Irish whiskey

Beyond cultural Kool-Aid: Guinness and Jameson have always been Americans' cultural Kool-Aid. Now's a good time to dig deeper. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune)

Smell: Subtle and nice, not overpowering
Taste: Complex and smooth; hints of smoke from the charred bourbon casks in which it's finished

Jameson Gold Reserve, $22

Smell: Mildly hot, a little sweet
Taste: Familiar, smooth, a bit leathery with a hot aftertaste

Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel, $35

Smell: Soft anise, softly sweet
Taste: Jameson's smoother, slightly smokier sister; a bit more sipable

Kilbeggan, $20

Smell: Spicy with a touch of hotness, but not too
Taste: Rugged and interesting, chewy and a bit dirty; a working-class whiskey

Michael Collins Blend, $24

Smell: Faint, not too hot
Taste: Fairly sweet but masculine, quite smooth, residual pipe-tobacco flavor

Powers Gold Label, $27

Smell: Quite light, deep nose, rich barley
Taste: Heavy barley overtones, honey-sweet at end

Single malt

A single malted-barley whiskey distilled in a pot still.

Connemara Peated Single Malt, $45

Smell: Scotch-like, because of the peat; heavy smoke and familiar sweet barley smell
Taste: Exactly like Irish whiskey…as if it were raised in Islay, Scotland

Michael Collins 10 Year Old Single Malt, $39

Smell: Richer than the blended version; aging is prevalent
Taste: Round, sweet and rich with a buttery finish

The Tyrconnell Single Malt, $35

Smell: Rich, caramel, a wee bit hot
Taste: Smooth, honey-forward, smoke in back

Single pot still