Whiskey Review: McConnell’s Irish Whisky

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

A few years ago work got underway by the Belfast Distilling Company to bring back a historic Irish whiskey brand that had remained dormant since the 1930s. According to Belfast Distillery Company CEO Joe Kelly, McConnell’s Irish Whisky is already in twenty markets around the world.

McConnell’s Irish Whisky is said to be one of the oldest brands of whiskey to come from Ireland. The current iteration of McConnell’s Irish Whisky was launched in February of 2020.

McConnell Irish Whisky finds its origins in 1776, when the McConnell family of Northern Ireland, Belfast to be more specific, started selling their whiskey to the public. The original McConnell’s Irish Whisky predated the introduction of ‘E’ in Irish whiskey and the brand has kept with the original branding ever since.

Because theirs quickly became a successful and sought-after whiskey, the McConnell sons, John and James, built a distillery in Belfast near the River Lagan in the early 1800s. Business was good for the brand until 1909, when one of the largest fires on record at the time in Belfast engulfed the distillery and destroyed half a million gallons of whiskey. Soon after rebuilding and resuming production, McConnell’s Irish Whisky, along with more than 90 percent of Irish whiskeys, disappeared for a number of reasons, including Prohibition in America, which made it illegal to sell liquor in the US. 

Bottled at 84 proof, the current iteration of McConnell’s Irish Whisky is a sourced blend of Irish malted barley and grain whiskey that’s aged five years in ex-bourbon casks. According to the brand’s official tasting notes, the nose offers “light citrus notes, peppered spice and vanilla undertones,” while the palate offers “earthy fruits, butterscotch and vanilla sweetness from bourbon casks, [and] white pepper followed by an oak woodiness.” 

McConnell’s Irish Whisky has been awarded Bronze in the 2022 International Wine and Spirit Competition, Silver in the 2022 International Spirits Challenge, and Gold in the 2022 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. 

McConnell’s Irish Whisky review

We review McConnell’s Irish Whisky, an Irish whiskey brand of old that recently was revived. (image via Jennifer Williams/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: McConnell’s Irish Whisky

Vital Stats: Blend of Irish malt and Irish grain whiskey, 84 proof (42% ABV), 750 ml MSRP $32. 

Appearance: Yellow gold.

Nose: On the nose are flavors of orchard fruit, spice, honey, vanilla, and butterscotch with a hint of white chocolate. 

Palate: The palate offers notes of pepper spice, butterscotch candy, green apple, and soft notes of fresh dry grains. 

Whiskey Review: McConnell’s Irish Whisky


Sweet honey notes up front gently segue into pepper spice notes on the mid palate before subtle grain notes arrive on the back end. Delicate with a slightly creamy mouth feel, a medium finish, and a subtle oiliness that gently coats the tongue. Overall this is an approachable, easy drinking, and quite tasty Irish whiskey experience with a very reasonable price point. 

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Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is a former Dallas, Texas bartender of 15 years where she developed an appreciation for patrons with a healthy respect for great whiskey. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2019 where she graduated from Portland State University as an English Literature major with a minor in Writing. While...