The best Irish cream taste tested
Love a glass of traditional Irish cream at Christmas? Our expert reviewer brings you his top 10 bottles, including versions flavoured with salted caramel and almond.
Few things say Christmas better than an Irish cream liqueur. The silky smooth boozy tipple is an ever present for many family traditions, from finishing a bottle whilst wrapping presents to treating yourself as a Christmas dinner dessert.
Made by mixing Irish whiskey with cream and other flavourings, this much loved libation is ubiquitous in the winter months and, even though many of us are accustomed to one brand in particular, there’s a whole world of Irish creams out there to try. From those indulgently sweet to quirkily flavoured, there’s a bottle out there for everybody.
We’ve rounded up the best of the best that you can buy this festive season, so go grab a short glass and a couple of ice cubes and stick your feet up, here are the best Irish cream liqueurs this year.
The best Irish cream to buy this Christmas
Feeney’s Irish cream (17% ABV)
A luxury take on the classic
One of the most luxurious Irish creams there is, Feeney’s is made in the heart of the Republic, crafted in the town of Abbeyleix in County Laois.
First produced over 25 years ago by Tom Feeney, this bottle is made by blending Irish whiskey aged for at least three years with rich chocolate and real dairy cream from nearby farms.
The quality of the ingredients shines through with this one, the Irish grain whiskey with delicate peppery punch and fruity notes plays well against the thick cream and rich chocolate, marrying together for an ultra smooth experience which is as sweet as it is fresh, providing that boozy kick without that harsh finish which can put off non-whiskey drinkers.
Arran Gold cream liqueur (17% ABV)
A Scottish spin on an Irish delicacy
Sure, Arran isn’t strictly Irish. Ok, it’s not Irish at all. Arran is a Scottish distillery, famed for its smooth and fruity single malts, the company is situated off the west coast of Scotland on the Isle of Arran.
The Arran Gold was launched in 2004 and has been a resounding success with its deep, complex palate. Smelling this bottle is almost as good as drinking it, the liqueur full of deep dark berry aromas, along with a suggestion of mint in the background.
This is definitely the option for whisky lovers with the spirit seeping through notes of milk chocolate and honey on the palate. This bottle won World’s Best Whisky Liqueur in 2007 and we can see why.
Coole Swan (16% ABV)
Indulgent, decadent and irresistibly moreish
Coole Swan is the premium choice when it comes to Irish cream. Everything about this bottle screams luxury, from the selection of the finest dairy cream to the dollops of decadent Belgian white chocolate.
Independent and family owned, the firm derives its name from one of WB Yeats’ most beloved romantic works, The Wild Swans at Coole.
One sip and you’re debating just going for a straw straight into the bottle. The palate is lusciously smooth, enveloping your tongue with a velvet tapestry of vanilla, cocoa butter, toffee and nutty spices.
The chocolate, cream and triple distilled Irish whiskey play off each other in perfect harmony, preventing any cloying sweetness in the aftertaste. This truly is a superlative Irish cream, as you’d expect given that it took 230 attempts to get the recipe just right.
Five Farms Irish cream (17% ABV)
The freshest you can get from the heart of County Cork
Five Farms Irish Cream is all about freshness. This bottle is made using single batches of fresh dairy cream, blended with triple distilled Irish whiskey within 48 hours of collection.
This freshness translates into the ultra light and creamy mouthfeel, rightfully earning the firm widespread acclaim - Five Farms scored a record 97/100 in the 2018 World Spirits Challenge.
The palate is as creamy as they come, silky with milk chocolate and hints of coffee, the quality of the whiskey really shines through.
Not only is this delicious on the tongue but the bottle is easy on the eyes as well. The authentic wide mouthed glass bottle comes with a swing top closure and embossed detailing - definitely one to keep wash out and keep around when you’re done.
Baileys Original Irish cream (17% ABV)
The classic, need we say more?
We couldn’t leave them out, could we? Baileys is the original, the go-to, when it comes to Irish cream.
