proper no twelve irish whiskey

Ask the average person to name a celebrity from Dublin. Before too long, they might come up with Bono and Conor McGregor. Now, ask them to come up with celebrities from Dublin who have their own liquor brands.

They could probably still only come up with Bono and McGregor (provided they knew what you were talking about). After all, last year Bono announced a nearly $60 million investment in a new Irish whiskey distillery. Meanwhile, McGregor released the first bottles of Proper No. Twelve, his own fledgling whiskey brand.

(They’re not the only big names getting into the liquor business. For evidence, check out our story on celebrity-owned liquors here.)

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, let’s break down McGregor’s new hooch, MMA style.

Round 1: The Backstory

McGregor took the name from his hometown of Crumlin, in Dublin’s District 12, coupled with “proper” to denote that it’s, well, a proper Irish whiskey. As if to double down on the Irish-ness, he chose David Elder, formerly of Guinness and Bushmills, to be his “master distiller.”

Round 2: The Process

Despite Elder’s title, there’s not much distilling going on here yet, despite all the photos of barley, fermenters, and pot stills on the brand’s website. This is a blended Irish whiskey, not unlike Jameson, Tullamore Dew, or Bushmills, except those three are all distilled on-site at their own facilities.

Speaking of Bushmills… that’s where the pot-still, single malt portion of this blend is sourced from, way up in Northern Ireland. It’s then blended with a sweeter, more neutral single-grain spirit. There’s no age statement, but by law all the constituent spirits need to see the inside of a barrel—used bourbon casks, in this case—for at least three years.

Round 3: The Nose

Imagine a high-malt bourbon, and you’re on the right track—a lot of cereal grain, tempered by some sea brine and iodine, and rounded off by some perceptible sweet notes from the single grain spirit.

Round 4: The Taste

On the palate, it’s actually not sweet at all, save for a bit of candied walnut and butterscotch that I got. It’s very light and mild, with a touch of cinnamon-type spice from the oak tannins and a somewhat middling, leathery finish.

Round 5: The Use

Proper No. Twelve isn’t a sipping around the fire type of whiskey. Better to put it in a highball, or drink it down quick… especially if you’ve just taken a flying knee to the chin.


— 40% ABV
— $29.99

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