The back story
Here’s a whiskey to sip in honor of both St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and Women’s History Month (all of March).
Grace O’Malley bills itself as “the first Irish whiskey named after a woman” — in this case, a legendary 16th-century figure from Irish history. Born in 1530 to a noble family, she became a mariner, a rebel and a fierce negotiator (she once met with Queen Elizabeth I to win the release of her sons after they were taken captive by the English).
The idea of creating a spirit in her honor came from Steven Cope, an Irish entrepreneur who had worked mainly in the candy business. He joined forces with an investing and brand-building company, and the whiskey was introduced in 2019, with a U.S. launch in 2020. It’s been a steady climb since then — even in spite of the pandemic. Grace O’Malley is now sold in seven U.S. states and 20 countries, according to Heather Clancy, brand manager for the whiskey.
Of course, it’s been a boom time for Irish whiskey in general. In particular, Americans have embraced the spirit, which is known for its easy-to-sip quality (as opposed to, say, Scotch, which can have bit more bite). U.S. sales of Irish whiskey have soared by nearly 1,700% over the last two decades (based on supplier revenue), according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
What we think about it
Grace O’Malley aims to distinguish itself from other Irish whiskies by having a bit more malt in the recipe (or “mash bill”), says Clancy. (Irish whiskey is usually made primarily from grain.) She says the added malt gives it a “really rounded finish.”
I won’t argue with that. This is an Irish whiskey that has a somewhat sumptuous taste, but still retains that quaffable quality we associate with the category. You taste notes of toffee, maybe a hint of dried fruit — in all, a warm-blanket of whiskey sweetness. The bottom line: It’s a very nice sip, especially for its relatively modest price.
How to enjoy it
This is easily appreciated as a standalone sip — maybe add a cube or two of ice if you like. But the brand says it can be used in whiskey-based cocktails — Clancy suggests trying it in a Whiskey Sour.