Irish Whiskey

Whiskey traces its very origins to Ireland in the 1600s, and for centuries, Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit in the world. Only in the 20th century did Scotch finally surpass it, at which point Irish fell into decline. Irish whiskey differs from its Scottish cousin in several ways. To begin, the Irish spell “whiskey” with an “e.” More importantly, Irish whiskey is rarely made entirely from malted barley. Dating back to their efforts to dodge the British Malt tax of 1785, the Irish coupled raw, unmalted barley with malted barley to make their mash. This resulted in the development vanilla notes that remain more pronounced in most Irish whiskeys. Today, there are several notable single malt Irish whiskeys, but they remain the exceptions. As well, Irish whiskey is typically triple distilled whereas most Scotch is distilled only twice. To be labeled Irish whiskey, the distillate must be aged in wood casks for at least three years. Varieties of Irish whiskey include “single pot still” (which provides the most distinctively “Irish” spirit), “single malt,” “single grain,” and “blended.” Single pot still whiskeys, such as Redbreast and Green Spot, are made at a single distillery using a copper pot still and a blended mashbill that includes malted and unmalted barley as noted above. After years of decline, the popularity of Irish whiskey has exploded in recent years, and whereas there were only three distilleries in operation 20 years ago (Bushmills, Cooley, and Midleton), there are at least 18 today, all creating distinctive whiskeys that build upon and also challenge Ireland’s long whiskey-making tradition.

Top Irish Whiskey Posts:

On Toasts and Irish Whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day
A Visit to Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey
Tasting Report: Jameson Rare and Reserve Irish Whiskeys

Review: Glendalough Mizunara Cask 7 Years Old

By Christopher Null | July 28, 2022 |

The Irish whiskey magicians at Glendalough take a return trip to Japan (following on its previous 13, 17, and 25 year old releases) with the launch of Glendalough Mizunara Cask-Finished Whiskey, a youthful 7 year old single malt that is finished in this rare, Japanese oak. (Glendalough was the first Irish whiskey producer to use…

Read More

Review: Spanish Earl Single Malt Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | July 27, 2022 |

Spanish Earl — named for famed Spanish general Juan del Aguila (and featuring his visage) — is a product from Kinsale Spirit Co., based in County Cork, Ireland. This unusual malt spends 4 years in bourbon casks before being split into two types of finishing casks, one an Imperial stout cask, the other a Jamaican…

Read More

Review: Flying Tumbler Irish Whiskey “The Bird”

By Christopher Null | July 26, 2022 |

More Irish whiskey is headed our way, folks. The Flying Tumbler brand — named for a local pigeon — isn’t quite 2 years old. Here’s what we know: Flying Tumbler, an Irish Whiskey brand created and launched by the Walsh family, is available in the U.S. market rolling out first in the North Eastern portion…

Read More

Review: Waterford Distillery Biodynamic Luna 1.1

By Drew Beard | July 26, 2022 |

In their quest to create the perfect “natural” whisky, Waterford Distillery is leaving no stone unturned. From an obsession with terroir, culminating in their recent The Cuvee bottling, to a focus on organic practices, Waterford is taking an almost winemaker-like approach to the typically conservative craft of whisky-making. Last fall, the distillery released a whisky…

Read More

Review: Bushmills Single Malt Pedro Ximenez Cask 29 Years Old

By Drew Beard | July 11, 2022 |

It hasn’t even been a year since the first release in Bushmills new “The Rare Casks” series, and here we have a second, even older installment. Wonders never cease. For round two, the Irish whiskey powerhouse is releasing a 29-year-old expression distilled in 1992 and matured in hand-selected bourbon barrels for over a decade before…

Read More

Review: Jameson Orange

By Christopher Null | June 24, 2022 |

The orange whiskey invasion has finally crossed the pond and made it to Ireland, with Jameson Orange now a thing. Unlike Jim Beam Orange, which turned out to be an orange liqueur, Jameson Orange is a flavored whiskey — specifically Jameson with “zesty orange flavor” added. The results are both wholly expected and fairly tepid.…

Read More

Review: Waterford Distillery The Cuvee

By Drew Beard | May 29, 2022 |

Ireland’s Waterford Distillery splashed on the whisky scene in 2020 with its terroir-focused Single Farm Origin releases, a slew of which have hit the shelves since we first looked in on them. Their Organic Gaia release shortly after was the distillery’s first blend of distilled barleys from various farms, although it was limited to only…

Read More

Busting Myths One Pour At a Time: The New York Irish Whiskey Festival Returns After Two-Year Hiatus

By David Tao | May 25, 2022 |

Among North American audiences, Irish whiskey is poised for a moment in the sun. The fast-growing category’s U.S. sales were up over 16% in 2021, and by some estimates, the spirit could overtake Scotch’s stateside footprint within the next decade. As with most boozy trends, event organizers have taken note, their progress only temporarily slowed…

Read More

Review: Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | May 23, 2022 |

Blackpitts is a section of Dublin just behind Teeling’s new distillery in the Liberties, and it’s the namesake for a unique and evocative whiskey that will challenge many expectations of what Irish whiskey should taste like. The triple-distilled single malt is made with peated barley — reportedly the only peated whiskey being made in the…

Read More

Review: Egan’s Irish Whiskeys – Conviction and Legacy Reserve IV 18 Years Old

By Christopher Null | May 12, 2022 |

Two new whiskeys from Ireland’s Egan’s, each with quite the different approach. Conviction is a 10 year old blend that joins the Egan’s permanent collection, while Legacy Reserve IV a limited edition single malt, the final release in this four-year-long series. We tried them both. Here goes. Both are 92 proof. Egan’s Conviction Irish Whiskey…

Read More