Kilbeggan a Better Irish Blended Whiskey

Kilbeggan A Very Fine Blend

It’s unfortunate that Irish whiskey is often seen as the ugly little red headed step child of the whiskey world.

Irish whiskey used to be the widest consumed form of whiskey in the world, but a trifecta of misfortunate events (including prohibition in the US, getting cut off from serving the British empire and missing the boat on the column still) relegated Irish whiskey to the space its in now (fourth or fifth among the world’s other whiskies).

Where once there were lots of Irish whiskies on the market, now the market is fairly dominated by a couple big names owned by some huge companies – Jameson (Pernod Ricard) and Bushmills (Diaego).

Before trying Kilbeggan I had honestly never heard of it. Distilled by the independatly Irish owned and run Cooley Distillery, Kilbeggan is one of the most pleasant and drinkable Irish whiskey blends I’ve tasted.

Kilbeggan is a fairly sweet whiskey with not a lot of fire to it. At 80 proof it tastes a lot softer than I expected with the dominate flavor notes of syrupy vanilla coming through. Kilbeggan is aged in second use bourbon barrels and the rich bourbony flavors do come through.

The Kilbeggan blend is a mix of Cooley’s Greenore, a single grain whiskey and Tyrconnel, the companies signature malt whiskey.  I had the opportunity to taste both the Greenore and Tyconnel separately and really felt that the Kilbeggan was greater than the sum of its parts.

I really didn’t care for the Greenore which is a 80 proof 93% corn whiskey.  It’s billed as the only single grain Irish whiskey . I found the Greenore to be very grainy and thin without a lot of upfront favor with some heat and sweet on the back.

I liked the Tyrconnell much better, it’s also a fairly light whiskey at 90 proof it has some nice fire on the front and a nice sweet and slightly oaky finish. The Tyrconnell is also sold in three different finishes, a sherry, midera and port.  While I wasn’t crazy about any of the three finishes the port finish seemed to compliment the sweetness of the Tyrconnell the best.

Yet when you put the Greenore and Tyrconnell together they seem to really compliment each other well and the result is Kilbeggan, and unexpectedly delightful and extremely affordable Irish Whiskey.  While Kilbeggan won’t win over hardcore scotch fans, it is an excellent entry point for someone who wants to start exploring whiskey.  It’s a fantastic ‘starter’ whiskey and one which I’d happily stock in my liquor cabinet.

Kilbeggan Blended Irish Whiskey Rating :
Solidly Recommended – an excellent choice for affordable blended Irish Whiskey.

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+Geoff Kleinman, is the founder, and managing editor of He is a nationally recognized spirits columnist and staff reviewer for Whisky Advocate Magazine. Geoff's work has appeared in dozens of major magazines including Playboy Magazine, Black Book, and Mixology Magazine. He is a current sitting judge for the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the founder of the Society of Modern Journalists, holds BAR certification from the Beverage Alcohol Resource Group, is a Certified Cognac Educator, and a Kentucky Colonel
  • Great post considering I attended my second Cooley Distillery tasting this week today. They had this onhand as well as the Tyrconnell, Greenore, and Connemara(their peated single malt). I too thought this was a great blend, especially for the price($20/750ml). I also was not a fan of Tyrconnell, as I am not too fond of single grain whiskies. Compass Box has a single grain scotch called Hedonism that also wasn’t too pleasing to my palate. Cooley does have a spirit for everyone which is wonderful. Check out Connemara if you haven’t. Not bad for an Irish single peat.


    • Thanks for the comment. I actually tried the Connemara in a tasting (it’s a blend of 4, 6 and 8 yr whiskey). . It’s not bad. It has some nice peat and is sweet with a sweet finish. I just found it a little thin. When it comes to peat I tend to jump on over to Islay with the Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Ledaig.

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  • I also liked the Kilbeggan very much. The ratio of price to value is just amazing. But I also quite like the Greenore, although it does not nearly come close to the older Scotch single grains.

    • I’m with you. While I had fun sampling all the Irish Whisky I do prefer Scotch Whisky. When a distiller manages to capture a complexity of flavor in a well balanced whisky that has a nice long finish it really gets my attention. With the tripple distillation of most Irish Whiskey I think this level of complexity is somewhat lost. But at the price point, Killbeggan is a FANTASTIC deal and perfect for mixing.

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  • Nylund

    This is my go-to Irish whiskey when I want something simple, smooth, and affordable. It won’t impress whiskey lovers, but works well as a mixer or when you want something drinkable at a decent price. Its a very good “well” whiskey. In short, its the whiskey I keep on hand for those “not so special” occasions…when I just want a nice and simple drink and don’t want to break the bank. A great value for sure. While I can’t imagine anyone truly loving it, I also can’t imagine anyone hating it. If you ever feel like an Irish whiskey, but don’t feel like spending a ton of money, its a solid choice. I’d choose it over many of the more “famous” brands like Jameson, but its not what I get when I want a “real” glass of Irish whiskey.

  • Autry

    Lol….I am a red headed step child…..researching irish whiskey…..ya never know when that wonderful comparison will show up.

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