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: Teeling Single Cask Rum Barrel Aged Irish Whiskey 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | August 15, 2015 |

Our friends at Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey Company already make a single malt Irish Whiskey release, but now they’re taking things a step further with a series of Single Cask releases of their single malt stock. Some seven casks of Irish single malt — each release under 200 or so bottles — are being released, including…

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Review: Glory Irish Poitin

By Christopher Null | July 21, 2015 |

This poitin — Ireland’s answer to moonshine — comes from West Cork Distillers, whose aged whiskeys we reviewed a few months back. Pot-distilled from barley and beet sugar, it is bottled without aging. The nose of Glory is incredibly pungent. Strong notes of fuel hit first, touched with just a bit of sweet vanilla. The…

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Drinking in Dublin: Guinness Storehouse and Teeling Whiskey

By Christopher Null | July 20, 2015 |

I’m just back from the British Isles, where I spent nearly two weeks exploring Ireland and Scotland, two regions whose names are inexorably linked with the world of whiskey. This is the second of two travel pieces on major drinking attractions across the pond — this one focusing specifically on the city of Dublin. Ireland boasts…

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Review: The Exclusive Malts Batch #8 – Speyside 1991, Invergordon 1984, Balmenach 2007, North Highland 1995, Irish 2002, Laphroaig 2005

By Christopher Null | July 7, 2015 |

It’s quite a mixed bag in The Exclusive Malts’ latest batch, which includes a single grain release, two unnamed distillery releases and — a first for The Exclusive — an Irish whiskey release. With this batch I’m excited to announce that received the entire lineup to review, 6 whiskeys in total. Quality is all over…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2015

By Christopher Null | May 10, 2015 |

This year marked my sixth consecutive in attendance at Whiskies of the World, a fantastic event that’s typically held on the San Francisco Belle paddleboat, docked in San Francisco Bay. I asked organizer Douglas Stone why it seemed so empty this year, and he told me it was an optical illusion: He pushed the distilleries’…

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Review: Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey 8 Years Old

By Christopher Null | April 20, 2015 |

This single-grain whiskey is distilled at Cooley from a mash of 95% corn and 5% malted barley. Sound familiar? It’s the same whiskey as Teeling Single Grain, only Teeling is aged in wine barrels, while Greenore spends its eight years in bourbon casks. The difference is striking. The richness and sweet vanilla of Teeling is…

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Review: West Cork Irish Whiskey Classic Blend and Single Malt 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | April 10, 2015 |

West Cork is an Irish whiskey brand that’s now making its way to the U.S.. It’s actually made in West Cork (by West Cork Distillers), where Kennedy and a variety of other products are also produced. Unlike Kennedy, these are legit whiskeys, one blended and one a single malt. We tried them both. Thoughts follow.…

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Review: Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey 12 Years Old

By Christopher Null | March 17, 2015 |

It’s hard to fathom that some of the most anticipated whiskey releases in recent years are named after, well, colored spots. Yellow Spot originated in the late 1800s — there were a whole host of “Spot” whiskies made by the Mitchell family back in the day, including the beloved Green Spot, which were made at…

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Get Your Irish on with Flaviar’s Irish Whiskey Sample Pack (2015)

By Christopher Null | February 24, 2015 |

St. Patrick’s Day is just a few weeks away, and that means the Jameson and Bushmills will be flowing freely. But there’s no need to stop there. There are dozens of high-quality Irish whiskey brands available, and St. Patty’s is the perfect excuse to try them all. Enter Flaviar, a company that specializes in sampler packs…

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Review: Glendalough Poitin – Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | January 5, 2015 |

Poitin (po-cheen) pushers are trying their darnedest to bring this ancient Irish spirit back to the masses. A distillation of malt barley and sugar beets, the finished product is aged in virgin oak (but generally filtered back to white). Ireland’s Glendalough sent us a trilogy of poitins for us to sample. Our thoughts follow. Glendalough Poitin…

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