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 Legacy Reserve Volume II 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 15, 2019 |

The Egan’s Irish Whiskey line got its first luxe bottling with Legacy Reserve in early 2019. Now Legacy Reserve is back with a new incarnation, Legacy Reserve Volume II, and it’s a full year older. That extra year includes some finishing in an unusual type of barrel: Banyuls wine. Details? Here ya go: Legacy Reserve…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2019

By Christopher Null | November 6, 2019 |

Another year is in the books for San Francisco WhiskyFest, a typically packed event with hundreds of whiskeys to explore… plus, for those confused on where they are, libations from The Mocktail Project. My dance card was full of whiskies from around the world, with highlights to be found in just about every region. My…

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Review: Ambros Banana Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 18, 2019 |

Day-O! Who’s ready for banana flavored whiskey? Ambros bills itself as “the first shelf-stable, flavored liquor infused with only 100% real fruit.” I’m assuming they mean bananas, not all fruit, but that’s still an intriguing concept. Here’s what we know about what’s in the bottle: The process: Each batch is infused with 50,000 bananas (no…

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Review: The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | July 14, 2019 |

The Tyrconnell Irish whiskey brand has been on a tear of late, with a pair of fantastic single malts hitting in the last couple of years. Now the brand is stepping up the game again with another well-aged rarity from the emerald isle: The Tyrconnell 16 Year Old Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish. Per the…

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Review: Dingle Vodka, Gin, and Irish Whiskey Batch 3

By Christopher Null | June 8, 2019 |

In case you missed it, distilling is huge in Ireland now, thanks to the unexpectedly heavy demand for Irish whiskey that has been building over the last decade. Part of this new vanguard is the Dingle Distillery, which opened in 2012 in in Kerry, Ireland. Dingle doesn’t just make whiskey, it also makes vodka and…

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Review: Roe & Co Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | May 26, 2019 |

Ready for another contender in the rapidly crowding Irish whiskey space? Roe & Co is a new brand from Diageo, “perfected by bartenders for bartenders,” and devised by five Dublin-based stick men along with Diageo’s own master blender to “craft a unique Irish whiskey blend that would hold its own in cocktails.” A few details:…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest Washington DC 2019

By Drew Beard | May 9, 2019 |

For a city that seems to always be in need of a stiff drink, WhiskyFest D.C. was a little less crowded than in previous years. Once again, there was no sign of Pappy van Winkle, but the BTAC offerings lasted well into the evening. As with most DC WhiskyFests, the seminars offered the biggest bang for…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2019

By Christopher Null | April 23, 2019 |

That’s two years in a row with no major injuries – woo! Whiskies of the World 2019 is in the books, at least its San Francisco installment, and that means another spring evening of Scotch, bourbon, and fettuccine alfredo has come to a close. My American whiskey love affair of WotW 2018 reversed itself for…

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Review: Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | March 31, 2019 |

Top-shelf Irish whiskey producer Powers has released its latest expression of single pot still whiskey, with a unique name: Three Swallow. What’s it mean? Spoiler: More than just birds. Allow Powers to explain: A modern representation of what the original Powers Whiskey tasted like back in the days of its original John’s Lane distillery, this latest…

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Review: Egan’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey Legacy Reserve 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | February 16, 2019 |

The fourth installment in the ever-expanding Egan’s Irish Whiskey lineup, Legacy Reserve is its most prized expression yet, a non-chill-filtered bottling that spends 15 years in bourbon casks before being bottled. Fancy decanter, at that. Fans of Irish will find all of its elements here in full force — perhaps more than the typical Irish…

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