O’briens Irish Whiskey is a “mystery blend” that more likely than not came from Cooley. Though with the Cooley supply getting cut off by Beam / Suntory I’m wondering who the distilling is contracted through now, or if like Michael Collins it will just go away. Originally created by P.J. O’Brien & Sons (established in 1934) who also owns the aptly named chain of liquor stores O’Briens Wines, Beers and Spirits in the UK. Which, interesting enough, is a similar origin story to Johhnie Walker.
JW was created by a grocery store owner, Johnnie Walker, who started blending different single malts to create a whisky that had a distinct and reliable flavor that he sold in his store. It became popular and he began selling it outside of his store, shipping it around the world and the rest is history. Here with O’briens we have a liquor store owner that has made agreements with a distillery to bottle their spirit as their own and sell it under their name. Over the years it’s grown to the point that I can find it here in Los Angeles and they may not be anything but a speck of dust compared to JW, but it’s still pretty neat.
O’briens Irish Whiskey Info
Region: Dublin, Ireland (bottler)
Distiller: Cooley (likely in the past, but who knows now)
Bottler: O’Brien’s Beverage Inc
O’briens Irish Whiskey Review
Apple juice and grain whiskey with light notes of malt, citrus, and honey.
Young grain whiskey with light notes of fruit juice, sugar and butterscotch syrup.
Medium and mostly fueled by grain with light bits of apple juice and a cloying “ick” that hangs out long after any other discernible flavor has disappeared.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Grain whiskey heavy and off balanced with a light body and watery texture that comes across oddly hot for an 80 proof.
The grain whiskey notes dominate the O’briens Irish Whiskey and they’re young and spirity notes at that. Probably 3 years to the day for all components involved and they don’t exactly seem to be the highest level of components either. It’s already hard to trust “mystery whiskeys” and mentally equate them to quality, but that lack-of-quality perception gets worse when you have bottles like this; it ends up increasing the gun-shy nature of straying from big labels. It reinforces the idea that these labels are only getting access to the worst of what the distilleries have to offer because they’re keeping the good stuff for themselves. Which isn’t always the case, but it sure does feel that way.
O’briens Irish Whiskey Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose -
- Palate -
- Finish -
- Balance, Body & Feel -
Paying anything over $5 for the O’briens Irish Whiskey seems like you’re paying too much.