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: Prizefight Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | July 6, 2018 |

Prizefight is a new Irish whiskey brought to you by Steven Grasse, the creator of Hendrick’s Gin, and Flor Prendergast, an “Irish spirits innovator.” The big innovation here: While Prizefight is distilled and aged in West Cork, Ireland, it is finished in American rye whiskey barrels in the U.S. The blend starts out as a…

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Review: Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | June 24, 2018 |

Connacht’s new Irish whiskey — Ballyhoo, sometimes denoted as an emphatic Ballyhoo! — is a four year old grain whiskey finished in Port casks (though none of that is denoted on the label). It’s also quite a surprise: This pale, pale spirit looks like it didn’t spend more than a week in the barrel, and…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest Washington DC 2018

By Drew Beard | June 7, 2018 |

As with each of DC’s past three WhiskyFests, everyone in the room looked like they could use a few drinks. Thankfully, there was no shortage of unique whiskey options, from Knob Creek Single Barrel samples that were pulled directly from the barrel(!) to a young Tennessee whiskey whose distillery still doesn’t have a name. I…

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Review: Bogart’s Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | June 6, 2018 |

John Wayne got a posthumous whiskey named after him, why not Bogie, too? Humphrey Bogart gets not just a whiskey, but a gin, vodka, and rum, so the man can totally dominate your bar. The whiskey, the only spirit we’re reviewing here, is Irish in origin — even though from what I can tell Bogart’s…

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Review: Brothership Irish-American Whiskey 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | May 28, 2018 |

It isn’t often we encounter something truly unique in the whiskey world, but finally just such a bottle has crossed our desk. Brothership is a blend of two whiskeys from two countries: a 10-year-old Irish whiskey and a 10-year-old American whiskey, mixed together in a ratio of 52% Irish to 48% American whiskey. The whiskey is…

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Review: Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

By Christopher Null | May 12, 2018 |

Tullamore D.E.W. has been on a tear with new variants lately, and its latest expression, following up on last year’s Cider Cask Finish release, is here: Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish. As you might expect, this whiskey consists of “the brand’s signature Irish whiskey, Tullamore D.E.W. Original, finished in barrels previously used to age Demerara…

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Review: The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey Madeira Cask Finish 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | May 9, 2018 |

Tyrconnell knocked it out of the park last year with its 16 year old single malt. Now it’s already back in the game with this release, a 15 year old single malt that is aged in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Madeira wine casks from Portugal’s Madeira Island. Can lightning strike twice? Let’s…

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Review: Pearse Irish Whiskey – Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | May 8, 2018 |

We first became aware of Pearse whiskeys during our recent visit to Lexington, Kentucky, when we dropped in on Town Branch Distillery. Town Branch doesn’t make Pearse, but it does import it, and its stills at the new Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James in Dublin have been operational for nearly a year. The distillery makes…

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Review: Lambay Irish Whiskey – Small Batch Blend and Single Malt

By Christopher Null | May 2, 2018 |

Our friends at CIL US Wines & Spirits — the American arm of Camus Cognac — have chosen an interesting project for their next release: Irish whiskey. Lambay Irish Whiskey comprises two expressions, both made by West Cork Distillers and finished with unique barrel treatments that take a nod toward their creators’ roots in France.…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2018

By Christopher Null | April 13, 2018 |

Hey, look who’s not breaking his foot this year! Last year’s Whiskies of the World Expo was cut extremely short for me, but this year, safety was the name of the game. (Reminder: Don’t text while on the stairs, kids!) I spent a lot more time than usual on American whiskeys this year, reflecting an…

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