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: Clonakilty Irish Whiskey – Port Cask Finish and Chateau La Cardonne Finish

By Robert Lublin | November 30, 2022 |

I recently had a chance to sit down with Padraic Coll, co-founder of the Clonakilty Distillery, when he visited Boston to discuss the company’s whiskey line and future plans. One of Clonakilty’s more exciting projects is collaborating with local breweries across the U.S., aging their Irish whiskey in a variety of distinctive beer casks. They…

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Review: Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey Purple Muscat Finish 32 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2022 |

Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey continues its run of ultra-limited, crazy rare bottlings, the latest being this, a single malt aged distilled in 1990, matured in bourbon barrels for 28 years, and finished in a single Portuguese Purple Muscat French Oak cask for an additional four years, bringing the grand total up to 32 years of age.…

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Review: Keeper’s Heart Whiskeys – Irish + American and Irish + Bourbon

By Drew Beard | October 23, 2022 |

What do you get when you combine a pioneer of the American craft distilling movement with a revered Irish whiskey Master Distiller? Apparently, the answer is Keeper’s Heart Whiskey. Inspired by the Irish-American heritage of the O’Shaughnessy family, Keeper’s Heart bills itself as a marriage of the best Irish and American whiskey-making traditions, and while…

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Review: Teeling Single Pot Still Chinkapin Oak Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | October 14, 2022 |

A couple years ago, Dublin’s Teeling put out a single pot still bottling made from a 50/50 blend of malted and unmalted barley, which was triple distilled and matured in a combination of American virgin oak, bourbon, and sherry casks. Now Teeling is back with a twist on the formula, aging the whiskey in full…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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