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

10 Top Whiskeys Under $100

By Christopher Null | April 27, 2023 |

Drinkhacker readers: We’ve heard your cries. Our top ten lists regularly feature whiskeys that are impossible to get, much too expensive, or both. With this feature, we’re diving deep into 10 bottlings you can readily obtain from our partners at Coasters, with none costing more than $85, and half of them under $50. Best of…

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Review: Natterjack Irish Whiskey

By Drew Beard | April 23, 2023 |

Hot on the heels of Keeper’s Heart, another Irish and American whiskey mashup has landed on the Drinkhacker review desk: Natterjack, from the unusually-named Gortinore Distilling. Unlike Keeper’s Heart, which blends Irish and American whiskeys, Natterjack is triple-distilled entirely in Ireland but from a very corn-heavy grainbill similar to American bourbons (80% corn and 20%…

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Review: Slainte Irish Whiskey

By Robert Lublin | March 29, 2023 |

The phenomenon of celebrity owned libations continues. Sláinte was founded by Richard Davies, who serves as director of the brand, along with actor Liev Schreiber of Spotlight and Ray Donovan fame. The whiskey is distilled, matured, and blended at The Great Northern Distillery in County Louth, Ireland, and it has a rather unusual barrel aging…

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Review: Keeper’s Heart Irish + American Whiskey 110 Proof

By Drew Beard | March 24, 2023 |

When we first sampled Keeper’s Heart Irish + American Whiskey last fall, it felt a little like that whiskey was holding back on us. It appears from a quick survey of the interwebs that we weren’t the only ones that were just a bit underwhelmed. But with industry heavyweights like Brian Nation and David Perkins…

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Review: Dingle Single Malt Whiskey

By Drew Beard | March 23, 2023 |

We’ve been keeping tabs on Ireland’s Dingle Distillery since 2019. While we haven’t been privy to the entire progression of their house-distilled single malt whisky, Chris had the opportunity to explore both Batch 3 and Batch 4 a few years back. Those batched expressions, which each relied on a different mix of cask types, appear…

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Review: McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish Irish Whisky

By Drew Beard | March 21, 2023 |

Last fall, newly resurrected Irish whisky brand McConnell’s took its first step toward broadening their portfolio with the release of this bottle, McConnell’s Sherry Cask Finish Irish Whisky. As the name implies, this is classic McConnell’s – presumably still a five-year-old blend of malt and grain whiskies distilled at Great Northern Distillery – finished for…

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Review: Writers’ Tears Red Head Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | March 20, 2023 |

Writers’ Tears is a perennial Irish whiskey favorite, and it’s been exciting to see a series of new expressions arrive from the brand. This latest is named Red Head on account of its lovely, ruddy color, a result of being matured in oloroso sherry casks. There’s no age statement here, but the impact is altogether…

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Review: Silkie Irish Whiskey – The Legendary Dark

By Christopher Null | January 29, 2023 |

Silkie Irish whiskey, from Sliabh Liag Distillers, hit the scene only a couple years ago, and already the line has expanded to four expressions, including the one we’re tasting today, The Legendary Dark. This blend starts with a rare peated single malt (though to just 22 ppm of phenols), triple distilled and matured in sherry…

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Review: Waterford Distillery Peated: Fenniscourt 1.1 and Peated: Ballybannon 1.1

By Drew Beard | January 20, 2023 |

Waterford’s Single Farm Origin series is billed by the distillery as an “uber-provenance” range of single malts. When we first explored them back in 2020, they weren’t exactly uber, but their unique qualities were undeniable (whether terroir-driven or not). Since then, there have been so many of these Single Farm releases, we honestly haven’t been…

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Review: Redbreast Pedro Ximenez Edition Irish Whiskey

By Drew Beard | January 9, 2023 |

While last year’s Kentucky Oak Edition seems to be getting all the attention stateside, Redbreast actually launched another limited edition even earlier, in late 2021, and with it something of a line extension dubbed the Iberian Series. To wit: Redbreast Irish Whiskey has unveiled a new collection of whiskies, the Iberian Series, which celebrates the…

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