Paddy, which claims to be the best-selling whiskey in Ireland, has only recently received wider distribution to the rest of the world in an effort to compete with giants Jameson and Powers, also made at the Midleton distillery. Formerly a Pernod-Ricard brand, Paddy was sold to Sazerac (makers of Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Pappy) in 2016. The whiskey itself, a “high-malt” blend of all three styles of Irish whiskey (malt whiskey, single pot still, and column grain whiskey) is triple-distilled, aged between 4 and 7 years, and bottled at 40% ABV.
Nose: Heady, grain-forward whiskey with a lot of hay-flecked oiliness and a grimy/sooty nearly-peat-like earthy quality. Slight vanilla sweetness deep in the glass, but main impression is dry.
Palate: Syrupy body. Again grain-forward, with a bit more tongue burn than I expected at 40% ABV. Sweet, with a lot of cereals, honey, and a hint of cocoa nibs.
Finish: On the short side. Here the acetone / paint-thinner notes finally show. Mild nuttiness and a bit of bitter charcoal.
With Water: A few drops of water amp up the weird industrial notes and add some acidity (white vinegar) to the aroma. The water thins the palate somewhat, and adds vague sweetness to the finish. Water not necessary, but it doesn’t hurt anything.
Overall: Not. Bad. The impression is heavy on the grain, and there is a weird sooty oiliness that could be off-putting, but it is well-balanced by sweetness on the tongue and a delay of the inevitable “young grain” acetone to the finish. It lacks the heavy caramel notes of Powers and the tropical fruits of Jameson, but makes up for those deficiencies with complexity (earthiness) and fewer vodka-esque “cheap grain” notes. Faced with the decision of these three blends in a bar, I would likely choose Paddy, neat, over the others. A newbie might be better off with Jameson, due to the weird sooty notes here. Still, they all get the job done and don’t stand up to any of the better Irish pot still whiskeys (Redbreast 12) or malts (Tyrconnell).