The story goes that decades ago a group of ambitious, proud Irishmen had the dream of combining two of the Emerald Isle’s most precious exports: dairy cream and whiskey; by 1974 the recipe we know and love today was written, the rest is history.
Baileys has become a favourite the world over for its consistently comforting palate of rich chocolate and vanilla, combining together in a pool of whiskey-laced cream.
There’s no wonder this bottle is such a Christmas favourite: it is indulgent, moreish and perfect for getting merry with family and friends.
Merlyn cream liqueur (17% ABV)
Wales’ full blooded entry into the cream liqueur market
The Merlyn Cream Liqueur is a Welsh take on the Irish classic, from one of the country’s most famous distilleries.
The Welsh Whisky Company was founded in 1998, after the 20th Century saw whisky distilling in Wales rocked by court cases, duty fraud and jail time.
Distillation resumed in Wales in September in the year 2000, four years later Penderyn’s Single Malt was launched by HRH Prince Charles.
A decade and a half and an embarrassment of awards later and Penderyn are enjoying success with a range of spirits and liqueurs, their Merlyn Cream Liqueur a particular favourite.
The nose is characterised by toffee and fresh fruit, the palate leans into the classic vanilla and chocolate palate with peppery spirit complementing the pair well.
Skinny Moo peanut butter cream liqueur (12% ABV)
Everything should come with a peanut butter version
Hear us out. What if Irish cream tasted like peanut butter? What a world that would be. Thankfully, we live in the future, where you can get peanut butter flavoured Irish cream, courtesy of Skinny Moo.
This bottle comes from the same Abbeyleix based makers of Feeney’s Irish Cream and is ideal for the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup obsessive in your life.
Not only does this Irish cream have that delicious peanut butter profile, but it is also lighter than you’d imagine – clocking in at 55 calories a measure, the same as your typical gin and tonic. This also works surprisingly well in an espresso martini.
Sainsbury's Irish cream liqueur (17% ABV)
A super-sweet supermarket take on on the classic
If you fancy picking up a bottle with your big shop then the Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Irish cream liqueur is a solid option. Made with Ballyrashane cream and triple distilled Irish whiskey, this is a super-smooth option and a winner for those that prefer a milkier cream liqueur. There’s plenty of butterscotch and vanilla to chew on as well as some decadent cocoa layers.
The finish could be a bit saccharine for some, but if you’ve got a sweet tooth and don’t enjoy any lingering whiskey aftertaste then this is perfect for you. Try mixing with some vodka and Kahlua to make the classic Mudslide cocktail – basically a very adult chocolate milkshake.
Baileys Almande (13% ABV)
The vegan version of the one we know and love
You know what they say about going vegan, the hardest thing to give up is bacon...and Irish cream. Thankfully there is a vegan Irish cream to enjoy at Christmas, courtesy of Baileys.
Made using almond and vanilla flavouring, this dairy-free take on the classic offers something a bit different taste and texture wise.
The one trade off with the vegan version is that it isn’t as creamy as the Baileys original. We still lapped it up nonetheless, almond is a classic after dinner liqueur flavour and it works perfectly with the classic vanilla-forward Baileys profile. If you’re looking forward to a more sustainable Christmas, then you can’t go wrong with this one.
St Patrick’s salted caramel Irish cream (17% ABV)
Authentic indulgence from an award-winning distillery
You surely can’t get a more Irish offering than one by the name of St. Patrick’s. This bottle comes from the Cork-based St. Patrick’s distillery, a young company which boasts an embarrassment of awards across its range of spirits; they make gin, vodka, whisky and liqueurs and they’re pretty darn good at all of them.
The key to a good Irish cream liqueur is a good Irish whiskey, thankfully St. Patrick’s has a gold medal-winning whiskey range.
Whilst the firm’s award-winning original Irish cream is well worth a sip, we reckon you should treat yourself to the salted caramel expression, complete with healthy dollops of caramel, vanilla, toffee and cocoa. There’s also full-fat butter there to make it extra luscious.
Irish cream recipes
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This review was last updated in November 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@.