baileys

When Baileys first introduced Irish Cream to the world it was a revolutionary product, but in the intervening years a number of others have come along, some very good, some pretty grim.

These are some of the other Irish Creams on the market, mostly readily available. We have saved the blushes of some awful ones by leaving them out.

If you don’t fancy any of these, maybe you’d like to have a go at making your own Irish Cream.

Main image: Bailey’s by Robert Snache

Bailey’s Original Irish Cream

The original Irish Cream and a very good one, smooth, rich and sweet without being sickly, with a good whiskey kick and a very well balanced flaour over all. It is a little nutty and a little spicy, in fact the thing with Baileys is that it is consistently good, even excellent. I suppose that is why it consistently appeals to so many people.

While the other Irish Creams have those who love them and those who hate them, it would be hard to dislike Baileys. If you are drinking your Irish Cream straight, this is a top choice. For mixing, a less pricey alternative will do just as well.

Carolan’s Irish Cream Liqueur

The next best known Irish Cream, loved by some, hated by others. It is very creamy and rich, almost fudgey and in blind tastings performs consistently well. There is a definite sweet vanilla like flavour here and the sweetness is probably down to the inclusion of honey in the recipe – quite appropriate since it is made in Clonmel, an Irish town whose name means “meadow of honey”.

Some people say this is Irish Cream for people who don’t like whiskey and the whiskey favour is certainly not to the fore. It’s a good product and often quite reasonably priced.

Bushmills Irish Cream Liqueur

Bushmills have long produced some of the best Whiskey in Ireland and are late entrants to the Irish Cream Market, but what an entrance! This is “grown up” Irish Cream, with a nutty spicy, slightly burnt flavour, partly as a result of the excellent whiskey, and a bitter-sweet rather than sweet flavour.

It has a lot more punch and depth than any of its rivals. This one is our favourite by a long shot.

Update: This now is apparently no longer available since Bushmills was acquired by the owners of Baileys. A great pity.

St Brendan’s Irish Cream

A very smooth and mild Irish Cream which tastes a little sweeter and perhaps slightly more of coffee than it’s rivals, but the whiskey element is good and not overwhelmed. This is another cream liqueur that does very well in blind tastings.

It is a little less creamy than some others but as an easy drink over ice or to mix either in cocktails or with coffee it is a very good choice.

We tried own brand Irish Cream from Sainsbury’s (a UK supermarket chain) this Christmas and it tastes just like this – the same?

O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream

This one is not even available in Ireland, it is produced in Abbeyleix entirely for export to the USA, where it is sold mostly via clubs and specialist outlets. That is Ireland’s loss, because on our tasting we thought this is a very nice drink indeed.

It is the only Irish Cream that includes wine in the blend, an addition that, surprisingly, works well. It gives it a very smooth flavour and a subtle taste that unless you know about the wine is hard to place but very pleasant.

Usually sold at a considerably lower price than it’s rivals, it is a brand to look out for and at least try.

Irish Creams We Haven’t Tried – Yet!

Ashbourne Irish Cream Liqueur

I don’t really know much about this one, but have been told it is extremely good, a bit more spicy than some and with a slight peaty flavour from the whiskey.

If anyone has tried it and has comments to make, let us know.

Merry’s Irish Cream Liqueur

Made in Tipperary, primarily for export, this is apparently big in Japan and is also quite widely available in the USA, mainly in bars and restaurants.

The company who make it also make a lot of ‘own brand’ Irish Creams, sold in various stores across the world. I assume they are all made to the same recipe.

It does well in industry competitions, often coming out ahead of better known brands.

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48 Comments

  1. i have tried most of the irish creams you’ve listed and i have to agree that bushmills is by far the best. i’ve been known to drive all the way across town to find a bottle, rather than settle for one of the others.

    • Ray Killeen | March 9, 2012 at 2:12 am

      There is a brand in Florida called O’Casey’s.  I am a huge Irish Cream fan and O’Casey’s is by far the best I have ever had.  Unfortunately I believe it is only available in Florida.

