A Mixologist's Top Whiskey Choice For Irish Coffee

Made simply with hot coffee, whiskey, a little sugar, and topped with fluffy freshly whipped cream, an Irish coffee is an indulgent way to end a meal, as well as being the perfect pick-me-up any time of day. Just like when making any classic cocktail, if you want to get the best results, using the right ingredients matters since there are so few components involved. And the quality of whiskey for Irish coffee is key if you want to create a smooth and satisfying beverage.

It probably goes without saying that an Irish whiskey tends to work best with the drink — an opinion endorsed by expert Molly Horn, Chief Mixologist and Spirits Educator at Total Wine & More. And it's all about getting the flavors to work in harmony. "I like something light and a little sweet, such as Ide & Stills, as the touch of sweetness balances out the bitterness of the coffee, and the gentleness means it doesn't clash," she told Food Republic.

With notes of toffee and dried fruit, as well as an oaky and mildly floral aroma, Horn's choice means the taste of the rich coffee and sweet cream can shine without being overpowered by too dominant a whiskey. Alternatively, you could always go for something classically smooth, sweet, and lightly spiced such as Jameson for a very traditional option.

Add rich, complex notes with an aged Irish whiskey

If you really want to ramp up the flavors in your Irish coffee, you could incorporate an Irish whiskey that is aged longer to create a more robust beverage. Expert mixologist Molly Horn's choice is Kilbrin 10-Year Oloroso Cask Irish Whiskey, which "will add richness and complexity and elevate those stewed fruit notes you get in a medium-roast coffee."

This particular whiskey choice is already rich with notes of vanilla and oak, but being aged in a sherry cask means you get even more layers of aroma and flavor such as dried fruit and nuttiness coming through. This adds extra depth to the drink while still working well with the flavors within the coffee itself.

If using something at the pricier end of the spectrum seems excessive in a mixed drink rather than taking whiskey neat, remember that a little goes a long way in an Irish coffee. You only need around one to one-and-a-half ounces of whiskey for four ounces of coffee. To enhance the drink further, try finishing it with expert-advised toppings to take your Irish coffee to the next level, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or caramel or chocolate syrup; just choose a flavor profile that matches your whiskey and coffee blend for a drink worthy of a pro.