Irish Whiskey: The Perfect Souvenir

The Old Jameson Distillery
Lonely Planet/Getty images

Of all the great things the Irish brought into the world, from the Book of Kells to Daniel O’Donnell, whiskey should take the top spot. It has inspired poets like Brendan Behan, has fuelled many political debates, and was also quite handy as a general antiseptic back before the advent of modern medicine. As a result, Irish whiskey is a great souvenir to bring home from your trip to Ireland.

Due to the special processes and ingredients involved in creating Irish whiskey, the taste is quite different from Scottish whiskey or Japanese efforts (which have a unique flavor pallet as well), but this authentic creation of the Emerald Island is the perfect gift to bring home for your close friend or family member.

Getting whiskey out of Ireland to the United States or Canada is also surprisingly easy—you just need to make sure you pack it well and don't exceed the allowance for liquor of each country's customs agency. However, if you plan to travel elsewhere abroad before returning to America, you should check with the customs agency in the next stop on your trip to see how much whiskey you can bring in without declaration.

Choosing the Right Irish Whiskey

Because you can get common-and-garden Irish whiskey almost anywhere in the world, and often at a better price than in Ireland, you shouldn't settle for any old bottle of whiskey you find in the country. Instead, you should select a make that's only available in Ireland.

Look out for rarer brands and special blends when making your way across the Emerald Isle as you don't want to take home something like Jameson you can get at the local liquor store back home.

Though these whiskeys are certainly pricier, they are all the more satisfying when you can pull them out on a special occasion with a fond memory of Ireland to share with your friends.

While there, though, do partake in the time-honored tradition of drinking Irish whiskey on the rocks, and if you're heading to a local party, no one will judge you for bringing any old bottle of whiskey in for mixed drinks.

Irish prices are notoriously high and the prices for alcoholic drinks take the proverbial biscuit, which just serves as another reason to recommend the rarer brands and blends. One way to beat the Irish prices, though, is to head north as Northern Ireland has significantly lower prices on alcoholic goods. Visitors from outside the European Union should also note that they may avoid paying VAT by buying at the airport.

The best strategy, however, would be to visit a distillery or visitor center yourself, then ask in the shop for the exclusive blend sold only there—all distillers should have one that you won't get anywhere else. Now that's a souvenir!

Packing Irish Whiskey for Flights

As airlines will no longer allow you to take anything liquid—at least in "large" quantities, or not bought after security controls—into the cabin, the whiskey will have to go into the baggage hold in your checked back unless you buy it in the duty-free area of the airport.

To be safe, you should purchase styrofoam padding or bubble wrap to package your whiskey in before nestling it safely in your luggage. Packaging this inside of a liquor bottle box could also reduce the chance of the glass breaking in transit, but there's really no guarantee your precious cargo will make it back.

In short: The sturdier your luggage and the better your packing, the higher the chance of getting your whiskey home. Just keep in mind that United States customs has certain rules and limitations on how much of this amber liquid you're allowed to bring into the country without declaring it as a domestic import.