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

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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Review: Egan’s Fortitude Single Malt Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | February 3, 2019 |

The Egan’s Irish Whiskey brand was revived in 2013 (see releases here and here), and the company is pushing boundaries with the release of Fortitude, a single malt Irish that is — bizarrely — matured fully in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. (The whiskey does not carry an age statement.) Egan’s says this is the only Irish…

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Review: Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old Chateau Pichon Baron Finish

By Christopher Null | January 12, 2019 |

The Irish whiskey mavens at Knappogue Castle have embarked on a new project, the Cask Finish Series, which will see the company’s classic offerings finished in wine casks. For its first release in this series, Knappogue takes its 12 year old, pot-distilled, single malt bottling (those years being spent in ex-bourbon barrels), and finishes it in…

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Review: Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | December 7, 2018 |

Proper No. Twelve, aka Proper Twelve, is UFC fighter Conor McGregor’s whisky. By that I mean it is a new brand launched under his supervision, named in honor of the Crumlin, Dublin 12 neighborhood where McGregor was born and raised. Now, McGregor has not gone out and built a distillery in The Liberties or anything. His team is…

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Review: West Cork Blended Irish Whiskey Export Stout Cask Finished

By Robert Lublin | November 23, 2018 |

West Cork Distillers remains a less well-known producer of Irish whiskey than Jameson or Bushmills, but the company is working hard to draw attention to itself, and we have noticed their efforts here, here, and here. Most recently, West Cork entered into a collaboration with Castle Island Brewing Co. in Norwood, Mass. to create a…

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Drinkhacker’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 22, 2018 |

2018 marks our eleventh annual holiday gift guide, and we’re hoping this year really gets you in the spirit of giving at Christmas. Ha! Seriously, you’ll need it. Prices are creeping ever higher, especially on popular categories like whiskey, and stocks of some of the most prized products seem to be more limited than ever this…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2018

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2018 |

Another WhiskyFest is in the books, and although the lines for iconic bottles like Pappy van Winkle, Macallan No. 3 and No. 4, and Glenfiddich 30 Years Old (which those in the queue were surprised to find was not actually on hand when they got to the front of the line) were long, on the…

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Review: The Whistler Irish Whiskey “The Blue Note” Single Malt 7 Years Old

By Christopher Null | September 14, 2018 |

As mentioned in our previous review of Merrys Irish Cream, the company behind it, Na Cuana, also has a straight Irish whiskey on tap. It’s quite an unusual beast for Irish, a single malt that is finished in oloroso sherry casks for a whopping two years. Some details: The Whistler 7 Year Old Blue Note…

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