively open-ended composition of ingredients and distillation types. Such characteristics make it similar to dark and golden rums, which — depending on the producer — also pack in a sugary, fruit-forward, and barrel-driven palate. In fact, the spirits are even similar enough to be swapped in cocktails, too.

Irish whiskey and barrel-aged rums both offer sweet and smooth flavors

Rum comes in many varieties, originating from diverse locales and offering a spectrum of distinct flavors. So, if you're a fan of funky and floral overproof Jamaican white rums — and like a stiff daiquiri — Irish whiskey is a far-flung fit. Instead, fans of smooth, sweet, and deftly aged varieties, like those hailing from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Barbados, will gravitate to Irish whiskey.

Irish whiskey typically employs unmalted barley, which translates to spiced, nutty, and funky notes reminiscent of rum. The style steers clear of peat, which lends Scottish whiskies their smoky flavor. Such a grain-forward style is then aged for a minimum of three years, another quality that overlaps it with barreled rum. Unlike bourbon and some other whiskeys, which can have specific barrel requirements, Irish whiskey can be held in any wood type. There are even examples of this spirit held in rum barrels for maximum crossover effect.

So, once you get your hands on a bottle of aromatic Irish whiskey, consider experimenting with riffs on your favorite rum cocktails. The Northern European liquor pairs surprisingly well with ginger, making it an ideal candidate for a Dark and Stormy. Or, toss it into the strong and tropical Jungle Bird for a delicious spirit swap. The two liquors pack in exciting interchangeability worth exploring.