  2. Very sad that Bushmill was taken off the market. It was the without a doubt the best, and perhaps suffered from a lack of brand management. I do hope the new owners of the company will bring it back, with the proper advertising budget behind it. I continue to search for a suitable substitute, and have not found one…

  3. Bushmill’s disappeared because they were bought out by Diageo, which owns Bailey’s.

  4. I like Maloneys, it isn’t mentioned here but it was alright because it had a very pleasant “finish” or “aftertaste” to it

  5. Mary D. Jackson | January 17, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I purchased a bottle of O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream for Christmas. The drink came packaged in a box with two glasses, on the back of the  box was some drink mix recipe that included vodka. I have lost the box and would like to have those drink recipes. I purchased the gift boxes at BJ in Fairfax, VA  USA.

  6. crazyman in nyc | March 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Another one possibly.  I just picked up an Irish cream in NYC, USA. Says it is “pride and clarke” Bottle says pretty little.  Distilled by Patrick Clarke, bottled by Dundee Spirits  of Dundee, NY. 30 proof
    They distributed with hat claiming “pride and clarke distilling.  No reference on web.

    Most likely the bottler is  http://lidestrifoods.com/dundee.htm

  7. We have just tried O’Conner’s Irish Cream. Our local Jewel had it on sale so I got a 175 ltr. bottle to suprise my Mrs.
    When she poured a glass full, it came out chunky.
    We returned the bottle and got another.
    It came out chumky too.
    We are on bottle number four and have chunks comming out of it.
    I tried to contact the importer but there is no information on them via Goolgle at all.
    What a bummer.
    Bobo

  8. I’m in agreement with the reviews above.  One sold throughout the US to avoid like the flu is O’Connnors.  It is watery, lacking the milk solid and fat content to even change the color of your coffee much.  The taste is similar to what you might expect from a cheap whiskey too.

  9. You have to try Coole Swan. It is by far the best tasting… really high quality cream taste, with real chocolate, and a clean taste of real whiskey.  It is imported from Ireland and make both a great summer and winter drink. Please look out for it.. It is now in Texas and I promise you will never ever try the others.
     
    Mike
     

  10. Please can anyone help. I am searching for an Irish cream Liqueur called O’Dowds Irish cream. I know it is sold in the States. Does anybody out there know where it is made??? I would love to buy some. I live in England.

    • I too am looking for the O’Dowds Irish Cream. I’m in the US and both Sam’s and Osco
      did carry it but no longer. Can anyone please help.

  11. Anyone who hasnt tried Omaras has really missed out. Baileys is superior but not worth the difference in price. Try Omaras in a cup of coffee and you will be hooked. Coffee will never be the same again. We buy it by the case and pour coffee in the bottle to be sure we didnt miss any.

  12. Regarding O’Dowd’s Irish cream….. it is only sold in the USA.

  13. Margaret Rathfon | January 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    To Mary Jackson.  I have one of the boxes still.  There are 3 recipes on the back that have Vodka as one of the ingredients.  They are Frozen Mudslides, O’Mara’s Mocha and O’Mara’s Delight.  Contact me at my email and I’ll send it to you.  Our Public Grocery Chain were having a free tasting just before Thanksgiving.  Fell in love with the taste.  It was basically just for the holidays and now it’s not anywhere to be found.

    • I would appreciate it very much if you would send me the 3 recipes on the O’Maras Irish Country Cream.  I bought the wine and it is delicious!  Would love to have the recipes from you.  Thank you very much in advance and have a very Happy New Year.

      Audrey

  14. O’Mara’s was a very pleasant surprise.  I’ve tried other Creams but always felt they were just Bailey’s “knock-offs” that didn’t taste as good.  My wife, who’s not a big whiskey fan, always liked Bailey’s with milk but now says she prefers O’Mara’s.  We purchased the gift pack-750ml bottle with 2 glasses-at Walmart for under $10.  Quite a savings compared to Bailey’s!

