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

Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak Finish

Review: Clonakilty Double Oak Irish Whiskey

By Mike Gerrard | October 30, 2021 |

At the Clonakilty Distillery in southwest Ireland, they are definitely establishing terroir for their spirits. The barley for their whiskeys is grown on a 9th-generation family farm, they make a gin using whey from the farm and locally-foraged rock samphire, and their aging warehouse stands on top of 200-foot cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean just…

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Review: The Irishman Founder’s Reserve and Single Malt Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 10, 2021 |

Walsh Whiskey is the home of Writers’ Tears and The Irishman, a more mainstream brand that spans at least 8 expressions of Irish whiskey. Today we look at two of the most widely available bottlings, a traditional blend and a single malt. Both carry no age statement. Let’s dig in. The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Irish Whiskey…

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Review: Proclamation Blended Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 3, 2021 |

The Proclamation in question is the 1916 order that formally established Ireland’s independence. Naturally a whiskey to celebrate that fact was all but inevitable. Proclamation, which arrived in the U.S. in late 2020, is owned by Inis Tine Uisce Teoranta (ITUT), a company based in County Mayo. Says the company, “Proclamation was a collaborative effort…

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Review: West Cork Stout Cask Matured Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | August 29, 2021 |

On the heels of its IPA Cask Matured Irish Whiskey, West Cork is back with another beer-aged bottling. Like the IPA edition, the name here is misleading: This is finished in Irish stout casks, not fully aged in them. (And like the IPA edition, the beer comes from Blacks of Kinsale and is limited to…

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Review: Paddy’s Irish Whiskey

By Drew Beard | July 31, 2021 |

Most salesmen just get to pick something out of catalogue when they meet their quota, but Paddy Flaherty got a whiskey named after him. As the story goes, Paddy’s Old Irish Whiskey is named for Patrick J. O’Flaherty, a Cork Distilleries salesman for more than four decades over 100 years ago. In 1913, after his…

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Review: The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey 10 Years Old – Port Cask and Sherry Cask

By Christopher Null | April 23, 2021 |

Two new products from Ireland’s Tyrconnell are here, both single malts, both 10 years old, and both finished for 6 to 8 months in wine casks — one Port, one Sherry. Let’s give them a whirl. Both are 92 proof. The Tyrconnell Port Cask Finish 10 Years Old – It’s a bit muddy on the…

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Review: Writers’ Tears Cask Strength Irish Whiskey 2020

By Christopher Null | March 28, 2021 |

Writers’ Tears is rightfully renowned as one of the most approachable yet effusive Irish whiskeys on the market. So… what if we took the gentle Writers’ Tears and bottled it at cask strength. What then? This vintage dated expression — 2020 in this tasting — of Writers’ Tears (which now formally features proper punctuation in…

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Review: Egan’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey Legacy Reserve Volume III 17 Years Old

By Christopher Null | March 14, 2021 |

Egan’s Irish Whiskey Legacy Reserve line is now an annual incarnation, and in year three it’s gained yet another year of age statement, bringing it up to 17 years old from its original 15. After 17 years in bourbon oak, this year’s finishing is done in French Cadillac AOC casks, which are used to age…

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Review: Red Spot Irish Whiskey 15 Years Old

By Drew Beard | February 28, 2021 |

The famed “Spot” Irish whiskeys have been slowly resurfacing on American shelves over the last decade, starting with Green Spot in 2014, Yellow Spot in 2015, and then a handful of Green Spot special releases (see here and here). In 2018, the much-anticipated Red Spot finally graced our shores. At 15 years old, it’s the…

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Review: The Busker Irish Whiskeys, Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | January 21, 2021 |

The Busker isn’t just a guy that plays guitar on the street. It’s now a new brand of Irish whiskey, actually part of the Disaronno company. The Busker has at least one unusual element in its arsenal: It’s hitting the market with four variants, all built around styles of production: Single Grain, Single Malt, Single…

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