Review: John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey

Review: John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey

After Jameson and Bushmill, most drinkers would be hard-pressed to come up with another Irish whiskey brand.

Well, I’m going to tell you to check out John L. Sullivan.

This small batch Irish, named after the last bare-knuckled boxing heavyweight world champion, is distinguished by being aged in “single use” Bourbon barrels. Now, most Irish is aged in ex-Bourbon casks, but perhaps it’s the single-use factor that gives Sullivan a little more depth than others.

The results speak for themselves: Clear vanilla notes on the nose, then more vanilla plus some citrus on the tongue. Oak hits you on the finish, with nuts, and a little bit of spice — incense-like. A very satiny body brings this all together impressively. This is an Irish that is clearly in balance and, while relatively straightforward in the end, knows exactly how to make an impression. John L. Sullivan, put simply, has something that other entry-level Irish whiskeys are lacking. I call it sophistication. Which is strange, considering it’s named after a guy that survived 75 rounds in a boxing ring without any gloves.

80 proof.

A / $20

John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. JasonK on December 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Hi – I love Irish Whiskey and have been experimenting with different ones lately…I know its in a completely different price range but how does this compare with Red Breast (my favorite).


  2. Damocles on January 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Well I’ve seen it around…now I guess I have to buy it.

  3. Jonathan on January 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I too am curious how it compares to Red Breast.

  4. JasonK on January 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Just wanted to follow up here – bought a bottle and it is easily one of the best liquors under $30 around (this and probably Evan Williams single barrel). Really a fantastic whisk(e)y at this price point.

    thanks for the review!

  5. Mark13 on December 26, 2011 at 9:53 am

    My son and I disagree over whether Black Bush is better than Red Breast. Just got Sullivan in Nebraska this month. We had a taste test Christmas Day and came up with the same conclusion: It’s different, but in the same class. Like whether Marantz was better than Sansui. They were great, just different.

  6. Dave L. on March 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    If you come across this small batch Irish whiskey/bourbon, buy it all. It’s smokey, honey, hint of bourbon with traditional Irish whiskey notes. Not too sweet, not too spicy, no overwhelming faults… just a nice smooth blend. Some will fault it for only being 40% alcohol but I personally like what a smooth sipper it is without the added heat. It’s a steal at $21/750ml and you’d be hard pressed to find anything this tasty in its price range.

  7. Dave L. on March 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    As for those asking how it compares to Red Breast? It’s apples and oranges. Red Breast is a single pot still whiskey that costs 3x the price of the John L. Sullivan blend. While Red Breast is exceptionally smooth and subtly complex, it lacks the character and bourbon flavors of John L. Sullivan. If anything, the Sullivan is closer to Knob Creek due to it’s smokiness and not being too sweet while being fruity because of the Irish whiskey. I never would’ve thought to blend bourbon with Irish whiskey but they complement each other wonderfully. Anyway, you can only describe it so much so just buy a bottle of the stuff and drink it. What other good 10 year can you get at $21/750ml?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.