  15. dean morrissee | February 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    HELP…I need at least TWO (2) MORE of the O’Mara’s Irish Cream glasses offered at holidays.   HOW CAN I BUY THEM????
    Thanks Deanlouky@hotmail.com     will buy as many as four (4)  Can they be bought thru O’Mara’s or WHERE
    THANKS FOR ANY HELP
    DeanLouKy@hotmail.com       Please advise

  16. Had Molly’s Irish Creamwhilst in NYC, its top of the pile and worht trying out!

  17. I have found O’mara s Irish Cream the best tasting of all the competitors.
    Especially the lingering slight after taste.
    Costco used to carry it during the Christmas season, but discontinued.
    I’m seeking other outlets to purchase in Delray Beach/Boca/Boynton Beach FL
    and south shore of BosonMA.

  18. Colin, Canberra | May 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Here in Australia we have Cassidy’s Irish Cream, marketed here by two of the major supermarket conglomerates.
    I find it superior even to Baileys: it doesn’t leave the slightly harsh after-taste that Baileys does.
    Would I be correct in assuming that it’s simply O’Mara’s Irish Cream re-badged?
     
     

  19. Linda Thomas | May 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    While I never drink any of these drinks straight, I prefer Carolan’s to mix. The price is always reasonable compared to Bailey’s and I think Omara’s just tastes too watery.

  20. Jim Douglas | June 21, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I enjoy the O’Dowd’s Irish Cream too. It’s made in Ireland by a company called Terra Limited. They also make Maloney’s, and several others. You might check with them and see if it is sold in the U.K. under another label. Their website is http://www.terra.ie

  21. Am very surprised that no one has mentioned Coole Swan. It is far superior to any of the Cream Liqueurs mentioned here, including Baileys. It’s avaliable in the US and UK and Ireland. If you try it you wont go back.

    • I agree…Coole Swan is great. Had a sample tase at the duty free shop in Shannon on my way home to the states and bought a bottle.  Unfortunately I shared it with my family who alslo loved it and it is almost gone….Looking for a US supplier…..

  22. We keep getting Irish Cream as gifts. We rarely drink it, so we wonder how long the bottles can be kept unopened. Bailey’s is the only one that has what might be an expiration date. How does one tell when it was produced?

    • Baileys at least claim a shelf life of 2 years. Not sure about the others, but I imagine would be much the same. You are right though, the problem is that you have no idea how long it’s been sitting on some other shelf by the time it reaches yours.

      I tend to look on it as a fresh product and open it within a couple of weeks of buying it or getting it as a present. Then either drink it or use it in cooking within a couple of days, or else pass it on to someone who will. I have a strange feeling that quite a lot of Irish cream gets passed on.

  23. ADD  DUGGANS TO YOUR LIST, A LESS EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO BAILEY’S!

  24. What happend to Molly’s??? Iys cheaper than Bailey’s…with more kick..and not as thick

  25. The Irishman is the best and half the price of Baileys

  26. im goin to usa in 2 weeks and my friend wants me to bring a bottle of irish baileys cream, would it be ok for me to take this from uk through airport in my suitcase ?  or is there a restriction ?

  27. We purchased O’Mara’s over a year ago, maybe two years.  Never opened it until recently.  We thought it had a slightly sharp taste to it and wondered about an expiration.  There is no date on the packaging.  The bottle was kept in our house, unrefrigerated and unopened for maybe a year and a half.  Does it go ‘bad’ while unopened?  I can’t find any manufacturer address or Use By info on the box or bottle.  I’d appreciate any info before we throw it out.

  28. I use to buy the Ashbourne Irish cream until my store quit stocking it. It is as close to Baileys and you can get and much cheaper. I would like to find where I can still get it.

