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: 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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Review: Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Pedro Ximenez Edition

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…

Read More

The Top 10 Whiskeys of 2022

By Christopher Null | December 23, 2022 |

The mad fanaticism over all things whiskey continued unabated in 2022, but with quality like this on the market, it’s hard not to see why. Some of this stuff is so insanely good that we can fully understand the wild price hikes and long lines and lotteries just to win the chance at buying a…

Read More

Review: Gold Spot Irish Whiskey

By Robert Lublin | December 10, 2022 |

We have been fans of the “Spot” series of Irish single pot still whiskeys since Green Spot reached U.S. shores in 2014. The most recent to arrive is Gold Spot, produced to celebrate the 135th anniversary of the Mitchell Family’s expansion into the whiskey bonding business. As they explain: In 1887, Mitchell & Son, a…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.…

Read More

Review: Keeper’s Heart Whiskeys – Irish + American Whiskey 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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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