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: Egan’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | July 8, 2016 |

An old brand from the 1800s, Egan’s Irish Whiskey was revived in 2013 and is now making its way into the U.S. Its first product is this, a 10 year old single malt (sourced) “from the heart of Ireland.” Let’s see how it fares. The nose is initially a bit undistinguished. A bit heavy on…

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Review: Jameson Crested Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | April 21, 2016 |

Jameson has long made a rare and special bottling called Jameson Crested Ten, which includes a lot of pure pot still whiskey along with some sherry cask-aged stock. While the distillery calls this “a little known minor classic,” the rest of the world is about to get to know it a bit better — or,…

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Review: The Pogues Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | April 7, 2016 |

They may have the second most famous name in Irish rock ‘n’ roll, but The Pogues are certainly the most notorious. Known for their hard-partying lifestyle in the ‘80s and ‘90s – many of their songs are specifically about drinking – it only makes sense that The Pogues would get their own Irish whiskey brand.…

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Review: Redbreast All Sherry Single Cask Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | March 26, 2016 |

The name speaks for itself: This lot of 576 bottles of 16 year old, completely sherry-cask-aged whiskey is the first ever single barrel bottling of the Irish single pot still classic, Redbreast. Here’s the gist, straight from the source: Redbreast Single Cask offers a unique take on Redbreast’s full bodied flavour profile, renowned for its…

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Review: Writers’ Tears Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | March 22, 2016 |

American visitors to Ireland often ask “what whiskey should I try that I can’t get in the U.S.” That’s been a fairly short list of late, and the top of it always includes one name: Writers’ Tears. Writers’ Tears is a product introduced only in 2009 by Walsh Whiskey, the company that’s best known stateside…

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Review: Kinahan’s Irish Whiskey – Blended and Single Malt 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | March 5, 2016 |

The rise of Irish continues with the relaunch of Kinahan’s Irish Whiskey, a brand that dates back to 1779 and was called for by none other than Jerry Thomas in some of his iconic cocktail recipes from the 1800s. Kinahan’s went under in the early 1900s but was revived in 2014, and for obvious reasons:…

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Review: Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy 15 Years Old Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | February 23, 2016 |

Tullamore D.E.W.’s latest release continues to up the ante — and the price — in the world of Irish. Tullamore D.E.W.’s Trilogy is a 15 year old whiskey that undergoes — you guessed it — three different barrel treatments. It starts in the traditional ex-bourbon casks, then spends time in Oloroso sherry butts, and finally…

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Review: Hyde No. 1 Presidential Cask Single Malt Irish Whiskey 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | December 17, 2015 |

A. Hardy is now importing this new Irish whiskey from Hibernia Distillers, which was established only last year. Hyde No. 1 (No. 2 and No. 3 are in the works) is a 10 year old single malt, aged in first-fill oak bourbon casks, then finished in first-fill oloroso sherry casks and non-chill filtered. Those looking for…

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Review: Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton

By Christopher Null | September 24, 2015 |

  Available in the U.S. for about a year and a half, Green Spot has deservedly taken earned its reputation as one of the best Irish whiskeys on the market. And now for something completely different: Green Spot… finished in used Bordeaux wine casks. Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton takes the original Green Spot —…

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Review: Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 23, 2015 |

Ireland pretty much has two national beverages — Irish whiskey and stout (and no, I’m not counting poitin). Why not combine the two, you say? Say hello to Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition. (Perhaps implying that other editions are in the works.) It’s a simple idea at work here: Take Jameson Original whiskey and finish it…

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