  29. does anyone about Shannon Irish Cream

    • HELP!  I recently purchased a bottle of Shannon White Chocolate Irish Cream at the Duty Free shop in Atlanta airport and LOVED IT! OMG it is (was) AMAZING! I wish had bought more because find it anywhere. Does anyone know where I can buy it? I’ve actually considered buying an international plane ticket just so I can shop at duty free to buy more, but that’s a rather expensive option lol.    

    • Matt Martinez | June 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      We have it here in McAllen, TX

    • Me too!!!! I got my bottle at duty free going to Canada. I couldn’t find it anywhere after that so I called the duty free we went too. They told me that is exclusively sold only at all the American Duty Free shops. Pretty stupid:( They said they get calls all the time for the stuff.
       

  30. Went to the USA bought some Shannon irish creme would like to know where to buy in Canada

  31. i am also looking where to buy shannon irish cream? Please let me know.

  32. We are in the same boat. We got ares at the Peace Bridge in Fort Eire, but on the U.S. side, and now can not find it anywhere.

  33. I bought a bottle of Shannons 2 weeks ago at US duty free (first time) and it is disgusting. I tried it in coffe, on its own, and it has such an awful taste that it is going down the drain. I cant find an expiry date on it but as I said, I only bought it 2 weeks ago. They no longer have a website (altho there is one on the bottle)…wonder if the company went down the drain too. I intend to tell the world it is disgusting ’cause I get angry when companies waste my hard earned money! Anyone got contact info for Shannon? I want my money back!! Do NOT buy Shannon Irish Cream. Vile tasting crap!!

    • I also bought 2 bottles at duty free…the first bottle was disgusting…rank. The 2nd bottle was better, barely drinkable. The 1st was obviously spoiled [I mean nobody could drink it]. I would NEVER buy it again…back to Baileys!

    • Maybe you got a bad bottle because it truly is the best Irish cream I have ever had the pleasure to drink. It’s so good that I don’t mix it with anything but a glass full of ice cubes. After searching hundreds of online sites and visiting numerous liquor stores with no success, I finally emailed the company via their website and asked where I could find Shannon Irish Cream in the US or if could buy it online. I got a reply the next day from the company CEO, and was sadly advised that, currently, Shannon Irish cream  is ONLY available for purchase at Duty Free America stores. (I was crushed). However, he also said that they are a new company and working hard to expand the product’s availability and to keep checking their website fr updates.  

  34. If you’re in Ontario around Christmas time try to find Forty Creek Cream. It’s made in small batches and only sold in Ontario at Christmas. It sells out FAST. You won’t be disappointed.

  35. Betty Ledger | March 31, 2014 at 2:21 am

    We would also love to buy more of Shannon White Chocolate Irish Cream!!  We  will be crossing  the border , coming from Idaho back into Canada in August!!   Sure hope they have it there!!  If anyone knows can you post info!!

  36. I’ve tried many of the ones on this list and wish I could find one that matches Bailey’s because it is pricey (the way I drink it!) There’s something about it which touches every flavor spot just perfectly that I have not found in any others. I did not get a chance to try the Bushmill but it sounds like Bailey’s acquired it because it would’ve been stiff competition. Last night I found one I have not seen on the list, “Ashland”. Made in Ireland but don’t have other info with me right now. It’s not bad — a little too sweet for my liking though. I think the creams need that perfect mixture of nuttieness, vanilla and the whiskey kick. Thought I’d try making my own. Anyone try this? If so, please share recipe!

    • Sorry folks, home now and just checked the label, it’s Ashling, (not Ashland) produced by Robert A. Merry &Co., Tipperary. Imported by Crosby Lake Spirit Co., Princeton, MN. Since my first post, I’ve found numerous recipes, some simple, some fairly complex. Bottom line (I think?) is making a good Irish cream is probably not any cheaper than buying one, but you get the satisfaction of tweaking it to your own perfection. I added some highly concentrated coffee to the Ashling, will try it out once it cools. Thinking that may cut the sweetness a bit.

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  1. [...] Into your cleaned stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat together 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoon of fine grain sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoon of Irish Cream. [...]

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