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: 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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Review: Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest Tree 1

By Christopher Null | April 1, 2018 |

Midleton’s experiments with wood continue with this whiskey, a blend of single pot still spirits each matured for 15 to 22 years in bourbon casks, then finished in barrels made from six ancient Irish oak trees harvested from the Bluebell Forest in County Kilkenny. Each tree gets its own barrel. This sample was drawn from…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyLIVE Washington DC 2018

By Drew Beard | March 19, 2018 |

Whiskey festivals come in all shapes and sizes, but WhiskyLIVE consistently produces a very approachable event for a fan at any stage in their whiskey obsession. There’s a good balance of offerings from industry heavy hitters and smaller craft outfits, as well as the occasional downright weird bottling. This year, I got to taste whiskey…

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Review: The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | February 15, 2018 |

Ready for a new Irish that isn’t a special release of something from Jameson? Read on! The Sexton is a made in the North Coast of Ireland (at Bushmills, surely, as the two brands have the same ownership, the company Proximo), and is made from a 100% malted barley mash that is triple distilled in…

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Review: Green Spot Chateau Montelena

By Robert Lublin | January 28, 2018 |

It has been almost four years since we reviewed the original Green Spot and celebrated its arrival in the U.S., a single pot still whiskey which we lauded for its bold, balanced flavor. With time and universal acclaim, the makers of Green Spot have sought to offer new products. The last one, Green Spot finished in…

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Review: West Cork Glengarriff Series Irish Whiskey – Peat Charred Cask and Bog Oak Charred Cask

By Christopher Null | January 3, 2018 |

West Cork Distillers is a relatively little-known Irish whiskey producer (as of yet). Why might that change? Because, in addition to a baseline of Irish whiskeys, it also produces some oddball rarities, including these new limited releases: Glengarriff Series Peat Charred Cask and Glengarriff Series Bog Oak Charred Cask are single malts aged in sherry casks…

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Review: Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2018 |

It seems like just yesterday that Jameson’s first Caskmates release — an Irish whiskey finished in stout barrels — hit our desk. Now the second of the Caskmates line has arrived: Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition. Before you get too carried away, know that IPA stands for Irish Pale Ale, though to be honest there doesn’t…

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